IWS - The Information Warfare Site
News Watch Make a  donation to IWS - The Information Warfare Site Use it for navigation in case java scripts are disabled

Chapter Six

Information Systems (INFOSYS)

Current IO doctrine recognizes that military forces may often use non-military INFOSYS in conducting operations, which is especially true in MOOTW where military forces work with other agencies and in multinational coalitions. A non-military INFOSYS consist of those elements not under the control of the military force.1 These non-military INFOSYS include the forums, working groups, and regular meetings of former warring faction (FWF) civil, police, and military leadership, meetings of political and social organizations among the local populace, and meetings of the International Organizations, Private Volunteer Organizations, and Non-Governmental Organizations (IOs, PVOs, and NGOs) operating in the area of operations (AO). These organizations operate in the same battlespace, but with a different focus, and with different governmental, political, social, and military interface with the FWFs. The routine meetings between the peace operation force with representatives of the IOs, NGOs, PVOs and their FWF counterpart organizations and FWF governmental, political, social and military leaders represent a "low-tech" INFOSYS which influences FWF decisionmaking.

Military IO in support of diplomacy in peace operations requires both information and useful forums in which to present that information to be successful.2 Joint doctrine recognizes that INFOSYS includes forums of discussion and other media of communications that support decisionmaking.3 TFE has exploited these types of INFOSYS to answer its information requirements and to disseminate elements of the IO campaign to decisionmakers and other players whose operations intrude into the military information environment.

The concept of the low-tech INFOSYS includes both the co-opting of existing forums of FWF political, police, and military decisionmakers and the establishment of new links between the peace operations force and these FWF authorities, IOs and diplomatic elements.4 These routine meetings may be co-opted as necessary to provide the peace operations force with necessary information or be used as an IO platform from which to disseminate IO messages.

The concept of a low-tech INFOSYS is not yet reflected in IO doctrine (FM 100-6, August 1996). The concept of non-military INFOSYS as explained in FM 100-6 does not address the several INFOSYS operating in a peace operations environment which require almost no technical means of support and consist of meetings of decisionmakers. Examples of such INFOSYS are the forums, working groups, and regular meetings of FWF civil, police, and military leadership, meetings of political and social organizations among the local populace, and meetings of the IOs, PVOs, and NGOs operating in the AO. TFE has exploited these kinds of INFOSYS to answer its information requirements and to disseminate elements of the IO campaign to decisionmakers and other players whose operations intrude into the military information environment.

Developing a temporary low-tech INFOSYS to respond to specific IO problem sets.

During Operation JOINT FORGE, one Task Force Commander created a temporary low-tech INFOSYS to develop an integrated strategy to a difficult problem set in his AO. For events that are known in advance (elections, planned demonstrations or grave-yard visits), units have time to develop an appropriate IO strategy. These known events are examples of Problem Sets. A Problem Set is defined as "a group of related issues or events that, in the opinion of the commander, could significantly hamper or jeopardize mission success."5 To build such a strategy, one TF Commander created a temporary low-tech INFOSYS6 consisting of a forum of diplomatic and military elements, as well as IOs operating in his AO. During Operation JOINT FORGE in December 1998, the situation in Sebrenica presented a problem set to the MND-N IO planners, for which there were no ready answers, and for which the many actors had no tactical-level means to coordinate their efforts.

The difficult situation facing SFOR in Sebrenica had its immediate roots in the 1997 municipal elections, and its deeper roots in the fate of the city during the Bosnian Civil War. Before the war, the city was inhabited almost entirely by Bosnian Muslims. Following the capture of the city by the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) in the Summer of 1995, the city was inhabited solely by Bosnian Serbs. However, the election rules established for the 1997 municipal elections allowed the Bosnian people to vote where they had claimed their home during or before the war. The assembly elected in the 1997 municipal elections consisted of 20 Bosnian Serbs and 25 Bosnian Muslims. Fifteen months after this ruling assembly had been elected, it had not yet been seated in power. The opposition in Sebrenica to allowing Bosniak participation in the ruling assembly was intense. Previous efforts by the International Community (IC) to seat the assembly had met with failure. On 19 January 1998, representatives of the IC attempted to force their way in a dramatic way into the city to establish the new government. On that attempt, demonstrating angry crowds decisively blocked the motorcade from entering the city. Again on 23 March 1998, the IC tried to seat the assembly, having gained assurances from both sides that there would not be any difficulties or provocations. The assembly was not seated when the Bosnian Muslims walked out in protest after provocations.

Subsequently, Carlos Westendorp, the appointed High Representative for the execution of the Dayton Peace Accord, created the Interim Executive Board of Sebrenica, with Mr. Larry Sampler, an American diplomat, as its Chairman, to oversee the establishment of a ruling assembly that reflected the municipal elections. Resistance from the Bosnian Serbs continued, while hardliners opposed to the DPA tightened their grip on power in the city. Faced with repeated failure and no real progress, the TF Commander responsible for the area held a series of meetings involving the leadership of the diplomatic and military instruments of power, as well as representatives from the various IOs supporting implementation of the civil aspects of the DPA.

At the invitation of the TF Commander, representatives from several organizations met at Camp Dobol to develop appropriate courses of action (COAs) to meet the challenge in Sebrenica. Two meetings were held, one to conduct an analysis of the situation (Step Two of the Five-Step Estimate of the Situation), and one to develop and war-game COAs (Steps Three and Four) to ultimately develop recommended COAs to take to the OHR for action (Decision, Step Five).

The organizations represented at these meetings included:

  • The Assistant Division Commander, Multinational Division - North (MND-N);
  • International Chairman of the Interim Executive Board (IEB) for Sebrenica;
  • Representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Sarajevo;
  • The MND-N Political Advisor (POLAD);
  • The Office of the High Representative (OHR);
  • The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR);
  • The Deputy Regional Commander of the International Police Task Force (IPTF);
  • The local IPTF station commander;
  • The LIWA Field Support Team Commander representing the IO Operations Cell of MND-N;
  • The MND-N Joint Commission Observers (JCOs) in Sebrenica;
  • The bde S-2 and TF S-2;
  • The bde Civil Affairs and TF Civil Affairs Commanders, and;
  • The Company Commander and his platoon leaders responsible for Sebrenica.

The answers to the problems that faced SFOR in Sebrenica lay outside either the military information environment (MIE) or even the diplomatic information channels, and included the INFOSYS of a variety of uncoordinated and independent agencies and IOs. To meet his information requirements, the commander in this case had to build his own INFOSYS that would represent the many aspects of the problem set. The nature of this INFOSYS was both temporary, and low-tech, in that it consisted of a forum of representatives from the diplomatic and military elements and the IOs operating in the AO meeting to solve a specific problem set. Current IO doctrine recognizes that military forces may often use non-military INFOSYS in conducting operations, which is especially true in MOOTW where military forces work with other agencies and in multinational coalitions. A non-military INFOSYS consist of those elements not under the control of the military force.7

Creating a temporary low-tech INFOSYS -- the Task Force Commander assembles subject matter experts from the IOs in the Task Force AOR to map out the strategy.

Lesson Learned: The TF Commander's creation of a temporary low-tech INFOSYS to analyze the situation, develop and war-game COAs, and produce that COA which unified the efforts of the supporting organizations, provides an example of how the commander in a peace operation can reach outside his military INFOSYS to meet the needs of his information requirements.

Maintaining a Low-Tech INFOSYS requires mediation and salesmanship skills.

During Operation JOINT FORGE, one Task Force Commander noted that maintaining an effective low-tech INFOSYS with the local civilian and police authorities and Entity Armed Forces (EAF) military leaders, required both mediation and salesmanship skills. During the unit's Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRE), the emphasis was on "hostile situations" where forceful insistence was the required response. For the most part, the routine meetings between the peace operations force commander and local authorities were more businesslike and less adversarial. As one Battalion Task Force Commander put it: "It is not always a debate - it is often informal, friendly conversation." It is this informal friendly conversation that builds up trust between the local civil and military authorities and the peace operations force. Over time, a friendly relationship based on respectful conduct confers a degree of reliability in the low-tech INFOSYS. To be useful in resolving crises, the low-tech INFOSYS must be reliable - that is, it must be readily available when needed. When crises do erupt, the commander needs to be able to rely on his contacts (the low-tech INFOSYS) to be there to both provide information on the situation and to hear the commander provide the official position of the peace operations force.

Mediation and salesmanship skills must be part of any leader-training program for units deploying to peace operations. As the civil aspects take on increasing importance in mature peace operations, military leaders deploying to such operations must be ready to communicate effectively and persuasively with the leadership of local civil, social, police, and military groups and organizations.8 Along with mediation skills to resolve problems, the techniques of the salesman in developing and sustaining contacts must also be trained. One Task Force Commander stated that the reliability of the low-tech INFOSYS is built up over time, mostly through "small talk." For example, the TF Commander discovered through friendly conversation that one of the local police chiefs in his AO was a youth soccer coach. Knowing this, the TF Commander highlighted in conversation how the Civil Affairs element had recently delivered donated sports equipment to the local youth group.

In a different town, another police chief provided information on a demonstration that resulted in the fiery destruction of a vehicle belonging to the ECMM (European Community Monitors Mission). Details available on the actions of the local police and the circumstances of the demonstration and beating of the ECCM representative and destruction of his vehicle were sketchy at best. Because the TF Commander had gained the respect and trust of the police chief over time, sustaining the relationship in the absence of crisis, he was able to gain information that completed the intelligence picture on the demonstration. The TF Commander noted that it is most important to keep such contacts maintained when an area is a "sleepy hollow" as events can turn to crisis overnight.

During such routine meetings, the TF Commander would commend positive actions and developments in the implementation of the peace accord, cajole the contacts on areas where progress was slow, and reinforce the official position on those areas where progress was lacking. The TF Commander noted that he "always" discovered important information through the low-tech INFOSYS that he would not get through the military INFOSYS of intelligence channels. Usually, these meetings provided new and precise intelligence on the situation to higher headquarters.

TTPs for developing and sustaining contacts include building a "contact data base" that compiles the facts and insights obtained over time through regular contacts. Such a data base is extremely important in mature peace operations where units may rotate in and out, allowing the incoming commander to pick up the low-tech INFOSYS where the departing commander left off. Before scheduled meetings, commanders should review the file to "brush up" on conversation topics. Commanders must act on the concerns of the local officials and be ready to provide "follow-up" information regarding the topics raised in the last meeting. Verifying the correct pronunciation of their first and last names every time with the interpreter prevents a faux pas - foreign languages may present challenges here in correct pronunciation.

Lesson Learned: Low-tech INFOSYS involving meetings with local leaders may be viewed as a relationship, not unlike the relationship between a salesman and his client in terms of the background work necessary to keep the relationship sustained and viable. Conversational and mediation skills are required for effective use of this low-tech INFOSYS. If the low-tech INFOSYS is to be used in times of crisis, it must be maintained through consistent effort at communication, even in the absence of problems. Leaders deploying to peace operations must receive training in mediation and conversational "salesmanship" skills to effectively utilize the low-tech INFOSYS comprised of the routine meetings with local civil and police authorities, social and civic leaders, and units of the armed forces of the FWFs.

Maintaining the Reliability of the Low-Tech INFOSYS

Low-tech INFOSYS, consisting of forums of military and civilian decisionmakers, are subject to corruption by uncontrolled access and conflicting messages. During Operation JOINT FORGE, one Base Camp and Task Force Commander in TFE established a low-tech INFOSYS with the political leadership of the towns in his AOR. On several occasions, this INFOSYS provided positive results and allowed the commander to directly communicate to the right decisionmakers. However, the dependability of such INFOSYS requires a certain degree of control over access from the peace operations force. Too many actors utilizing the same INFOSYS can easily result in a diluted or confused message from the peace operations force to the target audience.

In the case of the town of Sebrenica, there existed the officially recognized government of the city, sanctioned by the International Community, and a shadow government of hardliners, with whom SFOR had ended all contact. The TF Commander responsible for this area was unpleasantly surprised when representatives from an SFOR military band arranged a concert in the town on their own, without coordination with the TF. The uncoordinated actions of the SFOR military band set back efforts at excluding hardliners from the political process and undermined the TF Commander's position, as well as that of the officially recognized civilian leadership cooperating with SFOR.

The commander termed this phenomenon "double-tapping.9 At the Division level, protocols have been established, as well as Attack Guidance Matrices which specify who is authorized to communicate information to various civilian and police authorities and units of the EAF. Such control is necessary to prevent "double-tapping" and confusion.

Lesson Learned: Once the peace operations force has created a low-tech INFOSYS consisting of regular forums of decisionmakers, commanders must ensure that uncontrolled access to such forums do not corrupt the clarity of communications between the peace operations force and the intended audience. To maintain assured, clear, and consistent communications to the target audience, low-tech INFOSYS established by peace operations forces at all levels must have access controlled by the commander to prevent corruption or negation of the desired official messages.

Endnotes, Chapter Six:

1. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Information Operations, FM 100-6 (Washington, DC: USGPO, 27 August 1996), p. 5-5.
2. Department of Joint and Multinational Operations, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, The Nation and Military Power, Student Text S511, Lesson 1 (Fort Leavenworth, Kans.: CGSC Press, 27 March 1995, p. LSN 1-2-3.
3. Joint Publication 3-13.1, Command and Control Warfare (Washington, DC: USGPO, 7 February 1996), p. v.
4. For more on the concept of the low-tech INFOSYS, see CALLCOMS observation No. 10000-27942, "UN/NGO Interface as part of the Military Information Environment and an Information System (INFOSYS)."
5. Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), Introduction to Information Campaign Planning and Execution (Student Materials prepared for the LIWA by SYTEX Inc., Vienna, VA, May 1998).
6. See CALLCOMS observation No. 10000-27942, "UN/NGO Interface as part of the Military Information Environment and an Information System (INFOSYS)." See also, Center for Army Lessons Learned Newsletter No. 99-2, Jan 99, Task Force Eagle Information Operations: IO in a Peace Enforcement Environment, Chapter Five, "INFOSYS." The concept of a low-tech INFOSYS is one where the emphasis is on a forum of decisionmakers, rather than on communications infrastructure and equipment.
7. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Information Operations, Field Manual 100-6, p. 5-5.
8. See Kenneth H. Pritchard, LTC, USAR, "The Army and Civil-Military Operations in the 21st Century," Army (December 1997), vol. 47, no. 12, pp. 6-9. LTC Pritchard argues for more leader training in mediation skills in connection with MOOTW.
9. A reference to the practice of the violent use of force, shooting everyone encountered during an assault onto an objective without determining whether or not they have already been killed.

Chapter Five: Civil Affairs and Public Affairs Support to IO
Appendix A: Abbreviations