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From Russia with Love - PSYOPS and the USA

PSYOP Regimental Insignia

The current drumbeat of stories regarding Russian meddling in the US presidential elections is much more than Russia hacking or possible cooperation with US citizens to sway the outcome of the election in their favor. This is a classic case of Russia perpetrating a huge PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) program on America that is relentless and is currently in high gear.

According to the US Department of Defense Doctrine for Joint Psychological Operations:

Psychological operations (PSYOP) are operations planned to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. PSYOP are a vital part of the broad range of US political, military, economic, and informational activities. When properly employed, PSYOP can lower the morale and reduce the efficiency of enemy forces and could create dissidence and disaffection within their ranks. There are four categories of military PSYOP; strategic, operational, tactical, and consolidation. PSYOP, which are used to establish and reinforce foreign perceptions of US military, political, and economic power and resolve.

The President of the USA, many members of Congress and the media may well be victims as well as unwitting players in the current iteration of Russia’s PsyOps program that is undermining the very fabric of American society, marginalizing and dividing the country.

The President, by labeling all US media outlets (not in lockstep with him) as purveyors of ‘fake news”, damages the credibility of our world renowned “free press” and significantly compromises one of the most important tools in the USA’s arsenal against the bad guys. If the victims of fledgling democracies cannot rely on news from the USA to highlight their plight and publish “unbiased” articles about the atrocities being carried out against them, where do they turn to for help? This provides Russia with the opportunity to further perpetrate the global mistrust of the US media leading to the destabilization of and delegitimization of a vital strategic tool. The President further cast doubts on the integrity of the US's intelligence agencies which can demoralize the very people tasked with protecting the USA from adversaries.

The business dealings with Russia by many members of congress and leadership in the USA, haranguing and denigrating of members of Congress by members of opposing agendas over the years, and the inability to have consensus in achieving American goals because of overtly partisan ideological politics have created their lowest approval ratings. This plays right into the Russian PSYOPS playbook of providing the US electorate with enough doubt in the ability of their elected officials to solve their problems, that undermines their patriotism.

The US media adds to the uncertainty of the direction of the USA by chasing after every possible perceived wrong doing, they are parsing words, phrases, sentences, and following up on every tweet, or post on social media from almost anyone. The left, right or centrist media houses are all perpetrators or victims of this and with their real-time, sensational reporting and “breaking news” to outdo their rivals are sometimes delivering inaccurate news, and essentially destroying each other.

Meanwhile Russia, without “firing a shot” is reaping the benefits of America’s political, economic, social and cultural implosion. The reassuring historical fact is the US's ability to learn from its mistakes and rebound better that before, We must therefore endeavor to do so soon rather than wait too long before the American landscape becomes littered with many of our long serving people, political and other institutions in ruins.

We need to be wary of the trivialization of the war on the media. Even as terms such as fake news and alternative facts become subjects of laughter, and late night talk show fodder,  we must not miss the damage being done more broadly in America and abroad. When we are being lulled into a place where facts are fungible and the “head of the free world” is the one saying of long standing reputable entities, “don’t believe what they say” and facts are not to be trusted.

The war against those who seek to create mayhem is a war of ideas and doctrine. While "jihadist" of all religions, ethnicities, and cultures are recruited via social media and the internet, information warfare is more crucial than ever. America must maintain the upper hand by ensuring we propagate reliable, credible news through mainstream media to combat the plethora of unsubstantiated information noise that abounds in a multitude of forms. Our military and economic might are no longer enough to preserve our founding principle of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

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