‘CPT G’ takes up position in Information Operations
Captain Matthew Gallagher, the milblogger behind Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal, has been moved away from his frontline duties. According to his fiancÃ©e, he’s been given a role in Information Operations at a Forward Operating Base in Iraq.
In May, a blog post written by Captain Gallagher about his refusal to accept a role away from his platoon was primarily responsible for the closure of his popular milblog.
One commenter was intrigued that the outspoken blogger had taken up a role in Information Operations:
Something ghastly ironic in our Captain being “promoted” to the PR side of Fobbitdom*.
So what is Captain Gallagher likely to be doing in his new role? Former US Army Officer, Andrew Exum, is one of my colleagues here at the War Studies Dept at King’s. He has pointed out that the US Department of Defense’s definition of ‘Information Operations’ is rather confusing:
In effect, the Department of Defense has taken the term â€˜information operationsâ€™ as understood by cyberwarfare types and mashed it together with the term â€˜information operationsâ€™ as understood by those of us waging wars of narratives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Andrew notes that one of the chapters of the new US Army Field Manual 3-0 (Feb 2008) is a discussion of ‘information superiority’. It begins with the following paragraph quoted from the Multinational Corpsâ€“Iraq Counterinsurgency Guidance 2007:
Be first with the truth. Since Soldier actions speak louder than what [public affairs officers] say, we must be mindful of the impact our daily interactions with Iraqis have on global audiences via the news media. Commanders should communicate key messages down to the individual level, but, in general, leaders and Soldiers should be able to tell their stories unconstrained by overly prescriptive themes. When communicating, speed is criticalâ€”minutes and hours matterâ€”and we should remember to communicate to local (Arabic/Iraqi) audiences firstâ€”U.S./global audience can follow. Tell the truth, stay in your lane, and get the message out fast. Be forthright and never allow enemy lies to stand unchallenged. Demand accuracy, adequate context, and proper characterization from the media.
Given these sort of passages, it would be interesting to know whether, and how, Captain Gallagher’s skill as a milblogger is being put to use in his new job in Information Operations. But I’m not too hopeful that we’ll find out anytime soon.
*For those of you who, like me, struggle with military jargon – ‘Fobbitdom’ is a reference to the fact that Captain Gallagher will now be mainly based in a Forward Operating Base (FOB). ‘Fobbit’ is a nickname given to soldiers and officers who rarely leave the relative safety of the FOB.