Information Operations

By Guevin, Paul R. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Information Operations


Guevin, Paul R., Air & Space Power Journal


INFORMATION OPERATIONS (IO) doctrine has evolved from age-old concepts of influencing and shaping battles through deception and control of information to more recent methods based on advanced communications and electronic warfare (EW). Sun Tzu suggested the possibility of victory through bloodless battles by not fighting at all. IO could serve as a means to this end, presenting operational commanders capabilities to significantly affect an enemy's operations. Current and emerging doctrine has formalized and refined these IO concepts, with significant adjustments based on recent operational experience and analysis of our capabilities.

Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, 17 November 2003, defines IO as the integrated employment of three operational elementsEW operations, network-warfare (NW) operations, and influence operations-to affect or defend decision makers and their decision-making process (p. 46). These three interdependent elements focus on military actions in the electromagnetic, digital, and cognitive target domains, respectively, to achieve integrated effects across the battlespace and throughout the spectrum of conflict. We orchestrate such capabilities to influence the adversary's observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop while simultaneously defending our own loop.

EW operations employ electromagnetic and directed energy within the electromagnetic battlespace to support operational objectives. This battlespace includes the full range of the spectrum, from extremely low-frequency radio waves, through the infrared and visible bands, to gamma rays. Planning, execution, and assessment of EW operations enable electronic attack, electronic protection, and EW support activities.

NW operations support operational objectives by affecting and defending systems that transmit or receive information. The digital or information domain is composed of hardware, software, data, and human components. Planning, execution, and assessment of NW operations enable network attack, network protection, and NW support activities.

Influence operations support operational objectives by affecting behaviors, protecting operations, and projecting accurate information to achieve desired effects across the cognitive battlespace. Influence operations include the integrated military activities of counterpropaganda operations, psychological operations, military deception, operations security, counterintelligence operations, and public-affairs operations. …

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