Every Soldier a Messenger: Using Social Media in the Contemporary Operating Environment [open pdf - 275KB]
From the thesis abstract: "Social media has become an additional element within the operational environment within which nearly anyone with an Internet connection can participate. The speed at which participants can add content, truthful or not, to that battle space has forced the Army to change the way it has traditionally approached social media. Information age military theorists have postulated that high speed computing and ubiquitous network connectivity, key components of social media capabilities, would initiate a revolution in military affairs. While social media capabilities do not provide information superiority, they have empowered individuals to more effectively share content and consequently influence the narrative of a conflict. Also, social media capabilities have provided a means for individuals and small groups to more effectively synchronize actions, even in the absence of an authoritative leader. Joint and Army doctrine related to Information Operations has sparingly addressed social media capabilities but has provided the appropriate philosophy for integrating these tools. During the events of the Arab Spring in 2011 and other uprisings, anti-government protesters in Egypt, Iran, and Tunisia have demonstrated how social media can enhance the spread of the narrative and allow for protesters to synchronize their efforts. Also, a pair of examples from the United States military's experience in Afghanistan has demonstrated opportunities for improvement. This monograph examines the evidence from recent conflicts and describes three big ideas related to social media capabilities that emerge from the evidence of recent conflicts. First, the military needs better tools to understand, visualize, and describe how social media capabilities impact the information environment. Second, the military must improve its tactics, techniques, and procedures in integrating social media capabilities into multiple lines of effort in order to seize the initiative with respect to the narrative of a conflict. Third, the military must find ways to decentralize the official use of social media in the operational environment by empowering individual soldiers and allowing small units to synchronize their actions. Decentralizing its approach to social media by making every soldier a messenger would allow the Army to seize the initiative in this increasingly important part of the operational environment."
Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/