FM 3-0 Operations for Civilian Irregular Supporters

1-15. Irregular threats are those posed by an opponent employing unconventional, asymmetric methods and means to counter traditional U.S. advantages. A weaker enemy often uses irregular warfare to exhaust the U.S. collective will through protracted conflict. Irregular warfare includes such means as terrorism, insurgency,and guerrilla warfare. Economic, political, informational, and cultural initiatives usually accompany and may even be the chief means of irregular attacks on U.S. influence.


1-26. A political analysis also addresses the effect of will. Will is the primary intangible factor; it motivates participants to sacrifice to persevere against obstacles. Understanding the motivations of key groups (for example, political, military, and insurgent) helps clarify their goals and willingness to sacrifice to achieve their ends.

1-34. Joint doctrine defines the information environment as the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information (JP 3-13). The environment shaped by information includes leaders, decisionmakers, individuals, and organizations. The global community’s access and use of data, media, and knowledge systems occurs in the information shaped by the operational environment. Commanders use information engagement to shape the operational environment as part of their operations. (Paragraphs 7-10 through 7-22 discuss information engagement.)


1-35. Media representatives significantly influence the information that shapes the operational environment.  Broadcast and Internet media sources can rapidly disseminate competing views of military operations worldwide. Adversaries often seek to further their aims by controlling and manipulating how audiences at all levels perceive a situation’s content and context. Media coverage influences U.S. political decisionmaking, popular opinion, and multinational sensitivities.

1-36. Complex telecommunications networks now provide much of the globe with a vast web of communications capabilities. Observers and adversaries have unprecedented access to multiple information sources. They often attempt to influence opinion by providing their own interpretation of events. Televised news and propaganda reach many people. However, in developing countries, information still may flow by less sophisticated means such as messengers and graffiti. Understanding the various means of communications is important. Observers and adversaries control information flow and influence audiences at all levels.


1-43. Army forces interact with people at many levels. In general, the people in any operational area can be categorized as enemies, adversaries, supporters, and neutrals. One reason land operations are complex is that all four categories are intermixed, often with no easy means to distinguish one from another. They are defined as—

An enemy is a party identified as hostile against which the use of force is authorized. An enemy is also called a combatant and is treated as such under the law of war.

An adversary is a party acknowledged as potentially hostile to a friendly party and against which the use of force may be envisaged (JP 3-0). Adversaries include members of the local populace who sympathize with the enemy.

A supporter is a party who sympathizes with friendly forces and who may or may not provide material assistance to them.

A neutral is a party identified as neither supporting nor opposing friendly or enemy forces.


1-86. The disciplined and informed application of lethal and nonlethal force is a critical contributor to successful Army operations and strategic success. All warfare, but especially irregular warfare, challenges the morals and ethics of Soldiers. An enemy may feel no compulsion to respect international conventions and indeed may commit atrocities with the aim of provoking retaliation in kind. Any loss of discipline on the part of Soldiers is then distorted and exploited in propaganda and magnified through the media. The ethical challenge rests heavily on small-unit leaders who maintain discipline and ensure that the conduct of Soldiers remains within ethical and moral boundaries. There are compelling reasons for this. First, humane treatment of detainees encourages enemy surrender and thereby reduces friendly losses. Conversely, nothing emboldens enemy resistance like the belief that U.S. forces will kill or torture prisoners. Second, humane treatment of noncombatants reduces their antagonism toward U.S. forces and may lead to valuable intelligence. Third, leaders make decisions in action fraught with consequences. If they lack an ethical foundation, those decisions become much, much harder. Finally, Soldiers must live with the consequences  of their conduct. Every leader shoulders the responsibility that their subordinates return from a campaign not only as good Soldiers, but also as good citizens with pride in their service to the Nation.





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