The Cognitive Crucible is a forum that presents different perspectives and emerging thought leadership related to the information environment. The opinions expressed by guests are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of or endorsement by the Information Professionals Association.
During this episode, Vic Garcia and Mike Berger of Peraton give a deep dive into IO-related challenges facing the United States and allied nations, plus dynamics between the intelligence and the operations communities, and the importance and current state of IO assessments.
Colonel (Ret) Vic Garcia culminated his 30-year Army career after having served as the J39 Information Operations Division Chief at two separate combatant commands: U.S. Special Operations Command (2016-20) and U.S. Central Command (2013-16). During his tenure at SOCOM he oversaw the creation of the Joint MISO Web-operations Center (JMWC), and helped lead organizational change for the PSYOP, Civil Affairs, Cyber and Space communities within the SOF enterprise. Prior to this, while at CENTCOM, Vic led the command’s IO efforts against ISIS/Daesh propaganda, leading to improved web operations including development of a team directly supporting JSOC. Vic served in a variety of infantry and PSYOP assignments, including command of information warfare task forces in Iraq for Multi-National Forces -Iraq, and in Qatar for Special Operations Command – Central. He also saw service in Kandahar, Afghanistan as an infantry deputy Brigade commander; and as a MIST Team leader supporting Joint Task Force Liberia, created to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in that country. His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2 awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and others. His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point; a Master of Science in International Relations from Troy University; and a Master’s of Science in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. Vic currently works for Peraton supporting information warfighting capability development.
Dr. Mike Berger is Chief of Research for the Information Warfare organizational unit (OU) in Peraton’s Cyber Mission Sector. In this capacity, he serves as the lead for analysis and assessments for the Operational Planning, Implementation, and Assessment Services (OPIAS) contract—the largest information warfare support contract in the US Government (USG). Dr. Berger oversees primary source research, personnel, and operational assessments supporting information operations (IO) / irregular warfare (IW) activities across OPIAS’s supported Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) and USG agencies. Through the course of his work, Dr. Berger has established and successfully managed the most expansive foreign audience opinion research portfolio in the Department of Defense, including over 700,000 survey interviews, 600 focus groups, and 2,000 elite interviews in a variety of sensitive locations across the globe. A central focus of his research includes illuminating the current challenges faced by America and its partners in the information environment. Dr. Berger holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland, United Kingdom). He enjoys establishing new research projects, leveraging new technologies to enhance data analysis, and developing operational assessment teams in support of forward deployed warfighters.
About: The Information Professionals Association (IPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the role of information activities, such as influence and cognitive security, within the national security sector and helping to bridge the divide between operations and research. Its goal is to increase interdisciplinary collaboration between scholars and practitioners and policymakers with an interest in this domain.