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Center for Army Lesson Learned Banner CALL Newsletter 03-18
Information Operations(IO)

Chapter 3

IO Mission Essential Task List (METL)

The SFOR 11 IO team generated the following nine-point peacekeeping METL prior to deployment to facilitate the targeting process in country: 

  • Understand the adversary’s/obstructionist’s perspective and how it can be influenced. 
  • Synchronize IO independent activities towards a common goal. 
  • Establish and support IO objectives using IO key tasks. 
  • Determine the most effective asset for use. 
  • Identify target sets and then identify targets that achieve IO objectives, and establish a link analysis between them. 
  • Evaluate the outcome from IO efforts. 
  • Conduct an IO assessment of the AO. 
  • Coordinate with HHQ to learn what type of conditions have been set in theater or in the AO. 
  • Seek the commander’s focus priority. 

Understand the adversary’s/obstructionist’s perspective and how it can be influenced. The key to understanding the obstructionist’s perspective is to conduct research on the individual. The research may center on the obstructionist’s background or his current standing within political leadership, local leadership, or military leadership and the weight these relationships carry with other leaders, the populace, or soldiers. The G2 ACE/G2 IO representative generated biographies on these individuals either through databases or personnel folders. The G2 section established a link analysis between the individuals so that the IO team would know who to influence and gain leverage on to achieve its objectives. 

It is important to remember when discussing IO targeting that it is possible to target groups. However, within any group are key individuals that may help you in accomplishing your goals. While you may want to target the “populace of Town X,” upon further analysis of the larger group (the populace), you will find certain influential persons.  In many cases, specifically targeting these people can ultimately accomplish more for your campaign than targeting the entire populace. It is generally understood that the goal is to maximize the impact of IO while minimizing the footprint of IO. Conservation of force applies especially in this arena when dealing with commanders and high-level staff (both military and civilian) as targeting assets.  They must be utilized precisely, but sparingly. It becomes quickly apparent that you can have a great effect on the activities of a target group by effective placement of the appropriate target asset against influential group leaders. Consider targeting groups, but first find out how you can affect the individual who will influence the remainder of the group for you. 

In order to influence these individuals and to achieve IO objectives, one must understand the human dimension and modified behavior. Basically, this is where you get the individual to do what you want him to do regardless of whether he wants to or not. One way of influence is to use the “carrot-and-stick” concept as a leverage tool. This is another form of quid pro quo between both parties, and where division leaders used bargaining chips to achieve SFOR IO objectives.  SFOR found that bilateral meetings (bilats) were an effective way of using the carrot-and-stick approach. These meetings were conducted on a regular basis between SFOR leaders (from platoon leaders through the command group) and BiH political, local, and military leaders.  Regional governors, town mayors, deputy mayors, local religious leaders, regional law enforcement leaders, local law enforcement leaders, military leaders, and ministers of affairs were some of the individuals included in meetings. During targeting meetings, the IOWG decided which individuals to conduct bilats with (the target) and who would conduct the bilat with them (target asset). 

Concurrently, task force leaders met with civilian authorities and the local populace in their AOs on a recurring basis. Additionally, the political advisor (POLAD) was a tremendous asset to IOWG bilat staffing because of his experience and expertise in this arena. Furthermore, the POLAD would hold bilateral meetings with regional political leaders, if needed. The regional leaders imposed their will on local leaders to support SFOR objectives if the objectives were not reached at the lower levels. 

Synchronize IO independent activities towards a common goal. SFOR 11 synchronized the IO elements (PSYOP, G5, CIMIC, PAO, JMA, SJA, chaplain, PMO, U.S. maneuver units, multinational units, and POLAD representative) toward a common goal through the IOWG, targeting meetings, and IO huddles. These IO goals (focus areas) were synchronized with the G3 future operations planning (FOP) focus areas for the division calendar that the CG and division staff reviewed weekly. IO shaped the Bosnian environment by setting conditions to favor SFOR, either in daily activities or operational planning. IO considerations began well in advance of operational planning, so IO’s focus areas were planned three weeks ahead of G3 synch and FOP’s division focus areas. 

On another note, “stovepiping” IO information was a real concern because the elements had different methods of disseminating information. These methods included: 

  • Active patrolling. 
  • Conducting bilats. 
  • Generating. 
  • Disseminating PSYOP products (leaflets, posters, and handbills) to the audience(s). 
  • Disseminating PAO press releases. 
  • Conducting maneuver unit radio shows for specific areas of responsibility. 

If the IO elements were not synchronized, the information would become “stovepiped,” losing the synergism effect and not working towards the same common goal. 

Establish and support information operation objectives using IO key tasks. The IO team established target objectives containing key tasks to help accomplish their goals. During an SFOR 11 mission analysis, the IO planner established initial IO objectives and then refined them throughout the MDMP. Historical documents from other SFOR rotations generally assisted the planner.  IO objectives were supported by the team elements to inform and modify behaviors and attitudes among target individuals and populations. SFOR 11 used the following IO key tasks to achieve a desired effect within their objectives: 

  • Inform:  Provide information to counter or pre-empt misinformation 
  • Warn: Provide notice of intent to prevent a specific action. 
  • Influence:  Curtail or cause a specific action. 
  • Disorganize:  Reduce effectiveness/ability. 
  • Isolate: Minimize power/influence. 
  • Co-opt:  Gain cooperation. 
  • Deceive:  Mislead to induce a reaction. 
  • Promote/encourage:  Positively reinforce a desired behavior. 

Determine the most effective asset for use. During the targeting process the IO team determined the most effective targeting asset and how to apply it towards the target/objective.  The flow of information from the asset may be a coordination measure or a bilat summary between operational and IO elements. The division IO staff categorized its assets into nine separate elements during MDMP. These categories were: 

  • Command Group Bilats. The command group consisted of the Commanding General, POLAD, the Deputy Commanding General (DCG), and the ground forces commander. They are engaged only with their appropriate counterpart or when needed to stress a particular SFOR point. 
  • PSYOP. Their assets are flyers, leaflets, and handbills; tactical PSYOP teams (who distribute messages and conduct assessments); Radio MIR (PSYOP owned and operated radio station that disseminates messages); newspaper, TV, and radio messages; and loudspeaker operations. 
  • PAO. Formerly known as the Coalition Press Information Center. Their contribution is press conferences, press releases, media advisories, local media, and international coordination (to include the media coverage assessment), and producing IO campaign smart cards. 
  • G5/CIMIC. These elements worked together to facilitate the displaced persons, refugees, and evacuees (DPRE) returns process. They accomplished this through CIMIC patrols that distributed IO messages and assessed civilian needs. Both elements coordinated with the international community on a regular basis to ensure that they and SFOR were focused on the same DPRE area. Additionally, they facilitated human rights working groups, local returns and reconstruction task forces, and CIMIC houses. 
  • Joint Military Affairs (JMA). The JMA chief conducted bilats with Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) military leaders when needed to ensure that they were complying with the Dayton Peace Accords General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP). 
  • Battalion and Battle Group Operations. Battalion and battle group operations patrols disseminated messages and talking points to the populace and to key community leaders.  Commanders held weekly radio talk shows to reinforce the messages and talking points while discussing populace issues and concerns. Leaders, from platoons up to the battalion commander, held bilats with local political leaders as needed. 
  • Provost Marshall’s Office (PMO). The PMO is a key coordinator with the international police task force, regional chiefs of police, and local police when it comes to law enforcement and security matters. 
  • G2. Tactical human intelligence teams collected assessment information from the field, and open source intelligence conducted media collection and analysis. 
  • IO Media. The IO team contracted a TV producer to highlight and promote “good news” stories between SFOR and the local populace. 

Identify target sets and then identify targets that achieve information operation objectives, and establish a link analysis between them. Both the IO G2 and the targeting officer identified target sets for the IO missions. The IO G2, working with the G2 ACE, established an analysis between targets that illustrated how the targets were linked together. By graphically displaying how the targets were linked, the IO team was able to determine where to apply leverage to reinforce its objectives. The graphic display generally consisted of photos of all target individuals arranged much like a task organization chart. The most influential targets were shown at the top of the link analysis chart, with their subordinates and associates listed below. Some target individuals were members of more than one target group. A linkage to all groups with which they were associated was illustrated. 

Evaluate the outcome from IO efforts (assessment). The assessment aspect of IO is much more difficult than lethal targeting.  In lethal targeting you see “real time” and immediate results of your accomplishments. With IO, the assessment (result) may take one week, one month, or six months to manifest. Additionally, frequently the results are difficult to quantify.  The SFOR 11 IO team found that the best way to track the targeting assessment and keep the CG informed was to use the green, amber, red method (see assessment matrix in Chapter 7). This method was used to gauge the objectives and how they applied to the targets; it was also used as a re-targeting measuring device. (See the targeting section and the battle update brief [BUB] slides in Chapter 7 for more details.) 

Conduct an IO assessment of the AO. Upon deployment a unit must conduct a current IO assessment of the AOR and adjust their efforts accordingly. The transfer of authority between units can facilitate this. A few problems recur annually, and some are long-term efforts. Each rotation shapes the environment for the follow-on unit. The right-seat (RS)/left-seat (LS) ride program was developed to minimize turbulence between SFOR rotations. During the IO RS/LS, SFOR 12 was given extensive background briefs and also included on three weeks of the IO battle rhythm. The RS/LS calls for a two-week transfer of duties, but the SFOR 11 IO team had extra time available and took advantage of it. During the right-seat phase (week one), the SFOR 11 IO team executed the standard weekly battle rhythm, with SFOR 12 observing. During the left-seat phase (week two), the SFOR 12 team executed the standard weekly battle rhythm, with SFOR 11 observing and contributing as necessary. During the third week of overlap, SFOR 12 executed everything without interference; SFOR 11 was available at that time for assistance if needed. During the entire period of training and transfer of authority, SFOR 11 educated the new team on the area of operations, SOPs, operations (historic, current, and future), contacts (military and civilian), and a host of other issues regarding day-to-day operations. 

As it stands, there is little turbulence between SFOR rotations regarding IO. Much of IO is planned and executed over the long term, which makes it relatively simple for the follow-on rotation to assume the duties and maintain the momentum of ongoing operations. As the economic and political situation within Bosnia changes, IO must be adjusted, but this is a function of the weekly targeting process that is fluid and adaptive anyway. As long as there is a competent IO team on the ground and continuity from one team to the next, there should be no concern about cross-SFOR turbulence. When the new IO team takes over, they are thoroughly indoctrinated on the AO and are capable of acting in support of and assessing the validity of ongoing operations and assessing the need for and developing new campaigns. 

Coordinate with HHQ to learn what type of conditions have been set in theater or in the AO. Upon arrival in country, the SFOR 11 IO team established a relationship with the SFOR HHQ IO and obtained their current targeting plans for MND(N). Subsequently, the IO staff coordinated with SFOR HQ every other week via VTC, and once a month the HQ held a conference with the MND units to discuss issues and concerns. 

Seek the commander’s focus priority and receive approval for IO problem set planning. The DCG chaired both the IOWG and the targeting meeting. He provided command group guidance for IO campaign planning and made targeting decisions as needed. His participation ensured that the IO team maintained the division’s focus, even considering that IO planning was shaping the AOR ahead of operations. 

Table of Contents | Foreword | Chap 1 | Chap 2 | Chap 3 | Chap 4 | Chap 5 | Chap 6 | Chap 7 | Chap 8 | Chap 9