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Research Questions

  1. In what kinds of electronic and cyber operations does the Army currently engage? Where are the boundaries between them?
  2. How are recent and ongoing changes in the information world, especially the explosion in different modes of communication, affecting the Army's information operations?
  3. How should the Army adapt, organizationally and operationally, to best respond to these changes?

In the U.S. Army as elsewhere, transmission of digitized packets on Internet-protocol and space-based networks is rapidly supplanting the use of old technology (e.g., dedicated analog channels) when it comes to information sharing and media broadcasting. As the Army moves forward with these changes, it will be important to identify the implications and potential boundaries of cyberspace operations. An examination of network operations, information operations, and the more focused areas of electronic warfare, signals intelligence, electromagnetic spectrum operations, public affairs, and psychological operations in the U.S. military found significant overlap that could inform the development of future Army doctrine in these areas. In clarifying the prevailing boundaries between these areas of interest, it is possible to predict the progression of these boundaries in the near future. The investigation also entailed developing new definitions that better capture this overlap for such concepts as information warfare. This is important because the Army is now studying ways to apply its cyber power and is reconsidering doctrinally defined areas that are integral to operations in cyberspace. It will also be critical for the Army to approach information operations with a plan to organize and, if possible, consolidate its operations in two realms: the psychological, which is focused on message content and people, and the technological, which is focused on content delivery and machines.

Key Findings

Revisions in Army Doctrine Will Be Needed to Meet the Challenges the Changing Information Environment Presents

  • This will be necessary in part to address variant authorities for different operations.
  • It is also necessary to address and standardize terminology.

Technology and Content Areas Require Specific Expertise

  • A distinction needs to be made between the actual information and the means used to move it about.
  • It might be helpful to consolidate areas of expertise into the broad areas of "inform and influence operations" and "information technical operations."
  • Having dedicated career paths for these two areas would also be helpful.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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