Regimental Commandant Robert A. B. Curris has prepared an excellent letter to the PSYOP Regiment and all Psywarriors past and present. It is an excellent overview of key issues being addressed by the Regiment for calendar year 2019.
Fellow PSYOPers past and present, Happy New Year!
As we start 2019 there is much going on with the Regiment, and I thought I would provide an update on few things happening within PSYOP, at least at the wave top level.
All things CYBER:
Frankly, I think there is as much trepidation as there is opportunity here. There has been an effort over the past couple of years to relook proponency for all information-related capabilities. As a result, there is a reorganization ongoing internal to TRADOC to move the Information Operations, MILDEC, OPSEC and a couple other smaller capability branches away from the Mission Command Center of Excellence to the CYBER Center of Excellence. This consolidation may clear the way to create an Information Warfare Proponent. However, the PSYOP proponent is currently remaining within USASOC.
As an extension of the proponency question there is the doctrinal question of what is Information Warfare? There have been PSYOP representatives from this office, 1st Special Forces Command and the USASOC G9 shop participating in an ARCYBER effort referred to as the Information Warfare Design Planning Team (IW-DPT). At the unclassed level, they are meant to define what actions and activities are part of information warfare, how are they conducted, how are they measured and how are they included in an operational concept. This will be roughly a six month effort and will culminate with back briefs to LTG Fogarty at ARCYBER. In my opinion, the importance of this effort cannot be understated because the operational concept that will ultimately come from this will help define how PSYOP works within and through CYBER.
Additionally, I think it is important to let you know that SOCOM and the PSYOP community are also expanding its WEB operations capability. This will be good for several reasons. It will be a great model for others to follow on how PSYOP can, and should, interact within the internet, and it will also allow us to grow a few senior level billets for both officers and NCOs.
Speaking of billets, there has been a lot of staff work throughout 2018 that we should see payoff in 2019. The USACAPOC FDU that establishes growth and some development capability will go back to the Pentagon for decision this year, and we are hopeful that we have answered their questions and are ready to push forward.
Despite the loss of our staff positions within the Division Level HQs last year, we are hopeful that the PSYOP Cell recommended for each of the new Multi-Domain Task Forces will be codified this year. A version of this cell will be tried out in a major exercise later this summer, but there has been great support for this from the conventional force so far.
Changes in the force:
As some of you know we have had issues with our grade plate that has all but stopped promotion from E5 to E6. Partially because of the “no growth” policies we are at or over 100% at just about every NCO grade above E5. In an effort to remedy this we are working with 1st SFC and USASOC to submit a FDU Jr. which would recode our E5 billets to E6. This will also require a requisite grade plate change for E7s and above. To be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone is automatically promoted to E6. Graduates of the AC pipeline will still be an E5 and remain so until they meet all of the time-in-grade and time-in-service requirements to be an E6. However, this should allow for a backlog of very senior E5s to promote quickly. We should know the results of that this year.
There are also several DOTMLPF Change Requests (DCRs) out there which could change the force. The ones which request growth are on hold but may be allowed to get staffed in hopes of being approved for when future growth is approved. Most notably is the DCR within 1st SFC that could change our organization from two units of action (TPT and RPT) to a single unit of action simply referred to as PSYOP Teams and Detachments. This has been well socialized within the Active force but requires approval at the SOCOM level. I believe that you will see a few task-organized detachments as test cases for this concept this year.
USAJFKSWCS is going through multiple staff and organizational reorganizations at the moment. One of the efforts is to optimize all three branches into a four starts a year model that would allow for more cross functional training between the various specialties. This obviously includes looking at the PSYOP pipeline. The 5th PSYOP BN within 1st SWTG, along with the Training Group staff, have the lead and are working with the Commandant’s office and Operational commands to review certain portions of the curriculum. The intent is to roll out this pipeline in the next FY. While there will be additional ARSOF common Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities such as “Resistance” (UW and COIN) added to the course, we will NOT be abandoning the core PSYOP tasks and processes. We truly understand that we must be good PSYOPers first.
Tied to the previous CYBER conversation, we are also looking at how to leverage more social media analytics, protection and other baseline CYBER courses as an extension of the active duty pipeline. This is not to the exclusion of the RC force because these are P2 funded courses available to the Army. However, the RC forces would have to schedule these separately based on unit training time and dollars.
Both AC and RC are facing recruiting and manning challenges at the junior level. Both forces are stretched with their current operational obligations and both are looking for ways to transform to be more relevant within what seems like CYBER-dominated world. I think both forces are frustrated with policy on how and when they conduct PSYOP on the internet; especially since our adversaries seem to be weapons free within all of political warfare. I would ask you to keep faith with the leadership who are doing things on your behalf to make sure we are included in discussions at the highest levels of DOD. I hope 2019 will be a banner year for our total force, because I think we will see some sweeping changes made and it will be up to all of us to make whatever happens into a positive for the Regiment. Thank you for your continued service and support.
COL Robert A.B. Curris