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    Information is no longer a staff function but an operational one. It is deadly as well as useful.
    --- Executive Summary, Air Force 2025 report

    Joint DefinitionsBack to Top

      According to Joint Publication 3-13 Information Operations (13 February 2006)

      Information Operations The integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own. Also called IO.

      Electronic Warfare. Any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy. Also called EW.

        The three major subdivisions within electronic warfare are: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.
          a. electronic attack. That division of electronic warfare involving the use of electromagnetic energy, directed energy, or antiradiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability and is considered a form of fires. Also called EA. EA includes:
            1) actions taken to prevent or reduce an enemyís effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as jamming and electromagnetic deception, and
            2) employment of weapons that use either electromagnetic or directed energy as their primary destructive mechanism (lasers, radio frequency weapons, particle beams).
          b. electronic protection. That division of electronic warfare involving passive and active means taken to protect personnel, facilities, and equipment from any effects of friendly or enemy employment of electronic warfare that degrade, neutralize, or destroy friendly combat capability. Also called EP.
          c. electronic warfare support. That division of electronic warfare involving actions tasked by, or under direct control of, an operational commander to search for, intercept, identify, and locate or localize sources of intentional and unintentional radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition, targeting, planning and conduct of future operations. Thus, electronic warfare support provides information required for decisions involving electronic warfare operations and other tactical actions such as threat avoidance, targeting, and homing. Also called ES. Electronic warfare support data can be used to produce signals intelligence, provide targeting for electronic or destructive attack, and produce measurement and signature intelligence.

      Computer Network Operations. Comprised of computer network attack, computer network defense, and related computer network exploitation enabling operations. Also called CNO.

        computer network attack. Actions taken through the use of computer networks to disrupt,deny, degrade, or destroy information resident in computers and computer networks, or the computers and networks themselves. Also called CNA.
        computer network defense. Actions taken through the use of computer networks to protect, monitor, analyze, detect and respond to unauthorized activity within Department of Defense information systems and computer networks. Also called CND.
        computer network exploitation. Enabling operations and intelligence collection capabilities conducted through the use of computer networks to gather data from target or adversary automated information systems or networks. Also called CNE.

      Psychological Operations. Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originatorís objectives. Also called PSYOP.

      Military Deception. Actions executed to deliberately mislead adversary military decision makers as to friendly military capabilities, intentions, and operations, thereby causing the adversary to take specific actions (or inactions) that will contribute to the accomplishment of the friendly forces mission. Also called MILDEC.

      Operations Security. A process of identifying critical information and subsequently analyzing friendly actions attendant to military operations and other activities to:

        a. identify those actions that can be observed by adversary intelligence systems;
        b. determine indicators that hostile intelligence systems might obtain that could be interpreted or pieced together to derive critical information in time to be useful to adversaries; and
        c. select and execute measures that eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the vulnerabilities of friendly actions to adversary exploitation.
      Also called OPSEC.


    Air Force DefinitionsBack to Top

      Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5 Information Operations (11 January 2005), like Army, Navy and USMC doctrine, complements the related joint discussion in JP 3-13 (above) by providing a distinctive perspective from the USAF missions in air, space and cyberspace.

      From the USAF perspective, then,

      Information Operations. Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one's own information and information systems. Also called IO.

        [Information operations are the integrated employment of the core capabilities of influence operations, electronic warfare operations, network warfare operations, in concert with specified integrated control enablers, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.] (AFDD 2-5) {Italicized definition in brackets applies only to the Air Force and is offered for clarity.}

      Influence Operations. Employment of capabilities to affect behaviors, protect operations, communicate commanderís intent, and project accurate information to achieve desired effects across the cognitive domain. These effects should result in differing behavior or a change in the adversary decision cycle, which aligns with the commanderís objectives.

      Influence operations are focused on affecting the perceptions and behaviors of leaders, groups, or entire populations. Influence operations employ capabilities to affect behaviors, protect operations, communicate commanderís intent, and project accurate information to achieve desired effects across the cognitive domain. These effects should result in differing behavior or a change in the adversaryís decision cycle, which aligns with the commanderís objectives. The military capabilities of influence operations are psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), operations security (OPSEC), counterintelligence (CI) operations, counterpropaganda operations and public affairs (PA) operations.

        Psychological Operations Focused on the cognitive domain of the battlespace, PSYOP targets the mind of the adversary. In general, PSYOP seeks to induce, influence, or reinforce the perceptions, attitudes, reasoning, and behavior of foreign leaders, groups, and organizations in a manner favorable to friendly national and military objectives. PSYOP supports these objectives through the calculated use of air, space, and IO with special emphasis on psychological effects-based targeting. Operationally, it provides the COMAFFOR/JFACC an effective and versatile means of exploiting the psychological vulnerabilities of hostile forces to create fear, confusion, and paralysis, thus undermining their morale and fighting spirit.

        Military Deception Military deception (MILDEC) misleads or manages the perception of adversaries, causing them to act in accordance with friendly objectives. Military deception will not intentionally target or mislead the US public, Congress, or the news media.

        Operations Security Operations security (OPSEC) is an activity that helps prevent our adversaries from gaining and exploiting critical information. OPSEC is not a collection of specific rules and instructions that can be applied to every operation, it is a methodology that can be applied to any operation or activity for the purpose of denying critical information to the adversary. Critical information consists of information and indicators that are sensitive, but unclassified. OPSEC aims to identify any unclassified activity or information that, when analyzed with other activities and information, can reveal protected and important friendly operations, information, or activities.

        Counterintelligence Counterintelligence (CI) is defined as information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, or foreign persons, or international terrorist activities.
        Click here for Counterintelligence on the AWC Gateway to Intelligence

        Counterpropaganda. Counterpropaganda operations are activities to identify and counter adversary propaganda and expose adversary attempts to influence friendly populations and military forces situational understanding. They involve those efforts to negate, neutralize, diminish the effects of, or gain an advantage from foreign psychological operations or propaganda efforts. Numerous organizations and capabilities (e.g., ISR activities, public affairs, or other military units and commanders) can identify adversarial propaganda operations attempting to influence friendly populations and military forces. Commanders at all levels should integrate activities designed to disseminate truthful information; mitigate adversary messages; and disrupt, degrade, and disable adversary psychological operations.

        Public Affairs Operations Commanders conduct PA operations to assess the information environment in areas such as public opinion and to recognize political, social, and cultural shifts. Public affairs operations are a key component of informational flexible deterrent options and build commandersí predictive awareness of the international public information environment and the means to use information to take offensive and preemptive defensive actions in Air Force operations. Public affairs operations are the lead activity and the first line of defense against adversary propaganda and disinformation. Falsehoods are easily identified when the truth is well known. Public affairs operations should be coordinated and deconflicted with other activities of influence operations because communication technology can make information simultaneously available to domestic and international audiences. Public affairs operations must never be used to mislead the public, national leaders, or the media.
        Click here for PA page on the AWC Gateway to Public Affairs

      Electronic Warfare Operations. The integrated planning, employment, and assessment of military capabilities to achieve desired effects across the electromagnetic domain in support of operational objectives. Also called EW Ops.

        Electronic warfare operates across the electromagnetic spectrum, including radio, visible, infrared, microwave, directed energy, and all other frequencies. It is responsible for coordination and deconfliction of all friendly uses of the spectrum (air, land, sea, and space) as well as attacking and denying enemy uses. For this reason it is a historically important coordinating element in all operations, especially as current and future friendly uses of the electromagnetic spectrum multiply. The military capabilities of electronic warfare operations are electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support.

      Network Warfare Operations. Network warfare operations are the integrated planning and employment of military capabilities to achieve desired effects across the interconnected analog and digital portion of the battlespace. Network warfare operations are conducted in the information domain through the dynamic combination of hardware, software, data, and human interaction. Also called NW Ops.

        Network warfare operations Networks in this context are defined as any collection of systems transmitting information. Examples include, but are not limited to, radio nets, satellite links,tactical digital information links (TADIL), telemetry, digital track files, telecommunications, and wireless communications networks and systems. The operational activities of network warfare operations are network attack (NetA), network defense (NetD) and network warfare support (NS).

      Information Warfare

      The older Joint definition of Information Warfare (below) has been removed from JP 3-13.

        Information Warfare. -- Information operations conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries. Also called IW.

      The USAF, however, retains the idea of Information Warfare in AFDD 2-5 as:

        The theory of warfare in the information environment that guides the application of information operations to produce specific battlespace effect in support of commander's objectives. This italicized definition applies only to the Air Force and is offered for clarity.
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