Information operations · Inter-cultural communication · Mind Control · Perception Management

What is Information Operations

Diplomacy (Photo credit: rinkjustice)


Here is a typical first conversation I have with everyone I meet who works in the IO field.

“Hi!  My name is Joel, nice to meet you!”

‘Appropriate response’

‘Appropriate small talk’.

‘Appropriate small talk’.

Me: “When you say IO, what do you mean?”



  • Full spectrum IO
  • MISO/Psyop
  • Cyber
  • Military deception
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Operations Security
  •  Information Assurance
  • Civil Military Operations
  • Combat Camera Team
  • Commando Solo
  • Public Affairs
  • Special Operations
  • Human Terrain Teams/System


Then I meet nice people working in


  • Public Diplomacy
  • Strategic Communication
  • Strategic Communications
  • Diplomats
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Public Relations
  • Lobbyists
  • Open Source Intelligence
  • Online Investigations
  • Physical Security
  • Online news
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Newspapers
  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Circumvention technology aka Liberation Technology
  • SMEs in language, religion, culture, ad nauseum


…and we have a nice conversation.


Okay, okay, let’s ignore the fact that almost nobody says they are a part of IO, even though IO ‘integrates’ everything in the overall information environment, affecting how foreigners and their decision makers perceive us and, therefore, hopefully act in the best interest of US objectives.

Years ago I joined with Dr. Dan Kuehl and we stated that the new definition of IO should not include the word military.  I was informed (almost to the point where I felt naive or was being treated that way) that the ‘powers that be’ stated that political concessions had to be made and the word military had to be included.   “Pshaw” went through my mind.  We were sold out.  According to Clausewitz “war is an extension of politics“, in my mind this also includes preparation for war. IO and training, for instance, should never stop.  Military operations and politics are constantly ongoing on a domestic and an international stage.  Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication(s) are ongoing, as are foreign adviser programs, defense attache activities, military exchanges, military presence, foreign equipment and military sales (the list goes on, I’m just getting tired of typing).


The United States does not have a master plan for influencing other countries to do what we want, to not stand in the way or to otherwise remain neutral. We have diplomacy.  We have military programs and we have economic programs.  We do not have an information program (remember the I in DIME?) but almost all our Cabinet Departments do, under the label of outreach, public diplomacy, international relations or so on.   Those of us who deal with the information environment, and that, quite honestly, is all of us, usually do not feel as if we are contributing to a bigger, broader unified program of promoting our respective country or at least to increase the understanding by others of the way we think, act, work and harmonize.  If you don’t think you are part of the information environment, stop reading now. The mere act of reading this blog influences you – hopefully so that you might gain a better understanding of how you are part of the bigger picture.  You email a friend, you write on Facebook, your words are read by others who share your good words with others, and eventually someone in another country reads those words.  I receive ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ from all over the world on my Facebook account and get viewers from many countries on this blog.  Welcome to the Global Information Environment.  What we say matters – globally.  Words mean things and they affect others.


In that context when we define Information Operations we need to include the word military, otherwise it is saying that the United States honestly has ‘a plan’.  We may never have a master plan for information dissemination, on how to affect other country’s, region’s or even global perceptions of the US. If we did, we would truly have our act together.  The United States might even be pretty darn good and our government might not be perceived as dysfunctional, broken, counterproductive, inept, incompetent, divisive…


ps. Before I quit. I love conspiracy theorists.  I especially love the ones that claim the government has this master plan for controlling your mind.  Listen, dudes.  If that were the case don’t you think that Congress could actually make a decision?



6 thoughts on “What is Information Operations

Comments are closed.