Text Messaging and Counterinsurgency

A little bit ago, I signed on with Twitter, a mini-blogging site.  And with your phone, you can connect to your Twitter account to receive updates via Short Message Service(SMS) or text messaging.  The reason why you would want to do something like this, is to be instantly updated or update your friends with news that is important to you.  It is a simple concept, but extremely powerful.  So I wanted to expand on this topic of text messaging, and try and tie this into how this could apply to counterinsurgency. From recruiting and propaganda, to putting out an alert to protect the citizenry from attack, text messaging is becoming a widely used tool of the populations of the world.  And in my view, if text messaging is used correctly, we can certainly enhance our counterinsurgency efforts in this war. 

Surprisingly, cellphones and the companies that sell the devices and plans are in wide use in such places like Iraq or Afghanistan.  These local populations with phones are making calls and they are text messaging one another, and this is what makes the cell phone an excellent tool to use in order to connect with these populations.  And believe me, I have seen Iraqis text message one another with the same excitement and enthusiasm as anyone here in the US or world.  SMS is easy to use, and the technology is built into most phones that are used out there-and people like using it.  I think it’s that ‘passing notes’ in class feeling, when you text someone, and it can be fun.  It is also a universal feeling, and if you can read and push buttons on a phone, then you get to play.  But how do you get people involved and interested in text messages 분당스웨디시?  

My answer to that is entertainment.  You take the most popular past time of that country, and you find ways to take advantage of this interest with text messaging.  Much like American Idol here in the US, where viewers could text message votes and get involved with the process, you could apply something similar to Iraq or Afghanistan.  It does not have to be some American Idol thing-maybe soccer or something that the local population is excited about.  The point is to get the population to use that phone as a tool to connect, and then start expanding on this connection with other means that could be valuable to a SMS Counterinsurgency(COIN) plan.

I say SMS COIN plan, because anyone serious enough about connecting with a population and wanting to protect it, should exploit all and any methods to connect with that population.   The technologies are there, the populations know how to use it(or could easily learn), and war planners and commanders on the front lines should not be afraid to take advantage of this.  But it must be done right, and there has to be a plan.

Now how could a planner use text messaging to their advantage.  Well, the first step is to ‘learn’ from others throughout the world, and see what works. Build that snowmobile, and find the experts to make it happen.  I like the warning system that the Israelis are using for oncoming missiles-protecting the local population.  I like the Crime Stoppers use of text messaging as a tip line for criminals-population turning in the enemy.  I like the use of text messaging to send recruitment notices-reaching out to the population for manpower.  The only limit is your imagination as to the ways you could connect with the local population and find ways to protect them as well as entertain them.  The goal should be to empower that population, and make them feel a part of the process.  Use the local radio stations, and get people to vote in polls via text message about important issues.  Or they could vote for their favorite soccer team, or send a text about the Taliban who are currently ravaging their village.  

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