Response to “Why RAND Missed the Point”

Note from the editor: After posting the paper, “Why RAND Missed the Point” we provided the original author the opportunity to respond to that paper. This will help provide a more complete picture of the overall topic and debate. We encourage comments and both papers to round out the entire picture from all sides.

Why RAND Missed the PointIn their paper, “Why RAND Missed the Point,” [Click on Cover to go to this paper] Major General Andrew Mackay, Commander Steve Tatham and Dr. Lee Rowland criticize the methods, conclusions and recommendations of the RAND publication, U.S. Military Information Operations in Afghanistan: Effectiveness of Psychological Operations 2001-2010. 1 They also criticize a 2007 RAND report, Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theatres of Operation.2 Their paper, which this response will refer to hereafter as “the critique,” raises several important issues which merit further discussion.3 An exchange of differing views concerning this multi-faceted topic should benefit those charged with planning, implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of Information Operations (IO) and Psychological Operations (PSYOP) – the latter redefined since the research was completed by the Department of Defense as Military Information Support Operations (MISO). Underlying the differences of opinion to be discussed in this response is a common assumption that IO and PSYOP do need to adapt more effectively to the Afghan environment and can be improved to more effectively accomplish missions in future operating environments…

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Information Operations Best Practices Collaboration

(Editor’s Note: Since the inaugural article on best practices in the May 2012 issue of the IO Sphere, a lot has been accomplished on sharing IO-related best practices across the joint IO force. This is the first in a series of regular updates on that topic to appear in future editions of the IO Sphere.)

Sharing best-practices (BP) within the joint Information Operations (IO) community is receiving increasing attention at senior levels of leadership. For example, a number of discussions at the 2-4 October 2012 Worldwide IO Conference (WWIO) either focused on, or touched upon, the theme.

To address this growing area of interest, a specified task levied upon the Joint Staff J-39 Deputy Director of Global Operations as the Joint IO Proponent reads “Facilitate developing and sharing IO lessons learned with other DoD components and allied partners, as appropriate.”1 Best practices being an output of lessons learned, the Joint IO Warfare Center (JIOWC) has been tasked to “Facilitate the sharing of IO best practices across the joint IO force.” 2

In satisfying this tasking, the JIOWC J55 Advocacy Branch has initiated a virtual collaborative effort in which an IO BP community of practice (CoP) can table, discuss, and advocate for IO-related BPs. Two primary rules govern this effort: First, the CoP focuses on BPs relating to the integration of information-related capabilities (IRC), as versus the employment of specific IRCs. While individual IRC employment will likely be discussed as background to the overall IO integrative effort, the ultimate focus will be on integration. Second, the purpose of convening the CoP is for the sharing of lessons-learned (LL)/BPs, not so much their discovery, validation, analysis, or implementation. Again, CoP discussion threads will certainly delve into these activities as background; however, it is not our intent to duplicate or run a parallel process to the Joint Staff (JS) J-7’s LL mission. JS J-7’s Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis Division has been apprised and is supportive of this IO-focused effort.

The initial collaborative event took place via VTC on 13 September 2012 with USSTRATCOM J39, USNORTHCOM J39 and J2, HQDA G-39/ODCI, MCIOC, and J3/J5 elements of the JIOWC in attendance. This session comprised primarily administrative direction and proposed TTPs for BP collaboration.

The CoP convened a second VTC on 8 November 2012 with USCENTCOM CCJ3-IO-PO, USNORTHCOM J2, HQDA G-39/ODCI, NIOC, and JIOWC J3/J5/OS attending. The CoP rolled up its collective sleeves and addressed three challenges/BPs nominated and presented by NIOC dealing with force development (training), IO planning and assessment competencies (i.e., force development [management]), and overcoming limitations inherent in the IO tab of JOPES Vol II. Additionally, JIOWC J3 sponsored a call for potential BPs relating to IO targeting as a follow up from discussions at the WWIO.

To further both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, JIOWC J55 has established an IO BP SharePoint site on SIPRNet at that includes an Announcements feature for hot topics and news, a discussion board and blog for asynchronous collaboration, a document library to archive community updates and support documentation, and links to external LL/BP sites. We’ve also established a SIPRNet Defense Connect Online (DCO) room for aperiodic IO BP sidebars or other ad hoc collaborative events.

Ultimately, as BPs are identified and refined, they will be entered into the Joint Lessons Learned Information System for formal recognition within the Joint Lessons Learned Program. DOTML-PF requirements that may roll out from these BPs will be handled via the appropriate joint business process (e.g., JCIDS, JTS) under the auspices of JIOWC J5’s requirements advocacy role as a JS Chairman Controlled Activity.

We’re planning regular collaborative events on a quarterly basis, depending upon the number of BP topics nominated for discussion. The CY13 tentative schedule includes Wednesday VTC/SIPRNet DCO sessions from 1100-1200 Central Time on 20 February, 22 May, 21 August, and 20 November. This schedule is subject to change upon CoP consensus. Changes and updates will be posted on the Announcements section of the IO BP SharePoint site.

If you see value in this effort for your organization, please contact Mr. Bruce Judisch at on NIPRNet, on SIPRNet, or telephonically at 210.977.4973/DSN 969.4973. Alternate POC is Mr. Roger Gaebel:,, 210.977.4666/DSN 969.4666. Government POC is Mr. Ed Ratcliffe, JIOWC J55:,, 210.977.4919/DSN 969.4919.

The Effectiveness of US Military Information Operations in Afghanistan 2001-2010: Why RAND Missed the Point

Major General (rtd) Andrew Mackay
Commander Steve Tatham Ph.D Royal Navy
Dr Lee Rowland: The Behavioural Dynamics Institute


In May 2012 the RAND Corporation published a detailed study of Click on Photo to Read the Rand Study on IO/MISO/PsyOps in Afghanistanthe effectiveness of US Information Operations in Afghanistan between 2001-2010 (Click on Cover to Read Full Rand Study). The paper identified six key lessons that the US must learn from that experience and made five recommendations. 

This paper finds much to agree with in RAND’s findings, but much, too, with which it disagrees, particularly in RAND’s recommendations. However, it is the view of this paper’s authors that RAND has missed THE fundamental failing in not just US IO and MISO/PsyOps but wider ISAF efforts as well: (Read the Full Essay at the Download Button).

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