In a world where social media and other innovative technologies are constantly fueling our digital transformations, information operations, or IO, will likely be increasingly called upon to ensure the U.S. military gains a decisive and marked advantage on the field. tomorrow’s battle. Maintaining training and readiness for eventual large-scale combat operations will be a mainstay for the U.S. military; however, the risks of impacts against the growing interconnectedness of economies and societies influence the decisions of world leaders to engage in conventional conflict.
World leaders will seek to conduct gray area operations – or operations that nation states conduct against each other just below the threshold of conventional conflict – to reduce the risks and costs of otherwise engaging in conflict. conventional. Info ops is one of those gray area operations. But to succeed, you must first start by recruiting the right people.
Joint doctrine defines information operations as “the integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities (IRCs) 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”. .”
Think of it in terms of marketing: how does company A (the United States) get a certain foreign population or demographic group (the target audience) to buy its goods and services rather than those of the company B (a strategic competitor of the United States)? Info ops planners achieve this by weaponizing information by leveraging and synchronizing various IRC or IO toolkit tools, such as: public affairs, combat camera, psychological operations, cyber ops, electronic warfare, civil affairs, space operations, military deception and others.
Army training to become an IO planner comes in one of three forms:
- A two-week Army Information Operations Planner, or AIOPC, course for E6s and active duty reserve elements and above (although I have personally observed E4s and E5s attend)
- A 12-week Information Operations Qualification Course, or IOQC, for active duty and reserve component O3 to O5
- A nine-month IOQC for active duty and reserve component O3-5
Those who successfully complete the AIOPC are awarded a P4 Supplementary Skills Identifier, or ASI. Officers who successfully complete the IOQC receive their Functional Area Designator-30, or FA30, IO and may report to receive a Secondary Military Occupational Specialty 30A, or MOS.
There is a noticeable disparity in IO education between officers and enlisted. The cadre of FA30 officers across the military is already quite small – some O4s and O5s pursue IO because it is considered an alternative certification course for the mid-level Advanced Operations Course.
So why not make IO a MOS for enlistees? Better yet, make it a first entry MOS for young enlisted soldiers who are just starting their military service. Currently Info Ops draws on the experience of soldiers and officers in other MOS, forces them to think outside the box and adapt new ways of conducting Info Ops based on that experience. . I’ve seen this not work because individuals are too rooted in their MOS, which impacts their ability to think outside the box. Leveraging experience also affects the creativity and imagination needed for IO, because as individuals age, their understanding and application of emerging technologies also increases.
Creating an enlisted IO MOS and increasing the number of young IO professionals would help close the training disparity. Most importantly, these soldiers would bring a high level of imagination and creativity to be at the forefront of exploiting and synchronizing IRCs to create lethal and non-lethal effects with other ongoing lines of operations. in all areas of warfare.
Young soldiers between the ages of 18 and 22 who are new to the military – active duty, reserve or national guard – have enormous potential to conduct information operations if this was their first MOS. hall. Their deep understanding and knowledge of social media, digital media and technology, global social interconnectivity, cultural norms, computers, cell phones and gaming devices puts them miles ahead of the aging senior officers and field officers in understanding the physical, informational and cognitive dimensions of the information environment. However, they must also possess a high aptitude and appreciation for the fields of psychology, science and technology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, political science, and languages. When applied together, they would know which technologies – existing and emerging – and platforms to use and how to use them so that “Company A” can outperform “Company B”.
Enlisted IO professionals could easily translate their skills into the civilian sector to pursue jobs in marketing, market research, advertising, analytics, cyber, IT, and other jobs in the intelligence community . But for now, we must tap into the imagination and creativity of our young soldiers if we seek to gain a decisive and marked informational advantage on the battlefield of tomorrow.
Capt. Nestor Lora-Ortiz is an Information Operations Officer in the Maryland Army National Guard’s 110th IO Battalion. He graduated in 2021 from the reserve component of the IO qualification course taught by the National Guard Information Operations School, 3-124th Information Operations Battalion, Vermont Army National Guard. He recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in Djibouti as an Information Operations Planner.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States military, Army National Guard, Department of Defense, or United States government.
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