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

Chapter 6

IO Plans and Target Synchronization Matrix Development

The groundwork for all IO campaigns started with problem set identification. Problem sets were either identified in the IOWG as part of an upcoming operational mission or as a stand-alone IO mission. After problem sets were identified, the IO Chief took them, as concepts, to the DCG for approval to include them in the planning timeline. The problem sets that were deemed appropriate for MND(N) IO to handle were then resourced and staffed through a modified MDMP. 

Problem set MDMP began with an intensive mission analysis by the IO planner and the IO G2. The IO G2 provided an extremely detailed overview (IPB) of the information environment, to include key players (both problem-makers and problem-solvers), key dates and events, background of the problem set (if any), effects of current political climate, and so on — all based on the IO planner’s preliminary assessment of MND(N) involvement in the problem set. 

All the members of the IOWG attended the problem set mission analysis meeting. (The staff consisted of the same individuals who attended the G3 Plans MDMP.  This guaranteed unity of effort between IO Plans and G3 Plans.) The IO planner presented the problem set to the group; the IO G2 followed with the IPB. After everyone was briefed on the problem set, the group focused on the core areas of the mission analysis: facts, assumptions, and constraints; specified, implied, and essential tasks; and RFIs. Because IO in BiH is objective-oriented, the goal at the culmination of mission analysis was threefold:  initial objectives, initial target sets, and proposed concept. The tasks became the objectives as they were applied to target sets, and these objectives in turn became the basis for the concept (see Figure 2). 

Problem Set Mission Analysis Agenda 

  • IO IPB Update
  • IO Facts
  • IO Assumptions
  • IO Constraints
  • IO Tasks
  • IO Objectives
  • IO Target Sets
  • IO RFIs
  • IO Concept
  • DCG Guidance

Figure 2. IO Problem Set Mission Analysis 

The mission analysis was briefed directly to the DCG in the presence of the entire IOWG. This enabled the DCG to immediately clarify any points which might have been overlooked, and assure him that he was getting a product approved by the entire IO planning staff. Briefing the DCG also accomplished another goal, which was to keep IO synchronized with G3 Plans through command awareness and approval. If the DCG had any changes to the mission objectives, target sets, or concept, they were noted and acted on during subsequent mission development meetings. 

If the DCG accepted the mission analysis, the IO staff then moved on to target development. This was another meeting attended by the entire IOWG. It was extremely important to get maximum participation to achieve the detailed targeting required for mission accomplishment. Each staff agency had assets available and would know how best to incorporate them into the specific targeting. Once all specific targets were addressed, the staff had accomplished two additional goals: production of the IMPIN brief and building the initial target synchronization matrix (TSM) for the problem set. The IMPIN brief included most of the information on the TSM (see Figure 3), with the exception of the assessment portion (who assesses and when, MOE). This was the next product briefed to the DCG as part of the problem set MDMP. 


Commander's Intent



IO Concept




Definition of Effects

INFORM: Provide information to counter or preempt 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 desired behavior 

Measures of Effectiveness (MOEs) 




Detect and Deliver 


Target  Set 




Obj Msg 










Figure 3. TSM Example 

Instructions for completing TSM (Figure 3):

1. Fill in the IO problem set mission statement approved by the DCG.
2. Fill in the IO problem set commander's intent approved by the DCG.
3. Fill in the IO problem set objectives approved by the DCG.
4. Fill in the IO problem set concept of operation approved by the DCG.
5. Develop talking points and messages for objectives to achieve the objective effect and produce smart cards, if needed.
6. Develop quantifiable measures of effectiveness (MOEs) that will be used to achieve the objectives.
7. Walk the TSM from left to right.
8. In the Decide column:

  • Define which targets you want to engage in each problem set.
  • Decide on what objectives you want to achieve with each target and what effect you want on the objective.
  • Decide on the talking points you want used to achieve the desired effect.
9. In the Detect and Deliver column:
  • Define the efect on the target you want to have (use on of the eight doctrinally approved).
  • Decide on which asset (IO element) that would be most effective to use to achieve the desired effect.
  • Decide on how to employ that asset to achieve your target objective.
  • Decide on the timeframe to engage the target.
10. In the Assess column:
  • Decide on the most effective asset to conduct an assessment for the objective.
  • Decide on how to do the most effective means to assess the objective.
  • The MOEs are quantifiable ways to reach the objective. They will be defined by the IOWG.
  • Decide when to establish the assessment.

The DCG was briefed on the IMPIN in the presence of the entire IOWG. This again gave legitimacy to the material being briefed as well as allowed the DCG to clarify particular points on which he was unclear with the staff planner who was responsible for that portion of the brief.  An IO-oriented IPB update from the IO G2 was included as the lead-in to the IMPIN brief. The political situation in BiH fluctuated noticeably at times, and the DCG needed to understand from the IO point of view how changes in the socio-political situation could affect the operation the staff was proposing. After the DCG was briefed on the IPB, he was given the detailed initial targeting that was developed in the targeting development meeting. 

If it seems premature that the IMPIN was briefed after developing only targeting, consider that for IO, targeting was the mission. IO planners were concerned with shaping the environment to accomplish the ends specified in the multi-year road map. IO could not accomplish any of that by moving troops around, but IO could affect the thinking and actions of certain people or even groups of people. IO could not have an immediate effect on peoples’ actions at the time of execution of an operational mission, but IO could shape the environment to set the most favorable conditions for the execution of that mission. Just as a commander uses physical assets such as night-vision goggles to set favorable conditions (ability to attack at night) and maximize enemy weakness (inability to see at night), he also uses IO to set favorable conditions. 

If the DCG approved the IMPIN brief (see Figure 4), the IO planners then used the TSM and the DCG’s guidance to produce the actual IMPIN. The IO IMPIN was written in the standard five-paragraph format, but was always issued as Annex P to the maneuver IMPIN to follow (if any), even in the case of stand-alone IO campaigns. The IMPIN  included the TSM as Appendix 1, and the language in the base document of Annex P was a direct reflection of the contents of the TSM. (See Chapter 7 for IMPIN development details and the problem set timeline.) 

Issuing the IMPIN took the new campaign from the realm of plans into that of IO current operations, where it would next be discussed at the IO targeting meeting. 

Problem Set IMPIN Brief Agenda   

  1. IO Assets
  2. Concept of the Operation
  3. IPB
  4. IO Objectives
  5. Target Sets
  6. Targeting
  7. DCG's Guidance

Figure 4. IO Problem Set IMPIN Agenda 

1.  Develop IO assets for the problem set (see Figure 5).
2.  Refine the IO concept of the operation.
3.  Refine the IO situation from the mission analysis.
4.  Refine the IO objectives based on DCG’s guidance and enhanced intelligence from mission analysis.
5.  Develop target objectives for the problem set.
6.  Define what asset you intend to use to achieve the objective on the target and what assessment you are looking for.
7.  Seek DCG’s guidance. 

IO Problem Set Assets
Cmd Group Bilats
  • CG
  • DCG
  • GFC


  • TPTs (distro msgs and conduct assessment)
  • Radio MIR
  • Newspaper/TV/Radio messages
  • Loud speaker operations


  • Press conferences
  • Press releases
  • Media advisories/coord coverage
  • Assessment of media coverage
  • Smart cards


  • CIMIC patrols (distro msgs and conduct assessment)
  • IC coordination


  • Bilats

BN/BG Operations

  • Patrols (distro msgs and conduct assessment)
  • Radio talk shows
  • Bilats


  • Bilats
  • IPTF coordination


  • THT (collect assessment information)
  • Media collection and analysis


  • Division TV show

Figure 5. IO Problem Set Assets

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