The War over Image

This was going to be the Monday Mash-Up... but it suddenly evolved into a thematic post

On war as information, read Jonathan Winer's post at Counter Terrorism Blog titled "Battle of the Brands".

Still thinking about perceptions? Considering a few posts on the reactions to torture policy. Read the Armchair Generalist who quotes from an article on retired Generals Charles "Not like Yesterday" Krulak and Joseph Hoar. And read Abu Muquwama's post on the same.

Last bit on perceptions, a little something called "wave tactics" from Lt. Gen. Mattis.

As he met recently with U.S. Marines at several locations across the sprawling Al Anbar province, Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis explained what he termed "wave tactics" to combat the Sunni Arab insurgency in its longtime stronghold. Mattis...is urging his troops to show respect to ordinary Iraqis and exercise restraint in the use of deadly force to prevent civilian deaths and injury..."Mad Dog" ordered his troops to be aggressive in fighting Iraqi forces but to show "soldierly compassion" toward civilians and prisoners. And last week, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, sent a message to troops not to let their frustration or anger override their training and judgment. His message followed a Pentagon survey that showed only 55% of soldiers and 40% of Marines would report a colleague for abusing civilians.

Abuse by our soldiers is counterproductive and simply unacceptable. Consider Sun Tzu and Mao's admonition against it (and their statements for the opposite behavior) and even the the basis of our Third Amendment (among others).

On a related note, Michael Tanji notes the US Army is training gangsters. From the article he quotes:

The gang's initials and main symbol, the six-pointed star, have been tagged on concrete blast barriers, armored vehicles, and even remote firebase guard shacks. In an astonishing study of just three Army bases over the past four years, a Department of Defense detective identified more than 300 active gang members. Some experts estimate that up to 2 percent of the soldiers on active duty--perhaps as many as 20,000--have sworn allegiance to one gang or another.

Unfortunately, the gang issue isn't new and largely, if not entirely, the result of lowered standards for entry. Are these the guys we want fighting our information war?