Small Wars Journal

The Cyber Underground – Resistance to Active Measures and Propaganda: “The Disruptors” - Motto: “Think For Yourself”

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 1:43pm

The Cyber Underground – Resistance to Active Measures and Propaganda: “The Disruptors” - Motto: “Think For Yourself”

David S. Maxwell


The open societies of the US and free and democratic nations are being subverted by active measures and propaganda to undermine political processes and sow cultural and political divisions to allow closed societies of revisionist and revolutionary powers to dominate in international affairs.  The way to counter this effort is through a grass roots resistance movement that consists of an educated, activist, energetic, and empowered youth who seek to be part of something larger than themselves and validate their self-worth as disruptors of the status quo.  However, the closed societies are challenging their ability to disrupt because active measures and propaganda have taken away their initiative.  A new grass roots movement, a cyber underground, organized around special operations principles can create a nationwide and global network that will seek out, identify, understand, and expose active measures and propaganda from closed societies in order to protect free and open societies.  In short our nation wide youth of disruptors will channel their abilities to beat the revisionist and revolutionary disruptors.  The exposure of adversary active measures and propaganda will inoculate the population against their effects and render their efforts ineffective and useless.  This movement will help to restore and sustain what George Kennan termed the “health and vigor of our own society” that is the vital antidote to the subversive threats that we face.


The values and political systems of open democratic societies are facing a world wide campaign of subversion by powers that seek to undermine democracies in order to strengthen their power in their region and throughout the world.  This subversive campaign requires a global asymmetric response that cannot be organized by governments.  It requires a grass roots resistance to conduct a counter cyber subversion campaign.  An organizing principle may be found in both the modern concept of crowd sourcing and the application of special operations principles. 

US Definition of Resistance: An organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to resist the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability. (US Joint Pub 3-05)

Adapted Definition of Resistance:  An organized effort by some portion of the civil population to defend against the active measures and propaganda of an outside power that is seeking to disrupt civil society and create disorder and undermine the legitimacy of the constituted government and political system.

Subversion, active measures, and propaganda are key elements of modern unconventional warfare campaigns and revisionist and revolutionary powers are conducting unconventional warfare campaigns. Americans and the people of like-minded modern nation state powers need to resist the campaigns and strategies of those who are attacking freedom and democracy and the international nation state system that is required for freedom and democracy to flourish.

Congress recognized this threat in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act in Section 1097   which directed the Department of Defense in coordination with other government agencies to develop a counter unconventional warfare strategy.  While Congress called for a whole of government approach that is the modern framework for national security in the 21st Century, what is really necessary is a whole of society approach and engagement through, with, and by the people.  The US government, and certainly not DOD, cannot defend America from these threats.  It requires the people.

Appreciate the Context

There is competition among three world powers:

-Revisionist Powers who attack the international system to change it to its advantage (e.g., Russia, China, Iran).

- Revolutionary Powers who attack the international system to destroy and replace it with their own (e.g., AQ, ISIS, et al).

Modern Nation State Powers who seek to protect the international nation state system to make it work for all states (the US and the rest).

However, there is fourth largely untapped and unrecognized power:  An educated, activist, energetic youth who seek to be part of something larger than themselves that will validate their self-worth.  A common trait among this power is the desire to be disruptors – to use emerging and cutting edge technologies, develop new concepts, innovate in new ways, and challenge the status quo.  However, they do not realize that their ability to be disruptors is threatened by the active measures and propaganda of the revisionist and revolutionary powers that seek to disrupt open societies in ways that will cause this fourth power to cease to be disruptors.

Revolutionary and revisionist powers are generally characterized as closed societies and modern nation state powers are generally characterized as open societies.  Closed societies are very effective at exploiting, attacking, and subverting open societies.

While modern nation state powers take a Clausewitzian view in which war is politics by other means our adversaries view politics as war by other means.  This seemingly subtle difference is quite profound because our adversaries are conducting their own unique forms of political warfare as described by George Kennan in 1948:

Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz's doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation's command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. Such operations are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures (as ERP--the Marshall Plan), and "white" propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of "friendly" foreign elements, "black" psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.

--1948 Policy Planning Memo

Kennan observed that the “health and vigor of our own society” is a vital antidote to Soviet active measures and this remains relevant today. The health and vigor is ideally achieved through civic education, an understanding of and belief in American ideals and principles, and through such education citizens can recognize that the American political system is under attack through active measures and propaganda.  From Kennan’s classified "Long Telegram:"

Much depends on health and vigor of our own society. World communism is like malignant parasite which feeds only on diseased tissue. This is point at which domestic and foreign policies meets. Every courageous and incisive measure to solve internal problems of our own society, to improve self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit of our own people, is a diplomatic victory over Moscow worth a thousand diplomatic notes and joint communiqués. If we cannot abandon fatalism and indifference in face of deficiencies of our own society, Moscow will profit--Moscow cannot help profiting by them in its foreign policies.

Replace “world communism” and “Moscow” with “ideologies of revisionist and revolutionary powers” and Kennan’s words have continued relevance today.

Understand the Problem

Our adversaries are conducting political warfare to subvert the United States and open democratic societies.  They are exploiting both openness and the Internet to divide societies, undermine trust in government and delegitimize electoral processes.  The main tools of their form of political warfare are active measures and propaganda.

Civic education alone is insufficient to motivate people to seek, understand, and expose adversary active measures and propaganda.  What is necessary is an organization that allows citizens to network, share information and ideas, and conduct collective action to defend American ideals and our political system from subversion by our adversaries.

American youth have become adept at various methods of crowd sourcing for a wide variety issues. They belong to vast social networks and single tweets and social media posts can reach thousands and even more when they go viral.  In addition, the major emphasis on the employment of special operations since 9-11 and the public descriptions of their operations may motivate young people to want to belong to a virtual special operations capability based on the establishment of an underground and auxiliary force in cyber space to expose adversary subversive activities.  The combination of a cyber savvy youth with an attraction to special operations can be a national defense force multiplier.

Develop an Approach

We talk about counter messaging and other tactics but these are insufficient.  Employing only technical means to counter bots and trolls is insufficient. Given today's networked world and crowd sourcing solutions to myriad problems, combined with the mythology of special operations and the romanticism of guerrilla warriors which is attractive to young people, we should establish and recruit a Cyber Underground.  We should recruit American civilians and like minded civilians from friends, partners, and allied countries to actively seek out Russian (or Iranian, Chinese, ISIS, AQ, north Korean, etc) active measures and expose them to minimize their influence.  We should have a corps of civilian virtual cyber guerrilla warriors (e.g., a cyber resistance movement to counter active measures and propaganda) who would work to expose cyber influence operations and develop a global network to expose every Russian (or other actor) attempt at active measures.  This would have the benefit of educating the general population about Russian strategies (and those of revisionist and revolutionary powers) who seek to subvert the US and our friends, partners, and allies by exploiting the vulnerabilities of open societies.  It would contribute to defending against attacks of our electoral system through influence means.  In effect we can crowd source a cyber influence defense network.  We will provide online courses to train and educate members of the network on Russian active measures and propaganda so they can identify tactics, techniques, and procedures and learn best practices for reporting and exposing those active measures.  As the Cyber Underground aggressively works to expose active measures and propaganda to the general public such adversary influence operations will lose legitimacy and no longer effectively influence friendly populations.

A Grass Roots Movement

A small cadre of personnel (twenty-something/millennial) organized along the lines of  virtual special forces teams with sufficient resources will design a recruiting, organization, training, and employment campaign for the Cyber Underground.  They will design a campaign that uses all current and emerging social media platforms (and will continue to evolve and adapt with new platforms).  A civic minded Non-governmental organization could be the best platform for launching such a grass roots movement.

Other Considerations

This concept is different from the "computational propaganda” methods, the use of algorithms to counter propaganda, or using technical means to find bots and trolls and block their access and activities. While these can have value it is important to focus on exposing information, strategy, and tactics.

The key is legitimacy and a level trust that can only come from trusting your fellow humans.  The computational propaganda approach could be useful in identifying propaganda but we need lots and lots of millennials calling out our adversaries for their active measures and propaganda and reminding all Americans that a key American trait is to “think for yourself” and not allow propaganda to influence our decision making.  We need to “generate the buzz” about what revisionist and revolutionary powers are trying to do to us. We need milliennials in chat rooms and across the current and future social media platforms generating discussion and pointing out the strategy and tactics of our adversaries.  With a little subtle civic education tossed in we might improve civic mindedness and the desire to defend our system and way of life against the subversion we are experiencing. We want to reach a state where our millennial disruptors will disrupt the subversive disruptors.

Anonymous and its activities might be a useful analogy for this concept. However this would have to be operate much different.  The key principle is transparency and openness. We need to create a virtual organization to which people want to belong.  Also we want people to be known in order to have legitimacy and build trust in the message (and to further expand the network - "Johnny is doing cool work on the Internet, I want to do it to."  I think Anonymous and computational propaganda are limited in terms of legitimacy because of a lack of transparency and lesser levels of trust.  We need a millennial within his social media networks trying to influence its members to "think for themselves" when reading propaganda.  By exposing it and explaining it people can be inoculated against it.

This should be an extra-governmental effort because if the government does this there will be significant antibodies and resistance (and a natural lack of trust).  I think the government can call out the need for countering active measures and propaganda and recognize that in a democracy it is the people that have to protect the system from subversion.  We cannot have any draconian measures imposed to control information - we must fight for an open society with a free and open flow of information and only the people can ensure that occurs by policing our information domain and targeting adversarial active measures and propaganda.


The US and other modern nation state powers face a real and significant threat from revisionist and revolutionary powers.  They are conducting modern unconventional warfare using active measures and propaganda to subvert our way of life and political processes.  The government alone is insufficient to defend against these threats. It takes a whole of society approach and the main effort in such an approach should be the fourth global power: An educated, activist, energetic youth who seek to be part of something larger than themselves that will validate their self-worth. It is our youth, properly self-motivated and mobilized, acting as the disruptors they long to be who can effectively counter subversion of our society and lead the people to the antidote which Kennan called the “health and vigor of our own society.”  Our youth can form a resistance movement in the cyber realm, identify and expose our adversaries’ strategies and tactics, inform others, and influence current and future generations to think for themselves.  The question is what non-governmental organization and who among our youth are willing to pick up the mantle for the defense of America, our democracy, and our way of life?  Or are we going to allow ourselves to submit to the subversion of the revisionist and revolutionary powers?

David S. Maxwell is the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is a retired US Army Special Forces Colonel.

About the Author(s)

David S. Maxwell is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Previously he was the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University.  He is a retired US Army Special Forces Colonel with command and staff assignments in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, and CONUS, and served as a member of the military faculty teaching national security at the National War College.  He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and the National War College, National Defense University.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 4:47am

From one of the best European Russian info warfare pushback orgs and surprisingly Europe has more of them in the entire US.

Stop Fake‏ @StopFakingNews

103 pages on how to “stay true to the national interest of the Russian Federation” …

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 4:20am

If one understands the concept of AI when used in conjunction to big data then the following question needs to be answered by the Trump WH and it has not answered it.

Recently a GOP contractor parked very detailed voter data on 189M US voters and the detail was deep on each and everyone voter, they parked it on an amazon cloud server UNPROTECTED by a strict password for 14 days and then announced "hey someone stole the complete data", not a serious attempt has been made to investigate both the GOP contractor, Amazon and who stole it, strange right, especially in light of all the recent major hacks.

If you understand AI and big data then this article is critical.

Facebook Failed to Protect 30 Million Users From Having Their Data Harvested by Trump Campaign Affiliate…

BTW, that 189M voter database covers just about every American voter and notice not a single cry of outrage from anyone.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 2:38pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Does FB even understand the seriousness of the Russian meddling in US election using FB and that they received 250K for the Russian ads

Facebook VP David Marcus on Russia Election Meddling: "Sometimes Bad Things Happen"

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 2:26pm

Twitter Was Warned Repeatedly About This Fake Account Run By A Russian Troll Farm And Refused To Take It Down…

This Russian acct was first @TEN_GOP, then @ELEVEN_GOP and then @10_gop before it was finally shut down last week for good by twitter

I had tracked it for over 1.5yrs and it was extremely active in the recent FR election in support to LePen Front National and the acct worked with a well know neo Nazi hacker Weeve twitter campaign hashtag CCNBlackmail.

AND had well over 100K US ultra right and proTrump acct Followers

Numerous postings on the Russian disinformation/hacking thread before I stopped posting.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 1:49pm

Russia’s Internet Research Agency’s trolling campaign, 2016 US election:

90 staff members
100 American activists supported
118+ US social media accounts
6m+ total subscribers
$120,000 for social media promotion
$2.3m total for operations

Cheap, effective.

This is how Russian runs a info war inside their non linear war

President Trump is sitting on a 380 USD budget to push back and does absolutely nothing.

Just as he has not implemented the recently Congressional passed new Russian sanctions because of Russian meddling in US elections.

WHY has he done nothing in both cases?

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 10:47am

RBK traced 120 accts to Russian troll farm, reached 50 MIL ppl on Facebook, Twitter etc. Among memes: "A Vote for Hillary is Vote for Satan"

These are in addition to the supposedly only 201 Russian accts FB could find, social media just keeps on digging them out of current FB accts.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 2:03pm

Deleted duplicate

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 10:18am

Pro-Kremlin outlets rally around RT—@DFRLab tracks Russian narratives on the Foreign Agents Registration Act:… …

FARA was originally used against German media in the US in 1940/41, is now being focused against Russian info warrior propaganda media outlets RT and Sputnik which are carried in over 127 countries in their native languages.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 1:39am

For those SWJ readers/commenters who truly feel social media cannot be used to directly influence an American election think again, truly rethink it.

Three major Us ad companies took the Russian purchase of 500K in social media ads and figured out how many times they were viewed and how much would it actually cost to sway an undecided voter and or a biased voter not sure who to vote for.

4 USDs per influenced vote change

NOW these two articles are really worth reading as it follows up on the cost of 4 USDs per vote and then you can see why Russian intel services jumped into their info war in the Us and assisted the current Us President, what many have failed to understand his election only took a grand total of 27,000 votes to win.

Think about it, out of millions of votes it only took RU info warriors 27,000 to change an election, that says a lot about the internal Us society dynamics.

BTW their info war against the Us started in 2008 not 2016.…

AND after reading understand one thing that Putin recently in a PC stated, "whoever wins the coming AI battle controls the world"

That was not an "per accident" comment made by Putin, because there were TWO types of big data AIs used to target biased America voters to sway their votes coupled with big data and specific hack attacks to steal US voter data.

THEN urgently Google the term @super cookie2 to understand how social media gets their enduser data on you the user of their social media and your net use.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 4:22am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill, something not covered by the article is why did US social media companies especially FB/Twitter have to resort to Russian black money and allowed their platforms to be used as a weaponized info war platform AGANST the US.

That is a core question because under violation of three major Fed laws foreign nationals cannot contribute money to and or actively participate by their money and actions in any US federal elections and placing Russian info warfare ads to the tune of 500K USDs on their platforms seen by literally hundreds of millions that clearly violated US federal laws.

THEN to do the following using the "dog ate my homework" they attempted to erase/delete all evidence of that collusion.

Twitter Reportedly Deleted Tweets Valuable to Russia Probe Because of Its Privacy Policy…

BTW, Twitter in its latest round of funding had the largest investor, a Russian hedge fund owned by three Russian oligarchs invest 1B USDs into it, and last yr a single Russian oligarch invested als a total of 1B USDs.

AND there is no Russian influence in Twitter management by Russians

So let me be properly respectful of COl Maxwell's suggestion above; this, by attempting now, in consideration of same, to come full circle re: my arguments as to what I believe are our opponents' common containment and roll back strategies; these, designed to thwart our well-known "expansionist" goals. Here goes:

If the goal of our state and non-state actor enemies is, in sum, to keep our modern western political, economic, social -- and especially our value -- "wolf" from their doors.

Then the U.S./the West must determine -- in the face of this such now commonly-understood determination of our enemies (keep the Western "wolf" from their doors) and these such commonly understood strategies of our enemies ("containment" and "roll back") -- how we will proceed. This, given that the previous and much vaunted post-Cold War "end of history"/"overwhelming appeal of our way of life"/"universal western values" thesis has now been thoroughly disproved.

Thus, will we:

a. Now abandon our efforts to help the citizens and governments of other countries transform their states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines? (This "abandon" position being most closely associated with President Trump, and with his suggested gutting of our State Department?) This such position, likewise, eliminating virtually all of the "our way of life," etc., "leverage;" leverage that we have, in the past, made such great use of against our state and non-state actor opponents.

Or will we, in spite of the obstacles placed before us (for example: Putin's interference in our internal affairs),

b. Continue on with the "transforming" mission? (This "continue on" position being most closely associated with, shall we say, the "establishment" Republicans and the "establishment" Democrats?) This such "continue on" position, this such "weapon," likewise providing the U.S./the West, as it has for the past 70+ years, with significant "leverage" against our state and non-state actor opponents.

If position "a" above is adopted -- and something like a new Yalta/a Yalta 2.0 conceded to Putin -- then might we say that COL Maxwell's "Cyber Underground" is not likely to be needed? This, given that "containment" and "roll back" of the U.S./the West -- and most importantly our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc., -- this will have, by way of this concession, been largely achieved?…

If, however, we continue along the lines of position "b" noted above, then might not COL Maxwell's "Cyber Underground" serve us well in some manner? This, given that this such tool may well help to "counter" Putin's (et. al's) "containment" and "roll back" efforts and initiatives? For example, such as, Putin's effort so turn one group of Americans --and/or indeed one group of Westerners -- in various ways -- against another; thereby, (1) eliminating our ability to see the true enemy (for example: Putin) and also (b) eliminating our "will to fight" (except against ourselves/each other)?

Revolutionary, Revisionist, no Islamists or Marxist Socialists?
How does Islamophobia affect the discussion in order to get into print?
By setting the parameters to a discussion of the Russian perspective there should be an established opinion of what governs Russia today, is it a mafia capitalist state? Is its ambition to create revision and revolution? How important is monopolizing the oil from the Caucasus to Syria and south extend?
Could the Russians seek to exacerbate American relations in the region by continued support of the Ayatollah's and Assad's regimes?
Stars and Stripes published an article out today "Troops Targeted: Russia hacking phones, mining information from Americans on Cruise tours or deployed to Eastern Europe" and the Karsparsky scandal has not been settled. Is this merely traditional spy gaming or a new arena of conflict? It is costing the USA billions to find counter measures and created entirely new commands within the DOD.
The USA had a regime change last year and there is no doubt that President Obama and President Trump are perceived if not in fact worlds apart in how to proceed. And no more are they different than on the issue of Iran. Iran is expanding its influence and part of the Russian coalition in opposition to anti-Assad forces. As Iran expands its influence and completes plans for a Tehran to Beirut railroad and an Iranian to Beirut shore pipeline certainly the Russians have played a major role.
21st century Russian adventurism might be dated from its invasion of Georgia to protect the Russian hierarchy's, cronyism, mafia, "capitalist" monopoly in the regions oil from production to the means of delivery. When the USSR broke up terms for independence with former territory's required as much as 40% of all oil revenues were to continue being paid to Russia.
Many of these new nations were Islamic but had suffered religious oppression under the atheist doctrine USSR, Chechnya , the Tatars of the Crimea and other Muslim populations had their cultures and identities obliterated by forced migrations, razing mosques etc.,. and continues to be an influence that has not been appreciated largely because the Russians successful propaganda made the USA a partner in the oppression even if it is a false positive it resonates with the "Revisionist, Revolutionary" Islamists, factions like the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and others.
There is a third perspective that I believe adds greater clarity to the discussion stated simply by the Oxford on line Dictionary under the title in search Marx and Islam "Diverse forms of Marxism agree that social ills result from oppression of the poor by the wealthy (class conflict) but differ on strategies to overcome poverty and establish social harmony. Marxism is also associated with atheism, based on Karl Marx 's view that religion is used by rulers to legitimate the status quo, causing many Muslims to reject Marxism. But due to the affinity between Marxist and Islamic ideals of social justice, some Muslims adopted various forms of Marxism from the 1940s, reaching peak popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. Their analyses often ignored materialism and atheism, rejecting the idealist view that religion is independent of historical conditions and holding instead that many of its manifestations are related to the societies in which it operates. Islam in this view ideally meets the needs of society and can both accommodate and guide social change."
In much of the world today Marxism exists without a state entity, its former adherents have morphed into apologists and progressive socialists with global ambitions. In the Islamic nations it is characterized as Arab Spring, Revisionist and Revolutionary.
Understanding Russian ambitions can not possibly be understood without understanding this new invention of a failed closed ideological system and without a better understanding of how it relates and even compares with Islamist aspirations.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 1:22pm

Trump won the election by a grand total of 27,000 key votes in the 4 key swing states.

Anyone interested in how many votes the Russian intel service could influence to vote for Trump with their over 500K USD ad buy in virtually all the major US social media companies

Exactly 4 USDs per Trump vote especially in WI and MI voting

Here's how easy it is for anyone — including Russian operatives — to target you with ads on Facebook…

Twitter today has been caught doing a massive DELETE of all comments, postings and accts of anyone associated with the Russia info war

Effectively blocking any FBI investigation of Twitter collusion with Russian accts and RIS.

REMEMBER FB before it totally refused to provide ANY kind of information admitted to at least 120K plus in Russian ad buys, Google had over 250K, Twitter 100K plus

FB the dog ate my homework excuse of why they destroyed their data as well.

.@facebook said it was "fixing a glitch" when it scrubbed potentially damning Russian data

Outlaw 09

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 1:18pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Both Putin and his FM have voiced since 2006 the need for a new Yalta 2.0 and a new political and economic zone frm the coast of Portugal to the Russian Far East naturally nder Russia zone of influence, that is where he is headed.

Simple really

Bill C.

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:29pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

But Outlaw, the bottom line question remains.

This being, might we say, "what kind of war you are embarked upon?"


If Putin, as you suggest, has four geopolitical goals (damage and discredit NATO, damage and discredit EU, totally disconnect US from Europe and ME and totally disconnect GM from the US and and vice versa),

Then, what are these four geopolitical goals designed to achieve? Is it:

a. To create a new world order (i.e., "expansion")? Or is it:

b. To keep the modern western political, economic, social -- and especially our value -- "wolf" from his (Putin's) door (to wit: "containment")?"

(In this regard, should we not say that Putin is highly motivated -- he does not want to meet the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi.)

As to this critical question (is the Putin strategy "expansion" or "containment"), consider the following from the CSpan item I have provided below:


Thus, if Putin can cause the U.S./the West -- by whatever means, methods, approaches, etc. -- to (a) abandon its mission to transform the Rest of the World more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines and (b) abandon the amazing "leverage" (talk about your "undergrounds!") related to same, then Putin will have won. Yes?

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Thus, while it is critically important to look at such things as the methods and the subordinate goals (for the example, the four geopolitical goals you provide above) of an adversary, should we not agree that it is much more important to look at and better understand:

a. The grand political objective of our adversary (re: Putin, et al., to keep the modern western political, economic, social and value "wolf" from their doors?). And

b. The grand strategy that these such (state and non-state actor) adversaries have adopted to achieve this such objective(to wit: "containment" and/or "roll back? Worked well for "us" during the Old Cold War and may work equally well for "them" today?)

Outlaw 09

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 3:19am

Bill, see you two postings and raise you one with these beautiful examples of a still ongoing Russia info warfare attack on the US.

Putin's non linear war has FOUR geo political goals now up frm the original 3
1. damage and discredit NATO
2. damage and discredit EU (now with Cataloinia)
3. totally disconnect Us from Europe and ME
NOW a new one
4. totally disconnect GM from the US and vice versa

Ask yourself has Trump assisted in this Russian war on US?

Back to info warfare
BREAKING: Even Pokémon Go used by extensive Russian-linked meddling effort  via @CNNMoney

IS NOTHING sacred?

THIS example goes to the heart of what Dave is writing about
EXCLUSIVE: Website targeting black Americans appears to be elaborate Russian propaganda effort …

Until it was social media that dug this up not US MSM one must ask themselves who does US MSM really support and or work for?

Actually a very fair question.

So let me be blunt.

If we:

a. Disavow the offensive/expansionist/create a new world order explanations for Putin's strategy and actions. And

b. Adopt instead, as an explanation for Putin's strategy and actions, a defensive/containment/present world order with limits model (designed to oppose and defeat the U.S./the West's expansionist designs -- which clearly scares the pants off Putin, et al.,),

Then, in this possibly more correct strategic context (to wit: "containment"), do we not better see and understand how Putin might:

(1) Work to fan the flames of our internal dissensions (provides, as noted in my comment of earlier today, that the U.S./the West will "lose the will to fight" along modern western political, economic, social and value lines)?

(2) Work to have the pro-Western expansion (re: advancing our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc.) candidate (i.e., Hillary) defeated? And

(3) Work to have the anti-Western expansion (re: advancing our way of life, etc.) candidate (to wit: Trump) elected?

All of the above, I suggest, being:

a. More consistent with the "limited," pragmatic, prudent and generally "doable" political objective and strategy of "containment." (Which is designed to keep the modern western political, economic, social and value model "wolf" from Putin's door?) But which is:

b. Less consistent with a grandiose, impractical, rash and generally "non-doable" strategy and political objective of, shall we say, "new world order." (Which Putin -- with an economy the size of Texas -- can neither achieve, promote, defend and/or otherwise sustain/maintain?)

In this regard, consider what appears to be a "containment position" endorsement (and "new world order position" discrediting?) by Major General Linder:

"First, Russia’s “hybrid warfare” combines all elements of national power around a few simple goals centered on Russia’s image as a regional hegemon with global reach. Differing from the previous Tsarist regional empire and the Soviet globalist one, the new Russian foreign policy has a more pragmatic goal. It aims to build different types of buffer zones against NATO encroachment to the West and U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Central Asia. These can come as much from misinformation campaigns as traditional basing in former Soviet countries, what U.S. Army senior analyst Timothy Thomas describes as a flexible “initial period of war”. Most critical throughout these considerations, remains the reassurance of sovereignty from foreign challenges to the Kremlin’s control over its vast historic empire, to include the Caucasus and parts of Ukraine."…

(So: Why do I go through all this? To get our "cyber underground," should we choose to establish same, on the right sheet of strategic music and, therein, as per the most appropriate tunes/tasks.)

From the CSpan item and transcript I have linked, referenced and provided in my comment immediately below:


Thus, from the perspective of Putin -- acting in a defensive/containment rather than offensive/new world order mode -- herein attempting to cause the U.S./the West to abandon its efforts/its "will to fight" re: transforming Russia (et al.) more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines,

In this regard, has Putin -- for example by skillfully "heightening our internal dissension" via the use of social media, etc. -- has Putin largely achieved, without significant use of his military, his such strategic goal/his such political objective (again: to cause the U.S./the West to "give up the fight"/to lose "the will to fight" re: the promotion of our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc.)?

This, given that -- with the election of President Trump -- the U.S./the West has now formally announced that it has, indeed, (a) "lost the will to fight" along such way of life, way of governance, values, etc., lines and has, accordingly, (b) set about destroying its "ability to fight" along such lines? (In this regard, for example, to see the plan to eviscerate our State Department?)

Sounds like big-time "victory" -- for Putin and other authoritarian leaders at least -- to me.

Bottom Line Question -- Based on the Above:

What then is our primary vulnerability and, thus, the primary place where we must place our effort? Is this (a) the internet or, more correctly, (b) our tendency to place our various selfish/parochial/"internal dissension" interests over our much more important national security interests and requirements?

National security requirements -- such as the promotion of our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc. throughout the world (otherwise, the "bad guys" will see that we have [a] abandoned the fight and will [b] quickly move in to fill the void?) -- that, logically, must take precedence over lesser concerns?

(Bottom/bottom line thought, thus, re: national security requirements: Best to get our heads out of our posteriors and (a) better deal with our "internal dissensions" problems and (b) reverse course, again, re: the promotion of our way of life, etc.; this, before we are defeated, by ourselves no less, even more soundly?)

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 3:20am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill, what failed the US are those so called US social media companies that claim to be US and take their US profits WHILE allowing Russian RIS info warriors to play them like fools with their own software.

We must have a full and complete public accounting on why exactly these companies allowed themselves to be part and parcel of the Russian info war and are still at it.

How were their AIs misused to place Russian ads, why they accepted over 700K in Russian paid for specifically placed ads, which US/UK big data companies with their own AIs tied into say FB/Twitter and Google, and what hacked data was used to design a very specific targeting system for use by those Russian ads, trolls and bots.

New: Facebook says the spread of a fake news story drops by 80% after a fact checker labels it false
SO they know how to stop it so why now not during the election?…

US social media companies knew exactly how to shut down the Russian info warriors but choose not to WHY?

An open accounting of who the Russian oligarch investors are in all social media companies, who were the Russian offshore banks that invested and what unnamed LLCs/non profit 501c3s invested into them.

All of this needs a complete public airing.

In this discussion, I suggest that we may have failed to do the most important task; this being, to determine what is the political objective of the Russians, et. al., and what is, accordingly, their strategy.

Is this political objective -- of the Russians for example -- exceptionally grandiose and massively unrealistic, and generally for this reason, unattainable (especially for a nation with the economy the size of Texas?), for example, as per:

a. COL Maxwell's "to allow closed societies of revisionist and revolutionary powers to dominate in international affairs" Or, possibly stated another way,

b. To undermine our (and other) democracy(cies) and, in general, to undermine and replace the current broader liberal international order?

Or is the political objective of the Russians (et al.) much more limited, much more realistic and, thus, much more "do-able?

For example, as per the discussion of Eric Haseltine (former Deputy Director, Office of National Interest: Science and Technology -- see his transcript introduction beginning at 00.03:26) and George Beebe (Director, Center for National Interest: Intelligence and National Security -- see his transcript introduction beginning at 00.10:50) here:…

Re: the Russians, and as these folks appear to indicate, we may be barking up the (oh so obvious -- when viewed from this "realistic"/"doable" perspective) wrong "political objective" tree; this, by attempting to define and address Russia, et al.'s, political objectives in a grandiose, and generally unrealistic and unattainable, manner; for example, as per "advancing a new world order."

Herein, should we not consider Russia (et al.'s) political objective as being, of necessity, of a much more-limited -- and, thus, much more realistic and much more attainable -- variety; for example, as per "containment" of our effort to (at Putin, et al.'s expense) advance our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc.?

In this latter regard (the political objective of our exceptionally less powerful state and non-state actor enemies is to "contain" and "roll back" our efforts to advance our way of life, our way of governance, etc.), consider the following from MG Linder:

" ... the new Russian foreign policy has a more pragmatic goal. It aims to build different types of buffer zones against NATO encroachment to the West and U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Central Asia."…

Bottom Line Question -- Based on the Above:

If the "threat," so-to-speak, is of this more realistic variety, to wit: more as per the "containment" and/or "roll back" of our way of life, our way of governance, our values, etc. -- this, rather than being of a seemingly more unrealistic variety, for example, as per (1) the elimination of our way of life, governance, etc., and (2) the making of a new international order -- then how do we, in this possibly more realistic and correct "containment" light,

a. Now view Putin (et al.'s) "political warfare" activities; to include (1) his "cyber warfare" activities and (2) his possible efforts to help Trump -- rather than Hillary -- get elected? And how do we:

b. Now craft our responses (cyber and other) accordingly?

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 11:01am

Perfect example of an ongoing Russian info warfare op using the US ultra right sites.

This particular hatememe was posted on US ultra right acct but comes frm originally a Russian acct over a Russian server. Confirmed by IP check

Reference those hatememes
This is frm a Russian acct and server
Server and company are registered in Moscow

This US ultra right acct uses an extensive amount of memes

Outlaw 09

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 2:40am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill, this is the perfect example of if this US govt does not get off its rear end and join in the fight back against RU info warfare, small grps are digging this out of the net and are pushing back but it truly needs a massive whole of govt approach and under Trump who does not believe it is happening nothing will get done.

So you must ask yourself WHY does a US President want to repeatedly deny what his own USGIC have proven to be true.

FB has refused to give up any of the Russian paid for ads to the general public for review WHY,

Social media on its own has identified SIX key Russian accts that were built to be "American" accts pushing divisive themes just before and during the election campaign.

NOW CHECK the depth and breath JUST these SIX accts pushed into the US targeted audience.

AND this is just the tip of the iceberg

From SIX identified Russian Facebook fronts: 340 million shares, 19 million user interactions.

JUST From 6 accounts.

SHARED 340M times, and 19M interacted with the SIX accounts.

Now that is a successful Russian info war attack and yet our own President refuses to address this, WHY?

5 Facebook Ads Designed to Divide America at Russia’s Behest

Some of us noticed it was Russia even though Facebook removed the reference (which is outrageous and scandalous BTW)… …

SO again the serious question are US social media giants really American firms and or Russian?

Twitter has a single large investor, a Russian oligarch with 1B USD personally invested into Twitter.

Bill C.

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 12:24pm

Outlaw, below I believe, addresses the central underlying problem here; this being that many people in United States today -- much like many people in Afghanistan and Iraq also --

a. Do not seem to be so interested in such things as "democracy" and "national security" (they find that these such things tend to get in the way of their selfish/parochial interests and desires). And, thus, seem

b. Quite willing to compromise such things as "democracy" and "national security;" herein, believing that only in this manner, and thereby, might they get their way/best provide for their own selfish interests and desires.

THIS is exactly what Kennan seems to have warned us about.

In this regard, the following comparison may prove useful:

a. In the Old Cold War, the "weak link" in our nation -- the people that we needed to worry about most re: protecting and preserving our way of life, our way of governance, etc., -- these folks were, back then, the loosey-goosey lefties. Accordingly, we often thought of these such folks, back-in-the-day, as, shall we say, "Moscow's bitches;" this, given that they seemed to be more susceptible to Moscow's subversive (in those day's via divisive "communist") rhetoric and subversive activities. National security? Not seen by many as the loosy-goosy lefties' primary focus or goal.

b. In the current era, the "weak link" in our nation -- the people we may need to worry about most re: protecting and preserving our way of life, our way of governance, etc., -- these folks, today, might be seen as the tightey-whitey (for lack of a better term?) righties? This, given that they -- much like their loosey-goosey lefty brethern back in Old Cold War days -- seem to be more susceptible to Moscow's (equally divisive but now "authoritarian?") rhetoric and subversive activities? National security? Not seen by many as the tightey-whitey's primary focus or goal?

If this, indeed, is (a) a proper comparison and (b) a proper portrayal of our primary problem (internal divisive/parochial interest, as noted by George Kennan, threatens our national security: yesterday and today), then might this not explain why, today, there does not appear to be -- as Outlaw appears to discuss below -- much "push back" from Washington re: Moscow's subversive activities?

Note: If "the fox is in the hen house" so-to-speak (i.e., the primary problem, as per Kennan, is internal; the external threat, thus, to be viewed significantly through this lens), in the Old Cold War and/or again today, then is it likely that anti-subversive actions -- such as those suggested by COL Maxwell here -- is it likely that these such actions will be quickly and enthusiastically undertaken and employed by our government?

This, given that these such anti-subversive actions might be seen as undermining, rather than enhancing, the -- not national security but rather parochial -- interests of the ruling party?

This being a valid and reasonable matter of concern re: the left during the Old Cold War, and an equally valid and reasonable matter of concern re: the right today?

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 4:12am

Worth reading

Information warfare. Journalists are the target, manipulation is a tool

We don’t assume that the Russian Federation cannot be defeated in information warfare. It certainly does fight this war on a global scale, but this aggression can be met with resistance.

This article while focused on the Polish experience applies directly to Us as well.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:53am

Bill, it is not only just the US in this non linear info war

Russia Accused of Meddling in Catalonia Independence Vote With FakeNews …

The Russians pulled a similar FAKE story as they did in GM with the "Lisa" story claiming a Catalonian woman was mishandled by Spanish National Police, turns out after social media did a thorough check he was not injured by police but rather it happened on vacation and RU spun it as a police mishandling

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:05am

Dave, now you fully understand the how to disrupt and how to counter the two key elements of Russian non linear warfare cyber/info warfare which other countries use in their own versions, ie China, Iran and NK.

There are elements of this article already in gear either driven by a hearty band of online "resistors" or as here ein Berlin on the tech side, in identifying and then taking offline botnets and their control servers and EU/NATO orgs actively engaged in pushing back on Russian/Iranian/Assad info warfare.

But here is the core problem, this already existing hearty band of resistors is limited usually in their 30/40/50s and does not include the "youth" as the "youth" simply does not have the information to "see and understand" what is actually happening.

There must be a centralized online DB of articles, research, comments and links to allow this "youth" to catch up knowledgewise to those already in the trench fighting.

Second problem is that now this resistance is having to also counter the info warfare actions of US social media companies that while claiming to be US based/taxed and legally controlled actually support actions directed against the US and other western countries.

Russia plays Twitter/FB/Google like violins, almost as if they actually have copies of their core software to understand how to use the "tricks they use".

Let's not even get into their use of a super cookie and the power of that 100K package it carries.

EX: even several of your own tweets have ended up on key ultra right accts appearing to lend credence to their myths.

Who would really believe that the social media US icons of FB/Twitter/Google actively work against the interests of America and for the interests of say a Russia or China or Iran?

Try to convince many Americans of that.

Again a very interesting article to say the least and there is now a large amount of online evidence to support the thesis.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:22am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill, some of us have already been in that war since 2014, and the resistance on twitter for example is already formed and pushing back BUT try fighting a botnet of 45M FAKE bots being used like a bot army by Russian info warriors,, there is only so much this small and every active grp of members of both Us political parties cannot even begin to counter them unless the Us govt joins in and under this very current Russian selected, elected ad directly support Trump WH there will be no "win".

Trump has not even implemented the latest frm Congress directed Russian sanctions and which Trump even signed into law.

We fully see and understand the Russian info war and its tactics, TTPs and how it is used, but the resistance numbers are small and need US govt support, even DoS with an approved 80M has not engaged as the SoS refuses to engage.

And you have an entire US political party stating no such thing exists, meaning it ain't the Russians

EX I got bashed here for being on a soapbox about Russian info warfare and as it relates to the Trump WH and actually if you noticed what I was posting it was a virtual day to day recording of ongoing issues, events, links, research which I now have been using to ramp up ppl on as they has been no central DB of such things.

Just a few links that go to the heart of this article.………

@Twitter bots in action - #Russian #informationwarfare methods designed for "easy exploitation - high impact"

Twitter bots use likes, RTs in bid to intimidate journalists, researchers investigating Twitter bot activity…

How the Trump-Russia Data Machine Games Google to Fool Americans

Unfortunately, nothing that COL Maxwell suggests here would seem to deal with and/or "fix" the central underlying problem that we have before us, which, as George Kennan makes clear, is:

a. The "internal problems of our own society."

b. The "deficiencies of our own society."

These "internal problems of our own society"/these "deficiencies of our own society," as Kennan suggests, are the "diseased tissue" upon which -- yesterday, today and tomorrow -- our "parasitic enemies" feed.


Much depends on health and vigor of our own society. World communism is like malignant parasite which feeds only on diseased tissue. This is point at which domestic and foreign policies meets. Every courageous and incisive measure to solve internal problems of our own society, to improve self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit of our own people, is a diplomatic victory over Moscow worth a thousand diplomatic notes and joint communiqués. If we cannot abandon fatalism and indifference in face of deficiencies of our own society, Moscow will profit--Moscow cannot help profiting by them in its foreign policies.


This being the case, then working -- as COL Maxwell suggests above -- to simply expose the fact that our enemies (for example via social media) are now making such great use of "active measures and propaganda;" these, to exploit these such "deficiencies of our own society" (a fact which everyone, everywhere, probably already knows anyway?) and to counter same; this would not seem to help us very much.

Rather, the mission, the effort, the requirement -- in Old Cold War days and again today and as Kennan clearly tells us -- is to (a) "abandon fatalism and indifference;" this, re: (b) the "deficiencies of our own society" and to, instead (c) get about the job of fixing these such "deficiencies."

In other words, the mission, the effort, the requirement, as per Kennan above, is to (a) get off our dead parochial/divisive butts and to (b) get about the job of overcoming and eliminating the matters which make us so susceptible to enemy subversive activity -- however, whenever and wherever these such subversive efforts might be pursued by our enemies.

(Thereby, rendering our enemies' efforts -- to exploit these such "deficiencies of our own system" -- yesterday, today and/or tomorrow and by whatever old, new, novel, etc., means [today, for example, think via "social media"] -- impractical/useless/futile.)

Minus such an effort, then, in truth, we have simply made a -- both informed and conscious -- decision; this, to value (a) our parochialism/our divisiveness over (b) our security.

A "fact of life" -- which the use of COL Maxwell's dynamic youth/cyber force to expose and counter our enemies' efforts to exploit our such decision -- simply cannot help us with very much -- and certainly cannot overcome.

(In stark contrast, this dynamic youth/cyber force -- organized, ordered, oriented and determined to overcome the "deficiencies of our own society" -- now THAT mission for COL Maxwell's such underground/resistance/disruptor/"think for yourself" force; THAT such application of COL Maxwell's dynamic force has the potential to make a HUGE, EXTREMELY POSITIVE AND SIGNIFICANTLY ENDURING difference re: our national security. Yes?)