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Influence Strategy: Principles and Levels of Analysis
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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U.S. strategy in current conflicts Iraq, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda has focused predominantly on heavy U.S. military involvement mostly kinetic operations, while using influence components, for the most part, in a reactive manner. There seems to be no grand influence strategy that informs U.S. policy and current military operations. There are multiple descriptive formulations, but no prescriptive formulations on developing an effective influence strategy using influence principles. There is also a lack of systematic studies analyzing the impact and effectiveness of influence strategy in conflicts. This thesis explores strategy and influence theory to identify key components of an effective influence strategy and how one should modify these components to increase strategic effectiveness. Using five levels of network analysis we propose six hypotheses and test them using comparative studies of five major strategic conflicts of the past century the Boer War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and U.S. versus trans-national jihadi terrorists. Analysis indicates that 1 the quality of the competing narratives will prove of decisive importance and 2 any communication strategy will need to address inconsistencies to be effective. The ultimate goal is not to control and guide the message, but to let the message guide and control our actions.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE