Stephen D. Williams
sdw at lig.net
Tue Apr 7 17:41:26 PDT 2009
"Outside of Fallujah, on a sprawling US military base, ... three screens
sit on a desk, displaying a set of digital maps showing a God's-eye view
of the entire country. Every American tank and truck is marked with blue
icons. Every recent insurgent attack is marked in red. There are more than
1,100 units like this one across the country, and the site of every major
US military center in Iraq is connected to the same system. The brass
calls these futuristic command posts... well, it calls them command posts
of the future, or CPOF. (Grunts call them the command posts of the right
now C-PORN.) This is network-centric warfare, translated from journal
theory to war-zone reality."
This is exactly what I have been saying was missing. Why has it taken
this long to employ any brains on strategy???
"His name is Joe Colabuno, and he's a sergeant who works in psychological
operations psyops, in military-speak. His job is to win the
hearts-and-minds battle, and his tools are almost comically simple:
posters drawn in Photoshop, loudspeaker and radio broadcasts pasted
together with SonicStage and saved to MiniDiscs, the occasional newspaper
article, and, above all, his own big mouth. Arab culture lives by its oral
traditions; talk is often the most important weapon. "I find the right
people to shape, and they shape the rest," Colabuno says."
"In the middle of the crowd, leaning on a cane, fingering prayer beads and
dressed in white, is a rotund, bearded man. He's clearly the ringleader.
Colabuno and his wire-thin interpreter, Leo, approach him. In every other
district, they've recruited plenty of alligators. "Why not in Askeri?"
Colabuno asks the ringleader.
The money's not good enough, he answers. An alligator makes only $50 a
month; day laborers get $8 a day when there's work, that is.
"That's the weakest argument ever," Colabuno says. The men looked stunned;
Americans don't normally speak this directly they're usually deferential
to the point of looking weak, or just condescending.
"Do you remember Sheikh Hamsa?" Colabuno asks. Sure, sure, the men nod.
The popular imam was killed more than a year ago by insurgents, but
they're a bit surprised that Colabuno knows who he is. Most of the US
troops here have been in town for just a few months. "Well, Sheikh Hamsa
told me that weak faith protects only so much.'" The ringleader stares
down at the ground and fingers his beads. Colabuno has hit a nerve. "You
know, I looked in the Koran. I didn't see anything about Mohammed
demanding a better salary before he'd do God's work," Colabuno says,
jamming his forefinger into his palm."
"A skinny man at the back of the pack speaks up, telling Colabuno that the
Americans are just here to take Iraq's oil. "Yeah, you're right. We want
your oil," Colabuno answers. Again eyes grow big with surprise. "We want
to buy it. So you can pay for jobs, for water, for electricity. Make you
rich." The men chuckle. Everyone shakes hands. Askeri's alligator quota is
filled by the next morning."
..."And now that he has cracked Fallujah's cultural code, the brass is
reluctant to let him leave."
"So Colabuno started spoofing the insurgents' posters instead. He put a
logo similar to that of the terrorist Islamic Army at the top of a simple
black-and-white sheet. "A young boy died while wearing a suicide vest
given to him by criminals," one flyer read. "You should remember that
whoever makes lies about Allah should reserve his seat in hell." The
extremists went nuts screaming at shopkeepers and locals who posted the
flyers, blaming other insurgents for defaming their good names. All the
while, Americans watched the action through high-powered surveillance
cameras. Consequently the marines knew who to question, and who to capture
or kill. "We know where you are and what you are doing," another poster
proclaimed. "Who will you trust now?"
American forces here set up a tip line so the locals could report on any
insurgents (and get a little reward for their efforts). The extremists
responded by blowing up the local cell towers, which Colabuno then turned
into another psyops poster criticizing their self-destructive behavior.
"Now we've got them making really stupid decisions," he says, grinning.
"They communicate by cell phone, too. They can't argue that they're just
attacking the foreigners.""
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