The objective of this course is to (1) introduce the student to the basic concepts of information operations and information warfare in the context of psychological strategy; (2) develop an understanding of the use of information as a tool of statecraft and as a weapon of war; and (3) analyze our strengths and weaknesses, and those of our potential adversaries, in this realm.
This course explores the evolving concepts of information operations (e.g., psychological operations, information superiority, information warfare, and information assurance) as elements of U.S. national security. Issues include:
- With the exception of certain security functions, all information operations must be devised and executed in conformity with an overall psychological strategy.
- Manipulation of an adversary’spolitical and military command and control or even his associated national strategic infrastructure networks with conventional as well as information-based systems.
- The use of information systems to carry out advanced types of electronic warfare across a range of targets.
- The “superior use” of information itself (particularly its “content”) in international politics, and especially in the battle-space during war.
- Manipulation of the content of the information in both peacetime interstate relations and in warfare (e.g., psychological operations and perception management) in their definition of information warfare.
- Information operations is not a fundamentally new type of warfare, but the failure to understand its potential as an offensive tool and the vulnerabilities inherent in such conflict presents potentially grave strategic threats to the United States and other countries with a high dependency on information- and network-based economies.
This emerging subject of information warfare, part of which is called “cyberwar” because of its use of computers and communications networks, and the societal element which is called “netwar,” is considered revolutionary because it renders geographical distances mostly irrelevant, costs relatively little, blurs the boundaries between warfare and criminal activity, and poses new challenges for policy, intelligence, and military operations as well as problems in the important function of warning (for example, in assessing an attack on the US information infrastructure).
Conceptually, at least, information warfare becomes strategic warfare when it includes attacks on a country’s national information networks that are designed to affect strategic military operations and capabilities or to damage the critical national infrastructures of the homeland sanctuary.