NATO Supreme Commander Europe (SACEUR) is Admiral James E Stavridis. His job encompasses the war on the land, air, on the sea and also the ‘information war.’ Admiral Stavridis is the first Navy man to hold this position.
On 21/07/2010 Admiral Stavridis picked this question out of the many sent to him on his social networks:
“What’s the best advice you can give to operational commanders to help with the information war, that is so critical in today’s environment?”
His answer was telling and indicates the importance given to this aspect of warfare, and perhaps why the coalition propaganda has been so effective in the case of Libya. It also indicates a danger to democracy, with free speech being undermined by a new network of dedicated, military-trained bloggers and information specialists:
“People. Its investing in our young people who already have intuitively so many of the information age skill-sets. What we need to do is gather them up in their 20s, get them the right training and education and create a cadre within the military who are specialised in this kind of information war and frankly if we look today at the kind of environment we’re in, its pretty easy to project a future in which the information aspects of conflict are going to be quite significant.
“We sail in a cyber-sea and it is a rebel sea, and we must learn how to govern, how to sail in that sea.”
So we can assume that there is a cadre of covert information specialists out there who are working full-time at shaping the public discussion over the war in Libya – and there likely will be such a cadre in all future wars.
Another major concern of Admiral Stavridis is “government-civilian” connections and specifically working with humanitarian operations – and we can see the fruits of his labours very clearly with certain humanitarian organisations and much of the mainstream media today actively embracing military propaganda.