Enabling Operations through the Assessment of the COIN Information Environment

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Commanders at all levels are increasingly asking the question “Are we winning the information war?”  While many information professionals dread this question, it should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat.  Faced with such a challenge,  Regional Command South [RC(S)] in Afghanistan developed a solution.  The solution not only provides plausible indicators to address the question, but yields viable courses of action which drive the non-lethal targeting process and resulting operations.

Before an organization can make a serious attempt to shape the information environment to support tactical, operational, or strategic objectives, it must first measure the information environment establishing a baseline by which to gauge progress.  It is an old CEO’s axiom that “one cannot manage what one cannot measure”.  Measuring kinetic environmental effects is a fairly straight-forward, well understood process.  The cognitive realm however is largely invisible, ephemeral, and constantly shifting.  This presents a number of immediate challenges which confound traditional effects-based models.

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