Should The U.S. Have a Secretary For Influence Operations?
Ed. Note – Oh, we have been through this before and, in the end, find that the issue is not where in DoD this responsibility lies, it’s where in the USG this responsibility lies. Structurally, we are not set up to undertake this as a coordinated government function. In the early 00’s there was an effort to use the NSC to coordinate across departments but the participants quickly realized that their department heads were none too thrilled about subordinating their activities to an expert on the NSC staff. There was a brief honeymoon during the Obama administration when Sec Gates and Sec Clinton made it clear that their two departments would coordinate information activities and there was positive steps on the ground that were evidence of this (e.g. Sahel initiatives to coordinate Embassy PD and DoD/AFRICOM activities on the ground) but there was no institutional support for these things and has been pointed out elsewhere, the PD cone at State has never had the sort of influence you would expect (ironic?) in an agency who’s mission is to represent US interests around the world.
What the author gets right here is that this initiative is likely a reaction to the weaknesses and shortcomings of the offices already having the responsibility (disclosure: I was once part of one of those offices) for DoD information activities and the lack of any significant political appointee leadership or oversight of them.
“Today, there is no one individual that’s directly in command of all “influence operations” across the Department of Defense. But there is some structure. On the uniformed side, at the top, the Joint Staff’s J3 directorate manages information operations across the combatant commands, which make decisions about content and messaging in their respective areas. Below that, the infrastructure for those operations is led by U.S. Special Operations Command’s new Joint MISO WebOps Center. That center was created last year to “address the opportunities and risks of the global information space,” said former SOCOM commander Gen. Tony Thomas, in testimony last February. But it’s the regional combatant commanders who determine the missions and messaging content of influence operations in their geographic theaters.”
Read it all here on Defense One.