By COL Chip Bircher, U.S. Army
Best Defense contest entrant
Interesting question: What one thing is the most important to change in order to prevent, shape and win war in the information environment?
I can look at my white board and see a list that grows every day of items we either need to tackle, or are in the process of changing, across all DOTMLPF domains in order to be better postured for future land operations. Since Tom is looking for the silver bullet, I’ll do my best to simplify the list: We have to change the culture of our force.
The way to change our culture is to make information operations either a core competency or a warfighting function, something so important to the force as a whole that it is no longer relegated to a small cohort of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, but instead is at the heart of everything we do, operationally and institutionally.
The information environment has become the preeminent maneuver terrain for operations, and it will only increase in importance. Look at the “Gerasimov Doctrine” or see how ISIS is maneuvering in this terrain to understand how our adversaries and potential adversaries have realized the critical importance of information operations. While we man, train, and equip our forces to fight and win future wars, we have missed the point that we are engaged in a war now, every day — a war being conducted in the information environment, the battle of perception. Unfortunately, we currently think of this key terrain as an afterthought, and will continue to flounder — or have happenstance success — because of our culture. Doctrine defines how we operate and even how we think about ourselves — ADP 1, the Army, is under revision to describe what is important to the army as a profession; now is the time to change culturally how we as a force view the information environment.
If the information environment is maneuver terrain, information operations (IO) is how we conduct combined arms maneuver and wide area security in this terrain. IO is not a “thing,” just as combined arms maneuver is not; IO is how we plan, synchronize, execute, and assess engagement, information warfare (actions focused on adversaries’ use of the information environment), information protection, and communication alignment actions across the operational environment. Truth is a powerful weapon — perhaps the most powerful in our arsenal. By changing how we approach operations in the information environment, by inculcating the principles of truthful communication to shape the security environment we can move beyond the argument over misused and misunderstood terms like IO, information warfare, cyber, public affairs, psychological operations, and propaganda. The culture change occurs when senior leaders understand that combined arms maneuver does not equate to combat arms. Real change will only occur after our doctrinal foundation acknowledges this.
Doctrine is the heart of how our services deliver capabilities to meet our nation’s defense needs. Once we adopt information operations as a core competency or warfighting function we can then tackle the rest of the capability challenges. Imagine organizational structures designed to allow commanders to maneuver effectively in the information environment, as opposed to structure defended today by the disparate tribes that make up the information community. Imagine training and leader development programs that begin at the lowest level, teaching and mentoring all soldiers on the importance of information and how it not only enables operations, but more importantly how operations enable effects in the information environment. Imagine a personnel system that develops and manages the talent necessary to not only master the technical aspects of this environment but also understand the cultural and content-driven complexities.
I often hear senior leaders discuss how important culture is to our force and operations — not just our ability to understand the cultural nuances of the physical and mental environments in which we operate, but also the cultural underpinnings of ourselves. If we truly want to prevent, shape, and win our nation’s wars, we must change our cultural beliefs, through doctrine, in order to win the information war, the war in which we are engaged every day. And in order to do this, information operations must be inculcated in the very fiber of our collective being as a core competency.
The author is the Director of the U.S. Army Information Operations Proponent, Mission Command Center of Excellence, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The views expressed are his alone and do not represent the current position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army.
Image credit: U.S. Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Tags: Best Defense, Military, Voice
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The Changing Face Of Technology
Change is the only constant in life. Over the past few decades, though, the pace of change has been alarming. No one is immune and it shows no signs of slowing down… OVER the past few decades, life in the workplace has undergone possibly the biggest transformation since the industrial revolution which, in itself, led to sweeping changes across the world. And the speed of change shows no signs of slowing down. “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century, it will be more like 20,000 years of progress,” says Ray Kurzweil, an Americandescribed by Forbes magazine as the ‘ultimate thinkingmachine’. Advances in technology have revolutionised the world of business. In 1975, George Pake, then head of research at Xerox, predicted the office of the future. “There is absolutely no question that there will be a revolution in the office over the next 20 years,” he told Business Week. “What we are doing will change the office like the jet plane revolutionised travel and the way that TV has altered family life.” He predicted that in 1995 his office would be completely different. A TV-display terminal and keyboard would sit on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he said. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don’t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I’ll want in this world.” Apart from the paper bit, he was spot on. Today, though, we now have wireless internet, email, smartphones, virtual video conferencing tools, and social networking sites with clout such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and Rotten Tomatoes, all of which have been growing at a phenomenal pace. People can communicate with those they know – and those they don’t – throughout the world in seconds from their home, their car, their office or while cruising at 25,000ft. Social media has given power back to people. Companies, which underestimate that power and ignore negative feedback about their products and services, do so at their peril. “Trust plays a huge part in this new world and customers are more willing to trust a peer or customer review than a company’s claims about its product or service,” said John J. Sviokla, a Principal in PwC’s US Advisory practice where he serves as business leader for strategy and innovation. But who is driving this change? Customers are certainly demanding better, faster, cheaper and want to do more with less. But equally, companies, facing tough competition, are under increasing pressure to innovate. In 1975 the fastest supercomputer cost $5 million. Today a $400 iPhone would be able to perform equally as well. 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