Academic journal article Strategic Forum

Defining Information Power

Academic journal article Strategic Forum

Defining Information Power

Article excerpt


* All of the various elements and components of national information power, from Command and Control Warfare (C2W) through Military Information Warfare (IW) to Strategic Information Operations (IO) build upon each other to provide the fullest use of information as an element of national power.

* The existing DOD definition of IW is dysfunctional: a better concept is to consider IW as "those offensive and defensive warfighting actions in or via the information environment to control or exploit it."

* The existing DOD definition of IO is also dysfunctional: a better concept is to consider IO as "the range of military and government operations to protect and exploit the information environment."

* Together they provide national information power, "the broadest range of military, governmental and civilian information capabilities that enable national-level exploitation and dominance of the information realm."

Changing Definitions

The seemingly endless series of changes in the official DOD definition of information warfare--a different one in each of the three years the School of Information Warfare & Strategy has existed--reflects the lack of conceptual certainty about what IW is and where it fits into the range of elements of national power. The fact that there is no universally-accepted understanding of IW is certainly no surprise, given its newness; for comparison, ask a group of military officers to define "strategic airpower" or "maneuver warfare" and you'll get a variety of answers, even though these have been exercised for most of this century. The intent of this paper is to suggest an approach that leads to an understanding of not just IW, but how it fits into the full range of national information power.

Command and Control Warfare: C2W

The Joint Chiefs of Staff published the Memorandum of Policy (MOP) 30 in March 1993, defining and establishing guidelines for Command and Control Warfare, or C2W, which is perhaps best understood as the "strategy that implements IW on the battlefield." This is IWOs basic building block, its foundation in a sense, and it incorporates a range of operations the military understands quite well.

The five elements or pillars of C2W are Psychological Operations (PSYOP), Operational Security (OPSEC), Deception, Electronic Warfare (EW), and physical destruction of vital C2 nodes. Because the first three of these have been recognizable elements of warfare since biblical times, the question that immediately comes to mind is "what"s new about C2W?" The answer involves several words, including "stovepipes," "synergies," and "integration."

Stovepipe activities have largely been conducted by small and isolated groups of little known and frequently less well-regarded specialists, so there was little coordinated effort to integrate them into a unified whole and build on the synergies between them. This approach forfeited much of the advantage that could have been gained by integrating these operations, such as the relationship between psychological operations, deception, and operational security. The fundamental intent of MOP 30 (rescinded in early 1997) and now Joint Pub 3-13.1, "Joint Doctrine for C2W," is to break down the stovepipes and integrate the various elements of C2W so that their synergies and relationships can be magnified.

One of the hallmarks of C2W is that it can be conducted in any or all of the different warfighting environments--land, sea, air, outer space, even cyberspace--by any or all of the military services. The objective of C2W is the incapacitation of the enemy's military C2 function, by operations against the enemy's C2 target set and the protection of one's own. The targets can be physical: such as a command center, communications switching system, or planning cell; or cognitive: such as the morale and fighting spirit of the enemy forces, or the enemy commander's knowledge of friendly forces. …

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