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Home > UNS > 130909-01


MEG Academic Week helps SOF look toward 2022 and beyond

By  Sgt. Daniel A. Carter

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 9, 2013) — The Military Information Support Operations Command's (MISOC) Effects Group (MEG) conducted the first-ever MEG Academic Week to increase the understanding of ideology within the Army Special Operations Force (ARSOF) community to more effectively defeat extremist organizations' ideologies.

This event was held from September 3-5 at the Airborne Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C.

The MISOC hosted the academic week "to bring a series of experts in ideology into an academic-style forum in order to present their views and thoughts to stimulate higher discussion," explained Lt. Col. Robert Cody, director of the MEG.

"The main purpose of this event [was] to understand ideology and how different ideologies are going to have an impact on how we operate in the future operating environment, and how we must be in position to defeat those narratives or at a minimum counter those narratives—this is important to us [and our mission success]," said Cody.

Cody continued to explain that the MISOC is one of several USASOC platforms has been charged with "operationalizing the CONUS (Continental United States) base" in support of forward deployed forces. Operationalizing the CONUS base is one of the priorities outlined in ARSOF 2022, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command strategic framework.

The experts that the MISOC brought in for this event are all part of the MEG's Community of Interest (COI). The COI regularly addresses issues and conducts case studies in support of theater special operations commands (TSOC) and other Army and Joint Special Operations formations. Members from the MEG COI that participated in MEG Academic Week included uniformed and civilian subject matter experts from the MISOC's Cultural Intelligence Element (CIE), the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS), the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), the National Defense University, the United States Naval War College, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the University of New Haven. By gathering experts from these organizations, the MEG continues to effectively bring together a very diverse and talented community which provides an invaluable knowledge database to the ARSOF community.

"Like artillery in combined arms maneuver, regionally expert forces should never be in reserve – even in CONUS, they need to continue to support the fight," states Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, the USASOC commanding general in the ARSOF 2022 publication.

The experts that the MEG brought into the event lectured ARSOF Soldiers on the part that ideology plays in terrorist organizations, their narratives, and social media.

Through these lectures, the MEG intends to broaden the ARSOF Soldiers' capabilities in theatre and in CONUS. By increasing Soldiers' knowledge of ideologies, not only are they better able to understand the threats that they face today in many operational environments, but also the changing environment in which they will be called to operate in the future.

Dr. Sebastian L. v. Gorka, associate professor of Irregular Warfare at the National Defense University and associate fellow with the Joint Special Operations University at U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), explains that "conventional war is unlikely to drive the future threats scenarios we will face as a nation. The role of ideology in creating threat groups, recruiting cadre, and justifying extremist violence is key."

Gorka outlined that "ARSOF will need to understand how ideology is used by threat groups and any conference like this one that focuses on the war of ideas will make our troops better able to [combat] America's future enemies."

The efforts by the MEG to bring these experts together provided expert information and imparted knowledge to ARSOF Soldiers in order to shape and educate them for 2022 and beyond. MEG events such as this one improve ARSOF Soldiers’ ability to understand the unique cultures and ideologies they may be called upon to operate in. Being able to understand unique cultures and ideologies in a theater of operations is a foundational characteristic of every ARSOF Soldier. The Academic Week is part of and directly supports USASOC's Campaign of Learning that is outlined in ARSOF 2022.

"ARSOF 2022 is a very important initiative in the development of [SOF] doctrine and preparation for future threat environments," said Gorka.

The MISOC Commander, Col. Robert Warburg, points out that one just has to look back through history to identify the issues that we may face.

"Throughout history, we have observed how violent ideologies have been passed down from one generation to the next and have been at the root of terrorist attacks and violence. In order to address the problem, we must first understand the problem and learn to alter the narrative at its earliest stages," Warburg states. "The MISOC is the focal point for the Department of Defense's Inform and Influence Activities (IIA). With this responsibility in mind, it is my intent that this event [increased] our understanding of ideology so that we are prepared to defeat the support mechanisms of extremist networks as we look forward to 2022 and beyond."

Dr. Gorka's views do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense or the US government.