FM 3-0, Operations, defines IO as actions taken to affect adversary, and influence others decision-making processes, information and information systems, while protecting ones own information and information systems. Conversely, FM 3-13, Information Operations (DRAG), defines IO as attacking adversary command and control (C2) systems (offensive IO) while protecting friendly C2 systems from adversary disruption (defensive IO). The art of IO combines the effects of offensive and defensive IO to produce information superiority at decisive points.
Offensive IO tasks are to destroy, degrade, disrupt, deny, deceive, exploit, and influence adversary decision-makers and others who can affect the success of friendly operations. These tasks are briefly defined as:
- Destroy: Damaging a combat system so badly that it cannot perform any function or be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt.
- Degrade: Using lethal or temporary means to reduce (1) the effectiveness or efficiency of adversary command and control systems, (2) the morale of a unit, (3) the targets worth or value, or (4) the quality of adversary decisions and actions.
- Disrupt: Breaking or interrupting the flow of information between selected C2 nodes.
- Deny: Withholding information about force capabilities and intentions that adversaries need for effective and timely decision-making.
- Deceive: Causing a person to believe what is not true.
- Exploit: Covertly gaining access to adversary C2 systems to collect information or to plant false or misleading information.
- Influence: Causing adversaries or others to behave in a manner favorable to friendly forces.
Offensive IO also targets the information and information systems (INFOSYS) used in adversary decision-making processes.
Defensive IO protects and defends friendly information and information systems. Effective defensive IO assures friendly commanders accurate situational understanding, not only from a military perspective, but also with a sense of how nonmilitary factors affect the military situation.
The goal of IO is to gain and maintain information superiority, a condition that allows commanders to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. It facilitates more effective decision-making and faster execution. IO involves a constant effort to deny adversaries the ability to detect and respond to friendly operations, while simultaneously retaining and enhancing friendly force freedom of action. IO provides a potent advantage that facilitates rapid military success with minimal casualties when expeditiously exploited.
The synergism concept of IO is new, however the elements that support it and their specialized effort is not new. Synergism is achieved by focusing these elements efforts towards one goal. The elements consist of operational security, psychological operations, counter-propaganda, military deception, counter-deception, electronic warfare, computer network attack, information assurance, computer network defense, physical security, counter-intelligence, and physical destruction, with civil military operations and public affairs (PA) complementing the effort.
Operational Security (OPSEC). The process of identifying essential elements of friendly information and subsequently analyzing friendly actions attendant to military actions. OPSEC contributes to both offensive and defensive IO.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP). Planned operations conducted to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objectives, and reasoning, and ultimately to influence the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, and individuals. PSYOP can also influence foreign populations by expressing information in a fashion that affects attitudes and behavior.
Counter-Propaganda. Programs of products and actions designed to nullify adversary propaganda or mitigate its effects.
Military Deception. Actions executed to deliberately mislead adversary military decision-makers on friendly military capabilities, intentions, and operations, thereby causing the adversary to take specific actions (or inactions) that will contribute to the accomplishment of the friendly mission.
Counter-Deception. Efforts to negate, neutralize, diminish the effects of, or gain advantage from a foreign deception operation.
Electronic Warfare. Any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy.
Computer Network Attack (CNA). Operations to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy information resident in computers and computer networks, or the computers and the networks themselves.
Information Assurance (IA). Contributes to defensive IO by protecting friendly information and INFOSYS against friendly intrusion as well as adversary attacks. IA uses a defense in depth that includes computer network defense to counter adversary computer network attack.
Computer Network Defense (CND). Consists of defensive measures to protect and defend information, computers, and networks from disruption, denial, degradation, or destruction.
Physical Security. That part of security concerned with physical measures designed to safeguard personnel; to prevent unauthorized access to equipment, installations, material, and documents; and to safeguard them against espionage, sabotage, damage, and theft.
Counter-Intelligence. Information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage; other intelligence activities; sabotage; or assassinations conducted by, or on behalf of, foreign organizations, foreign persons, or international terrorist activities.
Physical Destruction. The combat power to destroy or degrade adversary forces, sources of information, C2 systems, and installations.
Civil Military Operations (CMO). Activities that are established to maintain, influence, or exploit relations between military forces and local authorities and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral, or hostile operational area to facilitate military operations, consolidate, and achieve operational U.S. objectives.
Public Affairs (PA). Those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics.