Magazine Issue One, October 2003
Operations Interview with Larry Dietz, London, 29th April 2003
Wanja Eric Naef
opinions expressed in this document are those of the interviewee.
They do not reflect the official position of the US Government,
Department of Defense or the Symantec Corporation.
Dietz has 30 years of diversified military and commercial
information operations experience. He is currently Director,
North American Enterprise Marketing for Symantec Corporation,
a publicly held information security software and services
attorney in California and a member of the Santa Clara County
Bar Association and the State Bar of California and a recognized
authority in the field of Internet and e-business law. He
retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army Reserve, serving
as Deputy Commander NATO's Information Campaign in Bosnia.
Previous military assignments include Commander, 12th PSYOP
Battalion, Strategic Intelligence Officer, Company commander
and Radio Research Platoon Leader. He is currently the Assistant
Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Security of the 351st
Civil Affairs Command. He holds BS, MBA, JD. and LLM in European
Law from Leicester University, United Kingdom. COL (R) Dietz
was elected Honorary Colonel of the PSYOP Regiment of the
U.S. Army in April 2003.
Q: 1. What is the aim of Psychological Operations and how can it
Dietz: Psychological Operations in the military
context is another weapons system to accomplish the mission
set by the commander. Psychological Operations officers work
closely with the current and future ops people to determine
how that weapons system can be implemented along with all
the others. A key facet of this role is being apart of target
selection and deconfliction as well as with the overall operations.
2. Where do Influence Operations fit into the larger picture
of Information Operations?
Dietz: Influence Ops have been more generally
recognised as a warfighting discipline over the past several
years. And they are always found in the ‘three or operations
shop’. The Influence Ops can sometimes include deception
operations, which can be physical types of deception, as we saw
in Kosovo as a complement to the PsyOp.
is geared towards influencing the behaviour of the target.
The target can be military or civilian depending on the situation.
Q: 3. What is the importance of Influence Ops compared to other
Dietz: I cannot
really fully address this question because I have not personally
all of the IO elements used in concert
especially Computer Network Operations. My personal observations
have been limited to PsyOp. I have observed interaction among PSYOP,
public affairs, civil affairs and in some cases engineering operations
in support of civil affairs. You sometimes see all that treated
together particularly when you are in a combined headquarters where
the different troop contributors have a role in determining what
the goals of the campaign are where the commander’s guidance
is generic enough so that everyone can put their 2 cents in. Things
that touch the population and information presented to the population
I have seen orchestrated together, but I have never seen the whole
range to include the Computer Network aspects.
Q: 4. Do you think US law hinders PsyOp? This applies especially
to PsyOp which is targeted at foreign audiences but which can
also be seen by US citizens and hence it can be considered to
Dietz: On the
strategic level there has been an awful lot of confusion. Some
dates back to pre-World War II. If you follow the
history of PsyOp in World War II the entertainment industry was
really mobilised for the war effort and a vital part of government
sponsored operations. At that point the work product was designed
for US and foreign citizens. In today’s world the State Department
is prohibited from ‘influencing’ American citizens
and a primary goal is to promote the American message to non-US
audiences. In fact as I understand it there is some law, but I
do not know what it is, that basically says the State Department
will not ‘psyop’ American citizens. This becomes somewhat
problematic when you have Internet access, because when I am sitting
in America I can log on any url in the world and unless there is
some sort of technological way to filter out US domains from accessing
the US State Department which I do not believe there is, it gets
to be a real problem. Therefore, the State Department, in my opinion,
has chosen to deal with this is that they do not devote resources
by policy to ‘psyoping the American citizens. On the military
side I think the military is much less encumbered because when
military PsyOp is deployed it is outside the United States, US
laws may not apply to them in foreign countries.
5. According to a NATO PsyOps officer, it is relatively difficult
to put PsyOp teams ‘on the ground’ before
the outbreak of hostilities whilst they have no objections to inserting
Special Ops teams into a pre-hostilities environment? How can senior
military Commanders be persuaded to use PsyOp in a pre-hostility
Dietz: Special Ops are trained to function behind enemy lines
and in most cases are trained not to be noticed. How would put
a military PsyOp team in an environment where they are clearly
going to be noticed because they are operating in the open and
not trying to shield their operations in any way. It would seem
difficult to insert a PSYOP team prior to hostilities. The commander
understands the weapon systems. If you are going after a target
and you think there will be hostilities, you then you have 2
sets of targets, you have civilian targets and military targets.
The military target is the province of military PsyOp. This does
not mean that PSYOP cannot be conducted against a target from
outside that country by alternative means. Broadcast media can
often be transmitted into a target from outside its borders.
We have already discussed the fact that the Internet renders
many borders useless.
Q: 6. Should PsyOp be used in peacetime? If yes, who should conduct
is a difference between PsyOp and Public Information. PsyOp is
designed to influence
behaviour in concert with a military
commander’s desire. Information Operations implies a broader
context and can provide information to allow the population to
make their own decision--hopefully the way the influencer intends.
That is a different animal. My personal feeling is when the target
is military; then the military is the right vehicle. If the target
is the civilian population, there needs to be a different way to
do it: in the US case that would be through the State Department
as it has the mission of public information. If a military force
is deployed for peacekeeping or peace making operations it will
very likely be incumbent upon them to engage in effect PSYOP to
help influence the population in their favour for a number of reasons
not the least of which would be their own security. Today’s
situation in Iraq is a case in point where military resources are
employed to communicate with the local population for a variety
Q: 7. What is the importance of strategic PsyOp?
PsyOp is important to establish a baseline and to realise that
is built over time. In the world of
public information truth must be the message, because in today’s
world there are no secrets. Sooner or later the truth will be revealed.
So there needs to be continuing attention to the strategic message.
Q: 8. Where do you think the borderline should be drawn between
public diplomacy, public affairs, and Influence Operations, etc.?
it depends on the target. Public diplomacy and public information
realm of the civilian population and civilian
influence. PsyOp to me is military commander’s and the civilian
command chain of an adversary. So for example I do not think that
PsyOp would be applied against the commercial enterprises in a
target country. But clearly PsyOp could be applied towards the
minister of information in the target country as well as leading
military commanders and figures. I think it is matter of targeting
Q: 9. Most of the US PsyOp capabilities are drawn from reservists.
Do you think the US should have more regular PsyOp forces and could
the army do that?
now the US PsyOp force consists of three groups and only one
groups is active. As a practical matter there
needs to be more active duty PsyOp forces for three several reasons:
1. the operational tempo has become so severe that you cannot rely
on a continuing stream of part time soldiers. If an individual
wanted to be a full time soldier they would have stayed in active
duty and there are a lot of economic and sociological ramifications
of being a reservist PsyOp officer as I can personally attest.
Continuous exploitation of Reserve forces will bring significant
familiar pressure to reduce commitments and will ultimately severely
limit the recruiting base. Potential re-employment difficulties
upon release from active duty may also serve to hamper recruiting.
Another reason in favour of a larger PsyOp force in the active
force is so that active duty PsyOp officers can rotate amongst
the assignments with the big army remove some of the lack of knowledge
surrounding PsyOp in the overall force. This assignment rotation
would facilitate a network of professional soldiers who have now
worked with each other and understands each other’s discipline.
The second part of your question was could the army do that? I
guess they could as there is no physical limitation: certainly
there is the capability to train more and there is capability to
house more soldiers within the active duty 4th PSYOP Group.. I
would not see that an issue at all.
Q: 10. Intelligence support is very important for Influence Operations?
How do you think the US Intel community should change to provide
better Intel support, especially cultural intelligence?
is not enough attention to the civilian composition of the countries
of the world, particularly the media. There are
no existing databases to my knowledge that tell you who owns what
TV station, who owns what radio station, do these stations take
commercial advertising and if so who are the biggest advertisers,
what are the rates, who are the leading personalities and what
are their backgrounds. This information is very difficult to get.
You cannot necessarily go out on the Internet and find out how
many TV stations there are in Azerbaijan. The issue of language
proficiency is also important and it is difficult to collect intelligence
when the collectors cannot employ the native language of the target.
Having said that it strikes me as logical that the commercial attachés
of particular embassies and consulates should be chartered with
the collection of TV guides, radio scheduling, newspaper publishing
data and whatever information is available to the public from open
sources dealing with the nature of the communications media. I
think right now this is really a black hole. And even in the commercial
sector you do not see much of that information available, because
it is kind of a ‘follow the money thing’, i.e. that
countries of the world that have very poor economies are typically
the ones that have the most troubles and because they have poor
economies they are not good venues for investments. If they are
not good venues for investments there is not a lot of research
in the media even though some of these countries would be the mostly
locations for military intervention of one kind or another.
Q: 11. During the Kosovo war Serbs managed to maintain Information
Superiority over its citizens. What lessons can be learned from
Dietz: That goes back to my point: the military is good for military
targets and the civilians for civilian targets. The Serbs are
very good at controlling the media. The Serbs believe much along
Communist lines that the purpose of SRT, Serb Radio Television,
is to serve the needs of the State. They are not an objective
news providing force nor do they claim to be. They are an arm
of the state. Information superiority was gained and maintained
because they had much more control over the audience. The lesson
learned is you have to quickly disrupt that ownership, deny them
access to the audience and provide your own information if you
Q: 12. What lesson have you learned when you were deputy Commander
of the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force in Bosnia?
of all, military people are very similar in terms of characteristics
and personality, but they are very different
in the way they do business, and what is important to them. Particularly
as we Americans have a well-deserved reputation for inflexibility
and for being the ‘biggest cowboys in town’. Unfortunately
a big part of your initial tasks in a collation is to first establish
your personal credibility and ability to relate to your fellow
officers from the other nations. The second thing you have to do
is establish, even though PsyOp and Information Operations do not
involve blowing up things or killing the enemy, they can account
for very significant advances in the commander’s goals. In
many cases PSYOP personnel must work with their military colleagues
to help the military understand how civilians work and think. You
are often presented with flag officers who think they absolutely
positively know everything because they are flag officers. They
may be exceptionally astute in matters of military strategic or
tactics, but have not functioned as a civilian since their college
days and may have lost touch with what is involved in influencing
Frankly, one of the most important lessons I learned military
people have no sense of money. They think Information Operations
just happens. Information Operations does not just happen. There
is a time factor needed to develop appropriate materials and you
there is a need for a budget to buy the access to the media just
like every other advertiser. That is sometimes a very difficult
thing to teach.
Q: 13. In one of your papers you looked at certain target groups?
Which group of people is most likely to susceptible to PsyOps?
Dietz: In that paper you referred to I took a look at the target
groups in terms of red, yellow and green. The red group was that
group of individuals who, no matter what the heck you would do,
you are just not going to change their mind. The green group generally
hates the red group and whatever you are going to do they will
still hate the red group and they are more likely to believe your
friendly message. So you need to provide some level of emphasis
on the green group to make sure they maintain their view. The group
with the biggest potential is the orange, amber, or yellow group
that falls somewhere in the middle. These are the ones that must
Q: 14. What do you think is the potential of ESpace as PsyOps battleground?
Dietz: First, not everybody has access to the Internet. A fair
amount of target analysis is required to determine the importance
of the Internet as a influencing media. The second thing is just
because the commander has an email, does not mean he is reading
it. Perhaps some poor sergeant is reading and answering the Commander’s
mail, we know that for sure. So messages via email may or may not
go astray. Mobile phones are an interesting phenomena because mobile
phones are often a part of the battlefield scenario. Particularly,
when you are past the conflict and you are in the peacekeeping
mode, it is far easier for many governments to set up a wireless
network than to run wires over great distances, particularly with
weather problems. The mobile phone becomes a very effective potential
media. The mere fact that you know the mobile number of the target
and perhaps his physical location as well will be in and of itself
an unnerving PSYACT. Future adoption of short message system (SMS)
and other similar means of communication may also prove to be effective
techniques for selected, high profile targets.
But as far
as the Internet goes, we have not seen the Internet become a
main access of attack
simply because most of the areas
where PSYOP are executed do not offer a robust information technology
infrastructure. In the target area the ESpace thing may be overrated.
When there are targets that are in developed economies with adequate
Internet coverage then PSYOP conducted over the Internet may prove
effective. Of course there are PSYACTs that can be conducted against
internet targets such as websites of governments, groups or individuals.
Also from a CNO or CNE operation there doesn’t seem to be
a well developed publicly available doctrine. Right now it would
appear that the ESpace is far more an enabler of communications
and an intelligence gather mechanism for many organizations, state
sponsored and otherwise.
Q: 15. What is you opinion of the potential of Information Operations
as a whole?
Dietz: IO is
so complex a phenomena that today’s commander
has difficulty understanding it. Unfortunately IO appears to be
populated by a world of specialists today. Until it becomes a general
part of the battle system, its effects are going to be limited.
You can have different commanders in the same physical locations
with the same units who know how to use IO and employ those fundamentals
and then you have commanders who do not employ IO at all. Results
obtained are perhaps not recorded nor are the lessons learned,
nor is there sufficient easily understood doctrine that can aid
the Warfighter in exploiting IO for their advantage.
Q: 16. Do you think in the future more and more Precision guided
PsyOp will be possible?
Dietz: Yes, I would say so. Particularly, if you can identify
the target, and use a variety of means to identify alternative
information sources to that target, especially if the target is
electronically rich. For example, the typical American with what
the research companies call the personal area network, you have
a PDA, a mobile phone, a laptop and all kinds of electronic means,
maybe more than one email address. The more of those means I can
isolate, the better I can target that individual, presumably it
is a high payoff target.
Q: 17. What is your opinion about the US PsyOp campaign during
Operation Iraqi Freedom?
Dietz: I wish could tell you I know. Unfortunately, my information
has come from the American media and The Economist. Based on
public sources either the information campaign was a fabulous
success or the assessments in terms of urban warfare capabilities
were totally screwed up. It is one or the other. So based on
the length of time of the actual conflict I must say that something
went right whether it was the enemy who was not as strong as
people thought or our intelligence was better I do not know.
It would appear to me that the broadcast media in the major cities
such as Baghdad play an important role in people’s daily
lives and that the coalition would have to extend its IO to exploit
Q: 18. Where do you see the future of PsyOp?
future is such that when people realise that tomorrow’s
actions will be characterised by a mobile fighting force. The range
and high degree of freedom that this force will have to employ
implies that will use PsyOp and Public Affairs to further the commander’s
objectives. Key areas for attention will no doubt include civilian
interference with the military objectives and the need to keep
these down to a minimum. The complementary mission for PSYOP would
be to exact as much emotional damage as possible from the adversary
force before, during and after the conflict. We will see more and
better PsyOp over time particularly as commanders see results.
The latest events in Iraq are a pretty good indicator that this
stuff can really work and they can really save time and more importantly
lives of your friendly forces.
The Interview was conducted as part of an IWS research
project on IO Computer Network Attacks.
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30 December, 2007
by Wanja Eric Naef
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