Academic journal article Military Review

Massing Effects in the Information Domain: A Case Study in Aggressive Information Operations

Academic journal article Military Review

Massing Effects in the Information Domain: A Case Study in Aggressive Information Operations

Article excerpt

... I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma. (1)

--Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 9 July 2005

If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a "D" or a "D-plus" as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the worm today. (2)

--Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 27 March 2006

IN 1995, the Department of the Army, Forces Command, and the Training and Doctrine Command began a joint venture called Force XXI, the focus of which was to understand how information-age technology could improve the U.S. Army's warfighting capabilities. While many experiments with information technology and theory were conducted across the Army, the Task Force XXI (TFXXI) and Division XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWE) were the capstone events of this venture. Over 70 initiatives were reviewed in the TFXXI AWE, which culminated at Fort Irwin, California, in March 1997 with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division's National Training Center rotation.

At the heart of this experiment was near real-time location knowledge of friendly units down to individual vehicles and in some cases, individual Soldiers. The experiment proved that "Where I am and where my buddies are" is powerful information for combat leaders. Leaders at all echelons became convinced that information-age technology would help our Soldiers, leaders, and formations become much more capable.

Post-AWE, the Army decided to reduce its combat power in combat and combat support formations by a quarter to afford the coming technology. However, our Army has not fully exploited the available technology, especially in the domain of information and knowledge management operations.

Information Operations (IO) in the AWE

After graduating from the U.S. Army War College and serving as a division G3, brigade commander, and division chief of staff, I was assigned to the Training and Doctrine Command with duty at Fort Hood in the 4th Infantry Division to support the Force XXI Joint Venture. Although I had no background in information technology or acquisition experience, I was involved with the preparation, execution, and after action reviews of the TFXXI AWE and preparation for the Division XXI AWE. In the summer of 1997, I was assigned as assistant division commander for support of the 4th Infantry Division. As I took on this assignment, I was optimistic that the results of the Division XXI AWE would support what we had learned with the TFXXI AWE, and that our Army would continue to aggressively pursue applying information-age technology to improve our warfighting capabilities. Although I lacked a technical background in information technology, I was confident that we were only beginning to understand the potential improvements to warfighting. I believed that funding, developing, understanding, and maturing these capabilities were certainly going to be challenging. I was excited about their prospects. But I was not prepared for the management of information operations (IO).

Shortly before the Division XXI AWE, a decision was made to add an objective to the experiment, focusing attention on IO. Because the simulation that would drive the Division XXI AWE was not designed to train this new aspect of warfighting, a "Green Cell" was established that would inject information operations events. Major General William S. Wallace, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division at that time, gave me the task to manage this new IO challenge.

I wasted no time gathering all I could find on the subject of IO and began to study it. At this stage of our preparations, our standard operating procedures, battle rhythm, and command post drills were well established. Adding IO at this late date seemed to be a good idea added too late. …

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