Recommended Reading: Behavioural Conflict

Major General Andrew Mackay and Commander Steve Tatham, both of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, wrote incisive criticism on the UK Ministry of Defence’s ability to engage in the psychological struggle for minds and wills is available. It is available here (PDF, 448kb).

[P]ublic perception can have long term and decisive effect upon the nature and success of foreign policy and military operations. Conveying information messages to specific audiences, in order to influence behavioural change for specific political objectives, may well prove more decisive in future conflicts than just the placement of bullets and bombs upon a target. …

[T]he UK Armed Forces have no professional information operations practitioners, no media operators or professional psychological specialists. In their place, well meaning and enthusiastic amateurs are seconded from every branch of the military for two- or three-year tours, who do their best with minimal training but who are unlikely to return to such duties again. …

[H]eavy attrition and manoeuvre warfare does not, we believe, characterise future conflict – although we also accept that it cannot be ruled out. In behavioural conflict – particularly in the information age – we will need to confront very cerebral issues. For example, we may have to reassess notions of victory. What does ‘victory’ in Afghanistan look like? Have we achieved ‘victory’ in Iraq? We would not presume to have an answer to either question but we do have an observation; we believe that ‘victory’ today, and in the future, will look very different to signature ceremonies on Lüneburg Heath in 1945 or Port Stanley in 1982. Indeed ‘victory’ may not even be immediately apparent in current and future conflict. …

Our paper accepts, at its very heart, the Clausewitzian premise that conflict is a clash of wills. We have sought to advance the idea that alongside kinetic power there is potentially a more behaviourist approach which, we believe, can affect the enemy’s will and be as, or arguably more, effective than kinetic power in future conflict.

A required read by those involved in public affairs, information operations, and psychological operations, it should also be read by Congressional staff and others interested in the subject of information to influence and persuade and the need for tactics, techniques, procedures, and training to support non-kinetic activities. Read the whole thing here.

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