Abstract: The United States Air Force (USAF) must leverage truth to defuse adversarial claims to plausible deniability. A fictional scenario of an RC-135 shootdown by a Russian private military company (PMC) conveys the implications of failure with information warfare (IW). Today, the USAF lacks the ability to counter plausible deniability in the information environment with the tempo and speed required to outpace and outthink its adversaries. Three recommendations are offered. First, the USAF should operate outside of current geographic constraints. Second, the USAF should shift to a problem-centric strategy independent of intelligence collection platforms. Lastly, the USAF should shift its information warfare posture from reactive to proactive in today’s dynamic information environment.Read more
Abstract: The ubiquity and automation of social networks now makes it possible for public discourse to be manipulated at machine speed. The Battle for Hearts and Minds in the next war could be won or lost without a shot being fired, before even the vanquished party recognises that their interests are threatened. However, there is little consensus among Western scholars or security officials particularly about location and characteristics of the battlefield. This gap in the literature precludes the development of policy, strategy, and capability to prevail on it. This article situates the battle in the hive minds of audiences — the collective perception of a situation held by a group, defined as the cognitive domain. Finally, the article asserts that the cognitive domain is both threatened and vital ground and therefore should be considered a warfighting domain in its own right.Read more
Abstract: The AF DCGS is in the midst of the most significant transformation it has seen since its inception in the mid-1990s. Primarily driven by the need to find a way to more efficiently process the glut of data now available to the intelligence community, the AF DCGS transformation to the problem-centric model of analysis is already paying major dividends in the Enterprise’s ability to provide enhanced intelligence to its customers. This article discusses the transformation and describes in detail how the AF DCGS is now oriented to prepare the air component for great power competition.Read more
Executive Summary: Our previous article on supply chain competition and warfare explained how political, economic, and security issues unleash and restrain strategies of competitive advantage. China is waging all-effects warfare. Meanwhile, democratic states and the US compete with a self-imposed disadvantage: inferior operating strategy at the strategic level of significance. How can we compete and when necessary, wage superior complex warfare in kind?Read more
Executive Summary: In the hands of authoritarian powers, supply chains are systematically weaponized into broad warfare that subsumes democracies’ traditionally narrow military approach. This series analyzes supply chain competition, warfare, and strategy in two parts. Part I discusses fundamentals that set strategic parameters for achieving an “all-effects” advantage: globalization and protectionism; strategies of national security; incentives and risks; and political and technological change. This broad perspective on competition and warfare is necessary to implement the cooperative and confrontational competition prescribed in the US National Security Strategy. Part II identifies decisions and makes recommendations to combine superior “all-effects” using diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and social instruments of power. This integrative perspective is necessary to synergize strategic advantages derived from the US National Defense Strategy and sixteen other national security-related strategies.Read more
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is conducting an information warfare (IW) campaign against the United States (U.S.) and other strategic competitors in an attempt to protect its interests and limit its strategic losses caused by COVID-19. The PRC went through great lengths to misrepresent the severity of the virus and suppress information that would have potentially helped the international community. Once it realized it could no longer suppress this emerging threat, it shifted its IW campaign to projecting misinformation and blaming the U.S. for the virus’ rapid spread. The following assessment categorizes the PRCs IW campaign and briefly highlights the growing need for a whole of government approach to protect the U.S against adversary IW campaigns.Read more
In 21st Century warfare, social media fuels influence through “likes,” “shares,” and “tweets” driving narratives that blur the lines of politics, law, war, peace, elections, and freedom of speech and press, creating an information crisis. The current lack of an adequate United States (US) response to this crisis threatens its democratic institutions and national security. Bolstering this emerging threat are social media platforms rewarding users for engaging as fast thinkers without regard for bias or manipulation that is being exploited by hostile state and non-state actors to create narratives resulting in the decay of truth. Compounding this problem is social media’s ability to transition influence from institutions and governments to the individual. Though social media-enabled information warfare alone may not be decisive in current and future conflicts, nations must prepare to counter its effects across all instruments of national power: diplomatic, information, military, and economic.Read more
In a pervasive and complex information environment, analytics are vital to understanding advanced threats. As we rely more on machine-learnt results, asking the right questions and visualizing deep analysis are key to grasping and solving problems. These skills are also vital 21st century leadership tools that can forge a common focus among otherwise stove-piped specialists.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an urgent threat that requires both scientific understanding and decisive leadership. The cause of the disease is SARS CoV-2, a mutating virus that thrives in conditions difficult to control at scale. To counter this threat, this article demonstrates in detail the potential of human-led case method and machine-provided visual analytics.Read more
Joint operations doctrine omits the agency of artificial intelligence (AI) in the operational information environment, which is a problem. This commentary discusses why, and recommends effective changes. Key points are as follows. AI is becoming an autonomous cause of unanticipated effects. Humans are not the most effectively intelligent actors in all environments, yet our doctrine draws lessons from the past rather than anticipating emergent futures. Machines currently excel in experience-based learning and can discover relationships in data that we cannot discern. Humans can intuit, deceive, somewhat control, and manufacture and destroy machines. In time, AI will be able to perform those cognitive, informational and physical functions as well. As out-thought becomes out-fought, we need proactive doctrine now.Read more
With the return of Great Power Competition, the United States (US), Russia, and China are engaged in a persistent fight within the information environment. Each branch of military service within the US Department of Defense are developing concepts to fight within a contested information environment. Recently, the US Air Force established a new warfighting organization focused on Information Warfare (IW) based on a narrow definition that integrates Cyberspace, Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS), Information, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations. Within this article, the author sets out on four objectives: first, to differentiate Information Warfare (IW) at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war; second, to describe offensive and defensive IW considerations for the US Air Force; third, to describe the relationship between tactical IW and support to the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC); and fourth, to provide initial recommendations regarding the USAF’s re-organization efforts.Read more
The article will analyze how Russia is using social media to generate and spread disinformation to distort facts and divide the US government and society.Read more
In the latest installment of our Human Domain series, Louis L. Cook examines Information Operations effectiveness in multi-domain operations through a focused look at the offensive and defensive uses of Operations Security (OPSEC).Read more
The multi domain aspect will never be what we want it to be without the synchronization required to integrate allRead more
The principles of quantum physics drive a deeper understanding of conflict through analysis of interactions of the elements of competition.Read more
Thinking about conflict in terms of quantum mechanics rather than Newtonian physics will produce more comprehensive grand strategy.Read more
Emphasizing information operations in multi-domain operations elevates multi-domain ops and integrated warfareRead more
Irregularity in terms of non-uniformed forces and indirect force application describe how the war is fought, not why. While this may seem like academic semantics, it is not.
By Joe Brown
True victory in military operations arises through the acceptance of defeat by one of the antagonists. Despite this, military decision making frequently devolves into analysis of things over thoughts. Grant demonstrated mastery of this concept at Vicksburg.
By Wilford Garvin
“The Navy’s intelligence operations writ large and cyberspace operations, specifically, are on the precipice of being able to fully capitalize on the variety and velocity of data coming from both organic sensors and Open Source to create battlespace awareness and inform decision making in ways we never imagined in the past.”Read more
The Defense community is only at the beginning of developing a common understanding and vision for multi-domain operations and strategy. Join us Monday for a special interview with VADM Tighe.Read more