Small Wars Journal

information operations

The Advent of the “Digital Mercenaries”

Modern day “condottieri”, a new type of modern “soldiers of fortune”, is emerging center stage. Namely, the ascent of a new breed, one that could be best described as “digital mercenaries”. The advent of these new professionals is of no less importance than their “traditional” counterparts who provide muscle and boots on the ground in distant and difficult environments.

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Primer: Terrorist Usage of Twitter and Social Media

"As terror groups such as ISIS gain more experience using social media platforms, the structure of posts and the methods used to promote the posts are becoming similar to the strategies a business would use to promote a product on those platforms. Although, the groups can’t directly mimic a business. They generally are blocked from using straightforward promotion tools put in place by the platform, such as advertisements or paid promotions. Groups like ISIS also tend to violate the terms of service for the social media platforms they are using. Much like the battle between cyber attacks and cyber security, terrorist organizations are continually adapting to circumvent detection and removal by the platforms they are using."

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Power Competition: The Struggle for Cooperation

The 2018 National Defense Strategy states that China is a strategic competitor and the United States must restore its competitive advantage in the international arena. However, power competition is more complicated now compared to the Cold War Era. Today, states are hyper-connected through technology and economic cooperation which increases complexity for projecting power. A good example is China’s use of economic power through its Belt and Road Initiative to expand its regional influence all over Euro-Asia.

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Operationalizing OSINT Full-Spectrum Military Operations

United States Soldiers, Privates and Generals, deserve access to unbiased, unredacted phenomenological reporting from the battlefield. In no way does this diminish the value, skills, and cognitive ability of the G2 or of national agencies. Rather, this capability is a much needed and as of yet, unmined treasure of data on the enemy, neutrals, and friendlies. DoD should place this tool in the hands of every leader from COCOM to fire team NCO.

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Information Overmatch: How Information Dominance Will Win Our Nation’s Wars

The advent of the Internet and the global interconnection of data has generated a path to oust combat overmatch as ‘the’ game changer. Instead, information dominance will be the characteristic that will win future wars. The organization that has the most relevant, timely, and actionable information will be victorious in battle, even against a combat overmatch force. Instead of seeking combat overmatch in our future investment strategies, we should be seeking a strategy that gives us Information Overmatch.

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How Do We Win Information Warfare in Afghanistan?

When General Abdul Raziq, the Provincial Police Chief of Kandahar Province, was assassinated the effective physiological warfare carried out by the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan prevented a moment in which all Afghans, government officials and the civil populace alike, could have united in their sorrow and grief over losing two national heroes. Instead, people quickly overlooked the damning brutality of the attack, giving credence to the counter claim, and with it, their implicit support to the Taliban.

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Applying Recent Lessons from Climate Change Communication to Counter-ISIS Strategic Communication

Once we accept the fundamentally communicative purpose of terrorism, it becomes clear that strategic communication should be the preeminent tool in the counter-terrorism toolbox. The trouble is, the U.S.-led approach to counter-ISIS strategic communication is hamstrung by reliance on a flawed paradigm that I call narrative jamming. The good news is that there is a potential solution and it comes from an unlikely place: recent research on climate change communication.

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Russia in Ukraine 2013-2016: The Application of New Type Warfare Maximizing the Exploitation of Cyber, IO, and Media

This case study for analysis focuses on Russian operations in Ukraine from 2013-2016. Russian decision-making in Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to use cyber and information warfare to influence operations to support military and political objectives, and continued preparation of the cyber environment to create a range of options for future action.

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