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Information Operations
Observations, TTP, and Lessons Learned

By Mr. Roy W. Hollis, IO Analyst,
Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA)/Exercise and Training Integration Center
Fort Leavenworth, KS

Personnel and Personalities

  • CoS: The Division Chief of Staff (CoS) is critical to the success of any Information Operation conducted by the division.   He directs the staff and must empower the IO coordinator or G7.  The staff must understand this and respond to the CoS’s requirements to support the G7.   This is important, as many staffers do not fully understand or appreciate the value of IO.  Without the CoS’s backing and influence, the staff will focus on what they already know and give minimal attention to Information Operation requirements.

  • The IO Coordinator/G7: The effectiveness of this staff officer is directly related to personality and the ability to integrate.   The G7 must be a known quantity and generally respected across the full spectrum of the staff.   The G7 must be recognized as an integrator and a trusted advisor.  If the G7 does not have credibility with the staff and the Command Group, IO will not receive the necessary emphasis to make it a value-added component of operations.   The successful integration of IO into operations can often be attributed to this officer’s personality and influential capacities.

Understanding what Information Operations are and, perhaps more importantly, are not.

  • All too often, IO is associated with rear area or force protection operations only.  Mitigating impact of displaced civilians, influencing host nation nationals to support U.S. forces, and countering propaganda are just some of them.   This is a mindset learned from experiences in SASO operations where the “A” Team is CA, PSYOP, PAO, and OPSEC.

  • This is only a part of what IO is capable of doing, and we have to unlearn this.  IO is also an attack methodology that can be used offensively to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, exploit, or influence an adversary’s operations -- not just protect our own forces.

  • To understand what IO is not, you must look at the various aspects of IO:  physical destruction, military deception, electronic warfare, operations security, and psychological operations (FM 100-6, Information Operations). Civil and public affairs, although a related activity, are, at times, supportive of broader IO objectives, but are not elements of IO.

  • IO seeks to integrate the various elements to achieve specific results and objectives.  IO is heavily dependent upon commander’s guidance and intent and is as much a part of the MDMP as maneuvers or fire support or other battlefield activities.

IO in the MDMP

  • IO planning is conducted as an integral part of the MDMP.  It is not separate.

  • The IO Cell identifies mission requirements, tasks, risks, and assets available, and assists the commander’s understanding of where he can employ IO as part of his full spectrum operation.

  • The focus for the unit’s Information Operation is found in the commander’s guidance and intent.  He must identify the critical time and place in the battle where he wants to bring the full mass of his forces to bear in order to accomplish his mission.   This includes IO.  

  • The need for commanders to clearly express their vision of the battlefield is an area identified in the FY01 BCTP Perceptions that requires improvement.  IO, to be fully integrated and to have a chance to succeed, must be part of this visualization.

  • IO supports the principle of mass and helps the commander establish mass.

  • The elements of IO are then focused to be mutually supportive to accomplish a specified task or tasks.   They are the sum of their whole.

  • Below is an IO planning worksheet taken from a recent training exercise.  It is by no means the “perfect” example of how IO is put together, but is provided to show how the unit thought about melding the elements of IO together to achieve a specified objective.

    IO Planning Worksheet:  Operation XX PH3A3
    IO Concept: Deter civilian interference with military operations.  Minimize mass DC movement.   Seek support of populace in counter recon, counter-insurgent, force protection operations.   Degrade morale of the 3MRD soldiers.   Destroy 3MRD, 37TD, and 10INA FS assets.   Disrupt 3MRD and 10INA ADA assests and 3MRD C2.   Defeat 3MRD attacking Regiments.
    IO Objective:   Conduct integrated Information Operations in support of XX Div defense in sector to defeat the 2nd TE (3MRD), 10INA.
    Maneuver Endstate:   3MRD is defeated, 37MRD is delayed.   XX Div is along PL Copper in defensive positions, transitioning to the offense.   Population continues to support friendly forces. Offensive IO Tgts:   Cdr 3MRD and C2 network. Defensive IO Tgts:   Midland civilians, XX Div soldiers and units.
    Destruction Tasks: 1) Destroy 3MRD, 37TD, and 10INA FS assets. 2)   Degrade 3MRD C2 nodes.   3)    Destroy 3MRD Reserve.   4) Continue Counter Recon operations against recon elements and SPF. 5) BPT engage insurgents and terrorist.
    EW Tasks:   1) Disrupt 3MRD, 37TD, and 10INA ADA nets as part of non-lethal sead. 2) Disrupt 3MRD FS nets and C2 nets. 3 )Disrupt and degrade 3MRD Reserve C2 Net. IO IRs:   1) Location of known and suspected SPF. 2) Location of known and suspected insurgents, terrorist, and NL sympathizers.   3) Location of 1st echelon Bns of 3MRD/10INA. 4) Location of 3MRD and 10INA FS assets.   5) Location of 3MRD and 10INA ADA assets, 6) Location of 1ID Tank Bn and Reserve. 7) Availability of local broadcast media. 8) HN assets available to support DCs, force protection, and counter insurgency.   9) Location of NGO/IOs in Div AOR.
    PSYOP Tasks:   Attack morale of 3MRD soldiers.   O/O focus psyop attack on _____________.   (Emphasize overwhelming combat power of friendly forces.   Continued resistance futile and will only result in their death.)   Issue surrender appeals.   Broadcast HN Stay Put policy.   Convince Midland civilians to support friendly operations; non-interference, help DCs and direct to HN agencies, report terrorist, insurgents, SPF.   Issue warnings that US will target only military sites and to move away if you live near one.
    OPSEC Tasks:   Increase force protection and security operations.   Max use of camouflage and terrain masking techniques.   Minimize contact between soldiers and local population.   Do not use commercial telcommunications systems.   Smoke HVTs.  
    Deception Tasks:   1) Conceal Main Defensive Belt, 2) Hide location of Reserve. 3) Use CSS convoys and movements to reposition forces for the defense. Coordinating Instructions:    Measures of Effectiveness -   1) Displays of public and private support for friendly forces. 2) Non-interference with military operations. 3) Increased reporting of SPF, insurgent, terrorist activity. 4) Minimal DC movements from north to south. 5) Increase in surrender, defections, and desertions of 3MRD soldiers. 6) Reduced fires from DAG, AAG, ARAG. 7)   Unresourced comittment of 3MRD Reserve.   8) 37TD commited piecemeal to attack or not commited at all.
    Civil Affairs Tasks:   Convince local population and civic leaders to support friendly forces and obey HN "Stay Put" policy.   Receive DCs and move to safe areas.    Transfer DCs to HN Agencies.
    Public Affairs Tasks:   Issue command messages.   Reiterate Stay Put policy.   Emphasis support of US forces to Midland.   Seek civil cooperation with friendly military and force protection operations (non interference, report suspected terrorist, insurgents, SPF).   Restate US forces target only military sites
    Other Tasks:   Chem - Smoke HVTs.    CI- Establish local networks and liaison with civil police authorities.   Identify and report suspected terrorist, insurgents, SPF.

  • The principle of backward planning must be taken into consideration when putting together an Information Operation.   If the operation requires X amount of time and you are already at Y, then a determination must be made on whether to expend assets, with potential for no gain, or move on to an operation where assets can be brought to bear in time to have the desired effect.

Creation of an effective IO Cell

  • The purpose of the IO Cell is to plan, prepare, assess, and oversee the execution of IO.

  • Past MTOE changes began the process of authorizing an IO Section at division level.  The basic structure allows units to plan IO, conduct IO target integration, manage Information Operations, and address information assurance issues.   What it is lacking is the actual subject matter expertise in the various disciplines or elements, plus intelligence support, that make up Information Operations.  The IO Section with these SMEs becomes the IO Cell.

  • Structuring the IO Cell should take place in garrison first and be maintained as an operational entity to be effective once deployed.    Actually putting all the staff elements into one location is probably not realistic given garrison duties, but regular IO Cell training sessions and battle drills can be conducted to develop a team process that is integrated with the overall staff.

  • Within the CP, synergy between the elements can be created by placing them in the same area or within close proximity to facilitate rapid exchange of information.  The following is an example of an IO Cell that was observed to be highly successful during operations:  

    Example:  The CoS co-located the IO Section, CA rep, PSYOP rep, and PAO Section within the TOC.  The EWO maintained a workspace in both the FSE and the IO Cell as his duties required moving between the two areas.   Continuity with current operations was maintained through an IO battle captain working current OPS.  Due to a shortage of personnel, an IO plans and an IO targeting officer were not available.   These duties were shared between a LIWA field support representative and the G7.  The remaining member of the IO Cell was the CI/HUMINT warrant officer working from the G2 analysis and control element.   A Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) LNO was placed in the IO Cell area at the request of the SJA in order to have legal coverage of any IO-related event or incident.  In the long run, on-site legal representation proved extremely valuable.   FY01 BCTP Perceptions support the use of SJA in IO.

    The benefit of this arrangement was the bonding of the elements, heightened situation awareness of the workings of each element, the formation of a team approach to the elements of IO, and the almost instantaneous communication of significant actions along with feedback.   Frequent IO Cell staff huddles served the purpose of cross-leveling information, providing updates, and keeping the group on task.

  • A detractor resulting from inability to co-locate is a tendency within the various elements to stovepipe their efforts.   It takes strong leadership on the part of the G7 to pull all the elements together and keep them working as a team.   IO staff huddles and the continual presence of the G7 become even more important to keeping an extended IO Cell on task.

The Information Operations Work Group (IO WG)

  • The IO WG is actually an extension of the IO Cell.   It brings together, at a designated time and place, other members of the staff who contribute to IO through their operations or who are affected by IO.

  • The IO WG is a dynamic organization and its membership changes with requirements.

  • Staff members who should always attend the IO WG are the G7, the IO Section, PAO rep, CA rep, PSYOP rep, G3 rep, G2 rep, EWO, and the SJA.  The CoS determines whether to chair this meeting or leave it to the G7.  The normal observed practice is for the G7 to chair unless IO is designated as a decisive effort.

  • Other attendees vary depending on the situation and requirements.  They can include, but are not limited to, the Div Surgeon, the Div Chaplain, Chemical Officer, Provost Marshall, Space Operations Officer, Special Tactical Operations rep, SOF LNO, Div Signal Officer, Fire Support Officer, and Div Engineer.

  • The IO WG serves as a means to round out IO concepts, targeting, and planning; establish IO priorities; and determine overall availability of IO resources.  The resulting IO staff products are used to identify intelligence support requirements, facilitate IO targeting in the targeting process, develop orders, and create measures of effectiveness.  Formats for IO staff products are available in the LIWA IO Battle Book, A Source Document for Planners.

  • An IO WG agenda is used to focus the assembled audience and keep it on task (see example below).  It provides for status reporting of current operations, current operation assessments, and re-attack recommendations, as well as preparations for future operations and unexpected events.  It should be noted that the IO WG 24-, 48-, and 72-hour outlook must be linked to the targeting process and the ATO cycle.

    Depiction of IO WG Agenda

  • A suggested recommendation for an IO WG meeting is from 30-45 minutes.  Use of automation capabilities should be maximized to share IO concepts, plans, and information with work group attendees prior to the meeting.   This is in line with the FY01 BCTP Perceptions on the necessity to reduce time spent in meetings.

Battle Rhythm

  • The placement of the IO WG meeting on the staff battle rhythm is extremely important to perception management and ensuring IO targets are integrated during the targeting meeting.

  • The optimum placement is prior to the targeting meeting, the daily press briefing, and the CMOC meeting.   This will ensure all staff sections involved with IO have integrated their input into the overall IO scheme and are aware of the unit’s IO objectives, goals, and themes.

  • If it is not possible to hold the IO WG prior to the targeting meeting, it can be held immediately after.   The IO WG can receive a back brief on the IO targets integrated into the attack guidance matrix (AGM) and placed on the ATO, and be ready to address the next cycle of targeting.

  • It is imperative, though, for perception management, that the IO WG be held prior to the daily press briefing and the CMOC meeting.   These two meetings serve as venues whereby we present our story and can influence perceptions.   If you don’t cross-level information before going into these meetings, it is all too easy to get caught saying two different things.

  • A technique is to set aside a portion of the IO WG to wargame/murder board the upcoming press briefing and the CMOC meeting.   As a result, all speakers are on the same level and are saying the same thing.  Consistency is important to successfully managing perception.   Units that have employed this technique have noticed a significant improvement in effects achieved.

Staff Interaction – IO is part of the entire BOS

  • A perception noted by BCTP is that key leaders and staff members are spending too much time in meetings and that there are too many meetings.  The question is how to facilitate information exchange without consuming everyone’s time in lengthy or unnecessary meetings.

  • As stated above, co-locating or placing the IO Cell members in close proximity will help resolve some issues with having to hold numerous meetings.  Also use of automation to transfer and share data will help expedite the process.

  • Plans Group.  The IO planner must be integrated into the Plans Group from the very beginning.   If this is not done, IO will always be an afterthought and never fully integrated.

  • Current Operations.  There must be an IO representative co-located with the current operations section who can speak authoritatively on the status of IO events.  In the event of unforeseen circumstances, this individual must be empowered to make decisions affecting current IO operations and how they support the overall scope of the mission.

  • Targeting Staff.  This is the most critical of all requirements for staff interaction.  IO is targeting, and if not properly integrated, IO events will not be supportive of the overall objective.

  • The targeting meeting is the normal venue for integrating IO events.

  • Who should attend the targeting meeting?   The EWO and the PSYOP rep are already standing members of the targeting board.  With the creation of the IO Cell, the IO targeting officer, as a minimum, should represent the IO Cell.  While the EWO and PSYOP rep will discuss purely EW or PSYOP missions, they will also, in conjunction with the IO targeting officer, integrate EWO or PSYOP missions in support of IO.

  • The IO targeting officer must also be ready to discuss and advocate the inclusion of IO-specific CA or PA events on the AGM, as well as fires in support of deception or the overall IO objective.   Fires in this category may include the destruction of key communication infrastructure or assets during the decisive phase of the fight.

  • The CA rep and the G7 may want to attend the targeting meeting if the situation warrants their presence.