U.S. Army Information Operations: Concept and Execution

by Captain James E. McConville, USAR

The 2lst century is not waiting for the Army; it is already upon us; and we must meet its challenges three ways. First, we must understand the information age battlefield. Second, we must modernize to take full advantage of information age technology. Finally, we must continue to develop the programs that "enable" the power projection strategy.

General Gordon R. Sullivan, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army1

The United States Army faces the requirement to move into a new age. The coming of the information age has given us an unparalleled opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our ground forces. What is needed is the vision and the will to design, field, train, and use the force of the 21st century.
It cannot be denied that a massive change is under way in our society, a change driven by the advent of advanced information technology. New information collection, analysis, communication, and display capabilities have changed the way we think, act, and organize, whether in industry, education, or in the military. Driven by the irresistible force of the emerging capabilities, and steered by some visionary military leaders, the U.S. military has become the preeminent force in the world of military technology.
The realities of the information age promise to alter forever the way the military does business. In addition to precision weaponry, the Army sees its future in the advanced collection, processing, analysis, communication, and display of massive amounts of information. The information age promises to reduce Clauswitz's daunted "fog of war."2 The employment of precision weapons, precisely targeted, teamed with maneuver decisions incorporating clear battlespace visualization, while simultaneously defeating the adversary's visualization of the battlefield, will ensure that our force remains the dominant military force deep into the 21st century.

Definitions and Doctrine

One of the driving technological changes behind the development of IO is the expected revolution in our ability to move, process, analyze, and present vast amounts of information to decisionmakers quickly, and understandably. To maximize the impact of the increased information capabilities now available, the Army must learn to fight on the information battlefield. To this end, the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the Army's concept and doctrine development arm, has published FM 100-6, Information Operations, dated 17 August 1996. This manual establishes the guiding principles for the use of information on the Army battlefield. In order to further refine the concepts described in FM 100-6, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH) created the IO Task Force and conducted an IO wargame in November 1995. The wargame, which included participants from more than 27 agencies and units from all over the DoD, clarified and refined the application of IO to the Army battlefield. This article presents some definitions and then summarizes the findings of that wargame in terms of IO requirements and integrating IO into the force.
What Are Army Information Operations? FM 100-6 describes IO as
Continuous military operations within the military information environment that enable, enhance, and protect the commander's decision cycle and mission execution to achieve an information advantage across the full range of military operations. Information operations include interacting with the Global Information Environment and exploiting or denying an adversary's information and decision systems.
This definition is successful at capturing the major elements of Army IO:
Why IO, Not Information Warfare? Army IO doctrine reflects, and goes beyond, the joint military strategy of command and control warfare (C2W), which implements DoD IW policy. Recognizing that IW as currently defined by DoD is more narrowly focused on the impact of information on actual conflict, the Army has chosen to take a somewhat broader approach to the impact of information on ground operations and adopted the term "information operations." The Army chose this broader approach for two primary reasons. First, it recognizes that information issues permeate the full range of operations from peace through global war. Second, this broader approach emphasizes the operational impact of information on knowledge-based operations at each and every echelon.3
The Components of Army IO. Doctrine describes IO as having three parts: intelligence and other relevant information, information systems, and command and control warfare (C2W). In general terms, IO comprises the information required, the systems needed to move and use that information, and the ability to manipulate the information (attack and protect) in order to gain a C2 advantage.
Military commanders use C2W to manipulate the information environment and achieve a tactical advantage. "C2W provides the 'sword' against an adversary's C2 system, and the 'shield' against the counter C2 actions of the adversary."5
The Endstate: Information Dominance. As was stated above, the goal of IO is to create an information advantage information dominance. It is a delta:
...the difference between the aggregate of information available to each of two opposing military commanders. But it is more than just information: it is the difference in understanding of information in the context of some specific purpose that is the crux of the definition."6
The delta sought is seen in terms of battlefield visualization. What is the "value added" of IO? What does this new concept contribute to the mission and objectives of the tactical commander? Based on the outcome of the IO Wargame held by USAIC&FH in November of 1995, the value added of IO and C2W is the massing of information effects. C2W, when teamed with the other parts of IO, can deliver information dominance at the specific place and time when the commander wants or needs it. C2W does not act alone to create information dominance, but it does provide the power to determine when that desired state will be achieved.

Requirements for Information Operations

The IO Wargame was a force-on-force, U.S. Army corps-level simulation using information effects on the tactical battlefield. The wargame clarifed several types of requirements for tactical IO. These include intelligence, battle command, C2W, and information systems requirements (see figure 2). These findings point clearly where the Army must go to integrate IO into the force and make tactical IO a reality.
Intelligence Requirements. One of the most common observations made by wargame participants ("players") was that the intelligence system and the intelligence community have a very tall order to fill to achieve the goal of tactical IO. The consensus was that not only would we need to deliver intelligence faster and farther than ever before, but that the nature of the intelligence will change, both in focus and specificity. The essence of C2W is its focus on the decisionmaking processes of both the friendly and enemy commander. Each C2 mission, whether C2 attack or C2 protect, has as its ultimate objective a decision. While this played out well in the wargame, it was clear to all players that this "decision war" requires we know much more about how and why adversary tactical military commanders make decisions. In the context of the wargame scenario we used it was clear that this data does not exist, especially in a form available to corps-level planners.
Some of the questions for which C2W planners need answers cover adversary
To achieve tactical IO, we need comprehensive information about adversary command, control, communication, computers, and intelligence (C4I) capabilities. We will need to know the points of failure in enemy communications systems, how to target them, and where and when they are most vulnerable. Additionally, much information is needed on the technical characteristics of enemy intelligence collection equipment, including signals intercept, imagery systems, visual systems, target acquisition systems, and the like. Delivering the intelligence needed for C2W and all other military operations and for achieving information dominance, presents a unique set of requirements to the intelligence system. It is here that the emerging tactical intelligence system shows the vision of intelligence planners from recent years.
Battle Command Requirements. Information operations, the intelligence that supports them, and the information systems on which they rely, need commanders who are able to visualize the battle more accurately and, based on that visualization, relay to planners the endstate of the operation that they desire. This visualization of the battlespace is in itself an information operation. To reach it, several capabilities are required, including
C2W Requirements. C2W is the IW application of IO. It delivers information dominance to the commander through the manipulation of the information battlespace, either by protecting one's own information or attacking the adversary's. C2W is the synchronized and integrated use of OPSEC, EW, deception, PSYOP, and physical destruction to achieve information dominance. As our wargame proved, the most important factor in C2W is synchronization. It is by synchronizing all the elements with the overall battle plan, that C2W is able to mass information effects and contribute to tactical information dominance. To do this, the C2W plan must be an integral part of the entire mission planning cycle. Full staff integration allows C2W planners to develop their operational objectives and goals based on visualization of C2W and C4I capabilities and vulnerabilities. Incorporating the commander's intent and visualization of the endstate and the activities of the other BOSs, the C2W planner can develop his course of action. To do this efficiently, he must determine where, when, and how to attack the adversary's decision cycle, and where, when, and from what to protect his own. To this end, any battlefield visualization tool must include the capability to graphically depict the friendly C4I architecture, and overlay it with the adversary C2W capability. Like the common picture, this graphic must be automatically updated, dynamic, and tied to the mission rehearsal toot for IEW and BOS synchronization. To conduct sophisticated C2W, we must be able to leverage the capabilities of national information warfare against targets that support the objectives of tactical commanders. Concurrently, targets attacked at the tactical level can seriously impact the conduct of national information warfare. It is crucial that C2W and IW planners have the ability to communicate and coordinate C2 attack requirements among echelons, respond to those requirements in near-real time, and to deconflict missions among the various C2W and IW agencies. The Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) is preparing to take on this responsibility. Information Systems Requirements. The ability to realize the linked, timely, well-presented, secure, flexible, and worldwide accessible communication and data transmission systems is key to the achievement of the information operations vision of Force XXl. The basic requirements for the system are

Integration of Information Operations into the Force

Smart commanders have always done IO. Our task now is to ensure that all commanders, staffs, and soldiers think, act, and operate to achieve information dominance. The wargame participants discovered some insights on how best to do this.
Concepts. Two major conceptual adjustments needed to be made in order to fulfill the vision of tactical IO. First, while the doctrine exists for the establishment of the CCIR and PIR, it needs more emphasis. Commanders must understand that unless they clearly establish their information requirements, based on endstate of the battle as they visualize it, they will never be able to take full advantage of IO. Second, staffs and commanders must begin to view the battlefield in terms of decisions friendly and enemy. The Army must plan operations to support the needs and requirements of those decisions just as it plans to destroy and protect combat power.
Doctrine. In general terms, the problems experienced by many Army professionals is understanding that IO can be solved by bounding the problem in terms of information dominance. This endstate makes it clear to all where we are going with the IO concept, and provides focus by giving planners and commanders an objective for which to strive. In the future, "separate" IO doctrine could be unnecessary as IO becomes an integral part of the way we all think about military operations. However, most wargame participants agreed that C2W needs a separate "how to" manual to show staffs how they should integrate the more aggressive part of IO into their battle plans. The manual would include tactics, techniques and procedures for accomplishing C2W.
Organization. The Army corps needs a full time C2W officer. This officer is responsible for bringing the perspective of information dominance into the established corps planning structure (G3 Plans and the Deep Operations Coordination Cell). The C2W officer is responsible for synchronizing the capabilities of the C2W elements, leveraging the capabilities of higher echelon IW agencies and units providing connectivity with national- and theater-level IW agencies, and monitoring the execution of the elements of the C2W plan, to ensure the delivery of massed information effects when needed. During the IO Wargame, the need to develop a C2W cell in the corps analysis and control element became apparent. Due to the specific and unique requirements of decision modeling, threat IEW synchronization, and the like, it is imperative that a dedicated set of specifically trained analysts assist the G2 in preparing the information needed by C2 planners.
Planning. IO planning is a multifunction endeavor in which many players have a role. Each battlefield function will have information requirements, and these will be met by intelligence staffs and operators, and transmitted over an information system planned by communicators. For the most part these aspects of the IO planning process (information and information systems) are already an integral part of the Army planning process. It is C2W that needs more definition. C2W planning, while it occurs in the context of the overall planning process, does have a process of its own. FM 100-6 establishes a deliberate methodology for planning C2W, and that methodology must be followed to assure full integration with the overall plan.
Training. None of what has been written above can happen unless our soldiers and leaders are trained to "make it happen." Several recommendations for training the evolving Army to maximize the impact of IO came to light as a result of the wargame. They include


USAIC&FH has shown through the 1995 IO Wargame that IO has application on the tactical battlefield. The wargame was successful in clarifying the doctrine and concepts laid down in FM 100-6 and other IW and IO documents. Key to this understanding is recognizing that IO is more than C2 attack, more than "cyberwar," and, at least for the tactical Army, is much different than the strategic information warfare scenarios that are so intriguing to this nation. Army IO is an effort to use the power of emerging technology to better collect and provide information to commanders, and better allow them to C2 their units. IO is the progression of intelligence, operational staff operations, and information systems into the information age, with the added dimension of C2W. Information Dominance is the goal.


1. Statement before the Committee On Armed Services, United States House of Representatives Second Session, 103rd Congress, 2 March 1994.
2. Clauswitz, On War (Baltimore, MD: Pelican Books, 1832, 1968), Rapoport, Anatol editor, 162 -l65.
3. FM 100-6, Information Operations (TRADOC, 1995), 2-l.
4. Joint Chiefs of Staff MOP 30, 8 Mar 93 as quoted in FM 100-6, 3-1.
5. FM 100-6, 3-1.
6. Huff, Reid, Colonel, U.S. Army: "White Paper: Information Dominance" (Fort Huachuca, AZ: U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, 1995), 1.
Mr. McConville is in the Army Reserve and a Project Task Manager for GTE Government Systems Corporation. Before leaving active military service, Captain McConville served with the U.S. Army Intelligence Center's Information Operations Task Force. He served in various intelligence assignments during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Mr. McConville has a bachelor of arts degree in Government and Politics from George Mason University, and a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College. Readers can reach him at (703) 247-9218, or via E-mail at jmcconville@mtv.gtegsc.com.