Information operations

Disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy, or deceive

IO Definition: The integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operations to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.

US SECDEF 25 JAN 2011 Memo:  Strategic Communication and Information Operations

“Disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy, or deceive” vs. “influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp”.   Which is right, what is it that we do?

The definition of IO is all about influence, the military is seeking to affect the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries.

“Disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy, or deceive” is how the US Air Force seeks to characterize their ‘cyberwarfare’ efforts[1], [2].

Here is the definition of Electonic Warfare from Wikipedia:

Electronic warfare (EW) refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum.

The US “official definition” of Electronic Warfare.

JEMSO are the coordinated efforts of EW and joint electromagnetic spectrum management operations (JEMSMO) to exploit, attack, protect, and manage the electromagnetic operational environment (EMOE).

The term EW refers to military action involving the use of EM energy and directed energy (DE) to control the EMS or to attack the enemy. EW consists of three divisions: electronic attack (EA), EP, and electronic warfare support (ES).

Joint Pub 3-13.1, Electronic Warfare, 08 February 2012

Apologies to anyone who reads that and goes “huh”?  Whoever wrote and approved that definition of both EW and JEMSO forgot to address the “in order to” or “in order to accomplish” part of a definition.  It’s a modern tragedy that those definitions are as meaningless as <insert insult here>, they don’t say anything.

I am reviewing all these definitions only because this past week somebody asked me about electronic warfare and cyber and why we would ever use both or either cyber or electronic warfare.  I thought it was obvious so I attempted to show the common denominator between them.  Information.  “What?  Are you nuts?” was the look I got.

I simply used an action verb: deny.  If I deny an adversary information by either jamming their air defense system or launching a DDoS attack against their network, the adversary does not get the infomation necessary to make an informed decision.  I may also disrupt their systems and make the information questionable as to the accuracy, timeliness or even reliability.  We may also destroy an adversary’s network or system and deny and at least degrade the information received.  The most difficult thing to do is to deceive.  Electronically it is a very sophisticated action, in both cyberspace and using the EMS. In World War II it was achieved, not as easily as we believed, by using lengths of aluminum chaff cut to the wavelength of the enemy’s radar, for instance.

All this deals with information that an adversary desperately needs to make an informed decision.  That is how we ” influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries”.

Bottom line on the bottom.  Cyber and EW are cool, but we dare not lose sight of their ultimate goal, targeting an adversary’s or potential adversary’s decision cycle.  Cyber and EW are not goals nor ends by themselves, it’s all about information.  Information is the most powerful tool or weapon at our disposal at all times.

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