Where does IO go now?
Last night someone asked if Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) was akin to Information Operations. One response was a resounding “no”. I disagree and here’s why. To explain I’d like to introduce where IO fits into IMC and where IO, SC and PD might be going.
IO is much like IMC, but in a military environment, so there are other tools available with purposes and capability that are otherwise illegal. Not to say some companies don’t do them. I’ve seen CNA, deception and other IO tools used in the corporate environment, but when caught, the fit hit the shan. I’ve seen some unscrupulous folks take it to a whole new level, not all good, through theft, smear campaigns and lies.
Another thing that IO should strive to include is coordinating kinetic activities in support of information effects. If I really want to send a message to a country I’ll park a carrier battle group off your coast or roll a tank convoy through your village. Even better is providing jobs in your village, region or country. I personally believe we should have left much of the infrastructure in place during the invasion of Iraq, but in our attempt to muffle their communications, we destroyed telephone switching stations – which we had to rebuild. We had to rebuild the electrical system, whereas all we would have had to do would be to temporarily shut it down – by CNA, if possible. If we had kept the military intact we could have maintained a semblance of order. I have heard these commiserations from a long line of IO professionals, as well as others. I only hope our military planners internalized those lessons and our senior Service schools incorporate these lessons in teaching to our future leaders.
I had a conversation yesterday afternoon about EBO or Effects Based Operations, how the Aug 8, 2008 memo from Gen Mattis, expunging EBO from military doctrine, may have been the wrong option. Our conclusion is we should be doing a deep dive on developing that capability. We lack knowledge of the human psyche and do not have the computational power to run proper models of input/outcome with almost infinite variables but ultimately IO, SC and PD need to go in that direction. We think we’re taking IO to a new level by inculcating ORSA, but marketing firms have been doing this for decades.
There are more similarities between IO and IMC than most folks are willing to admit. When the new definition of IO was being reworked, I fought to keep the word military out of the definition but in the end there were certain feathers that had to remain unruffled. At the Strategic level the lines become even more blurred… and look to whom we outsource.
IO is not perfect, no part of warfare is. But most forms of kinetic warfare, as in bullets and bombs, have evolved to a point where we are only tightening shot groups. Sure, we will have exponential leaps in warfare with our global strike program, directed energy weapons and invisibility camouflage, but these will be more incremental than revolutionary. Where we can vastly improve is in Information Operations, Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy – informing and influencing foreign audiences. These fields are still mostly an art form – our gut tells us how an audience will respond whereas we honestly don’t know if we should be targeting their perceptions or conditions. DARPA seems to have recognized this in a few of their programs but I’m not quite sure our senior leaders will be prepared for the ‘art of what is possible’.
- This is what you do! (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- Who is gutting Strategic IO? (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- Information Operations Community Under Fire (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- How does one ‘Show’ Information Operations? (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- Information Operations community takes another Hit (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- IMC Plan of Any ……….new Product (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)