Before I pressed “publish” on yesterday’s roundup of PSYOP across recent podcasts, I paused, thinking I had heard PSYOP discussed on at least one more podcast, but I couldn’t remember.
I had even made a note to write about that one. There’s a discussion on the type of skills needed to conduct influence operations (cultural competence, language proficiency, media fluency, etc.).
With slight tweaks, it’s the same argument that flag officers and senior defense civilians pounded their fists about in the mid-2000’s when we were fighting COIN.
“We need people who speak the language, soldier-scholars, a modern day Lawrence of Arabia..”.
I forget who said it (Andrew Exum?) but there is a quote somewhere out there about how if we need PhDs to fight our wars we have already lost. Maybe.
Anyway, during the discussion, there’s a question as to whether we have those folks or could get them, train them.
The reality is, building those skill sets takes a long time. Years. And specialized study. These are skills that cannot be fully trained during a standard military course.
However, they can be achieved over time. Those people exist. There are lots of folks who have put in the work. Part of the problem is by the time these skill sets are actualized, the folks who can use them are usually billeted in positions where they are no longer that useful.
Still, I think there is a way for individuals to “worm” their way to the job where they might be most effective, but it really should be the other way around. Identify talent, and put that person where he or she is needed and where their talents can be fully exploited.