Thomas A. Drohan, Ph.D., Brig Gen USAF ret.
Information-Related Capabilities abound in doctrine-approved professional communities of practice. Unfortunately, doctrine always lags reality.
Especially reality that takes the form of a proactive competitor. We tend to label such intellectually self-imposed surprises as black swans.
According to Joint Publication 3-13, Information Operations, Information-Related Capabilities are “Tools, techniques, or activities using data, information, or knowledge to create effects and operationally desirable conditions within the physical, informational, and cognitive dimensions of the information environment.”
This seems fine as long as information plays a support role to “operations.” And this relationship applied rather nicely in the industrial age of warfare.
In the information age, however, information often takes the lead supported by operations. This shift constitutes no less than a change in the nature of warfare wherein violence is not the sole requirement for controlling an adversary’s ability to act.
Informationally desirable conditions may be a strategic priority.
Russia’s reflexive control and China’s informationized warfare, respectively, clarify this reality. All operations have information effects. Uncertain and conditional, such effects need to be contested because they can be decisively influential.
What would be the value of an Information-Related Effects concept?
The conceptual development of information effects can help us focus on superior purposes of strategy— effects, objectives, priorities, goals—and therefore broaden our options. Options such as kinetic capabilities supporting information effects, rather than presuming it’s the other way around.
We need to start integrating combinations of information effects, not just combinations of information capabilities.