Army Col. (ret) Lawrence Dietz, a former Psychological Operations officer (now called Military Information Support Operations, or MISO), recently observed that no matter where a military operation was taking place in the world, the military could leverage mobile phones to communicate directly to a host population, more so than any other communication medium.
“IO (Information Operations) tools are never fixed. One AO (Area of Operations) demands TV, while another can hardly read…//…Which brings me to the only constant, regardless of AO – the mobile phone. It appears that no matter where you go, whether urban or rural, developed or not, the cell phone is an important, if not the most import means of communication – the way people get or give information. To be effective the IO needs to know how to use mobile phones as a medium, but also how to deny individuals the use of their phones at certain times, or perhaps to alter the messages they receive” (Dietz, 2012).
There are almost six billion mobile cell phone subscriptions which is a global penetration of 87 percent (ITU, 2011). Srivastava notes that the rapid expansion of the internet was quickly overtaken by the development of mobile phones, both the analog varieties and Smartphones. In a three year period, twice as many people decided on cellular subscriptions instead of on home internet subscriptions (Srivastava, 2008). The majority of this growth can be attributed to personnel convenience. Six years ago there was more than one analog mobile phone for every three people on earth, while as of 2011 one third of the earth’s population was using the internet (Srivastava, 2008; ITU, 2011). Obviously the potential for using this medium to communicate messages to mass audiences for more than military applicatons is almost indescribable, if service providers cooperate.
Dietz, L. (2012, Dec 13). IO Refined in New Version of JP 3-13. Retrieved Dec 14, 2012, from PSYOP Regimental Blog: http://psyopregiment.blogspot.com/2012/12/io-refined-in-new-version-of-jp-3-13.html
ITU. (2011). ICT Facts and Figures. Retrieved Dec 8, 2012, from ITU: Commited to Connecting the World: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/material/ICTFactsFigures2011.pdf
Srivastava, L. (2008). The Mobile Makes Its Mark. In J. E. Katz, Mobile Communications Studies (pp. 15-27). Cambridge: MIT.