OVERVIEW - INFORMATION OPERATIONS
1.1Information underpins all operational and management functions, and capabilities within thedefence organisations. It is a fundamental resource critical in commander’s decision-makingprocesses. Increasingly military decision-making is becoming dependent on information systems (IS)
for moving, sorting, manipulating and exploiting available information. With the spread ofcommunication systems, information is also attaining a national and global dimension. Exploitation ofthis dependence on information as a critical component of commander’s decision-making processes isachieved through a concept called ‘Information Operations’ (IO).1.2IO, like other forms of military operations, are activities that are planned and executed, canbe conducted in phases, can involve direct and indirect approaches, require resources, utilisecapabilities to greater or lesser degrees depending upon the particular operation, and require doctrineand training. IO would normally be used in concert with combat operations and military supportoperations, but can also stand-alone.
A national threat
1.3IO presents particular challenges to the military due to the wider range of potentialprotagonists that can be involved. The low entry costs associated with the conduct of basic IOmultiplies the threat and offers a range of non state-actors new avenues to conduct business. Suchactors include Issue Motivated Groups (IMGs), Non Government Organisations and disgruntledindividuals. Additionally, the lack of strategic intelligence against some of these potential actors andreduced warning time of likely activities complicates the defensive task.1.4Therefore, offensive IO activity against Australia must be seen as a significant nationalthreat. Such activity involves shaping national perceptions through manipulation of information,disrupting daily activities of national life through interference with national information infrastructure, aswell as attacking a nation’s capacity to wage war.1.5IO threats are not easily discernible or characterised. Intelligence therefore is critical indetermining intent and capability, and for the successful exploitation of the IO concept. Detailedintelligence on decision-makers and their supporting decision-making processes, for a wide range ofadversaries, must be provided. The global nature of the information age makes this a challenging task.
IO are defined as:
‘Actions taken to defend and enhance ones own information, information processes and information systems and to affect adversary information, information processes and information systems
1.6IO brings together a wide range of related activities focussed on or related to information.There is by no means a broad consensus, either within the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO) orexternal to it, as to what exactly constitutes IO. Consequently, IO may be portrayed as a range ofinterrelationships at all levels. Figure 1 represents this from a Defence centric perspective at thenational level, depicting IO as the overlap of military operations, IS, relevant friendly information onthose systems, and intelligence. Additionally, it shows the diverse range of interrelationships thataffect IO.