Each Essay should be between 450-650 words. Have a clear Intro and Conclusion Paragraph, thesis statement, counter-argument.

Essay #1: How can intelligence best support the shaping of the information environment to decrease Taliban influence in Afghanistan?

Since the focus of Information Operations (IO) in OEF is primarily influence operations, it is important to incorporate lessons learned in order to decrease Taliban influence in the region and ensure that mistakes made in the past are not repeated. During Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the Taliban has been successful, at times, dominating the perception management market. Their manipulation of media outlets diminished the legitimacy of U.S. and Allied operations. These tactics were assisted by the fact that it took so long for the U.S. government to respond to the propaganda.

During OEF, the Taliban was able to spread misinformation about alleged casualties and destruction caused by U.S. and Allied bombings, when in actuality some of these events were staged and/or perpetrated by their own regime. A key would be to limit the Taliban’s manipulation of media outlets, such as Al-Jazeera, in order to spread propaganda aimed at influencing international opinion that would harm U.S. and Coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

Printed handbills and leaflets, commonly used during Psychological Operations (PSYOP), have little or no effect due to the high rate of illiteracy in Afghanistan; rather leaflets designed in “cartoon style” were proven to be most effective.

The Taliban is known to be particularly oppressive of women in Afghanistan – aid and support to the women may go a long way in order to “win hearts and minds” in the region. Additionally, broadcasting their numerous human rights violations, especially as it pertains to women, will invite further reprisal and sanctions from the international community.

“The Afghan drug trade is a major source of revenue for corrupt officials, the Taliban and other insurgent groups operating in the country and is one of the greatest long-term challenges facing Afghanistan.”

The Taliban has shifted part of its focus and concentrated on fighting the government in Pakistan. This not only threatens the stability of the Pakistan government, it provides an essential rear base for their insurgency efforts in Afghanistan. To further compound the problem, it has been reported that “Pakistan’s military intelligence agency continued to offer money, supplies and guidance to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan as a proxy to help shape a friendly government there once US forces leave.” Diplomatic pressure and aid to the Pakistani government can assist in countering the Taliban influence.

Essay #2: What are 1-2 information warfare lessons that Russia could seek to incorporate into its operations from its study of Israel / Hamas?

After the 2006 war with Lebanon , Israel’s strategic policy concerning information operations was to silence opposition and increase their own propaganda efforts. Determined not to repeat mistakes of the past, Israel banned all but a few foreign journalists from entering Gaza and those allowed in were embedded with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). In order to further control the message, regular reports were fed to journalists from the Israeli Defense Forces during the conflict. In doing so, they were able to maintain strong support for their actions within Israel. However, these actions were not without unintended consequences.

In an effort to overcome their perceived deficiencies based on their experience in Lebanon, Israel failed to take into consideration the impact of television networks like Al-Jazeera and the widespread use of alternative media outlets. The director-general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Yoni Ben-Menachem, stated that “The pictures coming out of Gaza are pictures of dead children and dead women” which led the Israelis to realize that this “alternative” message was sparking protest in the West as well as other Arab countries. In order to counter this effect, Israel began a massive “grass-roots” propaganda effort of organizing people via email, Facebook, internet blogs, and text messages in hopes of maintaining legitimacy of their actions. However, it can also be argued that similar propaganda tactics were being used by Hamas as well.

Two of the information operation lessons that can be derived from this conflict are: 1) In the current “Information Age”, it is virtually impossible to control all media outlets in order to “shape the message” and 2) alternative media outlets, such as YouTube, Twitter, blogs, etc, can be influential in helping to shape public perception. Based on the events surrounding the recent Gaza War, it can be argued that these alternative media outlets were even more influential in shaping pulic perception than the traditional media outlets such as CNN, BBC, and other western news agencies. Perhaps this is due to the often one-dimensional reporting that accompanies these reports that undermines the legitimacy of their message. On the contrary, alternative media are seen as “un-biased” because they are not controlled by Nation-states, rather they are viewed as true reports from people on the ground with no political agenda or motive.

While this perception is not necessarily true, Russia should take these “lessons learned” into consideration. Given Russia’s strategic culture and prevalence of state control, they can still learn lot from Israel as it pertains to the Gaza War. What the Gaza War demonstrated is while the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is a powerful military – they cannot achieve all of their strategic objectives by military might alone. Russia’s recent clash with Georgia over the disputed region of South Ossetia illustrated the fact that control over national media does not guarantee control over the narrative – at least in the international arena. Additionally, in order to win in the long-term – you have to win the culture war wherein media propaganda and video games become more important.

Essay #3: How could the information environment-shaping capabilities (or, IO capabilities) of Hamas look in the future?

Recent history has shown us that individuals as well as Non-State actors can wield information as a “strategic, asymmetric weapon by very effectively leveraging new media capabilities.” “The lack of any bureaucratic structure further enables individual empowerment by also allowing a nimbleness of response that is the antithesis of nation-state governments. Additionally, the lack of governance of the World Wide Web allows any statements or positions to be presented without regard to truth, context or ethical foundation.” “The monopoly enjoyed by nation-states over information as an element of power was rapidly lost as technology improved and as the means to transmit that information became smaller, faster, cheaper and, consequently, ubiquitous.”
“The country must adapt to a changing culture, and our culture is changing at an accelerating pace. The information Age is still unfolding, but it is already clear that it brings with it at least as many adjustments to our way of life as did the Industrial or the Nuclear Age.”
Based on the rate of the increase of media outlets that disseminate their propaganda, such as Filastin al-‘An, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa TV, PALDF Forum and Sabiroon websites, it is likely that these will only increase in the future.

Additionally, there will be more organized and highly technical groups, such as the “Digital Intifada”, in order to meet their objectives. Increases will likely follow the same path of other technological advances.

There will probably be an increase in network warfare and hacking.
“Hamas was offering a prize of $2,000 to anyone who could hack into a website hostile to the Palestinian people . He added that the Palestinian association of Internet activists would also give $2,000 to anyone who hacked into “Zionist websites” during the exhibition, such as the Shas 4 site, the Temple Mount Faithful 5 site, and the American Internet Haganah (which specializes in monitoring global jihad websites)”

Increase in the use of and expansion of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, that will further blur the lines of States and outpace the ability of governments to adjust with the technological, social, and economic ramifications. Reliance on these “virtual worlds” may lessen the impact of conflicts over social and ethnic identities; however, lack of control over these “virtual worlds” may perpetuate constant low-level conflict.

There are faxes for this order.