Talking about Strategic Influence and Stuff

Come see the panel, stay for carpet bombing Smurfs

Back on 6 December 2022, Dr. Isaiah “Ike” Wilson III, President of the Joint Special Operations University, moderated a panel with Tom Evans, Joint Staff J39 of the Joint Information Warfare Center, and me for an hour-long discussion starting with the question what is “strategic influence” and some of the problems we have in understanding, supporting, and conducting this stuff.

This was the first panel of an event called “Strategic Influence and Communication Paradigms in a Compound Security Environment,” which was part of a series called JSOU Future of SOF (Special Operating Forces) Forum. (If the embedded video isn’t working or streaming properly, here is the YouTube link.)

Ike gave a scene-setting keynote before our panel, which I recommend watching (see it here). Though this was a two-day conference, I only watched Ike’s opening and participated in my panel before returning to my stuff, so don’t ask me about anything else about the conference.

While I intended to not speak about, let alone mention, the Smith-Mundt Act, it is almost natural in this forum that that a question from the audience asked me to comment on it. On that note, see my declaration from a month ago: No, the Smith-Mundt Act doesn't apply to the Defense Department. I also spoke on how the DIME construct is defective while a 106-year-old similar and forgotten model based on actual elements of national power of Combat, Economics, Political, and Psychologic elements (CEPP) is superior. We delved into issues of risk aversion, ceding the initiative and being reactive, and watched Smurfs get carpet bombed for fun and a lesson in communications and influence.

I think the conversation was interesting. Hopefully, you will as well. Share your comments, provocations, disagreements, etc. by replying to this email, posting a comment, emailing me, etc.

Matt Armstrong