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

ISSUE PAPER

INFORMATION DOMINANCE vs. INFORMATION SUPERIORITY

1 Apr 97

For Coordination and/or comments on this ISSUE PAPER please phone or e-mail as follows:

Jim Winters, IO Div, SIOD, DCSCD, HQ TRADOC: (757) 727-4351,

wintersj@monroe.army.mil

John Giffin, IO Div, SIOD, DCSCD, HQ TRADOC: (757) 727-3321

giffinj@monroe.army.mil

ISSUE PAPER

STATEMENT OF THE ISSUE:

"Information dominance" is a more descriptive and more appropriate term than "information superiority."

DESCRIPTION OF TERMS:

"Information Dominance" - the degree of information superiority that allows the possessor to use information systems and capabilities to achieve an operational advantage in a conflict or to control the situation in operations other than war while denying those capabilities to the adversary. (Current - FM 100-6, Information Operations)

"Information Dominance" - A condition that results from the use of offensive and defensive information operations to build a comprehensive knowledge advantage at a time, place, and on decision issues critical to mission success. (Proposed - Draft TRADOC PAM 525-69, Information Operations)

"Information Superiority" - the capability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary's ability to do the same. (DODD S-3600.l and Draft JCS pub 3-13)

GOING-IN ASSUMPTIONS:

There is a connotative hierarchy of terms that provides the context in which superiority and dominance must be understood. That hierarchy is: inferiority-parity-superiority-supremacy-dominance.

Doctrinal terminology must reflect what is required for mission accomplishment, not what might be the result of fiscal constraints, or the result of a narrowly defined computation.

RATIONALE FOR "INFORMATION DOMINANCE":

Primary

1. At the base point, "superiority" means an advantage of 51 to 49, on some arbitrary metric scale. That is not enough of an advantage to give us the freedom of action required to establish "Full Spectrum Dominance." As stated in Joint Vision 2010: "Sustaining the responsive, high quality data processing and information needed for joint military operations will require more than just an edge over an adversary."

2. We think of dominance in terms of "having our way" - "Overmatch" over all operational possibilities. This connotation is 'qualitative' rather than 'quantitative.' When dominance occurs, nothing done, makes any difference. We have sufficient knowledge to stop anything we don't want to occur, or do anything we want to do. We think of superiority as being "better than" or "victorious." The connotation here is 'quantitative,' coming out on top by a chosen metric (but not all metrics would be chosen).

Note: See Encl 1 for discussion on this pivotal point.

Supporting

1. "Full Spectrum dominance" is the key characteristic sought for our 21st century Armed Forces (Joint Vision 2010). Without "information dominance" it is not reasonable to assume that "Full Spectrum Dominance" can be achieved.

2. We face a threefold asymmetry problem on any future battlefield - asymmetry of threat, asymmetry of technology and asymmetry of information. In any one of these areas denotative superiority may not be sufficient. Information dominance presents the only conceptual basis for prevailing in spite of these potential asymmetries.

3. As a corollary of 2., above, oil money, drug money, etc., may fuel the achievement of niche capabilities. Information superiority will be insufficient to deal with niche capabilities outside the chosen metric/metrics. Only information dominance can provide for rendering niche capabilities irrelevant.

4. Superiority begs the existence of an 'adversary.' To win you have to have an opponent. However, missions assigned the military run the gamut, peace to war. Only information dominance describes the advantage needed from OOTW to WMD.

5. Perfect information will never be achieved. Information superiority assumes lapses, and potentially in critical areas. Only information dominance retains an uncontested visibility of the information battlespace, with ascendancy at the decisive time, place and decision(s).

6. BDA is always difficult, but may be most difficult in the area of information operations, nodes up/nodes down, etc. How do you determine superiority without a quantitative solution? Information dominance drives us to support, make and communicate better decisions at the right time and place; and does not depend on BDA per se (and couldn't in a peace time operation).

7. The power of information is receiving more and more emphasis. Joint Vision 2010 sees information operations as a key in preventing hostilities before they begin. Even if combat does start a rapid cessation may be achieved if the opponent concludes he can't win. It is information dominance that describes the leveraging of information to this level of significant psychological impact - superiority cannot make that kind of impact.

8. Dominance implies a mastery of the situation, superiority is only an edge. Mastery, therefore, information dominance, is the requirement to enable winning quickly, decisively and with minimum casualties as dictated by the National Military Strategy.

9. Dominance is control oriented. Superiority is rank oriented. Dominance is dynamic in nature. Superiority is static in nature. Dominance is proactive. Superiority is passive. Dominance is comprehensive. Superiority is specific. Dominance is decisive. Superiority is some advantage.

10. Information dominance means ruling the infospace.

RECOMMENDATION:

DODD S-3600.1 and Draft JCS Pub 3-13 be changed to reflect information dominance as the objective of information operations vice information superiority.

ENCLOSURE 1

DISCUSSION

INFORMATION DOMINANCE (Qualitative)

vs.

INFORMATION SUPERIORITY (Quantitative)

PREMISES:

1. "Dominance" is a term that describes a nonquantifiable, frequently subjective, condition that implies a threshold of knowledge advantage in any matter of choice, sufficient to provide for freedom of action. "Dominance" is a qualitative description, and not subject to simple quantitative metrics.

2. "Superiority" is a term that indicates a point on a quantitative measurement from 'inferiority' to 'supremacy.'

DISCUSSION:

1. It is fairly easy to judge, after the fact, which force had information dominance. It is far more difficult and imprecise to render this judgment during an ongoing operation.

2. Several factors must be assessed nearly simultaneously to determine in real time which force has "gained information dominance."

a. First, we must assess the effectiveness/efficiency of the IO process:

* Develop/update relevant information and intelligence requirements.

* Collect and process (filter, focus, and fuse) information/intelligence.

* Present timely, accurate, critical and sufficiently complete information to the commander. (Note: Commanders at each level must be able to make faster and better decisions, considering options and time needed to implement them.)

* Disseminate critical information and orders.

* Exercise command and control of forces, that includes obtaining and disseminating timely and accurate information that enables subordinate commanders to adjust forces and tactics in reaction to the changing situation.

b. Second, we must assess/compare the relative effects of IO:

* Results of offensive IO (disturb, degrade, disrupt, deny, destroy).

* Results of defensive IO (protect).

c. Third, we must assess our ability to influence perceptions:

* Convince a potential adversary that conflict is fruitless.

* Delay/deceive critical information flow/content.

* PSYOPS, Civil Affairs and Public Affairs.

d. Fourth, we must assess information asymmetries:

* Threat, information requirements, information technology.

* Leaders' views of what information is critical.

* Decision processes.

In completing the above assessment some factors can be measured in an objective and quantitative manner, but the effect and effectiveness of most of the considerations are largely subjective. Therefore, to "measure" the overall advantage, we must devise qualitative means to account for the factors separately and assess the synergistic effects of combining all the factors.

3. The word "superiority" is inappropriate:

a. Superiority is based on measuring quantities, such as kill ratio (attrition). For example, we might say that a 55-45 kill ratio equals superiority and a 95-5 kill ratio equals supremacy. Because the individual and synergistic effects/influences of IO can not be measured quantitatively, we have used the term "information dominance," which can be described in a qualitative manner.

b. A further limitation of "information superiority" is that by definition it only addresses the "collect, process and disseminate" factor (similar to Discussion para 2, a, above), but does not address factors in Discussion para 2, b, c and d, above; which are also critical to determining a "knowledge advantage."

4. The following examples help in understanding the differences - information dominance vs. information superiority:

a. E-mail reports from the NTC have provided an early glimpse at the TF XXI AWE. Without a doubt the EXFOR was superior in its capabilities to collect, process and disseminate information ...by objective standards. Yet the OPFOR, with fewer IO capabilities was frequently able to match or overmatch the EXFOR. Several observations suggest that Blue Force leaders either did not fully trust the externally provided situation awareness and/or were not able to take advantage of the information provided because there was not enough time to bring fire on targets or adjust forces. The bottom line is that the OPFOR was frequently able to capture the initiative, despite limited situation awareness. In other words, the Blue Force had C4 superiority based on the numbers of systems, but was unable to build a sufficient, timely knowledge advantage to gain information dominance at critical times, places and on critical decision issues.

b. Army outscored Navy and was superior in this year's Army-Navy game - but Army certainly was not dominant. In ice hockey, one team may be on a power play but not score, while a short handed team may score and win. Neither team is dominant and superiority is determined by the score metric and contraindicated by team strength. Germany inflicted more casualties in W.W.II than they endured, they were superior in this metric, but they lost.

[RETURN]