The next phase of a global information-warfare campaign to influence public and media perceptions about U.S. operations in Afghanistan is unfolding, according to an updated U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) planning document that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor has located.
“The information domain is a battlespace, and it is one in which USFOR-A must take aggressive actions to win the important battle of perception,” according to the project’s modified Performance Work Statement (PWS), dated June 7.
Consequently, the Dept. of Defense, via the U.S. Army Contracting Command-Rock Island unit, is enlisting the assistance of the private sector not only to monitor how the media reports on Afghanistan, but to sway the opinions of the Afghan people about their government:
USFOR-A requires the ability to develop and implement a comprehensive, self-sustaining, long term media operations capability, to include stand-alone studio and regional communication collection and distribution hubs. This initiative also addresses efforts to collect public information and interpret it to support senior leader decision making, specifically regarding the attitudes of the public and the media concerning political, social and economic issues. This initiative will allow Government representatives in USFOR-A to inform key audiences (media and civilian populations internationally and within the region) to achieve desired affects. (Emphasis added)
Although dozens of vendors have expressed interest in the Public Affairs Operations-Afghanistan endeavor—and though no contract award has been announced—the Arlington, Va. and Los Gatos, Cal.-based Strategic Social Holdings already is hiring specialists to carry out duties for a USFOR-A project in Kabul that mirrors the above-mentioned initiative.
The co-founder and CEO of Strategic Social is Matt Bigge, whom the corporate website describes as a former U.S. Army ranger and Harvard Business School graduate.
Among the various duties and positions that the PWS describes (and for which Strategic Social is hiring) are Afghan Linguists/Media Monitors, who would provide “a minimum of 300 media monitoring hours per week.” At least one Pashto- and one Dari-speaking linguist/monitor “should be available at all times.”
An English-speaking media monitor also would be hired for the project, for which that person will assess and summarize “international, regional, and Afghan” Internet, radio, audio, video, and print media outlets.” That position will provide at least 144 media monitoring hours per week to “supplement three media monitor military personnel” who also will perform those tasks.
The contractor also will provide a comprehensive suite of public affairs services to USFOR-A and to Afghan authorities, including the deployment of media analysts, media monitoring website/database developer and manager, the provision of social media and new media management, and advisement on how to engage in “strategic communications.” The management and maintenance of a Defense Video Information Distribution System (DVIDS) also will fall under the purview of the contractor.
This project is critical, according to the PWS, because insurgents have succeeded in undermining the credibility of USFOR-A, the international community, and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) “through effective use of the information environment, albeit without a commensurate increase in their own credibility.”
Consequently, U.S. Forces and the GIRoA must “wrest the information initiative from the INS” in order to “maintain and strengthen the Afghan populations positive perception” of Afghan government institutions and the support that USFOR-A and the international community provide, the document says.
As a courtesy to readers and researchers, tomorrow, July 1, the Monitor will make available for download the full text of the Armys Performance Work Statement for the Public Affairs Operations-Afghanistan initiative.
FOR ADDITIONAL REGIONAL COVERAGE, PLEASE VISIT THE MONITORS AFGHANISTAN PAGE.
PLEASE ALSO CHECK OUT THE MONITORS INTELLIGENCE/SPYING PAGE.