The U.S. should counter Russian misinformation campaigns with strong messaging on American values, according to the top U.S. military commander in Europe.
Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who also heads NATO forces, told the House Committee on Armed Services that Russia remains one of his top three threats to U.S. military interests in Europe in his testimony Tuesday. He noted that misinformation plays a major role in Russia’s unconventional warfare, and that the U.S. must be better at countering it.
“I think one of the most important things we can do is get organized on the information campaign,” said Scaparrotti. “We have to compete in that environment.”
The general added that the U.S. must “show strength that supports our values” when countering Russia’s influence.
“We need to be more direct in our values, in our messaging,” said Scaparrotti.
The general noted that Russia is currently engaged in several “activities short of war,” ranging from disinformation to manipulation. He pointed to Russia’s attempts to influence elections world-wide, cyber attacks on Baltic nations and Ukraine and “aggressive propaganda campaigns” targeting Russian populations in neighboring countries.
“In all of these ways and more, Russia is attempting to exert its influence, expand its power and discredit the capability and relevance of the West,” said Scaparrotti in his opening statement.
He explained that it is important to have a whole of government approach when it comes to countering Russia, emphasizing the role of the Department of State. Scaparrotti noted that institutions like Voice of America were instrumental to U.S. messaging efforts during the Cold War.
The military is the “muscle” behind the diplomatic efforts of the State Department and other government agencies, according to Scaparrotti. The NATO commander’s comments reflect those of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has also previously noted the importance of the State Department in international affairs.
Despite apparent military support for State’s work, President Donald Trump recently proposed a significant cut in the agency’s funding in his budget for next year.
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