Information Warfare and its 18th and 19th Century Roots
USMA Research Unit Affiliation
Army Cyber Institute
For Joint Force leaders to visualize and describe how the operational environment shapes the range of military operations, they must have a deep understanding of the capabilities comprising the multi-domain battlefield. The information environment, which Joint Publication (JP) 3-13 defines as the “aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information,” is intrinsically linked to the traditional land, air, maritime and space domains. Moreover, the rapid advancement and application of technologies has directly facilitated the use of information-related capabilities in Joint Force operations. The orchestrated use of these information activities, commonly known as “information operations”, aims to gain strategic and operational advantages in the information environment. These advantages are often gained through the manipulation of the information environment using information operations (IO), which, according to JP 3-13, are the “integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.” Some historians hold that information warfare dates from the beginning of the 20th century, noting, for example, that the French army conducted IO activities in the First World War, using electronic warfare techniques that enabled the interception of wireless and telephone communications. Yet, history confirms otherwise - appreciation for the value of intelligence dates to Sun Tzu and earlier, and 18th and 19th century leaders conducted information warfare using information-related intelligence gathering, military deception, military information support operations, and operations security. Examining these roots of modern-day information operations can yield valuable insights.
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