What Role Does Information Operations Play in the Military

Information operations is the acquisition and accumulation of information about a combatant that is used to defend our military and country. To translate knowledge into military application, the role of information operations extends beyond intelligence. In many cases, data collection is followed by the dissemination of propaganda in order to achieve the main goal of information operations: to gain an advantage over adversaries.


Assembly of intelligence can involve tactics, strategy or other sensitive information, and information operations uses it to sever or manipulate the plans of opponents while leveraging the information for our own defense strategy. Information operations is an ongoing process that involves continuous learning in the defense industry. Use of the term “information operations” in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard implies a broad approach that acknowledges the necessity of information being applied in peace and war. Furthermore, this term highlights the impact of information as an operational approach to knowledge-based warfare.


To inhibit the decision-making capabilities of military opponents, information operations must employ efficient use of intelligence, leadership and information system resources. Strong information operations incorporate all three principles to develop a seamless flow of information and achieve a competitive advantage. Let’s take a closer look at each of these key areas:


  • Intelligence

Intelligence is the backbone that reinforces information operations; it fuels both the front and back ends of operations. The most important consideration with regards to intelligence is the component of time. Information processing is a fast-changing practice, while the acquired information itself is always subject to change, creating a constant race against time in military defense. This dynamic essence of the intelligence environment requires that information be delivered as quickly as possible because it can have a direct impact on accuracy, reliability and validity. To yield actionable data and results, information operations should seek continuous process improvement to frequently evaluate intelligence acquisition methods and stay up to date on technological innovation in defense logistics.


  • Leadership

Leadership takes its prime role in information operations as battle command. Successful information operations is embodied by highly skilled commanders, officers and military leadership who can confidently visualize the battle front. This leadership must be able to use that visualization to aid in the processing of intelligence and translate operational end goals to planners. To achieve the goals of information operations, officers in these roles should exhibit strong decision-making and critical-thinking skills to analyze the intelligence environment and coordinate battle command as joint operations. Battle visualization is a form of information operations that directly applies data to physical circumstances in the future.


  • Information Systems

Information systems are the infrastructure of information operations. Information operations is heavily dependent on information systems to acquire, store and analyze information for military gain. These systems typically take the form of technology, communication or software developments, where information is able to be quickly accessed and translated anywhere. Additionally, one of the most important aspects of information operations requires that information systems are secure. Storing intelligence in a way that can be leaked or hacked by adversaries creates a larger threat and greater disadvantage for information operations. In all, information systems and related technology should be continuously tested and evaluated with significant intelligence support to achieve successful information operations in the military.


Information operations is the epitome of what it means to “fight on the information battlefield.” In this battle, information operations is not simply independent operations; it requires joint operations and interaction between various systems, intelligence and leadership. Information operations fall within the global information environment (GIE) with key elements based around development of data acquisition, technology in defense logistics and information systems, and informed decision-making capabilities. This intelligence-backed work is what allows the military to defend our country, make predictions regarding adversaries and carry out goal-oriented warfare.


Looking to learn more about information operations? Advance your information operations in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard with the Institute for Defense and Business. Our IB2:IO program offers an industry-based broadening of knowledge for information operations. The program is designed as a resource for high-potential O-4 officers in information operations or related areas such as cyberspace operations and military information support. The goal of this program is to provide officers with best practices from experts in the industry to gain an operations advantage based on information. By completing this course, officers will have a broader, cross-disciplinary perspective on information operations in the military and strengthened leadership skills with which to apply their knowledge.


About the Institute for Defense and Business


The Institute for Defense and Business (IDB) delivers educational programs and research to teach, challenge and inspire leaders who work with and within the defense enterprise to achieve next-level results for their organization. IDB features curriculum in Logistics, Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management, Complex Industrial Leadership, Strategic Studies, Global Business and Defense Studies, Continuous Process Improvement, and Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction. Visit www.IDB.org or contact us on our website for more information.




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