Myth 1: CMO is PsyOps, PsyOps is CMO.
When I was starting in CMO, I was so passionate and eager to do a number of projects. I was trying to know more about PsyOps when I was told by a respectable officer in the CMO family that "PsyOps is CMO, and CMO is PsyOps!" I became confused at that moment. If what he said was true, then there is a system problem.
AFP CMO is a unique concept. It involves activities that deal with information, action and relation to gain popular support or to weaken the enemy's will to resist in support to the accomplishment of the mission. When we did the CMO doctrine, we made sure that CMO will not be perceived as PsyOps.
Myth 2: CMO is common sense.
More or less a decade ago, I saw a number of military units assigning officers in CMO positions even without proper CMO training. Some of the 'forced' officers informed their commanders about their predicaments and yet, most of our leaders then would say, "The job only requires common sense, you can do it!" (Sad to note, it is still happening today in some of our units.)
CMO requires wisdom, not just common sense. Just like in Intelligence and Operations, CMO also conducts an area assessment, a planning estimate, and an operational plan. After doing this process, CMO develops communication products, plans for its distribution, then studies the effect of their actions. Now tell me, is common sense enough to handle CMO tasks?
Myth 3: "If that document is not about 1, 2, 3 or 4, send it to the 7!"
I saw this practice happened when I was still assigned at HPA. I remember being tasked to do a paper work which I honestly believed was completely not under CMO. When I traced where the document came from, I learned that it already passed to the personnel, intelligence, operations and logistics offices. Only the CMO office worked on it because no one else would like to take it.
Today, the way I check if the work or task is under CMO or not is to ask this question: "If I'll do it, will it help the AFP gain popular support ,or will it weaken the enemy's will to resist?" If the answer is yes, then the work is mine. If not, 1, 2, 3, or 4 gets the work.
Myth 4: CMO is for damage control.
I heard this statement last year when I attended a CMO coordinating committee conference at a Unified Command wherein the commander was giving advice to his CMO officers. I was shocked when I heard the commander said that CMO is onlyused to fix the damage caused by the Intelligence and Operations.Actually, CMO complements Intelligence and Operations.
Same is true on hew Intelligence and Operations complement CMO. This is the basic principle of the AFP's triad operations. Anyone thinking that either one of the AFP triad components is inferior compared to the others is simply out of synch with reality.
Myth 5: CMO are only for those who have talents in public speaking;
In the lower units, they will assign you to CMO office when they find out that you are a good speaker or has a qoed community relations skill.
Being a good speaker and having a good human relations skill are traits of a good CMO specialist. But it does not follow that being a good public speaker alone would automatically quanfv you in the CMO family. He or she must also be a good planner, product developer, and peace and development oriented.
Myth 6: CMO takes time to measure its effectiveness.
Everybody is saying that the impact of CMO is intangible and that you can not see the results immediately. I disagree in a certain extent to this statement.
There are activities in C:MO that really takes time to measure. These include public opinion, human relations, peace and development. However, there are things that you can measure immediately such as civil mobilization, enemy Withdrawal, delay or postponement of enemy attack, and deceptions causing enemy surrender.
Myth 7: CMO is more of an art than a science.
The perception about CMO is that it needs native talents to accomplish its goals. It does not have a process to follow. In other words, they think it's just about creativity and innovations.
I believe CMO is both an art and a science. As an art, it requires our ability to choose the right mix of CMO activities to produce the kind of impact we need to have. As a science, it follows a process that needs to be followed to come up with
better plan and products. You need to have both knowledge and skills to become a successful CMO planner and operator.
A reprint from - The AFP Peace Builder, First edition 1st QTR,2008, by Lt. Col. Benjamin L. Hao, U7, AFPNDSC
(Lt Colonel Hao is the 2nd Commandant of the AFPCMO school)
(Note: PsyOps against the Huks based on the EDCOR Project of the late President Ramon P Magsaysay Jr will resume in the next issue.)
Last 17 March 2008, the country had a simple but very solemn and meaningful commemoration of the 51st death anniversary of the late President Ramon P Magsaysay Jr, the Filipinos' most loved President ever. I am re-printing in full his last speech which he delivered during the commencement exercises at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, my Alma Mater. I would like to sincerely thank, Mr Bobit Avila, a renowned columnist and opinion writer in Cebu City, who also regularly writes for the nationwide broadsheet 'The Philippine Star', for sharing with us a rare piece given to him by Mr Paco Magsaysay, a grandson of a very extraordinary man the Philippines ever had.
"I am happy to have this opportunity to address you tonight, you the students of San Carlos University. It has always been a refreshing experience to be among the youth - perhaps because I am not so old myself. But the real reason is that I like to speak straight to the point. And this is a quality that I find also in most young people. There is a certain impatience in youth which is really nothing more than their energy eager to be put to use.
Young people want action, and if they would listen to words, they must be words that lead to action. With a little experience and direction, those are the energies that make the leaders who will eventually shape the nation and determine the course of history. It is therefore with a certain amount of urgency that I speak to you this evening. What I want to tell you concerns you and your future more intimately perhaps than you realize. I want you to be aware of it.
First, let me warn you that you are all 'wanted' men and women. From the moment you first stepped into this great university, you were marked for 'capture' and the moment you step out, trained and ready to pursue your various professions, the prize for the capture of your minds and hearts will be doubled. This, my young friends, is what has been foremost in my mind as I gained more and more experience in fighting communism.
During my days as Secretary of National Defense and even as President, I have been called a Huk-fighter. It was my job to run after the Huks and chase them out of their hiding places and capture them. But I knew even then, and I am convinced more than ever now, that while that phase of fighting communism is important it is far from attacking the problem at its roots. That is why I am so insistent on rural development and the improvement of our national economy. Poverty and unemployment are not the causes of communism but they are conditions which make it to thrive.
Communism as an ideology, however, was conceived by intellectuals, not by laborers or peasants. It is spread by clever propagandists, preying on the grievances of the poor and the frustrated. The local politburo members, those who direct the Communist Party in the Philippines today, are intellectuals.
While the rank and file of the communist movement are the ignorant, the disgruntled laborers, the poor people in the barrios - those who do not even understand communism as an ideology - the leaders are often educated middle-class or well-to-do intellectuals. This is why I say that you are all 'wanted' men and women because you have all received a fine education in a good university, because you are trained and because many of you will someday become the intellectual leaders of the nation. The appeal of the communist promises is to the uneducated masses, but the appeal of the communist ideology is to the educated class. It has been said that wars are fought in the classrooms and the campuses of universities long before they are fought on the battlefield. I can vouch from my experience in fighting the communists that this is true.
But here at San Carlos University, you have a great advantage and I hope you will make the most of it. In addition to your professional training, you have received a good religious foundation on which to anchor a sound philosophy of life on which to base an ideology and a program for action that the communists cannot easily subvert or destroy. Your own school, run by the SVD Fathers, is one example of the positive nationalism I have been advocating - a nationalism that will not lend itself as a tool of the forces that would destroy our democratic way of life - a nationalism that preserves our own traditions and a nationalism that is open to the positive influences of other cultures. When you go out and take your places as leaders of the nation, when you assume positions of responsibility and contribute to the progress of our country - you will owe it to some extent your proficiency, your civic-mindedness, your social consciousness, your courage to stand on your principles, your devotion to duty, to these foreign missionaries who taught you, who have lived in the Philippines for many years, and who love this country almost as their own.
You do not have to be anti-American in order to be pro-Filipino. And this is the message that I would like to leave with you tonight: You are the battlefield on which future wars will be won or lost - you cannot remain neutral - you will have to take a stand. But keep in mind the principles you have imbibed in this university; keep your faith and your faith will keep you ... thank you."
Early dawn the next day, President Magsaysay died in a plane crash in Cebu while on his way back to Manila. President Magsaysay's aspiration for our country is still alive today. The message of his speech has a very significant impact in the Armed Forces of the Philippines' ongoing pursuit of preserving national security. In recent years, in order to beat communist insurgency, the AFP has made a bold move of re- aligning units' thrusts towards Civil-Military Operations which is perceived by many, as a better option to counter enemy forces rather than through a violent war. It is also along this line that the Civil Relations Service, AFP is gaining mileage in its public affairs and civil affairs activities to achieve its mandated task in support to the Internal Security Operations of the AFP. This paradigm shift of winning people' hearts and minds is what is being emphasized in President Magsaysay's speech to the students of the University of San Carlos, 51 years ago.
Truly, the message left by the late president still reverberates in the recesses of the minds of every nationalistic Filipino, young and old. For it is a glaring reality that decades after he delivered this monumental piece, President Magsaysay's belief on how to put an end to communist ideology is still the only realistic, humane, peaceful and effective approach to an ideologue which still remains the number one threat to our national security. Civil-Military Operations after all, is still the best antidote to scrape out an 'ideological cancer' that has been plaguing our country.
As an aside, the relevance of President Magsaysay's message to the present political chaos could also serve as a guiding light to the Filipino youth, particularly the students, for them not to be waylaid along the way by cunning forces or individuals, in their quest for genuine peace and progress. (mirasol)