Dr Waller on PSYOP assessment team for Pentagon

Publication Date: February 24, 2010

The US Special Operations Command has requested an IWP professor’s assistance with a major assessment project to design military psychological operations capabilities for the next decade.

Professor J Michael Waller is part of a US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) team to develop the Department of Defense PSYOP Capabilities-Based Assessment. The objective of the effort is to identify the capabilities and operational performance criteria required for joint organizations and the military services to support the execution of US military operations to influence foreign audiences through the year 2020.

“Being on this team is a great opportunity to incorporate innovative approaches to PSYOP that we have developed at IWP and make a contribution to the war effort,” Waller says. “We professors learn a lot from our students, many of whom are military and intelligence practitioners themselves, and it’s rewarding to synthesize and recycle this knowledge in the fight against the enemy. Social science is a valuable weapon against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and our troops need more support from the academic community.”

The team is studying current capabilities and analyzing, reviewing and identifying what PSYOP and enabling capabilities are required to support the geographic Combatant Commanders’ theater-strategic campaign plans and US government strategic and trans-regional plans and operations. The group is also assessing and recommending suitable, feasible and acceptable solution sets – doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities – to address gaps.

Demand for the assessment surfaced during the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review process and the 2009 USSOCOM PSYOP Three-Star Senior Warfighter Forum. Few if any PSYOP-related studies or analytical reports have holistically and definitively addressed PSYOP capacity and capabilities for supporting military operations at the theater, trans-regional and strategic levels.

The assessment should be completed by summer 2010.

Dr Waller is the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at IWP. He directs the school’s program on Public Diplomacy and Political Warfare. In addition, he is one of only two instructors in the field of influence operations for a special Army leader development program based at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. To date, Dr Waller has trained more than 3,300 Army officers in preparation for their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.