Note #10. Information-Related Capabilities & Information-Related Effects

  • Thomas A. Drohan, Ph.D., Brig Gen USAF ret.
  • Leadership, Strategy
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Information-Related Capabilities abound in doctrine-approved professional communities of practice. All the while, historically-derived doctrine lags reality.

Proactive What?

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 a densely interconnected environment, however, information often is more proactive than, takes the lead supported by, operations.

Conditions = Information

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. At least among sentient beings such as humans, information that is provided or denied influences the behavioral capability to act.

Informationally desirable conditions should be a strategic priority.

Russia’s reflexive control and China’s informationized warfare, respectively, clarify this looming reality. All operations have information effects. Uncertain and conditional, such effects need to be contested because they can be decisively influential.  

Ops with Ends In Mind

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.


Author: Thomas A. Drohan, Ph.D., Brig Gen USAF ret.

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