WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – NIGERIA -What do these seemingly disparate events have in common? Relatively small groups, operating under the radar of national and international intelligence gathering and monitoring organizations, are having or preparing to have a significant impact on their country’s policies.
Here’s the really bad news for the host nation: the world, more than ever before, is watching. The world is watching because we now know that these relatively small groups can affect real political change in ways that were before impossible. You just can’t kill the reprobates anymore, the good old days of having “the boot on the throat” of the pissed-off masses is over.
Over. Everyone has a cell phone, with the capability of recording video and images – same as the rest of the world. The message can’t be controlled anymore. The word will get out. How does a government get a handle on these wildfires? How does a smoldering, localized problem erupt into a wildfire? Is it possible to head these calamities off, before they become headlines?
The answer is, yes, of course. All problems are manageable, and it is always easier and cheaper to solve problems while they are small. But it does take a different look, an evolved way of “listening” and “managing.”
The military version, the weaponized version of listening and managing is known by the soft term “Information Operations (I/O).” Full scope military intelligence (MI) programs utilize traditional disciplines (HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, MASINT, etc) in conjunction with value-add programs such as Atmospherics, Human Terrain, media exploitation and others. The mission is simple: control and manage the message.
The perception of the local population is measured and tracked. The messaging is constantly refined and targeted to specific groups. Soon, the public outrage over a given subject cools, and political, peaceful and often mutually beneficial solutions are deployed. Problem solved.
The military version costs billions. No government is interested in spending the money on an I/O campaign that has the weight and capabilities of the US version, used effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is, until the wildfire threatens to unseat political leaders – and it is always too late when that happens. Ask Messrs. Bin Ali, Mubarak, Assad and Qaddafi if they wished they had listened to the word on the street, and you will get an unqualified “yes.” The key to successful governance today is to head off the storm.
Years ago in America, a policeman walking a beat knew everyone, and when there was an undercurrent in his area of responsibility, he knew it. He would report to his supervisor, interested parties would assemble, work out the problem, and life would continue. There are new methods to measuring the street today, commercial outfits that offer these services at a fraction of the cost of a full-scope intelligence program.
Commercial and government entities have the ability to purchase these services, bundle together complementary programs, and create an I/O platform for a fraction of the cost of an ongoing military operation. It is likely that there is good opportunity for these service providers, if their focus is laser, their offerings are proven and the value is evident. Certainly there are government entities that require these services – a quick check of the headlines illustrates this on a daily basis.
Exclusive for World News Tomorrow by Billy Metts is the Director of Operations for ISI-Atmospherics, providing international atmospherics collection. He can be reached at [email protected]