Small Wars Journal

information operations

From Jargon to Jointness: Understanding the Information Environment and Its Terminology

Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:17am
There is still disagreement and outright confusion about what the IE is, why it matters, how to operate within it, and how to develop a terms and definitions relating to it. While terms and definitions comprise the primary focus of this article, it is most useful to discuss them in the context of interactions between information, competition, and strategy.

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“A New Postmodern Condition”: Why Disinformation Has Become So Effective

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 5:33am
Why are conspiracies so prevalent? Why are facts and truth so elusive to so many today? Why are people so susceptible to disinformation? Why is the current political climate so peculiar, turbulent, and divided? It is clear that there is a relationship between the disinformation that people ingest and the vitriol that some seem to spit out. These puzzling circumstances may be the result of a growing trend of postmodern thought in the United States and the world.

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

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 7:28pm
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

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.

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Al-Shabaab: Information Operations Strategy Overview

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:45am
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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Controlling Cognitive Domains SWJED Sat, 08/24/2019 - 3:52pm
What is now categorized as the “cognitive domain” includes areas of influence in all sectors of society. Cognitive domain(s) should not be restricted to influence and information operations, social engineering and ‘winning hearts and minds’ approaches, but expanded to include all areas where ideological attacks are possible.
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.
ISIS: Forgotten But Not Gone SWJED Tue, 08/13/2019 - 9:38am
Despite complete territory loss in recent months, ISIS still has plenty of life left, and its predecessors have recovered from far more difficult situations in the past. ISIS has more manpower, money, and reliable networks than it ever had before it began controlling territory.

The Marawi Crisis - Urban Conflict and Information Operations

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 1:53pm

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.