Foreign Policy, 22 Nov 2011
, David Trilling: "Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight 'influence websites' funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy's rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats. ... [F]or a small outlet covering an obscure corner of the world, Central Asia Online does relatively well. The site has published an average of 71 stories per month this year, which, a SOCOM spokesman told me, garner some 168,000 article reads, 85,000 unique visitors, and 380 reader comments per month." -- RFE/RL's content might resemble that of Central Asia Online if US international broadcasting is "coordinated" in a US strategic communication framework, as advocated by some Washington think tank fellows.
Registan.net, 22 Nov 2011, Joshua Foust: "Trilling seems to misunderstand the role of Information Operations in modern military doctrine. The DOD does not do a good job in this arena (in fact, criticizing the DOD’s propaganda is a major, recurring topic of this blog). But that doesn’t mean you can remove these efforts from context. ... Still, Trilling is definitely on the right path. Central Asia Online is the worst sort of clumsy trainwreck that has, sadly, come to define the military’s IO efforts the last few years. ... This program [needs] to be evaluated from the outside, whatever their compartmentalization, and either unified, constrained, or shut down entirely."