Review: Information Operations–Warfare and the Hard Reality of Soft Power (Issues in Twenty-First Century Warfare) (Paperback)

4 Star, Information Operations

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4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding First Cut, IO as Inter-Agency & Long-Term Continuity Glue,

March 17, 2006
Edwin L. Armistead
This is a first rate effort, but it is incomplete and overly U.S. centric. A new expanded edition is needed soonest.

For myself the best chapters were on “Intelligence Support: Foundations for Conducting IO” and “Information Projection: Shaping the Global Village.” Other chapters on the language of IO, information protection, related and supporting activities, and implementing IO were good.

The most important point in this book from my point of view was its observation that modern war is only 15-25% military action, and the rest must be a unified national campaign that leverages all sources of national power **for which IO is the glue that provides the inter-agency coherence.** These authors understand and teach, very ably, how IO is at the heart of managing complex coalition contingency operations.

The book over-all shows a real appreciation for the role that must be played by non-military agencies, coalitions, and private sector organizations including religions, academics, and business as well as media personalities.

The discussion of the “information battlespace” is useful, as are the illustrations. There is an excellent “strategy to task” section helpful to anyone actually implementing IO.

The authors are to be commended for emphasizing that knowing the enemy is not enough–you must know yourself and be firmly grounded in reality rather than ideological fantasy, if the IO message is to have traction. The authors also address, diplomatically but directly, the limitations of the traditional insular military planning process (especially the secretive intelligence process), and clearly articulate the need for open processes that can embrace and leverage varied communities of interest, non-US as well as US.

The authors also raise an extremely important issue to which they cannot provide an answer, but which must be resolved sooner than later: the urgency of being able to educate Americans about global realities and threats, without being accused of propagandizing Americans. [This is one reason why Congressman Simmons, on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, is so important–he understands that the state intelligence centers and networks we are advocating can serve two functions: as bottom up dot collectors, and as disseminators of real world open source intelligence to the state and local publics.]

One minor nit: the authors assume that because most of the 9-11 hijackers had Saudi passports they were Saudi. My understanding is that they were a mixed bag with passports of convenience from Saudi Arabia for those who were not Saudi.

The book concludes with cursory attention to Russian, Chinese, and Australian IO doctrine and practices, and does not address Iranian, Indian, Pakistani, and Venezuelan-Cuban IO, which are of considerable importance.

The book, very understandably, does not spend a lot of time on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) or the need to properly monitor all information in all languages all the time, but the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence has clearly articulated the need to do “universal coverage, 24/7, in all languages, at the neighbood level of granularity” (this is an abdiged paraphrase) and DoD appears well on its way to doing just that. I recommend that this book be read in conjunction with Max Manwaring and John Fishel’s Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs Series) with Max Manwaring’s edited work on The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century which emphasizes key moral messages; and my own IO book, Information Operations: All Information, All Languages, All the Time which focuses exclusively on information peacekeeping or the foreign language content side of IO, and has a comprehensive annotated bibliography. Specialty books that I recommend to IO practitioners include Larry Beinhart’s Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials); Robert Parry’s Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ and John Hasling’s The Audience, The Message, The Speaker with Public Speaking PowerWeb.

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