Information Operations - A NATO View
NATO IMS has been working very hard at the policy level for almost two years
to bring NATO into the Information Age. We have introduced NATO to the
concepts of Information Operations and found a way to make sense of the many
conflicting terms and approaches that are being offered. As a result we obtained
Nations approval of the INFO OPS concept and we expect approval of policy
stemming from this concept to be agreed later this month. But before I get too
deep into our discussion of INFO OPS, I am obliged to give a bit of history,
explaining how we arrived at this point. An that discussion has to start with a
look at Command and Control Warfare (C2W).
C2W as we know it today Grew out of the Gulf War. Its first practitioner was Gen
Norman Schwartzkopf in 1990-91, whose aim included neutralizing the Iraqi national
command authority’s ability to direct military operations. The Coalition forces worked
hard and successfully to isolate Iraqi military units from their command centers, (at all
levels). The Multi-National nature of the Coalition Forces and high world media
attention contributed to the integration of other capabilities, both military & strategic to
help contribute to Gen Schwartzkopf s aim.
The Soviet doctrine of Radio-Electronic Combat (REC) illustrated between
1976 - 79 how effective Command & Control was the key to success on the
battlefield. In the early 80’s (1981) the US doctrine of C3CM was offered to
NATO but rejected. NATO pursued C-C3 as a doctrine instead. One of the
problems with how NATO did this was that C-C3 became the purview of
specialists, the EW community. NATO C-C3 is no longer current policy.
Within NATO, C2W is the next logical extensionof Air-land Battle and Followon
Forces Attack, two military strategies that were espoused by the US in NATO
and formed part of the basic NATO military strategy during the cold war.
Effective command and control (C2) is the key to success in modem
military operations. This implies that we must have complete use of our own C2
systems while simultaneously denying or interfering with enemy C2 systems in
order to achieve this success on the battlefield. Today, highly sophisticated
communication systems, computers, databases and networks which form the
backbone of the C2 system are found at all levels of the military and civilian
The elements of a command and control system are: Human and machine
sensors; databases; processors; decision makers and communications systems.
All of these elements are required for a Commander to exercise control of his
forces. These are the elements which we must protect to ensure friendly
dominance on the battlefield. They are also the elements that we must target in
an adversary’s C2 capability.
This slide represents the NATO-agreed view of C2W as laid down in MC
348, NATO C2W policy, which was approved by the North Atlantic Council in
1995. This picture is supposed to illustrate the idea that each of the disciplines can
stand on their own but that an operation is more effective when all capabilitiesnot
just the 5 shown here—but when all military capabilities work together. To
me, this is the significance of C2W. It is why, in my view, you can apply it to
any operation, even if your aim is peace support. You will always want to
coordinate all the disciplines that you bring to an operation. For example, we
must not waste the efforts of our forces by simultaneously seeking to jam or
destroy a target headquarters while also using it as a Signals Intelligence source.
That’s pretty obvious, but not so obvious is the need to coordinate very carefully
and deliberately our Alliance Political & Diplomatic efforts with Public Affairs,
CIMIC and PSYOPS.
We have gotten a lot of use out of this chart in explaining the NATO view of
C2W. I would just point out that the pillars look a lot like stovepipes. One of
the biggest challenges is in getting each of the pillars to work together.
C2W is defined within NATO as shown on this slide. “The integrated use of
all military capabilities including operations security, military deception,
psychological operations, electronic warfare and physical destruction; supported
by all source intelligence and communication and information systems; to deny
information to, influence, degrade or destroy an adversary’s C2 capabilities
while protecting friendly C2 capabilities against similar actions Also called
The US Definition from their CJCS MOP 30 does not mention all military
capabilities, just the 5 specific ones. It does not mention all source or CIS, but
these are assumed.
The UK definition is the same as NATO’s but adds protection of friendly
Intelligence and CIS at the end.
Counter C2 and C2 Protect are the two complimentary areas of NATO C2W.
C2W and INFO OPS are also concerned with the use of information through
technology. We talk of OODA loops and decision cycles. We have reduced the
time it takes to traverse the cycle and yet also provide unprecedented volumes of
information to our commanders in the field. We talk of separating the enemy
commander (or the head) from effective control of his forces (the body). This is
done by denying him information or flooding him with information of our
choosing. We acknowledge that on one hand we are increasingly dependant on
Information Systems to conduct our decision process. On the other we realise
there is a threat element that seeks to gain access to and in some cases alter or
destroy these Info systems. Essentially, I’ve just provided NATO’s C2W concept.
The key to successful C2W is to get inside the C2 cycle and interrupt or
break the cycle through C2 superiority. C2W offers the joint commander the
ability to shape the adversary commander’s estimate of the situation in the
theatre of operations and thereby convince him that he has lost prior to engaging
in battle. This is done by disrupting the cycle, slowing down the processing of
information, influencing the estimate process, and protecting your decision
cycle, this, in essence is the focus of C2W.
To summarize this part of the briefing. The NATO C2W policy was
approved by the Defence Planning Committee in Sep 95 and the Policy was
issued by MC 348(Final) dated 12 Oct 95. Our NATO Doctrine is in initial
stages but can be found in AJP-01 Allied Joint Doctrine. C2W will be
incorporated throughout AJP-3, Joint Operations Doctrine, when it is written.
C2W has been written into NATO exercises and OPLANS. As we gain
experience with applying C2W, what is written becomes increasingly more
relevant to operations. All NATO’s military capabilities apply to NATO C2W
along with the supporting functions of intelligence and communications. C2W
is an operational 'issue. There is now a NATO IMS forum assigned to discuss
C2W Policy changes. The NEWAC has been discussing C2W more than mpst
groups, however, EW is only one of the Pillars of C2W. EW has its own Policy :
MC 64/8, which refers to C2W. The NATO PSYOPS Policy : MC 402 was
developed by the NATO PSYOPS Working Group also mentions C2W.
NATO’s Military Concept for Peace Support Operations : MC 327 includes
C2W as a strategy with application across the spectrum of conflict and even in
peace restoration endeavours.
Let me turn now to a look at the way ahead for NATO. As we have tried to
build consensus on the way forward, we found it necessary to build on our C2W
policy for the reasons I mentioned earlier. In September 1997, the Military
Committee agreed on a plan to continue to develop C2W and also introduce the
new concept of Information Operations. This slide attempts to show that our
C2W policy provides the nucleus of a broader concept of “Information
Operations.” C2W relates to military capabilities, but the Alliance has more than
just military capabilities. We have chosen a way forward that builds on a broad
framework embracing both military and political aspects, and all based on our
The US and Canada have adopted the term Information Operations (after a
lot of debate) to cover a broad range of activities, both civil and military, in and
outside of government, conducted during peace, crisis and war. Information
related activity continues across the spectrum of conflict, but increases as a
nation moves into a crisis.
There are many elements of national and economic security shown here.
They are closely inter-related through an information systems infrastucture. For
any Nation, each of these clouds exemplify areas where the Nation’s security
may be affected if a computer system is attacked by someone intent upon
malicious damage. What happens to one naition’s information infrastructure
might well affect others, and this therefore concerns all NATO Allies. What is
the threat we must protect against? Anything that would disrupt our information
systems. The area requiring our most careful examination is the bottom arrow.
The smart “malicious actor” will ensure that his work will appear like one of the
more common problems. But the arrow to the right bears watching as well.
The US Department of Defence has estimated that there are as many as
250,000 attacks on its systems each year. Only a small fraction of these, usually
the most crude intrusion, are actually detected. For NATO, a Special Committee
report on ADP security [AC/46-D/1515 (Revised), 17 Jan 96] advised that
independent “Hackers” are an intelligence source to non-NATO nations and that
NATO information systems were vulnerable to intrusion. The US DOD recently
briefed NATO on the subject of a significant computer attack on several DOD
systems by several young computer hackers.
It is unlikely that a potential adversary could match NATO’s conventional
forces in a direct attack. But adversaries with few resources can still wage war
against the Alliance if they choose options that level the playing field. Our
dependence on information systems (such as ADAMS, CRONOS, etc) makes us
vulnerable to an intelligent opponent who, with a personal computer and a
modem, can damage our political and military capabilities by inserting erroneous
information. Selective physical destruction of communications nodes could also
have a crippling effect.
Similarly, an adversary with access to the media may launch an information
campaign against the Alliance: “War by CNN” so to speak. The North Atlantic
Assembly (NAA) of NATO Parliamentarians made several policy recommendations
to NATO following their 43rd Annual Session, including Resolution
276 concerning Information Warfare. The Secretary General provided NATO
UNCLASSIFIED comments to agree with this recommendation. These
comments were staffed by the International Staff/Defence Planning and
Operations (DPAO) Division with the concurrence of IMS OPS
NATO and Nations have agreed the need to address Information Warfare
since first discussing the issue in a Military Committee meeting in March 97.
IMS OPS was tasked to develop a concept and policy. There are several
Classified Intelligence Assessments: The NATO Intelligence Board has received
a Working Paper on Information Warfare from its Science and Technology
Working Group that has been useful in contributing to NATO Intelligence
estimates (MC 161, MC 165). INFO OPS is included in several other major
NATO Intelligence documents such as the General Intelligence Estimate and
NATO Indications and Warnings System. The NATO Air Defence Committee
has written it into their Airpower Doctrine papers. SHAPE has written it into
Bosnia and KOSOWO OPLANS and AFCENT exercised INFO OPS during
Allied Effort in Feb 98.
While NATO has been implementing its C2W policy, some nations are
discussing the broader concept of Information Warfare, which refers to
dominating the area of information itself.
For example, the US has a growing number of Joint and Single Service
organisations [JC2WC, AFIWC, LIWA, NFIWC] that deal with information
warfare, and has deployed Information Warfare resources to Bosnia to help
protect SFOR’s information systems.
Other NATO nations have information policies and are establishing
government level groups. It has been estimated that 120 countries have
established IW capabilities to take advantage of adversary OPSEC weaknesses
(US National Security Agency).
After all Nations in the MC have agreed a plan to develop an Information
Operations policy and assign resources to this area six working group meetings
and a high level NATO HQ Symposium resulted in a Policy paper approved
under Military Committee Silence Procedure on 2 December 98. The document
will be sent on 15 December 1998 to the Secretary General with the request that
the North Atlantic Council be invited to approve it. A C2W / Info Ops Working
Group has been formed and nations will be invited to identify specialists to
attend the meetings.
You should know that INFO OPS has been purposely held back from
inclusion in the policy papers shown here. We wanted to get agreement on the
concept and Policy before these papers are amended to reflect NATO thinking.
This is intentional and designed to avoid creating confusion and misconceptions
about the subject.
We need to amend all of these documents fairly quickly now that the
Concept is agreed.
Nations approved the Policy paper in the Military Committee. IMS resource
implications are being considered, which may require a full time position
assigned to C2W and INFO OPS in IMS OPS Division. This staff element
would be responsible to assist, submit or coordinate INFO OPS doctrine for the
various MAS Boards and Working Groups.
Now let’s take a look at the concept itself. First the definition. Information
Operations are “actions taken to influence decision makers in support of political
and military objectives by affecting other’s information, information based
processes, C2 Systems, and CIS while exploiting and protecting one’s own
information and/or Information Systems.” This definition differs slightly from
the US view in that it places emphasis on influencing the decision maker and the
defensive aspects of INFO OPS.
We have also clearly indicated the need for use of INFO OPS in connection
with NATO’s political and military objectives. The need for political consultation
(the first C in NATO C3 - Consultation, Command and Control) is
implied. The lead in to the policy paper gives some general overview principles.
Primary of which is the fact that NATO INFO OPS does not replace NATO
The NATO definitions are included at Annex B of the document. Assessing
a DEFINED ADVERSARY’S vulnerabilities is considered a defensive INFO
OPS action. This may be considered like gathering intelligence on a known
The Policy goes further to consider how NATO should implement
Defensive INFO OPS.
This is the area of Offensive INFO OPS. Assessing other’s vulnerabilities,
without defining the others as adversaries, may be considered as offensive INFO
The Policy explains how NATO should go about implementing offensive
The key issues here, I think, are the necessity for control mechanisms such
as political consultation and rules of engagement. There is always a need for
coordination and successful INFO OPS depends strongly on it.
Clearly, INFO OPS is an important and sometimes complex subject which
deserves NATO’s attention. Here is the summary:
- INFO OPS is now official within NATO. We have an agreed at 16
- Nations want to see NATO continue with INFO OPS development.
We’ve seen this from politicians (NAA, Sec Gen), Intelligence and
many other Military committees, and, more importantly from our
ongoing operations and exercises.
- The political side of NATO must be involved. C2W is the coordinátion
of all military activites, therefore INFO OPS must be broader than
military, thus requiring NAC involvement.
- MNCs need direction in this area to get on with their operations and
- We have a working group formed, but will need to address manpower
implications very seriously at the IMS Manpower Review.
- Eventually, we will see INFO OPS doctrine, and when this is done, the
MAS will coordinate and standardize NATO INFO OPS doctrine in our
AJPs and ATPs.
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