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SOCOM tries again with propaganda research

Aug. 12, 2014 - 06:03PM   |  
U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force conduct advanced marksmanship training alongside Colombian Marine Infantry personnel.
U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force conduct advanced marksmanship training alongside Colombian Marine Infantry personnel. (Spc. Juancarlos Paz / Army)
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The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command will conduct a social research program in Colombia to help shape future propaganda efforts, newly released military records show.

It is the latest in a series of SOCOM attempts to gauge the effectiveness of its propaganda programs, which have been under attack in Congress and lost some of their funding in the last year.

The Global Research Assessment Program, SOCOM documents show, will hire an outside contractor to develop and conduct a poll in Colombia to gauge which propaganda arguments are the most effective.

The program will identify and analyze target audiences for propaganda, determine which programs work the best and then send the results to command officials and others with an interest in the results, the documents show.

SOCOM has tried for years to come up with a better way to determine if its propaganda programs, also known as military information support operations, actually work. In 2012, it requested information on what it then called the Global Assessment Program to provide “global assessments and prove measures of effectiveness” for propaganda programs. That request was withdrawn for budget reasons.

It tried again in January with a request for information for potential contractors to devise pick potential audiences for propaganda campaigns and then see if the programs worked. In February, it sought a contractor to move the program forward.

That work stalled in April after unnamed congressional committees sought more information on how the programs would work. Now, SOCOM has the latest proposal that limits activity to only Colombia.

U.S. special operations units have operated in Colombia for decades, primarily to help the country fight drug cartels and a rebel group that threatened the nation’s democratically elected government. The influence of the drug cartels has faded, while the rebels’ strength has diminished.

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