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Information Operations in Bosnia.

During Stabilization Force (SFOR) 9 in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Operation Joint Forge), the American-led Multi-National Division (North), as abbreviated MND(N),used information operations (IO) to accomplish its mission. The division's mission was to maintain a safe and secure environment and implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) in Bosnia.

We conducted IO to modify the attitudes, perceptions and behavior of key Bosnian decision-makers, groups and populations in a manner favorable to achieving the objectives of the SFOR and international community. IO generally tried to mitigate ethnic tensions left from the civil war and the poor state of the Bosnian economy and solve problems created by the return of displaced persons to their homes. IO involved engaging formal and informal Bosnian leaders at local, regional and national levels to both maintain a general dialogue and shape their behaviors and perceptions.

This article examines the structure of IO in MND(N) as well as how IO activities were planned, executed and assessed during SFOR 9. The division's IO cell planned, coordinated and synchronized IO while the Division's IO working group (IOWG) executed the operations. The military decision-making process (MDMP) and targeting methodology were integral to planning and synchronizing IO to achieve the desired effects.

IO Organization. The forthcoming FM 3-13 Information Operations, replacing FM 100-16, states that doctrinally, IO is composed of the 12 elements and two related activities shown in Figure 1. Due to the nature of its peacekeeping mission, the MND(N) did not integrate all the doctrinal elements of IO during SFOR 9, but the related activities of civil affairs (CA) and public affairs (PA) became primary components of the division's IO. CA, PA and psychological operations (PSYOP) were the "big guns" of IO.

Proponency for some of the elements of IO fell outside the the purview of the MND(N) IO cell. Elements such as operational security (OPSEC) counterintelligence and electronic warfare (EW) belonged to the G2. Information assurance was under the G6.

MND(N) IO integrated the elements of counterpropaganda, PSYOP, CA and PA with the actions of maneuver forces to influence and modify the attitudes,perceptions and behaviors of key decision-makers and groups. Counterdeception, physical destruction and computer network attack were not practiced in Bosnia.

IO Cell. The MND(N) IO cell was the staff agency responsible for planning, coordinating and synchronizing IO at the division level. The IO cell was structured around the 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized) fire support element (FSE) (-). A lieutenant colonel served as the chief of IO. The cell included current operations, plans, special projects/targeting, and intelligence sections.

The current operations section had two captains responsible for day-to-day operations, liaison with other division staff agencies, production of the division's monthly television show and synchronization of the IO cell's operations with other staff agencies and subordinate units.

The IO NCO-in-charge (NCOIC) and clerk (a corporal) fell under the current operations section and coordinated all logistical and administrative support for the IO cell. The NCOIC was responsible for maintaining the IO portion of MND(N) tactical web site (TACWEB) computer Internet. TACWEB was the division's conduit for staff agencies to share information classified up to Secret.

Each staff section maintained a home page. The IO cell maintained the critical "action tracker" on its home page, which essentially was the IO "fire support" matrix into which subordinate units input planned IO events and assessments of those events upon completion. Notes from division IO meetings were posted weekly as was IO-related intelligence information, including key Bosnian leader biographies.

The IO plans officer, a captain, worked with the division plans group to integrate IO into plans and orders. This included planning for the use of PSYOP, PA and coalition press information center (CPIC) assets. He was the critical link that enabled the IO cell to turn IO plans developed by the IOWG into division-level operations orders.

The IO cell's special projects and targeting section contained a captain and a chief warrant officer two. The special projects and targeting officer prepared and facilitated the weekly IO targeting meeting. The special projects officer and intelligence officer drafted bilateral ("Bilat") meeting preparation packets, defining the purpose and desired endstate of the meetings and containing talking points, themes and messages to be delivered by members of the division command group to Bosnian leaders. The special projects officer drafted IO concepts to support specific problem sets faced by the division. These included goals and supporting objectives, themes, messages, talking points and a scheme of execution.

The special projects warrant officer prepared and facilitated weekly IOWG meetings where the division's monthly IO strategy was developed. He produced monthly IO implementing instructions in the operation orders (OPORDs) format that communicated the IO plan developed by the IOWG for the upcoming month. He produced monthly "smart cards" containing talking points on various high-profile or routine issues about which SFOR soldiers and leaders on patrol or more senior leaders might be questioned by civilians or the media.

Having an intelligence officer who supported the IO cell full time proved crucial to IO success. He was responsible for the IO intelligence preparation of the environment (IPE), identifying key political, economic and social factors that created the environment as well as the individuals, organizations and groups functioning in and impacting on the environment.

He also conducted pattern analysis on environmental trends affecting near- and long-term events. For example, he tracked relationships between the occurrence of ethnically related incidents and the return of displaced persons to their homes in areas populated by a majority of another ethnicity.

The intelligence provided by the IO intel officer gave the IOWG a "situational template" against which to plan when creating monthly IO strategies and allowed the IO cell to focus the right themes, messages and methods of engagement in contentious areas.

In the targeting process, the intel officer identified individuals, groups and populations that were part of problem sets. He also identified relationships between these targets and pressure points that could be used to influence their perceptions or behaviors in a manner favorable to MND(N) goals and objectives for the problem set.

IOWG. Although the IO cell planned and managed the division's IO, the true measure of IO capabilities lay in the IOWG. The IOWG brought together the staff agencies with means to execute IO. The core group contained representatives of PSYOP, CPIC and the civil military cooperation battalion. Representatives from the Joint Military Commission (JMC), PA, provost marshall's office, division engineers, staff judge advocate and political adviser's office (POLAD) rounded out the IOWG.

Subordinate units were part of the IOWG and were represented at specific weekly meetings when the IO strategy for the upcoming month was briefed and when they presented their assessment of whether or not they had reached the division's IO goals and objectives for the month. The G2 and G3 sections were considered members of the IOWG but usually were not present at IOWG meetings because the IO intel officer was a liaison with the G2 section as was the IO plans officer with the G3 section.

The IOWG was the primary agency for planning, coordinating and synchronizing IO in support of steady-state operations to maintain a safe and secure environment.

Tenets of IO. Before discussing the planning and execution of IO, one must understand the seven principles that guided MND(N) IO.

1. Speak with one voice. All division agencies representing MND(N) portrayed the same messages to the public and individuals they dealt with. Consistency of messages disseminated through multiple means reinforced the importance of the messages being sent.

2. Use multiple means to convey information. MND(N) had many methods of delivering themes, messages and information, ranging from mass media to face-to-face communications, Bilat meetings or patrols. Using all these methods ensured themes and messages received the widest possible dissemination.

3. Know the target audience. This involved assessing the individuals, groups and populations whose behaviors, perceptions and attitudes MND(N) IO activities would attempt to modify. This allowed the division to select the right means to deliver the message to the target audience.

4. Leverage the truth. MND(N) did not practice deception. The division projected the truth to gain and maintain credibility.

5. Centralize control of operations and decentralize their execution. IO goals and objectives were developed at the division level. Subordinate units had wide latitude in planning and executing IO to achieve goals and objectives.

6. Use the right tool for the right job. Select the best method to modify a particular group or individual's behaviors, perceptions and attitudes. If a specific action was desired from a mayor of a municipality, this meant sending his SFOR counterpart, the company commander responsible for that municipality, to meet with him and to influence him.

7. Synchronize efforts. The success of IO often hinged on synchronizing the methods of engagement between more than one staff agency and subordinate units.

These tenets were applied in planning IO and helped the IO cell ensure MND(N) themes and messages were disseminated to the proper target audiences and all IO supported the division commander's intent and focus. The MND(N) employed a variety of methods to achieve its desired IO effects. (See Figure 2.)

Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) for Steady-State IO. MND(N) employed a variety of methods to achieve its desired IO effects. Every action, or inaction, presence or absence, statement or silence that was observed, recorded or implied had the potential to alter the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of someone in the division's area of responsibility. In altering those perceptions, attitudes and behaviors, the division created 10 effects. In short, everything the division did was part of 10 to one degree or another.

To alter perceptions, attitudes and behaviors in support of SFOR objectives, IO had to be planned, coordinated and synchronized to allow the division to accomplish its mission in steady-state, day-to-day operations. Two planning processes supported steady-state operations: the division synchronization meeting and the two sets of IOWG meetings.

Division Synchronization Meeting. This meeting ensured the division's efforts were synchronized with the commander's priorities. The meeting coordinated and synchronized division steady-state operations four weeks out. Specified and implied IO tasks derived from this meeting provided input into an overall IO concept of operations for steady-state operations.

The division commander provided his guidance for planning for the fifth week out and determined focus areas for the division weekly, such as support for the return of displaced persons and refugees. The division commander's focus areas presented in the synchronization meeting were the basis for IO focus areas.

IOWG Meetings. This process consisted of two sets of meetings. Brief morning "huddles" were held Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to synchronize daily activities, coordinate short-notice tasks and share information about current efforts in the staff sections represented. A more formal meeting convened every Tuesday to develop IO plans to meet the commander's mission requirements generated in the synchronization process.

During the first week of the month, the IOWG developed IO goals and subordinate objectives to support the IO focus areas. At week two, the IOWG and staff sections came to the table with specific ideas for projects and initiatives to support IO goals and objectives. In its ideal form, week two was a brain-IOWG, the IO cell's special projects warrant officer and IO planner took the IO focus areas, goals and objectives and developed tasks for the staff and sub ordinate units to support the IO plan.

During week three, the IO strategy for the following month was briefed to the IOWG as the final "azimuth check" on the IO strategy for the next month. The strategy then was published as a set of implementing instructions--division OPORDs.

The week four meeting served two purposes. Subordinate units provided the IO chief and the MND(N) chief of staff a briefing on their tasks for the upcoming month and how they would accomplish them. They also assessed whether or not they had achieved their goals and objectives in the current month's IO strategy. The chief of staff oversaw the IOWG process for the division commander, maintaining visibility over how the subordinate units and MND(N) were doing in achieving the IO goals and objectives and providing guidance on the IO plan for the upcoming month.

IO Deliberate Planning TTP. Beyond support for steady-state operations, the IO cell planned IO in support of specific, discreet missions with a limited time frame for mission execution contingency plans (CONPLANS) and operation plans (OPLANS). The IO planner integrated the MND(N) IO capabilities into division plans developed by the plans group and synchronized them with maneuver operations.

In deliberate planning, IO mission analysis and course-of-action (COA) development were conducted for offensive and defensive IO. Offensive IO planning determined the vulnerabilities (or leverage points) of selected targets or target groups and how to direct MND(N) IO assets to most effectively deliver appropriate themes and messages to them. Defensive IO planning identified MND(N) IO vulnerabilities and ways to prevent competitors from effectively exploiting them. For the MND(N), defensive IO most often were counterpropaganda and truth projection.

The deliberate IO planning process resulted in goals and objectives, a target synchronization matrix identifying intended IO effects for each target audience, a time line with key IO events and a concept for assessing the effects of the IO plan. All of these products, along with supporting PSYOP and (or) PA and CPIC plans were incorporated in the IO annex to a CONPLAN/OPLAN.

For missions involving activity over a significant timeframe (i.e. the month-long Operation Harvest campaign encouraging Bosnians to turn in illegal and unwanted weapons), these actions were passed to the IOWG for tracking and modification, as required.

IO Targeting Process. This process was executed in deliberate planning in the MDMP and steady-state IO planning. Like the FA targeting process, the MND(N) IO targeting process used the decide, detect, deliver, and assess ([D.sup.3]A) methodology to translate the commander's intent into a proactive IO targeting plan.

The decide function determined the high-payoff targets (HPTs) based on their value and payoff in terms of desired effects and how MND(N) wanted to influence the environment. Targets could be specific (e.g., civil, political and/or military leaders) or general (e.g., local population group).

The detect function integrated collection efforts for the target. The deliver function was the execution of proactive IO activities against designated HPTs. Assess determined the effects of target engagements by identifying whether or not the behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of the target were favorably modified by the IO method of engagement.

During the targeting process, the IO cell defined targeting objectives and the effects to achieve those objectives (see examples in Figure 3). Targeting objectives described the endstate of how a target was to be effected and could involve the use of more than one method of engagement. Targeting effects described what the IO cell wanted to convey and a specific method of engagement to support the targeting objectives.

The division used multiple messages delivered via multiple methods of engagement to achieve targeting objectives. For example, if a stated objective was to "Mitigate ethnic tensions related to the return of displaced persons in town x," radio shows would be used to inform the populace that increased financial investment by the international community was tied to their maintaining a safe and secure environment. Newspaper ads could promote ethnic tolerance and warn the population that MND(N) and SFOR would not tolerate obstruction of the return. MND(N) leaders would conduct Bilats to influence or co-opt local authorities to promote tolerance and maintain law and order so ethnic tensions would not escalate into violence.

The MND(N) IO targeting process was formally and informally executed. The division's weekly targeting meetings were formal; they were chaired by the assistant division commander and attended by IOWG members. The meeting translated the division commander's intent into a proactive JO plan for steady-state and some deliberate operations.

The division also conducted IO targeting during crisis situations. 10 targeting during a crisis was more informal and organized around the targeting cell members whose staff agencies could weigh in on a specific fight.

The most important IO were those steady-state engagements planned and executed by subordinate units. Subordinate units maintained regular contact with the population, leaders and organizations in their areas of operation. Between the IO strategy developed in the IOWG and subordinate unit targeting of local leaders, there was not much to be targeted by the division in a steady-state environment.

The targeting process better supported deliberate operational and crisis planning. In these situations, the division faced specific, narrowly defined problem sets with better-defined target sets. In situations that occurred outside the steady state, there were distinct "competitors."

Deliberate operational targeting was done either in the targeting meeting or a smaller forum. Targets, objectives, methods of engagements and desired effects were identified and a target synchronization matrix created.

The targeting scheme was approved by the division commander as part of an orders approval briefing. The targeting synchronization matrix then became part of the division implementation plan and was disseminated to staff agencies and subordinate units for execution. The IO cell monitored the execution of the IO "scheme of fires" and collected and processed data to assess the effectiveness of the IO plan.

The assess function of the [D.sup.3]A process was the most challenging part of the IO targeting process. Unlike traditional FA battle damage assessment (BDA) that is based on whether or not the target was hit and how much damage was caused, which are immediately visible, IO effects were spread over the time that it took to modify perceptions, attitudes and behaviors.

Bilat meetings were the easiest methods of engagement to assess. At the meetings, MND(N) could subjectively evaluate the level of commitment formal and informal leaders had toward attaining the division's objectives and goals and compare the actions or public comments of targeted individuals with comments and (or) commitments gained during the Bilats.

Other measures of effectiveness were less direct but provided indications of the success of MND(N) IO efforts. Public opinion polls, surveys, media analysis, human intelligence (HUMINT), tactical PSYOP teams and patrols provided information critical to assessing changes to perceptions, attitudes and behaviors. Often, the only criteria that could be used to assess the effects of 10 engagements in the short-term were whether or not the themes and messages delivered were the intended ones, whether or not they were delivered to the target, whether or not they were received (not immediately rejected) by the target and the dispersion of the themes and messages achieved in the engagement.

The true effectiveness of IO engagements and campaigns were determined over time based on the actions of targets and perceptible changes in the environment. Continuous assessment provided the basis for adjusting future IO targeting and activities.

Conclusion. IO in MND(N) was based on the doctrine in FM 100-6 with an eye toward its replacement FM 3-13. However, this doctrine focuses heavily on strategic and operational IO and talks in conceptual terms. MND(N) conducted an adapted version of IO focused on modifying attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of individuals, groups and populations to move them closer to SFOR and international community objectives.

The many successes of MND(N) IO were derived from the excellent teamwork of IOWG members. With the IO cell planning and synchronizing and the IOWG executing, MND(N) massed multiple methods of engagement on targets to deliver themes and messages in support of the division's IO goals and objectives. The division was able to modify attitudes, behaviors and perceptions of the local populace to maintain a safe and secure environment, moving Bosnia closer to SFOR and international community objectives.

In the future, the IO battlefield operating system (BOS) will remain crucial to accomplishing the mission of maintaining a safe and secure environment. One goal of the SFOR and international community has been for Bosnian leaders at the national and local levels to take charge of their societies. IO supports this goal by using the voices and faces of these leaders to transmit SFOR themes and messages to the population, such as those promoting ethnic tolerance. Many Bosnian leaders are reluctant to speak publicly, and IO can influence these leaders to promote these themes and messages. IO also can influence leaders to take charge of key programs, such as the Operation Harvest weapons turn-in program.

In the future, some of the IO methods of engagement will become more complex and capable of delivering themes and messages in a more subtle manner. Some changes, such as removing the SFOR logo from most print media products, have already been made. MND(N) has a Bosnian television station produce its monthly TV show and Radio Mir, the division's extremely popular radio station, is run by local national DJs.

Perhaps the next level is an increased use of popular culture as a vehicle to promote SFOR themes and messages. One idea would be to create a situation comedy or dramatic television show promoting themes of tolerance and reconciliation. This would help reach a population that is continually progressing in its sophistication of media consumption.

Finally, IO must continue to focus on truth projection and informing the population. These are always key tasks because ethnic tensions are easily inflamed by disinformation, propaganda and ignorance.

IO in Bosnia must continue to nudge the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of the actors making up the environment in the right direction and mitigate crises before they escalate to violence. IO must remain one of the key BOS to bring security and safety to Bosnia, promoting the country's multi-ethnic future.

Captain Timothy D. LaBahn deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized) and served in the Information Operations and Joint Military Commission Cells with Task Force 1-64 Armor at Camp Dobol. During Stabilization Force (SFOR) 9, he served in the Multi-National Division (North) Information Operations Cell as the Special Projects and Targeting Officer in the Division Headquarters at Eagle Base in Tuzla, Currently, he is a student at the Field Artillery Officer Career Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Captain LaBahn also was the Battalion Ammunition Officer for 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, and a Company Fire Support Officer for the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor, both in the 3d Division.

Information Assurance

Physical Security




Operational Security (OPSEC)

Military Deception

Psychological Operations (PSYOP)

Physical Destruction

Electronic Warfare (EW)

Computer Network Attack

Special Information Operations

Civil Affairs (CA) (*)

Public Affairs (PA) (*)

(*)Activities related to IO.

Figure 1: IO Organization--12 Elements of Information Operations Plus Two Related Activities

RELATED ARTICLE: Mass Media--The "Road to the Future," a monthly division TV show, tells good-news stories and information on issues (i.e., the rights of displaced persons) and enhances the Stabilization Force's (SFOR's) image; radio shows by local DJs and directed by Psychological Operations (PSYOP) promote SFOR themes or messages and quote Bosnian leaders; regular morning and children's radio shows emphasize multi-ethnicity and tolerance; and division ads printed in five newspapers focus on the commanding general's IO messages.

Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC)--The CPIC communicates with the populace through the Bosnian press via press conferences, press releases and media round-table discussions. The CPIC develops talking points for members of the division.

Bilat Meetings--Bilateral meetings occur between Multi-National Division (North), or MND(N), leaders and key Bosnian formal and informal leaders at all levels. A Bilat may be between a company commander and leaders in the municipality his company is responsible for patrolling. They also may take place between the command group and regional- or national-level leaders. The purpose of the meetings is to inform, influence or co-opt the support of the leaders or to warn them; to gather information; and to keep the lines of communications open.

International Conferences--Examples are the quarterly conference of the Joint Military Commission (responsible for overseeing the implementation of the military provisions of the peace agreement) with the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the quarterly conference of the International Police Task Force (the UN agency responsible for overseeing the Bosnian police) with the Bosnian police. One-on-One Contact with the Populace--The PSYOP Teams distribute the popular children's magazine MIRKO that promotes ethnic tolerance and the adult Herald the Progress magazine that discusses economic issues and promotes tolerance. Teams and patrols distribute handouts to inform the populace on specific issues to create an understanding of SFOR and international community programs and fliers to give the populace information, such as the location of weapons collection sites. The teams and patrols also deliver verbal SFOR messages; teams and patrols cover areas that have more troublemakers more frequently to ensure the trou blemakers know they are being watched.

Use of Printed Materials--MND(N) made limited use of printed materials, such as handbills. "Handout" materials were used to inform the populace of specific issues to create a clear understanding of SFOR and international community programs. During SFOR 9, MND(N) produced fact books and copies of the UN law on primary and secondary education imposed to integrate the Brcko District. PSYOP and maneuver patrols distributed more than 5,000 copies of these books and mitigated initial resistance due to ignorance of how the integration would affect education in Brcko.

Figure 2: Multi-National Division (North) Methods to Gain the Desired Information Operations Effects


* Co-Opt--Gain cooperation from an individual or group.

* Inform--Provide purpose, goals and objectives.

* Gain Information--Acquire new facts, details or information.

* Enhance--Add to an already a positive situation.

* Promote--Actively go out and show something in a positive light.

* Mitigate--Reduce the impact of misinformation or negate a problem or concern.


* Inform--Provide information to counter misinformation or provide factual content.

* Warn--Provide notice of intent in order to prevent a specific action.

* Influence--Curtail or cause a specific action.

* Disorganize--Reduce effectiveness or ability.

* Isolate--Minimize power or influence.

* Co-Opt--Gain cooperation.

* Promote--Positively reinforce a desired behavior or attitude.

Figure 3: Targeting Objectives and Desired Effects for Information Operations.
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Author:LaBahn, Captain Timothy D.
Publication:FA Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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