Information Operations for the Ground Commander

By Grange, David L; Kelley, James A | Military Review, March/April 1997 | Go to article overview
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Information Operations for the Ground Commander


Grange, David L, Kelley, James A, Military Review


OPERATIONS in the 21 st century will be heavily based on knowledge derived from relevant information and intelligence [RII] collected, processed, analyzed and disseminated over a complex global system of systems. This evolving military information environment [MIE] will fundamentally change the way we, the Army, conduct operations in peace and in conflict.... The Army will integrate information operations [10] into every aspect of Army XXI."1 With this statement, Army Chief of Staff General Dennis J. Reimer charged commanders at all levels with being trained and ready to execute10. 10 is essential for the Army's wide range of ongoing missions, including support to the nation, peacetime engagement, conflict prevention and, certainly, defeating an adversary in combat.

While they should use the advantages 10 gives them, commanders also should recognize that the Army's reliance on information technologies creates new vulnerabilities and asymmetrical courses of action advantageous to an adversary. The information superiority concept relies on information's availability. Thus, we must protect our information and information systems (INFOSYS). 10 is evolving into a "total mind-set that adapts the means to achieve knowledge-based military [as well as diplomatic and economic] superiority over an adversary. ."2 These 10 concepts lead to new ways of thinking about warfare, new responsibilities and even new relationships for commanders to address. This article outlines lO's development in the Army and describes our new operating environment and how we are incorporating IO throughout the force. Some concepts for integrating IO into plans and contingencies are also offered.

Warfare's Changing Face

The challenges the Army faces are as dynamic as the world we live in. The rapid changes brought about by the computer chip and telecommunication advances have profoundly affected our environment. The world has become interconnected and interactive. The global information environment (GIE) evolves daily, as depicted in Figure 1. In conjunction with advances in science and computing power, the GIE brings tremendous benefits to humanity in fields such as medicine, education and manufacturing. This environment has great promise but also has new challenges, vulnerabilities and threats. There are no political or spatial boundaries, making what constitutes "acts of war" ambiguous.

Our nation's entire infrastructure-finance, energy, education, transportation, telecommunications, defense and most aspects of society-are linked together and interdependent. Even the Department of Defense relies on commercial telecommunication networks for more than 95 percent of its information traffic.3 These massive commercial networks are susceptible to attack and exploitation. This makes the United States, as the premier technologically dependent country in the world, more susceptible than anyone else to adversarial actions. Even for a poor adversary, IO offers a disproportionately high return for any investment.

Technological advances have not made for a safer, more secure world. The alarming increase in regional conflicts has heightened tensions and made the world more complex and unstable. Additionally, the fanaticism of some sects continues to cause worldwide destabilization. Terrorism is more sophisticated and could involve weapons of mass destruction and attacks on our computer networks and systems that control our power grids, air traffic and other critical infrastructures. The state-sponsored, transnational terrorist hacker is here and can hide in a mesh of interconnected systems. Even an unsophisticated opponent with very little money can obtain, or even hire, a wide range of capabilities from around the world. Technology such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite surveillance, fiber-optic communications, direct broadcast systems, Internet access, cryptography, sensors and precision weapons are all commercially available.

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