Small Wars Journal

information operations

China’s All-Effects All-Domain Strategy in an All-Encompassing Information Environment

China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.

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What Translation Troubles Can Tell Us About Russian Information Warfare SWJED Fri, 10/04/2019 - 5:06am
Moscow’s form of information warfare targeting the West has attracted significant international attention since 2014, especially through its reinvigorated military intelligence branch. Nonetheless, little research has focused on these campaigns’ apparent shortcomings.

Al-Shabaab: Information Operations Strategy Overview

The Federal Government of Somalia and the Somali National Army have maintained great momentum in their military operations this year. They have conducted operations in areas that have historically been long held by Al-Shabaab, liberating villages throughout the Lower Shabelle Region, thus freeing civilians from oppression in the areas surrounding Mogadishu. Even with those large governmental gains, Al-Shabaab continues to be a formidable foe within the information environment with a well-developed Information Operations strategy.

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Terrorism and Technology: The Front End SWJED Thu, 08/15/2019 - 3:30pm
Despite the fact that there is a robust conversation regarding “terrorism and technology,” that discussion is – as near as we can tell – uniformly about the back end, that is to say exclusively addressing the dissemination of what terrorists have already produced. We have found virtually nothing in the popular press and nothing at all in the academic literature about the technology involved in the production of the materials that are being distributed.

The Marawi Crisis - Urban Conflict and Information Operations

The Marawi Crisis - Urban Conflict and Information Operations by Charles Knight and Katja Theodorakis - Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Executive Summary: The seizure of Marawi in the southern Philippines by militants linked to Islamic State (IS) and the response to it by Philippine authorities provides useful insights to Australian and other policymakers, with relevance for force structure, concepts of operations and the breadth of activity required to deal effectively with the consequences of an urban seizure. One overall insight is that the increasing urbanisation of global populations, combined with proliferating information technologies, means there’s a need to be prepared both for military operations in urban environments and for a widening of what policy/decision-makers consider to be ‘the battlefield’ to include the narrative space.

The siege showed the unpreparedness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for an urban fight: the AFP took five months to recover the city, leaving it in ruins and sustaining a notable number of casualties. This will obviously provide a set of lessons and insights to the Philippine military and authorities, but it also can allow other governments and militaries to assess their own readiness to deal with urban operations, either as assisting partners or in their own territories. This seems especially relevant to considering capability options for supporting allies facing comparable challenges, which could reduce military and civilian casualties in future operations.

The insurgents’ seizure of Marawi was accompanied by a systematic IS propaganda campaign (online and offline) aimed at projecting an image of triumph and strength. The AFP engaged in active counter-messaging to undermine militants’ narratives, encompassing the online space as well as more traditional methods of messaging, such as leaflet drops, banners, and radio and loudspeaker broadcasts. In the tactical sphere, this was aimed at avoiding civilian casualties as well as stemming further recruitment by and popular support for the insurgents. In the longer term, the overarching goal was to morally denounce the militants and undercut their support bases.

Considering the centrality of ideology and information operations (IOs) in the future operating environment, the Marawi crisis offers an instructive case when preparing for the challenges of an evolving threat landscape. This report therefore examines both the capability aspects of kinetic hard power and the lessons from soft-power IOs, and how they intertwine in the urban environment.

There are lessons here for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

This report makes the following observations and recommendations...

Read the entire report.

Cyber-Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and a Fragmented International System SWJED Tue, 08/06/2019 - 11:04am
Cyber-realpolitik or cyber-realism is an anarchic international system that is fragmented beyond the multiplicity of a multipolar distribution of state power. Nation-states are increasingly finding governance difficult as technology is propagated into the internet of things (IoT), and innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. The power to disrupt and appeal to public impulses are redistributed to tech companies and their executives, developers, coders, technicians, and computer engineers.

Iran’s Focus: Cyberwarfare and Retaliation on the West

With Iran’s insatiable appetite for nuclear independence and cyber warfare retaliatory strikes against the West, the imposed sanctions have resulted in increased socio-economic unrest at a time where greater individual access to technology and communication devices by individuals may result in further regional destabilization.

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Withering Influence in National Security

This essay is meant to demonstrate that a unified influence activity achieves the greatest efficiency necessary to challenge the persistent efforts of our traditional adversaries, to seize initiate in the information domain, to exploit opportunities with emerging methods and technologies. Political Warfare by our adversaries are present in common rhetoric: “Russian Election Meddling, Islamiphobic, Chinese Hacking”. This language can be found in any newspaper and blog on a daily basis across the US, across political boundaries.

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