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Task Force Eagle
Information Operations Planning

by LTC Robert M. Algermissen, Chief IO Cell, 1st Cavalry Division;
MAJ Robert Koehler, AFSCOORD, IO Cell, 1st Cavalry Division;
MAJ Cecil Miller, FST Chief, Land Information Warfare Activity, and
MAJ Arthur N. Tulak, Center for Army Lessons Learned


FM 100-6, Information Operations, addresses the formation of an IO cell, the structure of which is the decision of the commander. "It may be something as simple as the periodic use of an expanded targeting cell or a more formal approach establishing a standing cell with a specifically designated membership."1

During Operation JOINT GUARD (OJG), the Task Force Eagle (TFE) division IO cell was formed around a five-man Field Support Team (FST) from the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA). As the Division IO Officer, the LIWA FST Chief chaired the meetings of the Information Operations Working Group (IOWG ) and reported to the Division Chief of Staff. The TFE weekly IOWG served the planning and wargaming and control functions of an IO Cell. This approach was in accordance with doctrine and appropriate for the situation. A small IO Cell operating through the weekly IOWG was appropriate to peace enforcement operations where the OPTEMPO is somewhat more predictable than in combat operations. Additionally IO doctrine for peace operations was still evolving forcing the division to use a "trial-and-error" approach to IO.2 Although doctrine gives the G-3 primary responsibility for IO, during OJG, the Chief of Staff assumed responsibility, because, in his analysis, the task spanned several staff functions in a significantly expanded and supplemented staff.3

As the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia have passed from Operation JOINT GUARD to Operation JOINT FORGE (OJF), the IO Cell evolved from a small cell formed around the LIWA FST and the periodic meetings of the IOWG, to a larger standing cell made up of elements from the LIWA FST and the Division Fire Support Element. During OJG, a team of five personnel from the LIWA ran the cell and was supplemented by a CPT assigned IO as an additional duty from the Division Fire Support Element (FSE). The section currently consists of a LTC, the Division Deputy Fire Support Coordinator (DFSCOORD), his three AFSCOORDs from the Division FSE, one Reserve officer, and a three-man team from LIWA.

The Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division and MND-N placed IO under the control of the DFSCOORD, and used the Division FSE as its base structure. The role of the IO Cell is comparable to that of the FSE: the FSE integrates lethal and non-lethal attack assets to accomplish specific fire support tasks in support of the mission - in principle, the IO Cell does the same for IO tasks and assets.4 The IO Cell Chief had tasking authority through the G-3 to synchronize IO actions in accordance with the commander's vision. One of the lessons learned from the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia about coordinating IO within the staff was that "fully effective information activities are tied into operations - close integration with other operational staffs (in particular the (G2 and G)3 shop) allow information activities to be used effectively to prepare for, and better respond to, contingencies and refocus the effort when necessary."5

The evolution of the IO Cell into a larger, continuously operating standing cell headed by the DFSCOORD provided the division positive results on the degree of integration in IO planning, and on the synchronization of IO execution. Having an appointed IO Cell Chief in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel dramatically improved the quality of inputs into the IOWG by making the various functional representatives "accountable" for the contributions, or lack thereof, from their respective functional areas. As the DFSCOORD, the IO Cell Chief had the ear of the Division Commander. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he was on a peer level with the Division primary staff officers, most importantly, with the senior Public Affairs officer, the Director of the Coalition Press Information Center. The CPIC Director and IO Cell Chief formed a powerful team that resulted in tighter synchronization of IO throughout the division, and in more effective themes and messages.

Although the IO Cell Chief did not have command or controlling authority over the many IO elements, he provided an integrating and synchronizing oversight that conferred "unity of command" on behalf of the Division Commander. Several of the IO elements had independent lines of control, for example, the Division PSYOP Development Detachment was under the control of the Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF). However, the IO Cell Chief drew together these lines of control like the risers of a parachute to ensure they were mutually reinforcing, non-contradictory, and focused on the division's operations. This "unity of command" provided more "unity of effort" and resulted in faster decision-making and direction for all IOWG participants. The IO Cell Chief's primary function is to ensure the coordination of the information operations components of C2W, CA, and PA. Accordingly, he must possess both technical expertise and extraordinary inter-personal and team-building skills.

The evolution of the standing IO Cell within the Division FSE occurred simultaneously with the gradual de-emphasis on lethal fires as the general situation and SFOR interactions vis-à-vis the Entity Armed Forces normalized. Peace operations generally have a reduced need for fire support, and in the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia, the TFE FSE has emphasized non-lethal means. The Division commander selected the DFSCOORD not only because of the decreased emphasis on lethal fires, but also because IO's targeting methodology mirrors the lethal fires targeting methodology used by the Field Artillery.6 The IO Cell develops the IO Annex for every OPLAN/CONPLAN, and also develops themes, messages, and talking points on short notice for crisis events. Annex development for OPLANs and CONPLANs approximates the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).

As Task Force Eagle conducted peace-enforcement operations, it remained prepared to apply lethal combat power to enforce the peace if necessary. If conflict should erupt and flare, the IO Cell could expand into an Information Operations Battle Staff. FM 100-6 states that in situations of open conflict it may be more appropriate to stand up an Information Operations Battle Staff (IOBS) to integrate information operations in the staff. "The [IO] battle staff would consist of all staff members with a functional responsibility within IO, such as signal, fire support, PA, CA, OPSEC, EW, PSYOP, and battlefield deception."7 This would be extremely difficult for a "normal MTOE" division to accomplish without an already functioning IO cell. In conflict situations, the FSE's total focus would be on coordinating lethal and non-lethal fires support.

The IOWG also grew in size from OJG to OJF as TFE learned how to better synchronize the information activities of its maneuver and support elements. The IOWG in OJF consisted of the following representatives:

  • Division IO Cell Chief as Chairman of the IOWG
  • Assistant Fire Support Coordinator (AFSCOORD)
  • Deputy Division IO Officer (LIWA FST Chief)
  • Public Affairs Officer
  • Coalition Press Information Center Director (a senior PAO officer)
  • Provost Marshal
  • SOCCE (representing the JCOs)
  • Staff Judge Advocate
  • G-5 Civil Affairs
  • G-2 augmented by representatives from the Analysis Control Element, Long-Term Analysis, and Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT).
  • G-3 Plans
  • Allied Brigade Information Operations Officers 8
  • American Brigade Information Operations Officer
  • Task Force Liaison Officers Joint Military Commission representative
  • Division PSYOP Development Detachment Commander
  • Political Advisor (POLAD) (as needed)
  • TF Engineer

Techniques and Procedures

In peace operations, the "battle rhythm" is more predictable than in combat operations. During OJF, the IO Cell held Information Operations Working Group (IOWG) meetings twice a week. Meetings held on Wednesday morning included the brigade representatives, who were afforded the opportunity to formally address what they were working on in their brigade area and submit any requests for assistance. Saturday meetings excluded the brigade representatives. The IO cell also met on a daily basis with some of the key IO planners and executors (PSYOP, SJA, PMO, PAO) to discuss any issues that may need to be reviewed. For unplanned events, the IO cell would call an emergency IOWG, follow an abbreviated decision-making process to quickly produce themes, messages and talking points, which were then distributed to the Division Staff and Brigades.

In addition to modifying the IOWG meeting schedule, the TFE IO Cell also changed its format. Initially, the IOWG reviewed every project and issue. Because there were so many projects, the IOWG didn't have much time to devote to any of them. To achieve greater focus on single problem sets, the IOWG covered the overall current status of current projects in about ten minutes, and then spent 45-60 minutes on the "Focus Topic" for the meeting. The IO cell published the topics six weeks out; therefore, all representatives could prepare for them. An example of a "Focus Topic" was the anxiously anticipated Brcko Arbitration Decision. By knowing the topic in advance, each member of the IOWG came to the meeting fully prepared to participate. Through lively discussion, all IOWG participants were able to form a clearer picture of the problem and make their unique contributions to a combined staff solution.

The primary planning tool's format was also changed to focus on specific problem sets in the close fight as identified by the G-2 and confirmed by the IO Cell Chief. Using "focus" matrices for each problem set, the IOWG went through by functional area to brief their functional perspectives on the problem set, and then to discuss as a group what the potential IO messages, products, problems and solutions might be. The focus sheets resembled "matrix orders" in that they provided a clear easy-reference report that showed what each element was contributing in each problem set. The focus sheets provided a uniform format for IOWG representatives to report their actions to the IO Cell, and facilitated their mission analysis and course-of-action development in identifying appropriate IO ways and means. The focus sheets also served as a tracking tool for monitoring the progress of the IO Staff in providing required information, reports, or products for each problem set. The focus sheets also served as a historical record of the IO effort executed for the problem set, and in this regard served to support future planning for similar scenarios in the manner of a staff "play book."

In adopting the focus sheets as the planning, tracking, and execution tool for IO, the IO Cell standardized planning for all problem sets. Using the focus sheets enabled the IO Cell to better track the development of the IO plan, and to ensure synchronization among the various IO operators. Emphasizing each functional staff area and unit encouraged the IOWG representatives to "think harder" about how their unit or staff section could contribute to the IO effort in each problem set. Finally, the focus sheets provided the IO Cell Chief a better way to manage and track the IO efforts for each problem set, and facilitated briefing IO actions to the commander in an easier-to-understand format.

As mentioned previously, the development of annexes for CONPLANs and FRAGOs for on-going operations followed the Military Decision-Making Process. Under 1st Cavalry Division, the IO Cell identified the linkages between the MDMP and the IO Campaign Planning Model developed by LIWA. Together with the focus worksheet for planning, the refined planning model helped the IO Cell to follow a clear methodology for developing concerted and synchronized staff products and IO annexes and FRAGOs (see Figure 1).

One of the key players in developing IO messages and themes in support of operations is Public Affairs. With a background in projecting information to specified audiences, PA provides essential support to the IO Cell in helping to develop talking points for the commanders for the different projects and issues. PA is a powerful conduit for truth-projection activities for newsworthy activities and provides support to IO in the form of issuing press releases, conducting press conferences, and participating in radio shows. The CPIC coordinates with the IO cell to develop these messages, staffs them through the subject matter experts (POLAD, SJA) before getting the Commanding General's approval. Once approved, the IO section disseminates the messages in the G3 FRAGOs and in the Weekly Media Messages for Commanders report. The intent is to have talking points available early for commanders and staff officers to use in encounters with the media and when talking to local leaders and citizens, and for use during the commander's radio shows. Soldiers on patrol use the talking points to deliver the messages to the local citizens. Virtually anyone (engineers, JMC, PMO, JVB) who interacts with Bosnian citizens uses the talking points to deliver our message. The Commanding General's approval ensures the entire force speaks with one voice.

The CPIC developed a question-and-answer (Q&A) format as a part of its weekly report. The CPIC director coordinated with the IO section and produced Q&As for hot topics the commanders' use. They chose the topics based on conducting a thorough media analysis. The Task Force commanders relied on these products. These products also permitted the Division PSYOP Development Detachment Commander to hasten the PSYOP approval process, since he could show the PSYOP Task Force (POTF) that the proposed products were supporting a broader effort using the same messages, thus speeding product production, and tying PSYOP closer to Division operations.

The guidance provided in FM 100-6 on the formation of an IO Cell was sufficiently flexible to allow the division to create a cell in accordance with the situation and its capabilities. The most significant effect of putting the IO Cell under the direction of a Lieutenant Colonel was to make IOWG representatives more accountable for their contributions to the IO effort. The gradual evolution of the IO Cell from periodic meetings of the IOWG to a standing cell in the FSE under the control of the Division G-3 was largely situation-specific and may or may not be the case for future operations. Divisions should be prepared to establish an IO Cell along the lines developed by the 1st Cavalry Division (Forward) in MND-N at the outset of any MOOTW operation. This will require a Lieutenant Colonel, working either within Operations, or, preferably, as an independent cell reporting to the Chief of Staff, to organize and lead the IO Cell before deployment, as the FSE will be engaged in ensuring that lethal fires are readily available to the commander during initial operations.

Until OPMS XXI produces qualified Functional Area 30 (IO) officers to head the Division IO Cell, these personnel will have to come "out of hide." They will also require training to be proficient when the operation begins. The IO Cell Chief must understand the fundamentals of each of the elements of C2W, PA, and CA. As IO doctrine for MOOTW (and specifically for peace operations) continues to develop, TTPs for planning and executing IO will continue to improve. However, the deploying contingency force may not have the luxury of being able to undergo a "trial and error approach" to IO planning and execution and should stand up, train and prepare a standing IO Cell before deployment.

END NOTES:

1. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Field Manual 100-6, Information Operations (Washington, DC: USGPO), 27 Aug 1996, p. D-0.

2. LTC Stephen W. Shanahan, U.S. Army (Ret) and LTC Garry J. Beavers, U.S. Army, "Information Operations in Bosnia," Military Review, Vol. LXXVII, No. 6, November-December 1997, p. 59.

3. Center for Army Lessons Learned, B/H CAAT V Initial Impressions Report: Task Force Eagle Transition (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CALL, Unclassified, Distribution Limited), May 1997, p. 55.

4. Land Information Warfare Activity, LIWA Information Operations (IO) Handbook (DRAFT), October 1998, p. 4-1.

5. See Land Information Warfare Activity, Student Materials: Introduction to Information Campaign Planning and Execution (Vienna,VA; SYTEX, Inc.), May 1998, Section 4.

6. For a comparison of the targeting models, see LTC Steven Curtis, CPT Robert A.B. Curris, Division Artillery, 1st Armored Division, and Mr. Marc Romanych, TFE LIWA, "Integrating Targeting and Information Operations in Bosnia," Field Artillery, HQDA PB6-98-4, July-August 1998, pp. 31-36

7. Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, Information Operations, op. cit., p. 6-7.

8. In MND-N, the Nordic-Polish Brigade Press and Information Officer (PIO) performed this function. In the other Brigades, the IO Officer was selected from the operations or fire support staff. One of the lessons learned on conducting IO in Multinational Operations (MNOs) is that the national military contingents will conduct IO with unique styles reflecting their national doctrines and practices. See Center for Army Lessons Learned, CALLCOMS Observation 10000-71410, "National Military Contingents Conduct Information Operations with Unique Styles," (Unclassified, Distributed Limited).