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Chapter Four

Information Operations in a Multinational Force


National military contingents conduct Information Operations with unique styles.

Peace operations are almost always multi-national in character. It follows then that IO conducted in unit AORs will reflect the different cultural backgrounds of the national military contingents. The variations in style, approach, and techniques of the national military contingents conducting IO will likely reflect the national values, beliefs, and cognitions1 of the roles and techniques of media in their home nations. During OJF, the execution of IO varied among the national military contingents comprising the multinational peace operations force.

Radio Show operations in the Nord-Pol Bde, for example, were carried out quite differently from those conducted in the American Brigade sector.2 Unlike the initial American radio shows, the Nordic-Polish Brigade (Nord-Pol Bde) radio shows were from the outset, managed and monitored not by PSYOP, but by the Press Information Officer, who performed the combined tasks of PSYOP and Public Affairs. In the U.S. Army, PSYOP and PA functions are clearly delineated, and kept separate by laws restricting PA from engaging in PSYOP. Although all PSYOP in the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia are based on truth and credible message, the imperative to maintain the credibility of information from PA sources requires this separation in the U.S. Army.

Another difference is that unlike the Americans, the Nord-Pol Bde did not pay for its radio shows. Instead of building a "network" of stations quickly by offering payment, the Nord-Pol Bde started a slower expansion of access to radio stations by demonstrating consistent goodwill toward the community and establishing trust with local radio station managers. The Nord-Pol Bde did not pay for any of its radio shows, which like their American counterparts, were usually an hour in length, but sometimes longer based on listener interest as measured by call-in questions.

The Nord-Pol Bde did not attempt to get the questions for the show in advance as was the practice in the American sector. Instead, the team of interpreter, Press Information Officer or Unit Commander, and any special guests would arrive at the station about 30 minutes early to review the main topics of discussion and together sit down to plan the show. The discussion began, however, with small talk designed to sustain and build the relationship and trust between the peace operations force and the media representatives. The Nord-Pol Bde spokesman politely suggested deferring some of the topics suggested by the radio show host that did not support his priorities of information, or for which he was not prepared. This effectively shaped the outline of the radio show to reflect the needs of the Bde. When asked to speak of strategic-level problems at the level of SFOR, the Bde spokesman merely declined to comment on the issue by saying that he "really had nothing prepared for that issue."

While the Nord-Pol Bde spokesman did not have a concrete list of the questions to be asked provided to him, he did have his own prepared notes built from the Division Information Operations FRAGOs, the Coalition Press Information Center Director's Media Guidance to Commanders, and any "talking points" provided by the Division Public Affairs. During the music breaks in the show, the Bde spokesman would politely suggest the direction for the show to take upon resuming. This was effective when done in a conversational tone that made no demands upon the host.

The Nord-Pol Bde radio shows would usually begin with a review of the humanitarian assistance projects under way in each Battalion sector. To make the show more personalized, the bde spokesman brought a compact-disc of music from his home country to play over the music breaks, which he left with the station as a gift. During the show, the Nord-Pol spokesman used the same technique for answering call-in questions as the Americans, namely having the question brought in to the sound booth written down for interpretation into English. During the music breaks, the spokesman could either accept or reject the question before going back on the air. This prevented the spokesman from having to decline questions on the air and thus appear evasive, or from having to battle with zealots in arguments that cannot be won.

Lesson Learned: The various military contingents making up a multinational coalition will conduct IO with varying styles and techniques. The various styles often reflect national values, beliefs, and cognitions on the roles and techniques of media in their home nations.

Neither FM 100-8, The Army in Multinational Operations, nor FM 100-6, Information Operations, discusses the phenomena of unit-level information operations varying from national military contingent to national military contingent. This is nothing more than a planning consideration that must be kept in mind for U.S. military planners developing IO campaign strategy and supporting operations. FM 100-6 does note that the key to success is to "plan in a multi-national manner,"3 but lacks details. Differences in style and approach do exist and these differences will result in some variation in the manner of execution between national military contingents, and so planners should be aware of this from the beginning.

Building a Successful Information Campaign in Support of Peace Operations.

In Operation JOINT FORGE, the Nord-Pol Bde developed an information campaign to support an operation designed to collect hazardous unexploded ordnance and weapons from the local populace in its Area of Responsibility (AOR). Dubbed "Operation Harvest," the SFOR effort to collect unexploded ordnance (UXO) and weapons has been conducted on an annual basis throughout the SFOR AOR. The purpose of the program was to encourage local citizens to report the locations of known or found caches of UXO to SFOR or local authorities to remove the danger such UXO presented to the local populace. The goal of the program was to help accomplish the task of developing a "safe and secure environment" by removing dangerous weapons from the hands of the local populace and putting them under the control of the EAFs or destroying them. In peace operations designed to return the FWFs to normalcy, events along the way, such as elections, resettlements, weapons storage site inspections, represent problem sets that IO can address. The MND-N weapons and UXO collection operation is a classic example of a "problem set" to which the IO planning and execution process can be successfully applied.4


Nord-Pol Bde Press Conference, Doboj, 17 December 1998.

In the Nord-Pol Brigade, several means were employed to disseminate the scope, intent and particulars of the campaign to include the use of a press conference. The supporting Dutch-Bulgarian Engineering Battalion held a press conference on their base in Babanovac to announce the plan (known as the Weapons Hand-Over Program or "WHOP"). The news was picked up by the local press and subsequently published in the Bosnian national daily newspaper Oslobodjenje (Liberation).5 The campaign was reiterated at a follow-on press conference in Doboj, held by the Brigade's Press Information Officer.

To reinforce the campaign first announced through a press conference, the Nord-Pol Brigade also requested support from the Division PSYOP support element to prepare tri-fold handbills. The Division PSYOP support element submitted the request through the product-approval process to the CJICTF at SFOR headquarters in Sarajevo. The approved product was disseminated through unit "social patrols" (regular unit patrols which essentially performed the same mission of U.S. Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs)) and other means to the local populace to explain the details of the program.


Nord-Pol Interpreter, PIO, and EOD expert at a Radio Show at Radio Dzungla, 16 December 1998.

The campaign was also explained over unit-level radio shows in the Nord-Pol Brigade area of operations (AO) over civilian-owned radio stations, which provided periodic free air-time to broadcast the SFOR radio shows as a public-service and as an additional source of public information. One show in particular, broadcast over Radio Dzungla, featured both the Brigade PIO and an Explosives and Ordnance Demolitions (EOD) expert on the show to answer listener call-in questions about both the procedures of the program, and particulars about the kinds of explosives and munitions likely to be found in the area. In addition to soliciting call-in questions from the listening audience, the PIO suggested some lines of questioning for the radio show hostess to address possible concerns from the citizenry about any reservations they might have about the program as a way to highlight its positive aspects. One issue brought out in this manner was the fact that SFOR offered amnesty and anonymity for any persons participating.

Through the JMC, the Nord-Pol Brigade secured the cooperation of the Entity Armed Forces (EAFs) to support the program. One feature of the program was that munitions turned in to the EAFs could be added to their authorized levels of munitions held in the Weapons Storage Sites (WSSs). The EAFs understood the scope, procedures, purpose, and intent of the program from the beginning. The JMC, therefore, represented a "low-tech" INFOSYS which expanded the dissemination of the program to the military, and subsequently to the populace. Commanders also explained the program through the use of meetings coordinated with local civil and police authorities and in their routine meetings with local officials, taking advantage of this INFOSYS, to reinforce the overall campaign.6 The Bde simultaneously used the INFOSYS represented by the routine meetings with local Police and Civil Authorities to disseminate messages on the UXO campaign.

Lesson Learned: The Nord-Pol Brigade used all of the INFOSYSs available to support its IO supporting the UXO and weapons hand-over program. The Bde launched the campaign as a media event via the press conference, then followed up on radio via unit-level radio shows, and exploited the low-tech INFOSYS represented by the JMCs with the EAFs and the routine meetings with civilian leadership and police. The Bde's coordinated use of all available INFOSYSs and media represents an excellent example of a coordinated multi-media IO Campaign in support of operations.

The Nord-Pol Bde's use of several media and INFOSYS highlights the IO planning principle of redundancy in Field Manual 100-6, Appendix C, "Planning Considerations," which states "planners provide diverse paths over multiple means to ensure timely, reliable information flow."7 Additionally, the observation serves as an illustrative historical vignette on how one unit developed its strategy to implement an IO Campaign.

Refining IO messages to match policies of national military contingents.

The TFE IOWG found that in Peace Operations, the constraints imposed on participating military contingents by their national governments required flexible application of civil-military programs in each area of responsibility (AOR). Accordingly, the supporting information operations must be tailored to each national contingent AOR. Planning operations in Multinational Peace Operations is often complicated as "national interests and organizational influence may compete with doctrine and efficiency.Consensus is painstakingly difficult, and solutions are often national in character. Commanders can expect contributing nations to adhere to national policies, which at times complicate the multinational effort."8 The constraints imposed on the national military contingents by domestic law or policy may result in any one operation being modified for each national contingent sector of operations to conform to nationally-imposed restrictions. This was the case in Operation JOINT FORGE for U.S. Forces concerning efforts to collect up UXO and weapons from the local populace. Legal, and or force protection restrictions often limited what U.S. Forces were permitted to do in Civil-Military programs during the NATO-led peace operations in the former Yugoslavia. As MND-N developed its annual operational campaign to "harvest" these UXO and weapons, it found that the execution would vary by national contingent based on such restrictions dictated by national laws and policy, and so separate information messages and products had to be developed for each national contingent AOR.

A year after the Operation HARVEST program was first launched, large seizures and discoveries of UXO and weapons caches were still taking place. Some discoveries of munitions were measured in tons. The Nord-Pol Bde determined that it would have to further reduce obstacles to the program to achieve real success. The Nord-Pol Bde decided to actively participate in the collection of UXO and weapons from the local populace and identified the potential disincentives to participation, and the policies and IO messages to counteract those disincentives. The national contingents of the Nord-Pol Bde which directly participated in the program went directly to reported sites to collect UXO and weapons for turn-in.

At that time, American forces had not yet received permission to accept UXO and munitions in such a manner. This resulted in having different messages and products for the Nord-Pol Sector and the American Sector. Messages in the Nor-Pol Bde directed the local populace to call for assistance by "Notifying either SFOR or Entity Armed Forces by telephone, alerting a patrol, or visiting any SFOR camp," and provided telephone numbers to the interpreters at each Nord-Pol base camp.9 Messages developed for the program in the American Sector would direct the local populace to contact local authorities to take possession of the UXO and weapons, with American SFOR soldiers providing only a monitoring function.

A major concern for the Americans was the legal aspects of the operation. As the Dayton Peace Accord made all military weapons in non-military possession illegal, any person possessing such weapons or any long-barreled weapon in the Zone of Separation was in violation of the law and could be prosecuted. While SFOR could promise that it would maintain anonymity for those participating, that is, not turn in anyone to civil or military authorities, it could not guarantee that these elements would not attempt to prosecute if anonymity was compromised. This legal aspect caused American Forces to delay their implementation of the program, until such time as the National legislatures could pass laws granting specific amnesty to citizens participating in the turn-in program. The legal aspect represents a policy consideration driving military operations.

Lesson Learned: In developing a supporting IO campaign to complement civil-military operations, IO planners must tailor the IO messages and products to reflect the concept of operations developed by each national military contingent force in accordance with their domestic laws and policies. This will result in "packages" of IO messages and products that are different from one national military contingent sector to the next.

Planning Considerations for PSYOP Product Dissemination in Multinational Peace Operations.

In a multinational operation, dissemination of PSYOP products may vary from one national military contingent to the next, depending on how that nation views the political situation or the PSYOP message or medium. PSYOP products print, television, and radio products are characterized by centralized product approval and production and decentralized dissemination by the subordinate maneuver units. During the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia, the CJICTF managed the PSYOP product approval and production process for IFOR and SFOR. The products generated had the sanction of the highest political body of NATO, the North Atlantic Council, or NAC. However, while approved for dissemination at the level of SFOR Headquarters, the actual dissemination of these products was the responsibility of the Multinational Divisions in the SFOR AOR.

During Operation JOINT GUARD, one of the consistent and frustrating factors in the PSYOP campaign was the inconsistency with which allied units disseminated the products. American PSYOP officers observed that the SFOR Commander (COMSFOR)'s subordinate commanders sometimes chose to ignore the strategic PSYOP messages if they did not have a voice in their production, did not agree with the message, did not like the product, or perceived that the message may not have relevance in his sector.10 Some national military contingents criticized PSYOP products generated by the CJICTF as not taking into account the local population's knowledge or sensitivities and being, perhaps, too Americanized.

"For example, SFOR developed several products on the role of the military, the police, and the media in a democracy. These products used quotes from Western historic figures (for example, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Clausewitz, or Clemencau), which some did not believe appropriate for Bosnia-Herzegovina. These products did not appeal to the Bosnian's culture or history, nor did they dwell on recent examples of national reconciliation or mediation (such as El Salvador or South Africa). This limited the PSYOP products' relevance to their target audiences."11

One of the lessons learned on PSYOP in peace operations is that "PSYOP campaigns should not shy away from tackling difficult issues, even if initial messages might have to obliquely or delicately handle such controversial issues."12 However, in some MND sectors during OJG, some PSYOP products were deemed unpopular or too controversial and not disseminated, e.g., Herald of Progress, No. 24, which featured front-page photos of Karadzic and Mladic. At the time, in the RS, a power struggle was underway for national leadership. HQ SFOR intended to demonstrate support for the Banja Luka faction of the RS leadership, while demonstrating a firmer line against so-called Pale Serbs.13 Both Karadzic and Mladic were persons indicted for war crimes (PIFWCs) and wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (also known as "war crimes tribunal"). "MND-SW refused to disseminate it because they feared problems would occur in their area of the RS. In MND-N, the opposite often occurred."14 Occasionally, the French demurred on disseminating CJICTF-approved PSYOP products, but were generally supportive of the bland and inoffensive Herald of Peace and voter education products.15

During Operation JOINT FORGE, these same problems that had beset SFOR-level PSYOP dissemination efforts were found to exist among the national military contingents of MND-N as well, albeit to a significantly lesser degree. In one of the multinational brigades of MND-N, boxes of undelivered PSYOP products sat gathering dust in the Press Information Office, long after they should have been disseminated. This happened because they did not sit well with the political and media tastes of the national military contingent units of the brigade, and because the PIO staff assessed that these products would not be effective. At one meeting of the IOWG, the LOs of another national military contingent comprising its own brigade asked that they not receive any more PSYOP products printed in the Cyrillic alphabet, because "nobody wanted them." The DPDD had been provided products in both languages based on the ethnic composition of the brigade's AOR. The Cyrillic publications were intended for the Serb population. The LO's comments indicated that his unit's troops were not targeting the distribution of the products as they should have, and perhaps some of the target audience was being missed.

Lesson Learned: One recurring theme of IO in a multinational operation is the difficulty of consistency.16 This is neither good nor bad, merely the way things are. In many cases, the national military contingents provide new ideas, or can do things U.S. forces can't do because they are not bound by U.S. laws or practices. In planning, the IO Cell must be aware that delivering the product to the unit headquarters does not necessarily guarantee that the product is disseminated "on the street." Only by speaking openly with the LOs representing the national military contingents about how the PSYOP products are received both at the unit, and on the street, will the right feedback go to the product development cell. It is better to know that a national military contingent will not or has not disseminated a particular PSYOP product, than to think the mission has been accomplished and the message has been delivered.

PSYOP doctrine does not discuss this issue other than to say that in peace operations, PSYOP should "develop, coordinate, and conduct allied points of contact between all parties involved."17 The problem of inconsistent dissemination of PSYOP products based on the views and preferences of allied or coalition national military contingents is an appropriate planning consideration for future peace operations, the majority of which have been multinational in character.18
FM 100-6, Information Operations (August 1996), does not address the complexities of multi-national IO planning in peace operations. The two paragraphs in the "Joint and Multinational Planning" section in Appendix C, "Planning Considerations," note that the key to success is to "plan in a multi-national manner,"19 but lack details. This observations highlights some real-world multinational planning difficulties in developing IO products and messages in support of civil-military operations.

Endnotes, Chapter Four:

1. Cognitions may be sensory or factual inputs to one's values or belief systems. In this case, cognitions in the context of the unique cultural and media environment of the national military contingent affect their values and beliefs on how media operate, and what styles are most appealing. See Daniel S. Papp, "The Perceptual Framework," in Contemporary Interpersonal Relations: A Framework for Understanding (Macmillan College Publishing Company, as reprinted in the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College Strategic Environment Course 502, "Pitfalls of Strategic Analysis," ACSC Distance Learning Multimedia Edition, Version 2.1, June 1998).
2. For a discussion of the TTPs established for Radio Shows in the American sector during OJF, see CALLCOMS observation 10000-05184, "TTPs for the Preparation and Execution of the Commander's Radio Shows in OJF."
3. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Information Operations, Field Manual 100-6 (Washington, DC: USGPO, 27 August 1996, hereafter cited as Field Manual 100-6, Information Operations), p. C-3.
4. For a detailed description of the IOWG planning process, see CALLCOMS Observation No. 10001-00521, "Information Operations Working Group Contingency Planning Process," Combined Arms Assessment Team 9, Initial Impressions Report: Task Force EagleOperations, (Unclassified, Distribution Limited, March 1998, Fort Leavenworth, KS: CALL, hereafter cited as B/H CAAT 9 Initial Impressions Report: Task Force Eagle Operations), p. A-49.
5. See Tuzla Night Owl, Vol. 3, No. 335, "New Operation HARVEST" (1 December 1998), p. 11.
6. These meetings with other than EAF representatives are often incorrectly referred to as "Bi-lats," short bi-lateral meeting, which applies only to meetings between SFOR and the EAFs.
7. Field Manual 100-6, Information Operations, p. C-1.
8. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, The Army in Multinational Operations, Field Manual 100-8 (Washington DC: USGPO, 24 November 1997), p. I-1.
9. Handbill produced by the SFOR CJICTF, Sarajevo, for the Nord-Pol Operation HARVEST, "SFOR and Entity Armed Forces Open Weapons Hand-Over Program."
10. B/H CAAT 9 Initial Impressions Report: Task Force Eagle Operations, p. 39.
11. Pascale Combelles Siegel, Target Bosnia: Integrating Information Activities in Peace Operations, (Command and Control Research Program, National Defense University, Washington, DC: NDU Press, 1998), pp. 95-96.
12. See Land Information Warfare Activity, Student Materials: Introduction to Information Campaign Planning and Execution, (Vienna Va.; SYTEX Inc., May 1998), Section 4.
13. The U.S. strategic information policy in BiH demonized Karadzic and Mladic using PSYOP. This intent was followed even after PSYOP polling analysis indicated these two men were considered the "George Washington" and "Thomas Jefferson" of Serbia. The potential vulnerabilities posed by such an approach were not properly perceived by NATO and U.S. decisionmakers. While PSYOP leaders and planners explained that such a campaign might only strengthen internal Serb unity and alienate them for NATO and the UN, the attempt to influence public opinion on these controversial characters was launched. The effectiveness of this approach has been widely and harshly criticized and the Department of State curtailed elements of its supporting public diplomacy campaign in the light of these difficulties.
14. Wentz, Larry K., "Peace Operations and the Implications for Coalition Information Operations: The IFOR Experience," working draft as of 18 February 1998, Command and Control Research Program, National Defense University, Fort Leslie J. McNair, Washington, DC, in press), pp. 27-28.
15. Ibid. Some national contingents may have political sensitivities to the use of the term "psychological operations." The French, for example, are reluctant because of political and historical reasons associated with psychological warfare as it was practiced in the Algerian conflict in 1961. Also, by national law, the Germans and Dutch cannot use the term psychological warfare.
16. See CALLCOMS Observation No. 10000-71410, "National Military Contingents Conduct Information Operations with Unique Styles."
17. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Psychological Operations, Field Manual 33-1 (Washington, DC: USGPO, Unclassified, Distribution Limited), 18 February 1993, p. B-2.
18. While current PSYOP doctrine does not discuss coalition operations in detail, the next revision of FM 33-1 will. However, the model of efficient coalition PSYOP is probably from the Korean War. This model does not fully apply to peace operations scenarios such as that found in the former Yugoslavia.
19. Field Manual 100-6, Information Operations, p. C-3.



Chapter Three: Command and Control Warfare
Chapter Five: Civil Affairs and Public Affairs Support to IO