The Enemy Has No Rules

LTC Norman E. Emery, Irregular Warfare Information Operations:
Understanding the Role of People, Capabilities and Effects

The non-state actor reigns supreme in the Information Environment. Information is the commodity with which it purchases cooperation, survivability, perceptions of victories, and silence amongst supporters. The terrorist and insurgent do not have an IO doctrine, which is a Western term. They use three broad methods in their information effects strategy: Projection of its message to various target audiences, Protection of vital information to enhance survivability and decision making, and Collection of information on its enemies.28 Our adversaries have a strong understanding how to leverage the IE, and the US military should not abdicate that battlespace in pursuit of perpetual raids and kill/capture operations. Because the AGF does not have military parity with the U.S., it seeks its successes not on the streets but in the information environment, where it uses its advantage of not being bound by the rules and ethics of responsibly releasing truthful information. The enemy has no rules. It can exaggerate claims, sensationalize events, omit facts, purposely mislead, and release information quickly to the media without extensive staffing. In decades past, the method of reaching audiences was traditional media, but now largely depends on the asymmetric and ubiquitous Internet realm, where ―the keyboard equals Kalashnikov.‖2930 In the IW environment, the gap between US military and adversaries‘ capabilities and use of various means of media and the Internet is much smaller than the gap between their respective military forces capabilities. Islamic terrorist and insurgent groups whom we once considered ignorant and primitive are making effective use of cyberspace as a message and communication medium. The concern is not just command and control via the Internet, which is to be expected in the 21st Century, but the proliferation of messaging and propaganda directly connected to AGF engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as it relates to causing or exploiting U.S. and allied casualties. Groups boosting video output include those affiliated in Iraq‘s predominately Sunni Arab insurgency, as well as the Taliban, who ironically opposed cameras when it ruled Afghanistan.31 Inevitably, before long other extremists groups will adopt this practice. Libyan firebrand Abu Laith ―al-Libi recently urged Islamic insurgents in Somalia, who have mostly ignored the medium, to begin using videos to foster awareness of their fight.‖32 Information Operations not only projects our messages, but also seek to deny and degrade adversarial messages and deny his access and effectiveness on the Internet. Countering these videos is of urgent importance, because research shows that ―Internet chat rooms and forums are replacing mosques as venues for recruitment and radicalization.‖33 This course of action requires the ability and willingness of the US military to directly and indirectly engage adversarial operations and propaganda on the Internet.

The terrorist and insurgent do not have an IO doctrine — but they do have an As Sahab and a GIMF, which, doctrinally-deficient as perhaps they are, still accomplish the propaganda mission.

Our adversaries have a strong understanding how to leverage the IE, and the US military should not abdicate that battlespace — the US military abdicated the domestic home front battlespace decades ago when they decide Smith-Mundt applied to them and strategic counterpropaganda wasn’t their job.

. . . the ability and willingness of the US military to directly and indirectly engage adversarial operations and propaganda on the Internet — is questionable. I have been looking for evidence of .mil competence in this area and haven’t found much to brag upon. INDIRECT engagement by plausibly deniable Irregular proxies may be happening. I would like to think so.

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