Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow on March 24, 2016. (State Department photo)

PERSPECTIVE: A Five-Point Strategy to Oppose Russian Narrative Warfare

BLUF is an old military expression meaning: Bottom Line, Up Front. As an advisory, this topic, in our current hyper-partisan political environment, is fraught with sensitivities. There is virtually no political intent in the following strategy. It is a sincere and well-informed effort to meet the challenges of the very real and ongoing threat to our homeland from Russia.

Russia, as declared publicly in 2015 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is our primary strategic adversary. If we are to manage Russian aggression then we need to be able to discuss it professionally and with no political agenda. I am both honored and appreciative that Homeland Security Today has offered me the opportunity to present here my thoughts on mitigating Russian aggression by way of the tools we now have at our disposal.

There is no single nor revolutionary weapon or weapons system that will mitigate the Russian threat for us. Like all influence, the situation, hence the threat, is dimensional and requires commitment by everyone from the highest levels of leadership down through everyday, hardworking American citizens from all types of backgrounds. We all have a part to play, most especially the professionals engaged in the disparate aspects of homeland security. It is likely that the security professionals reading this will all recognize one or several elements of the strategy which they can impact or contribute to. Please allow me to thank you in advance for taking the initiative to make those contributions.

Before retiring from the U.S. Army in late 2015, I spent most of my career in a community which had as one of their mantras, albeit an unwritten one, that when presented with a problem “don’t just complain, present solutions.” This paper is just that: a discussion of pragmatic and recommended solutions for protecting ourselves from Russian narrative/information warfare.

This paper is intentionally written in narrative form rather than the usual linear strategy format. We are after all, talking about narrative warfare. It is also written as plain-spoken as possible so that everyone from policy-makers and national security professionals through well-informed citizens can follow the discussion. Finally, this strategy is meant to drive discussion and advocate for energetic progress in meeting this particular security challenge. I don’t offer it as a “cast in concrete” solution but as a framework based on my career as an influence practioner for the U.S. Army. My faith in the innate American ability to adapt and overcome is limitless when we put our minds and efforts toward solutions so please, read, challenge, suggest or reject — but above all, let’s help our leadership take on this threat with all the resolve and innovation required to keep the nation safe.

Read the full paper on the five-point strategy here

 

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.

Mr. Paul Cobaugh retired from the US Army as a Warrant Officer after a distinguished career in the US Special Operations CT community, primarily focused on mitigating adversarial influence and advancing US objectives by way of influence. Throughout his career he has focused on the centrality of influence in modern conflict whether it be from extremist organisations or state actors employing influence against the US and our Allies. Post military career he was offered and accepted the position of Vice President at Narrative Strategies, a US based Think-Do Tank which specializes in the non-kinetic aspects of conflict. He has also co-authored, Soft Power on Hard Problems, Hamilton Publishing, 2017.

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