Rethinking “Man, Train, and Equip” for Information Advantage

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Source:  DVIDS
Source: DVIDS

February 15, 2022 | Originally published by Modern War Institute at West Point on January 11, 2022

Imagine a future where moral and cognitive battles are waged with well-crafted narratives delivered and manipulated by an intricate web of simple and sophisticated cyber, information, electronic, and psychological warfare tools. The modern information environment, and how we interact with it, allows perceptions to be shaped in seconds with a retweet, a share, a like, or a download. With the internet, access to information is instantaneous—until it’s not—and autocratic rulers are increasingly taking advantage of their populations’ reliance on the internet and the information environment in times of unrest and upheaval by shutting off access. Most recently, internet traffic was cut off in Kazakhstan, as authorities in the petrostate tried to quell unrest over rising fuel prices and sow confusion among protestors by disrupting communications and popular messaging platforms (e.g., Telegram and Signal). What autocratic rulers clearly understand is the power of social connection and how the internet and information environment facilitate idea mobilization and narrative affinity across populations. Ultimately, we do not have to imagine a future war to recognize that the next conflict will include an information component, and the U.S. military will need to contribute to perception and information management in the cognitive dimension as a core element of future battles.