Influence Strategy: Consistency and Legitimacy as Key Factors

Influence Strategy: Consistency and Legitimacy as Key Factors

Bryan Pickett (United State Air Force, USA) and Mike Lingenfelter (United States Army, USA)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/ijcwt.2011070102
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The U.S. strategy in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as with al-Qaeda has focused predominantly on heavy U.S. military involvement (with a high proportion of kinetic operations), while using influence components (media, public diplomacy, Civil Affairs (CA), Military Information Support Operations (MISO), and Public Affairs (PA)), for the most part, in a reactive manner. This paper explores influence strategy and theory to identify what the key components of an effective influence strategy are, and how to modify these components to increase strategic effectiveness. First examined is the relationship of influence strategy with grand strategy, then progressed to examining several key influence theories as proposed by Cialdini, Ellul, Pratkanis, and Aronson, Tugwell, McLuhan, and Reilly. From the review, it appears that there are multiple descriptive formulations of the components of influence, but no specific formulations on how to develop an effective influence strategy using these principles. The principles of influence were compared and several hypotheses regarding an effective influence strategy proposed to help achieve the desired political end-state. The authors plan to test these hypotheses in future research using case studies of the Boer War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the current conflict of U.S. versus trans-national Jihadi terrorists.
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Strategy And Influence

Liddell Hart (1975) stated that “nations do not wage war for war’s sake, but in pursuance of policy. The military objective is only the means to a political end” (Lykke, 1989, p. 351). Thus, military strategy in all cases is the “art and science of employing the armed forces of a nation to secure the objectives of national policy by the application of force or the threat of force” (JCS, 1987, p. 232). Now if “[s]trategy equals ends (objectives toward which one strives) plus ways (courses of action plus means (instruments by which some end can be achieved)” then what are the optimal military ways and means for achieving political ends (Lykke, 1989, p. 9)? In the past, military strategy often focused on the destruction of forces; however, this was required only as a necessary step to ultimately reach the decision maker to achieve the political concession of those who controlled the military. The “QDR acknowledges that victory…depends on information, perception, and how and what we communicate as much as application of kinetic effects” (Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 2006, p. 230). This end is the same for the full spectrum of war, from potential conflict with nuclear powers to low-intensity conflicts: “Countering the ideological appeal of the terrorist network of networks is an important means to stem the flow of recruits into the ranks of terrorist organizations. As in the Cold War, victory will come only when the ideological motivation for the terrorists’ activities has been discredited and no longer holds the power to motivate streams of individuals” (The National Defense Strategy, 2005, p. 244).

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