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:
John Giffin, IO Div, SIOD, DCSCD, HQ TRADOC:
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
"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)
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":
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
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.
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.
INFORMATION DOMINANCE (Qualitative)
INFORMATION SUPERIORITY (Quantitative)
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.'
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
* Collect and process (filter, focus, and fuse)
* 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
* Convince a potential adversary that conflict
* Delay/deceive critical information flow/content.
* PSYOPS, Civil Affairs and Public Affairs.
d. Fourth, we must assess information asymmetries:
* Threat, information requirements, information
* 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
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.