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Hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - "The Evolution of Strategic Communication and Information Operations Since 9/11"


Location: Washington, DC

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities held a hearing entitled "The Evolution of Strategic Communication and Information Operations Since 9/11". Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) released the following prepared remarks:

"For several years, this subcommittee has pursued the issue of strategic communications. Most of us agree that the United States will not be successful in stopping terrorists by traditional kinetic military operations alone. A key aspect of this fight is ideological, just as a key component in the Cold War was ideological as well. But during the Cold War, the U.S. engaged in serious efforts that were well funded and well organized, at least compared to today's efforts. Despite a host of reports over the course of two Administrations and a regular shuffling of bureaucratic chairs, there has not been a serious, coordinated approach to this ideological struggle, in my view.

"There are definitely mixed views on this subject. Some believe that there is no place for the United States government in countering terrorist ideology; that it is a battle that must be waged within Islam. One recent witness expressed the opinion that we don't know enough to participate in the ideological battle and even if we did, anything associated with the United States government is suspect and cannot be effective.

"Personally, I believe that engaging in the war of ideas is an essential part of what the U.S. must do to prevent the spread of radicalization that leads to violent actions. We face a determined, ruthless, adaptable enemy that uses terrorism as a tactic to advance their agenda. We will not defeat this enemy with military power alone. We must engage them - and engage them successfully - in the battle of ideas.

"Beginning in 2005, I introduced legislation based on a Defense Science Board Study that would facilitate use of private sector expertise in this effort. Last year, I introduced legislation to update the outdated Smith-Mundt Act to better reflect modern communications channels.

"There may well be other proposals that Congress can consider to help the U.S. be more effective in defeating the ideology of violent extremism.

"We need an effective strategy and organization in place to make headway in this very difficult struggle. We must be able to understand the ideology of our adversary, develop the right message to counter it, communicate our message effectively within the cultural and historical context of the target population, and assess the results. We must also have the required determination and patience to allow our message to bear fruit.

"Our witnesses today are well positioned to shed additional light on where we are and where we should be in this area."

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