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Future Land Force Information Warfare Operations - Part 2

Future Land Force Information Warfare Operations - Part 2

This is Part 2 of a blog on Information Warfare (IW), in case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.

Through IW operations, actions and activities, the Joint Force will have the ability to shape and influence the decision-making and behaviour of the target audience in order to achieve mission success across the range of military operations. In order to effectively and efficiently compel the target audience to fulfil our will throughout the IE, traditional manoeuvre concepts should be evolved.

Given the importance—and complexities—of IW, the traditional physical manoeuvre plan should become subordinate to an IW manoeuvre plan, one that is designed to use all available means to compel the target audience to fulfil our will. The traditional physical manoeuvre plan is just one means, and it is generally only effective at the higher end of the spectrum when violence is the most efficient tool for compelling the audience. Irrespective of where on the spectrum operations are taking place, in order for an individual or group to fulfil our will they must make the decision that this is their desired or preferred outcome. As these decisions are the result of cognition this is the realm, or “domain”, that will be the focus of the Joint Force IW manoeuvre plan.

IW is fundamental to all Joint Force warfighting functions,[1] but is not always treated as such. IW occurs within and beyond traditional operating environments, occupying virtual spaces beyond the geographical boundaries allocated to Joint Force Commanders, and directly affecting the freedom of action and influence of these Forces. The Joint Force must be enabled to react to these geographically external threats. Additionally, the Joint Force must consider hostile, neutral and friendly audiences and actors within, adjacent to and dislocated from the physical area of operations.

Future Land Force Information Warfare Operations - Part 2

To achieve this, the Joint Force must be able to act in and through the IE across the spectrum of conflict. Commanders must be capable of recognising and exploiting adversary vulnerabilities in the IE as easily as they do in the physical domain, while avoiding enemy strengths and protecting own-force vulnerabilities. Both the nature and character of conflict demand the ability of Joint Forces to adapt readily to meet new circumstances and act in an integrated way.[2] This must be achieved through full integration[3] with joint, coalition and non-traditional partners and agencies, nested under an IW framework that synchronises strategic, operational and tactical effects in the IE.

Additionally, to conduct successful IW, the Joint Force must be prepared to use all available resources to have the desired effect. Some of these resources are the well-understood Information Related Capabilities (included in Information Activities doctrine). However, Joint Force Commanders must ensure they are able to orchestrate any available resources that will contribute to shaping or setting the preconditions for the desired physical, functional, temporal or psychological effect—in both the physical and non-physical domains.

This raises the question of operational boundaries; traditionally the Joint Force delineates boundaries physically, and responsibilities are understood subject to these boundaries. Increasingly the threat force is able to use non-physical means to influence tactical commanders and the populace within their geographic boundary. As an example of the type of questions the Joint Force should be asking—is it feasible to expect the tactical commander to continue to rely on relatively scarce strategic assets to counter threat-force social media campaigns that originate outside of defined physical Area of Operations (AO), yet consistently undermine their influence and legitimacy within their AO? Or should the tactical commander be given responsibility to respond to activities in the IE which originate outside of their physical AO?

A quick note on the home-front: in IW, the home-front will become increasingly important in two ways. First, families of soldiers will become targets in ways that the Joint Force has not yet experienced, or at least not recently. Second, the home-population more broadly will be legitimate targets for weaponised information on an unprecedented (in the Australian context) level. The welfare of families is typically a command priority: thus, is it the commander’s responsibility to shield families from on-line activities that include weaponised information?

IW presents a unique set of challenges to the Joint Force which is historically more focused on the physical domain than the IE, and the future Joint Force should strongly consider the implications of what it will mean to organise, equip, train and prepare for the challenges of IW as a matter of priority.

[1] Warfighting functions: situational understanding, command, control and communications, force application, force sustainment, force projection, and force protection.

[2] Ministry of Defence. Joint Concept Note 2/12 Future Land Operating Concept.…

[3] In IW, integration will not conform to the traditional ideas of systems integration. It will include cultural, outcomes, effects or TTPs. It will rely on a complex mix of mutual trust, understanding, and respect that will be enabled through training, exercises, the underlying strategic narrative and actions of Land Forces throughout peace time and war.

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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