This report is a briefing on information operations in the context of U.S. military operations. Control of information is currently grouped by the Department of Defense (DOD) into five core areas: (1) Psychological Operations; (2) Operational Security; (3) Military Deception and Disinformation; (4) Computer Network Information Operations and (5) Electronic Warfare.
Information is defined as a resource that derives from data observed, and the systems that are required to interpret and analyze the data. Information enhanced by technology, such as computer databases, enables the military to synchronize its command, intelligence and control functions.
The current DOD terminology for information warfare is Information Operations (IO). The objective of IO is to adversely influence the decision-making process of an adversary. An IO attack may be used to slow the computers of adversaries or to transmit a virus. An IO attack may also create false images or even disable weapons by causing the computer circuitry to be overloaded with directed high energy.
An important function of military information operations is Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). This is a targeted effort to influence the emotions and thinking of an adversary’s populace or its government. During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), messages were sent on Air Force EC-130E military aircraft, and also from U.S. Naval ships. Messages delivered by faxes, emails and cell phones were all tools used to discourage the enemy.
Operational Security (OPSEC) is a part of military information protocol that is used in critical military operations. It involves removing data which could be used by our adversaries. During OIF, U.S. forces were required to remove any information that DOD websites contained that was considered of value to Iraqi forces. The objective was to make sure they couldn’t use sensitive, unclassified information.
Computer Network Operations (CNO) involves attacking and disrupting enemy computer networks to destroy their information-gathering systems. It also involves the defense of our own military information systems, and exploiting enemy networks through intelligence collection efforts. The Joint Information Operations Warfare Command (JIOWC) is the military department in charge of this mission.
Electronic Warfare (EW) is defined as military actions that use the control of the electromagnetic energy spectrum to attack an enemy. High powered electromagnetic pulses (EMP) can disrupt the circuitry of any equipment which uses micro-circuits or transistors. If Israel attacks Iran, in the future, for example, they would likely employ EMP warfare against Iran before attacking it. This would effectively neutralize their ability to retaliate by knocking out the infrastructure. The U.S. also possesses these weapons.
80% of U.S. commerce proceeds through the Internet. This is the final information frontier, and military planners are constantly on watch to develop systems to adequately protect the World Wide Web. DOD is currently contracting with Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Division to operate a Computer Emergency Response Team. This organization monitors malicious code attacks and cyber crime, as well as providing recovery guidance and efforts.