Strategic Communication Strategy to Defeat Islamic State Recruiting and Propaganda

  • Lieutenant Colonel Scott Brodeur

The United States requires a strategic communication strategy to counter ISIL influence, recruiting, and propaganda. President Barack Obama outlined Operation Inherent Resolve, the recent strategy to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL using a coalition counterterrorism methodology and a critical strategic communications effort. ISIL operates a professional propaganda campaign that leverages the full spectrum of social media, websites, and blogs to distribute their messages and recruit militant followers. After 14 years of conducting strategic communications against terrorists, the U.S. has failed to establish an effective strategy to combat these threats to national security. This study examines U.S. propaganda strategy during World War II in order to distill best practices that are applicable to modern strategic communications to defeat ISIL. A new strategy requires consolidated leadership for the numerous organizations involved in countering ISIL. Additionally, this strategy must geographically disaggregate the enemy to specifically address the at-risk populations and underlying regional factors. Finally, the U.S. strategy must be rooted in the truth. The U.S. must address these shortfalls in strategic communication strategy or the efforts to defeat ISIL will fail.