Academic journal article Military Review

The Future of Information Operations

Academic journal article Military Review

The Future of Information Operations

Article excerpt

2nd Place

10 Writing Contest

IN JOINT PUBLICATION (JP) 3-13, Information Operations, published 13 February 2006, the Department of Defense (DOD) states that all informational efforts must be part of a robust strategic communication capability supporting governmental activities to understand, inform, and influence relevant foreign authences.1

The visibility and significance of information operations (10) and strategic communications within national policy has increased in recent years, receiving emphasis in both national defense and national security strategies. Within the combatant commands, IO supports the strategic communication plan to ensure a unity of themes and messages, emphasize success, accurately confirm or refute civilian reporting of U.S. operations, and reinforce the legitimacy of U.S. goals in the international community.2

In response to this, the U.S. Army is revising Field Manual (FM) 3-13, Information Operations, further refining the November 2003 edition. Even so, its proposed doctrinal changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary and frequently do not reflect commanders' operational experiences, appearing at times to address Cold War-era threat models.

Will the Army's new doctrinal definition and core capabilities of IO be adequate to support a national strategic communication plan? Will it be able to counter emergent and future threats?

Unfortunately, the current definition and core capabilities of information operations appear inadequate to support a national strategic communications plan, counter emerging threats, or meet National Defense objectives over the next 1 5 years.

Throughout U.S. agencies, including the military community, the concept of information operations in general and psychological operations in particular as a weapon of deception has gradually diminished. Instead, IO now seeks to influence attitudes and actions within an area of interest, providing a target authence with truthful information. Ideally, this process has the possibility of replacing violence.3

The Army has taken a more pragmatic view of 10, choosing to focus on how information best supports leaders in both "kinetic and non-kinetic" operations. This article evaluates the current core capabilities of information operations:

* Psychological operations (PSYOP).

* Electronic warfare (EW).

* Computer network operations (CNO).

* Military deception (MILDEC).

* Operational security (OPSEC).

* Public and civil affairs (PA and CA).

For the purposes of this article, the adjective "kinetic" means "relating to the motion of material bodies and the forces and energy associated therewith."4 Kinetic operations involve application of force to achieve a direct effect, such as artillery, infantry, aviation, and armored offensive and defensive operations. Non-kinetic operations are those operations that seek to influence a target authence through electronic or print media, computer network operations, electronic warfare, or the targeted administration of humanitarian assistance. It is important to note that many operations do not fall neatly into one category or another. For example, a security patrol may have the power to apply force (a kinetic operation), but over time, if its consistently professional conduct earns it the respect of local populace, its presence can become a non-kinetic effect - if not a complete operation in itself.

Both JP 3-13 and FM 3-13 define IO as "the integrated employment of the core capabilities... in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting [friendly] core capabilities."5 Here, the difference between kinetic and non-kinetic operations becomes ambiguous. The benefit of this ambiguity is that it allows commanders the option of focusing IO on both kinetic and non-kinetic operations, possibly using indirect fire assets to strike at information nodes, destroying command and control through computer network attack, using deceptive tactics incorporating electronics, or employing active and passive measures to safeguard friendly command and control. …

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