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Shaping the information war: Military information combats propaganda

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cynthia A. Innocenti
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar—In their quest to impose their will on others with malicious and destructive intent, ISIS have exerted their negative messages continuously through the use of media platforms like radio, television, newspapers, magazines and the internet.


A joint team of military professionals operating from Al Udeid AB serve to counter those narratives.


Members of the Military Information Support Task Force-Central influence and persuade targets or intended audiences within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to reject those enemy narratives and violent extremist ideologies in order to establish conditions for long-term regional stability. This is especially relevant for those impacted by ongoing campaigns such as Operation Inherent Resolve.


The media products produced by MISTF-C help communicate with people, even in denied areas without modern technology like TV and the internet. They relay messages via media platforms to help people understand realities outside of their current information environment.  This interaction can change perceptions in the area to create a desired effect in the region.


“Communicating with people across the AOR helps further their understanding of why we are here and how we are working to help their governments and strengthen our partnerships against ISIL and other violent extremist organizations,” said J3 Operations Sgt. Maj. Kevin with MISTF-C. “Communicating with persons within denied areas can reduce resistance and reduce civilian casualties.”


MISTF-C works in a joint environment at Al Udeid. While comprised primarily of Army Soldiers, all branches of service operate within their organizational structure. Employment of their operations also requires considerable involvement with the Air Force, as many of the media products they produce are delivered via aircraft and other Air Force platforms.


Printed information contained within leaflets or pamphlets produced by MISTF-C are one such case. In order to distribute a particular message to people in denied areas, these leaflets are dropped from various aircraft.


“We are dependent upon the Air Force to disseminate a majority of our messages regardless if it is a leaflet or an electronic message,” said Kevin. “Maintaining a close working relationship with the Air Force is pivotal to mission success, the more we collaborate the better we understand ways to improve our efforts while reducing confusion.”


U.S. Army Capt. Erik, the assessments assistant deputy director with MISTF-C, said that the relationship between MISTF-C and the various U.S. Air Forces Central Command organizations and platforms continues to grow. One way this has manifested is in their contribution to the operational planning with the non-kinetics cell that handles non-destructive assets in the Combined Air and Space Operations Center.


“MISTF-C relies on various electronic warfare assets including U.S. Air Force aircraft to assist in collecting measures of performance and measures of effectiveness for our messaging,” said Erik.


U.S. Army Capt. Robert, Regional Function Group officer in charge for Operation Inherent Resolve, expanded on this, saying that it is not always an easy task measuring the effect their operations have in the region.


When asked what MISTF-C’s overall impact is, Robert quoted former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “Success will be less a matter of imposing one's will and more a function of shaping behavior of friends, adversaries and, most importantly, the people in between.”