Rethinking Communication Influence from a Strategic Communication Approach

January 2020 No Comments

Rethinking Communication Influence from a Strategic Communication Approach

Authors | Editors: Lieber, P. (US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Joint Special Operations University (JSOU)); Canna, S. (NSI, Inc.)

Executive Summary

For over a decade, many within US defense and interagency circles maintain a belief they are ‘losing’ the communication influence battle, one its adversaries are excelling at due to seemingly better strategy and reach. Peer competitor infiltration into American elections, radical groups facilitating foreign fighter flow over chat applications, and/or failed attempts to counter narratives should reason for a glaring need for the US to change strategy. But surprisingly little or none of this strategic shift is occurring. While it acknowledges the importance of peer competitors, there is literally no direct reference to ‘strategic communication’ or equivalent process shortcomings anywhere in the 2018 US National Defense Strategy. Instead—and by political design—US institutions with strategic communication and/or influence authorities remain separated in legislated powers and activities. The result? Disconnected, disjointed and even conflicting approaches to the same problem. In contrast, peer competitors almost brazenly implement a communication influence strategy sabotaging internal and external US interests.

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