(Foreign Policy) The general in charge of U.S. special operations forces in Iraq for the past six months says Washington’s information campaign in the Middle East is so inadequate that many Iraqi troops believe American forces are secretly supplying the Islamic State — potentially leaving U.S. forces vulnerable to reprisal attacks from their nominal allies in the fight against the militants.
“Our adversaries are constantly one step ahead of us in the IO realm,” said Army Brig. Gen. Kurt Crytzer, using the acronym for information operations. Crytzer is the deputy commander of Central Command’s special operations command, and recently returned from a stint commanding most of the Pentagon’s most elite troops operating in Iraq. He was speaking Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, which brings together U.S. special operations leaders and industry representatives.
The complaint that the United States is consistently outfoxed by Islamist militants in the propaganda sphere has been a recurring theme since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Crytzer’s lament is more evidence that 12 years after the invasion of Iraq, the nation that invented the Internet and which is home to Hollywood and Madison Avenue still has trouble competing with the message promulgated by terror groups whose worldview hearkens back to the 7th century but use a sophisticated online and social media strategy to raise money and recruit new fighters.