Future of Information Operations (IO) — Potpourri

Advanced Cyber/IO

Six top hits on future information operations, five Phi Beta Iota references on same.

Walter E. Richter, The Future of Information Operations (Military Review,89/1 Jan/Feb 2009)

Must recast perception of enemy, nature of conflict, and goals of operation if necessary.  Credibility is not considered center of gravity (this is half wrong–legitimacy is the center of gravity).  PA/IO divide persists.  New concepts include IO as marketing, IO as cultural anthropology, use of IO to empower local allies, need to reassess PA, PSYOP, Combat Camara, and Civil Affair role in expanded IO concept of operations.  Focus on truth and replacing violence possible.

LTC William B. Osborne (USA), Maj Scott A. Bethel, Maj Nolen R. Chew, Maj Philip M. Nostrand, Maj YuLin G. Whitehead, Information Operations: A New War-Fighting Capability (Air Force 2025 Research Paper, August 1996).

Despite it’s age (15 years) this is the second top gun document popularly cited.   It is a superb paper with authentic consideration of the speed and accuracy of feedback loops, processing challenges,and measures of merit.  It seeks to focus on the larger strategic and non-technical challenges and contains more requirements definition and functional analytics than most papers.  It lacks a full treatment of cultural and human analytics needs, and also considers the emergence of an Autonomous Internet as a threat.  It’s major flaw is the persistent focus on unilateral military information handling, without regard to the eight tribes of intelligence or the need to provide persistent support to non-kinetic operations.

Commander Synthia S. Jones, USN, Major Bernard Flowers, USAF, and Lieutenant Colonel Karlton D. Johnson, USAF Unity of effort in joint information operations (National Defense University, 2002)

Third ranked future-oriented hit, raises legal issues and anticipates (or inspires) today’s Cyber-Command authorities.  Very useful coverage of unity of effort and need for joint synchronization teams, but lacks the appreciation for multinational as well as state and local and commercial information-sharing and sense-making.

Robert K. Ackerman, Army Cyberwarriors Prepare for a Broader Future (SIGNAL Magazine, March 2002).

Robert Ackerman has always done a great job of interviewing and summarizing the essence and this is an excellent summary of where the Army thought it was going to be today, as conceptualized in 2002.  Especially important is the focus on IO being more than digits, more than cyber-attack and cyber-defense.

Jeff Harley, Space Control and Information Operations,  (Space Journal, 2002)

Jeff Harley, the principal force behind the IO Newsletter that has become a mainstay of the global IO community despite its narrow focus on Army IO, does a great job in this article of describing the very strong emphasis on space and the communications links to and from space as being a center of gravity for IO, while making it clear that Space Control and IO are complementary but distinct mission areas.

Walter Wolf, Information Operations: The Key to The Future Combat Systems (AOC, October 2006)

As short as this piece is, there are some very sound concepts that deserve reading and citation, including the importance of ensuring that IO is appreciated by and leveraged by all stakeholders “From Factory to Foxhole.”  Here the emphasis is on the combination of speed and breadth of communications.

Phi Beta Iota: Just as the Army chose not to listen to external voices in 1994 when the new multi-billion dollar Army Communications Architecture was under review, there appears to be a hiatus in strategic thinking running from 2003 to date.  The creation of Cyber-Commands is an interesting development, but not an adequate initiative for multiple reasons.  Below are a few references; the new monograph/book on IO remains to be written.

Reference: Advanced Cyber-IO (First Cut)

2010: OPINION–America’s Cyber Scam

2010: Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Trilogy Updated

2006 Information Operations: Putting the “I” Back Into DIME

2002 The New Craft of Intelligence: Achieving Asymmetric Advantage in the Face of Nontraditional Threats