U.S. Army Information Operations: Concept and Execution
by Captain James E. McConville, USAR
The 2lst century is not waiting for the Army; it is
already upon us; and we must meet its challenges three ways. First,
we must understand the information age battlefield. Second, we must
modernize to take full advantage of information age technology.
Finally, we must continue to develop the programs that "enable" the
power projection strategy.
General Gordon R. Sullivan, Former Chief of
Staff, U.S. Army1
The United States Army faces the requirement to move
into a new age. The coming of the information age has given us an
unparalleled opportunity to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of our ground forces. What is needed is the vision
and the will to design, field, train, and use the force of the 21st
It cannot be denied that a massive change is under way in our
society, a change driven by the advent of advanced information
technology. New information collection, analysis, communication,
and display capabilities have changed the way we think, act, and
organize, whether in industry, education, or in the military.
Driven by the irresistible force of the emerging capabilities, and
steered by some visionary military leaders, the U.S. military has
become the preeminent force in the world of military technology.
The realities of the information age promise to alter forever the
way the military does business. In addition to precision weaponry,
the Army sees its future in the advanced collection, processing,
analysis, communication, and display of massive amounts of
information. The information age promises to reduce Clauswitz's
daunted "fog of war."2 The employment of precision weapons,
precisely targeted, teamed with maneuver decisions incorporating
clear battlespace visualization, while simultaneously defeating the
adversary's visualization of the battlefield, will ensure that our
force remains the dominant military force deep into the 21st
Definitions and Doctrine
One of the driving technological changes behind the development of
IO is the expected revolution in our ability to move, process,
analyze, and present vast amounts of information to decisionmakers
quickly, and understandably. To maximize the impact of the
increased information capabilities now available, the Army must
learn to fight on the information battlefield. To this end, the
Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Army's concept and
doctrine development arm, has published FM 100-6, Information
Operations, dated 17 August 1996. This manual establishes the
guiding principles for the use of information on the Army
battlefield. In order to further refine the concepts described in
FM 100-6, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca
(USAIC&FH) created the IO Task Force and conducted an IO wargame in
November 1995. The wargame, which included participants from more
than 27 agencies and units from all over the DoD, clarified and
refined the application of IO to the Army battlefield. This article
presents some definitions and then summarizes the findings of that
wargame in terms of IO requirements and integrating IO into the
What Are Army Information Operations? FM 100-6 describes IO as
Continuous military operations within the military
information environment that enable, enhance, and protect the
commander's decision cycle and mission execution to achieve an
information advantage across the full range of military operations.
Information operations include interacting with the Global
Information Environment and exploiting or denying an adversary's
information and decision systems.
This definition is successful at capturing the major
elements of Army IO:
Why IO, Not Information Warfare? Army IO doctrine reflects, and
goes beyond, the joint military strategy of command and control
warfare (C2W), which implements DoD IW policy. Recognizing that IW
as currently defined by DoD is more narrowly focused on the impact
of information on actual conflict, the Army has chosen to take a
somewhat broader approach to the impact of information on ground
operations and adopted the term "information operations." The Army
chose this broader approach for two primary reasons. First, it
recognizes that information issues permeate the full range of
operations from peace through global war. Second, this broader
approach emphasizes the operational impact of information on
knowledge-based operations at each and every echelon.3
The Components of Army IO. Doctrine describes IO as having three
parts: intelligence and other relevant information, information
systems, and command and control warfare (C2W). In general terms,
IO comprises the information required, the systems needed to move
and use that information, and the ability to manipulate the
information (attack and protect) in order to gain a C2 advantage.
- IO are continuous. They are conducted during peacetime
- Army IO involves interacting within the global
information environment (GIE), while operating within the military
information environment (MIE). (See Figure 1.) This describes the
requirement to maximize the use of all information available in
order to assist the military commander to achieve operational
success information from military systems and open sources like the
media, the Internet, and other global access information systems.
- Army IO focuses on the decision cycle, supporting more
informed decisionmaking by the friendly commander, while denying
the enemy decisionmaker full use of his decision cycle through the
IO attack element.
- The goal of Army IO is the achievement of an information
advantage (dominance) over the adversary. This advantage is for
better mission execution, it is not the goal in itself.
Military commanders use C2W to manipulate the information environment and achieve a
tactical advantage. "C2W provides the 'sword' against an adversary's C2 system, and the 'shield'
against the counter C2 actions of the adversary."5
The Endstate: Information Dominance. As was stated above, the goal of IO is to create an
information advantage information dominance. It is a delta:
- Information. Information is the currency of IO, the data that, once controlled and
understood, leads to information dominance and the tactical advantage on the battlefield. FM
100-6 defines information as "data collected from the environment and processed into usable
form." Military information includes intelligence (the processed and analyzed information on an
adversary), friendly force information, and environmental information (terrain and weather).
Together they become battlespace visualization.
- Information Systems. Unless information reaches the decisionmaker in a timely manner and
understandable form, it will not contribute to success on the battlefield. The information system
must be secure at multiple classification levels, provide seamless access to databases at national
through tactical echelons, and versatile enough to adapt to the many force configurations found
in today's Army. It must also be simple enough to allow full integration into the force.
- C2W. Army IO does not neglect the attack and protect aspects most commonly associated
with IW. C2W is
...the integrated use of operations security (OPSEC), military deception, psychological
operations (PSYOP), electronic warfare (EW), and physical destruction, mutually supported by
intelligence, to deny information to, influence, degrade or destroy adversary capabilities against
such actions. C2W applies across the operational continuum and all levels of
...the difference between the aggregate of information available to each of two opposing
military commanders. But it is more than just information: it is the difference in understanding of
information in the context of some specific purpose that is the crux of the definition."6
The delta sought is seen in terms of battlefield visualization.
What is the "value added" of IO? What does this new concept contribute to the mission and
objectives of the
tactical commander? Based on the outcome of the IO Wargame held by USAIC&FH in
November of 1995, the value added
of IO and C2W is the massing of information effects. C2W, when teamed with the other parts of
IO, can deliver
information dominance at the specific place and time when the commander wants or needs it.
C2W does not act
alone to create information dominance, but it does provide the power to determine when that
desired state will
Requirements for Information Operations
The IO Wargame was a force-on-force, U.S. Army corps-level simulation using
effects on the tactical battlefield. The wargame clarifed several types of requirements for tactical
IO. These include intelligence, battle command, C2W, and information systems requirements
(see figure 2). These findings point clearly where the Army must go to integrate IO into the force
and make tactical IO a reality.
Intelligence Requirements. One of the most common observations made by wargame
participants ("players") was that the intelligence system and the intelligence community have a
very tall order to fill to achieve the goal of tactical IO. The consensus was that not only would we
need to deliver intelligence faster and farther than ever before, but that the nature of the
intelligence will change, both in focus and specificity.
The essence of C2W is its focus on the decisionmaking processes of both the friendly and enemy
commander. Each C2 mission, whether C2 attack or C2 protect, has as its ultimate objective a
decision. While this played out well in the wargame, it was clear to all players that this "decision
war" requires we know much more about how and why adversary tactical military commanders
make decisions. In the context of the wargame scenario we used it was clear that this data does
not exist, especially in a form available to corps-level planners.
Some of the questions for which C2W planners need answers cover adversary
To achieve tactical IO, we need comprehensive information about adversary command,
control, communication, computers, and intelligence (C4I) capabilities. We will need to know
the points of failure in enemy communications systems, how to target them, and where and when
they are most vulnerable. Additionally, much information is needed on the technical
characteristics of enemy intelligence collection equipment, including signals intercept, imagery
systems, visual systems, target acquisition systems, and the like. Delivering the intelligence
needed for C2W and all other military operations and for achieving information
dominance, presents a unique set of requirements to the intelligence system. It is here that the
emerging tactical intelligence system shows the vision of intelligence planners from recent years.
Battle Command Requirements. Information operations, the intelligence that supports
them, and the information systems on which they rely, need commanders who are able to
visualize the battle more accurately and, based on that visualization, relay to planners the
endstate of the operation that they desire. This visualization of the battlespace is in itself an
information operation. To reach it, several capabilities are required, including
- Intelligence organization and capabilities.
- Information systems and communications equipment and networks.
- Military decisionmakers, their decision criteria, and outside influences which may
effect their responses.
C2W Requirements. C2W is the IW application of IO. It delivers information dominance
the commander through the manipulation of the information battlespace, either by protecting
one's own information or attacking the adversary's. C2W is the synchronized and integrated use
of OPSEC, EW, deception, PSYOP, and physical destruction to achieve information dominance.
As our wargame proved, the most important factor in C2W is synchronization. It is by
synchronizing all the
elements with the overall battle plan, that C2W is able to mass information effects and contribute
information dominance. To do this, the C2W plan must be an integral part of the entire mission
Full staff integration allows C2W planners to develop their operational objectives and goals
visualization of C2W and C4I capabilities and vulnerabilities. Incorporating the commander's
visualization of the endstate and the activities of the other BOSs, the C2W planner can develop
his course of
action. To do this efficiently, he must determine where, when, and how to attack the adversary's
and where, when, and from what to protect his own. To this end, any battlefield visualization tool
the capability to graphically depict the friendly C4I architecture, and overlay it with the
capability. Like the common picture, this graphic must be automatically updated, dynamic, and
tied to the
mission rehearsal toot for IEW and BOS synchronization.
To conduct sophisticated C2W, we must be able to leverage the capabilities of national
against targets that support the objectives of tactical commanders. Concurrently, targets attacked
tactical level can seriously impact the conduct of national information warfare. It is crucial that
C2W and IW
planners have the ability to communicate and coordinate C2 attack requirements among
echelons, respond to those
requirements in near-real time, and to deconflict missions among the various C2W and IW
agencies. The Land
Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) is preparing to take on this responsibility.
Information Systems Requirements. The ability to realize the linked, timely, well-presented,
and worldwide accessible communication and data transmission systems is key to the
achievement of the
information operations vision of Force XXl. The basic requirements for the system are
- A dynamic common picture. Commanders need a system that visually displays the
situation in an easily understandable format, based on the most up-to-date intelligence,
environmental, and friendly force information available. (When the information changes, the
picture must change as well, thus the term "dynamic.")
- Improved statement of the commander's critical and priority information
requirements (CCIR and PIR). Determination of the CCIR and PIR is a key part of mission
- Automated decision support and battlefield operating system (BOS)
synchronization. One of the most difficult tasks faced by the IO-C2W planners during the
wargame was the synchronization of the C2W elements,
the information requirements, and the information system requirements with the overall tactical
plan. With so many operations being executed at so many levels, it is extremely difficult to
determine when to create the "massed information effects" the planners are after. A large part of
that difficulty is the inability, using existing tools, for planners across the BOS to share planning
data and link together activities and decisions that will occur in the battle plan. Like the staffs
trying to portray the common picture, these planners need an automated, dynamic, and flexible
tool to tie all these distinct, yet interoperating, activities together. Like the automated intelligence
and electronic warfare (IEW) synchronization matrix, this tool must link planners both
horizontally and vertically.
- A mission rehearsal tool. Battlefield visualization requires not only a dynamic and
accurate picture of the current battlefield, but also the ability to assess the possible future
situations in an accurate and reliable manner. Tied to the IEW synchronization effort, the
common picture, and automated BOS synchronization is the mission rehearsal tool. This will
allow commanders and staffs to model the results of their plan prior to execution. This advanced
simulation must build its scenario from the dynamic common
picture, and will, when complete, be able to adjust the model's outcomes based on changing
inputs from the real intelligence and operational information received.
- The ability to think in terms of Information dominance. All of the technology and
staff processes will come to nothing if we are not successful at teaching our military commanders
and staffs to think in terms of information dominance. To aid commanders in describing the
endstate of their information operations, we must
teach and train them and their staffs to do this.
- Global connectivity, seamless between echelons, that is deployable and adaptable
to different force
packages and areas of the world.
- Secure and redundant systems that can be continuously checked for intrusion,
re-initiated, and cleared
if intrusion occurs.
- Multifunction access to a common system, scaleable and adaptable according to
the user needs. The
system must be shared by intelligence, maneuver, fire support, communications, and other
yet be able to display the only information requested by the user.
- Advanced display capability that contributes to the common picture. Incoming
data must feed directly
into the fusion, processing, and analysis tools used by the various planners, and assist in the
of the common picture to the commander.
- Access to GIE information systems. The system should allow for interconnectivity
and access to
non-military open source systems when that access is desired by the commander or user.
Integration of Information Operations into the Force
Smart commanders have always done IO. Our task now is to ensure that all commanders,
and soldiers think,
act, and operate to achieve information dominance. The wargame participants discovered some
insights on how best
to do this.
Concepts. Two major conceptual adjustments needed to be made in order to fulfill the
of tactical IO.
First, while the doctrine exists for the establishment of the CCIR and PIR, it needs more
must understand that unless they clearly establish their information requirements, based on
endstate of the
battle as they visualize it, they will never be able to take full advantage of IO. Second, staffs and
must begin to view the battlefield in terms of decisions friendly and enemy. The Army must plan
support the needs and requirements of those decisions just as it plans to destroy and protect
Doctrine. In general terms, the problems experienced by many Army professionals is
understanding that IO can
be solved by bounding the problem in terms of information dominance. This endstate makes it
clear to all where
we are going with the IO concept, and provides focus by giving planners and commanders an
objective for which
In the future, "separate" IO doctrine could be unnecessary as IO becomes an integral part of the
way we all
think about military operations. However, most wargame participants agreed that C2W needs a
separate "how to"
manual to show staffs how they should integrate the more aggressive part of IO into their battle
manual would include tactics, techniques and procedures for accomplishing C2W.
Organization. The Army corps needs a full time C2W officer. This officer is responsible
perspective of information dominance into the established corps planning structure (G3 Plans and
Operations Coordination Cell). The C2W officer is responsible for synchronizing the capabilities
of the C2W
elements, leveraging the capabilities of higher echelon IW agencies and units providing
national- and theater-level IW agencies, and monitoring the execution of the elements of the
C2W plan, to ensure
the delivery of massed information effects when needed.
During the IO Wargame, the need to develop a C2W cell in the corps analysis and control
element became apparent.
Due to the specific and unique requirements of decision modeling, threat IEW synchronization,
and the like, it
is imperative that a dedicated set of specifically trained analysts assist the G2 in preparing the
needed by C2 planners.
Planning. IO planning is a multifunction endeavor in which many players have a role.
function will have information requirements, and these will be met by intelligence staffs and
transmitted over an information system planned by communicators. For the most part these
aspects of the IO
planning process (information and information systems) are already an integral part of the Army
process. It is C2W that needs more definition. C2W planning, while it occurs in the context of
planning process, does have a process of its own. FM 100-6 establishes a deliberate
methodology for planning
C2W, and that methodology must be followed to assure full integration with the overall plan.
Training. None of what has been written above can happen unless our soldiers and leaders
are trained to "make
it happen." Several recommendations for training the evolving Army to maximize the impact of
IO came to light
as a result of the wargame. They include
- An across-the-board cultural change. Information operations are not stand-alone
operations. They cross
all BOS and touch the operations of all soldiers. There must be a cultural change throughout the
recognizes the importance of the information environment, and the impact of our ability to
manage and effect
that environment. The impact of IO must be made clear to all soldiers, through classroom
instruction and, more
importantly, ensuring information plays a role in all exercises.
- Leader training. Today's tactical Army leaders, brigade and division commanders,
must be taught how
to visualize the information battlespace, how to clarify information requirements and establish
In addition, they must have a basic understanding of the tools the C2W can leverage to assist
their mission, and the requirements they can and must place on the information system that
supports their units.
- Future leaders must be trained as well. By establishing a training program that
teaches the doctrine
and concepts of IO to all officers and noncommissioned officers, the Army can further the
cultural change, and
more important, can enable current staffs and future leaders to use IO to its fullest.
- Specific skill training. The requirements of IO are not just a cultural change. There
are some hard
skills associated with its execution as well. The wargame players discussed these hard skills and
that must be established if the skills are to populate the force. Specific skill training was
discussed in two
areas: IO and C2W planning (staff process, methodologies and supporting technology) and
(including studying the adversary's decisionmaking process and technologies).
USAIC&FH has shown through the 1995 IO Wargame that IO has application on the
battlefield. The wargame
was successful in clarifying the doctrine and concepts laid down in FM 100-6 and other IW and
IO documents. Key
to this understanding is recognizing that IO is more than C2 attack, more than "cyberwar," and,
at least for
the tactical Army, is much different than the strategic information warfare scenarios that are so
to this nation. Army IO is an effort to use the power of emerging technology to better collect and
information to commanders, and better allow them to C2 their units. IO is the progression of
operational staff operations, and information systems into the information age, with the added
dimension of C2W.
Information Dominance is the goal.
1. Statement before the Committee On Armed Services, United States
House of Representatives Second Session, 103rd Congress, 2 March 1994.
2. Clauswitz, On War (Baltimore, MD: Pelican Books, 1832, 1968),
Rapoport, Anatol editor, 162 -l65.
3. FM 100-6, Information Operations (TRADOC, 1995), 2-l.
4. Joint Chiefs of Staff MOP 30, 8 Mar 93 as quoted in FM 100-6, 3-1.
5. FM 100-6, 3-1.
6. Huff, Reid, Colonel, U.S. Army: "White Paper: Information Dominance" (Fort Huachuca, AZ:
U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, 1995), 1.
Mr. McConville is in the Army Reserve and a Project Task Manager for GTE
Government Systems Corporation. Before leaving active military service, Captain McConville
served with the U.S. Army Intelligence Center's Information Operations Task Force. He served
in various intelligence assignments during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT
STORM. Mr. McConville has a bachelor of arts degree in Government and Politics from
George Mason University, and a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the Defense
Intelligence College. Readers can reach him at (703) 247-9218, or via E-mail at