The United States National Security Council Needs an Information Warfare Directorate

This new post from The Strategy Bridge has all the right intentions.  What’s missing is the discussion of structural impediments within the NSC and its inability to direct any resources within the departments without a Presidential Directive and even then it is limited.  Yes, there are some PDDs that live on past one administration but they are the exception and not the rule.  The author can be excused for not knowing that, in fact, there was a coordinator for information programs on the NSC in times past.  During the 2001-2004 period, there was a retired PSYOP Colonel (Jeff Jones) that was doing his best to lasso USG information programs by leveraging contacts in DoD and State to voluntarily coordinate activities.  His frustrations were many, he had some successes but the bureaucracies had moved on after the initial year post-9/11 and momentum slowed.  When he left, the new Asst to the President for Strategic Comms was largely just another PA-type with little interest and promoted political aims of the Bush administration with little connection to strategy.  The Obama administration similarly had a flurry of activity initially and leaders like Petraeus that understood the value of coordinated USG info efforts but successes were largely limited to the use of DoD resources in spt of DoD objectives.  The expansion of the MIST programs occurred during this period but these had little to do with overall USG coordination efforts though they were  great at coordinating local programs and activities at the Embassy level.

To truly create an entity with the ability to direct appropriated dollars would require – yep, an Act of Congress – and a President willing to go along with creation of a new entity with something like the authority of NCTC to develop strategy but going one step beyond to be able to reach down into State, DoD, DHS, etc and adjust programs and activities to ensure they are synchronized and mutually supporting.  Not impossible, but hard to imagine in the current climate and not just because of our divided government.  Congressional attitudes towards a ‘Minister of Information’ (or whatever innocuous sounding name you want to give it – see the history on the Office of Strategic Influence (yes, full of inaccuracies, but that’s the point)) would not seem to have improved and, if anything, our current predicament with the flood of disinformation in the information environment would not seem to have softened attitudes.

Read the whole thing –