Washington, DC - The Global Engagement Center is an interagency entity, housed at the State Department, which is charged with coordinating U.S. counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences.
It was established pursuant to Executive Order 13721, signed by President Obama on March 14, 2016. As stated in the Executive Order, the Center “shall lead the coordination, integration, and synchronization of Government-wide communications activities directed at foreign audiences abroad in order to counter the messaging and diminish the influence of international terrorist organizations,” such as ISIL.
The Center plays a key role in the Obama Administration’s revamped strategy to counter ISIL’s messaging. Designed to be an agile, innovative organization, the Center uses modern, cutting-edge technology and takes advantage of the best talent and tools throughout the private sector and government.
The Global Engagement Center replaced the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. The new strategy seeks to be more effective in the information space and is focused on partner-driven messaging and data analytics.
The Obama Administration recognizes that, fundamentally, any long-term strategy to counter violent extremism cannot focus solely on military action. This is why the Center is focused on bringing together and enabling a global network to confront the hateful messages ISIL puts out daily that recruit and inspire people to commit violence. Our messaging efforts are focused on decreasing the allure of ISIL and preventing the recruitment of new extremists.
Counter-messaging—in other words, discrediting ISIL’s nihilistic and hateful vision to potential and current sympathizers—is one piece of our multi-faceted, whole-of-government approach to countering violent extremism and defeating ISIL.
The Center is led by Special Envoy and Coordinator Michael Lumpkin. Immediately prior to this position, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. He has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a U.S. Navy SEAL, where he held every leadership position from platoon commander to team commanding officer.
The work of the Center is focused around four core areas:
- Partnerships: We are empowering and building the capacity of a global network of positive messengers against violent extremism. Operating at a local level, our partners use credible voices to deliver messages that resonate with at-risk populations. Our partners include NGOs, schools, young people, social and civil society leaders, religious leaders, governments, and others. We support them through a variety of means including funding, technical assistance, capacity building, and conceiving and implementing joint projects.
- Data Analytics: The Center is becoming an analytics-based organization and is using data analytics systems from both the public and private sectors to better understand radicalization dynamics online, to guide and inform our messaging efforts, and to measure our effectiveness. To better understand and target susceptible audiences, we are using a layered approach. In addition to data analytics systems, we are also drawing from proven polling operations, target audience studies, and academic research.
- Content: The Center is pursuing collaborative, thematic campaigns in coordination with counter-ISIL coalition nations and other global partners. We also develop and procure unbranded content and make it available to our global network of partners. Our direct engagement with violent extremists has been reduced in favor of partner-driven messaging and enhancing the content capabilities of our partners.
- Interagency Engagement: The Center liaises daily with the interagency to coordinate day to day operations and campaign efforts among the many U.S. national security agencies that operate in the information space. The Center is staffed by detailees from several U.S. agencies, allowing the Center to effectively coordinate, integrate, and synchronize efforts across the interagency.
Goals of the Global Engagement Center
The Center’s overarching goal is to expose ISIL’s true nature—and that of other violent extremist organizations—thereby diminishing their influence and decreasing these organizations’ allure in the eyes of potential recruits and sympathizers.
Additionally, the Center strives to:
- Enhance the capacities and empower third party, positive messengers, whether they are governments, NGOs or other entities.
- Develop a global network of credible voices who can effectively counter violent extremist messages.
- Use cutting edge technology and data analytics systems to better understand ISIL’s recruitment successes online and seek to address those causes with potential recruits to prevent radicalization.
- Leverage the entirety of the U.S. government to confront ISIL and other extremists in the information space and bring coordination and synchronization to those efforts.
- Build a forward-looking entity within U.S. government that is agile, innovative, and embraces technological advancement.