KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When it comes to the Army’s information operations training and the National Football League’s marketing operations, you might be surprised to learn the two have similarities. Those similarities, however, are exactly why the Kansas City Chiefs and the U.S. Army Information Operations Proponent have fostered a continuing partnership with the help of Chiefs’ Vice President of Content and Production Rob Alberino, Jr.
When retired Col. Matthew Yandura was a major stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., he was interested in finding companies in the Kansas City metro area whose people were masters in communication and storytelling. While conducting his research, Yandura came across Alberino; a phone call in 2012 was all it took to spark a years-long educational partnership between the Chiefs and the USAIOP.
“As part of the Information Operations Qualification Course, officers receive the training and knowledge to use information in a military context,” explained Lt. Col. Emmet Gariepy, IOQC course director. “We look at industry and marketing to see how the two co-mingle because everything has a social component.”
The IOQC is a 12-week resident course designed to produce qualified information operations and military deception operators. Students learn to integrate IO within the military decision-making process by leading IO working groups, creating written products like operation orders and combined information overlays, and synthesizing information for decision briefs.
Information is power. That is true whether trying to prevail in a multi-domain fight during large-scale combat operations or on the football field.
“The Chiefs’ use of information is consistent with the Army’s emerging doctrine," said Gariepy. "In the emerging ADP 3-13, Information, all organizations, whether military or civilian, strive to achieve an information advantage that enables their decision-making and ability to inform relevant audiences. This is evident in the Chiefs expanding their brand to the international markets in Mexico and Europe with the goal to bring the joy of American football around the world.”
Anyone who has ever attended a Chiefs home football game has seen Alberino’s work.
“It is my job to take everything that is happening in a game and feed that information to coach Andy Reid,” explained Alberino. “Let’s say one of our receivers catches a ball and his feet are close to the line, but they're in-bounds and the referee says, no, that is an incomplete pass. I can show six or seven looks on the jumbotron to prove to my coach to take the challenge flag out of his pocket for free, throw it on the ground, and let's get that play back.”
Alberino also shares with students his planning methodology which can be likened to course of action development or even wargaming.
“I am trying to talk to the team about ‘What happens when? What happens if?’” said Alberino. “ … What do we do if…? You’re a fool if you don’t think this way. The Army said it best with ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best’. Always get ready for that other shoe because it will kick you in the face when you aren’t looking.”
With Alberino, the Chiefs have stayed true to their connection with the military through multiple Salute to Service campaigns, the remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of World War I, celebrating their Veteran employees, and the recognition of Gold Star Family Member and Hall of Fame Linebacker Derrick Thomas for his father’s sacrifice during Operation Linebacker II in the Vietnam War.
“These interactions with the Chiefs continue to give our students tangible examples of how we can strive to be better in our use of information,” said Gariepy.
For more information about Army information operations visit the USAIOP website.