Are We Winning, or Even Fighting, the Information War?

By Dr. Ann Griffiths, 25 May 2022

For a while, ‘traditional’ war – i.e., war between the militaries of states – seemed to have gone the way of the dodo bird. But the idea that military warfare is over was a fantasy. But there is no denying that the scope of warfare has broadened. There are growing complexities, including threats from land and sea to space, cyber and information. We have asymmetric war, gray zone warfare and hybrid warfare in addition to the ‘traditional’ methods of war. Are there clear lines between war and peace? In the West we seem to think so, but is this accurate? For Western militaries, information warfare is often placed in the category of electronic warfare or cyber security/warfare, focusing particularly on Information Technology networks, infrastructure, users and related activities. Some analysts, however, are beginning to place information operations outside the framework of cyber operations/security and into their own domain of warfare. By destroying a state’s unity and will to fight, information operations can be devastating. Disinformation and deception in warfare are not new. What’s new is the means to conduct the operations. Information operations via social media are effective, low cost and anonymous. They can alter an adversary’s perceptions of a situation, and if successful guide the public of the adversary into pushing for decisions that are likely not in their country’s interest. Has the West grasped the power of information operations? We think we are at peace right now, but they are already working to undermine the West. For a great discussion of the topic of information warfare/operations, see the newest in the Naval Association of Canada’s Briefing Note series, available at https://www.navalassoc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/BN46-InfoOps.pdf

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