Dominating Duffer's Domain

Lessons for the U.S. Army Information Operations Practitioner

by Christopher Paul, William Marcellino


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More than a century after its release, The Defence of Duffer's Drift by Major General Sir Ernest Swinton has become an enduring military classic. That piece of instructional fiction, in which the narrator learns from his operational mistakes over a series of dreams, has earned a place in military classrooms and has inspired military leaders, analysts, and historians. Indeed, the narrative form can be a powerful teaching and learning tool.

To support U.S. Army efforts to better integrate information operations into operational planning, RAND has adapted the premise of General Swinton's work for a modern-day audience and a different problem set. The fictitious narrator, Captain I. N. Hindsight, takes readers repeatedly through the same mission over the course of six dreams in which she makes shortsighted decisions, critical miscalculations, and smaller mistakes that contribute to spectacular failures until the accumulated lessons ultimately allow her and the command she supports to succeed. The fabricated instructional scenario draws on actual historical operations, alternative directions that these operations could have taken, and realistic challenges that an Army information operations planner might face. The 26 concise lessons in this volume offer insight that, ideally, the practitioner will not need to acquire through hindsight.

Table of Contents

  • The First Dream

    A Failure to Plan Information Operations

  • The Second Dream

    This IO Stuff Is Harder Than It Looks

  • The Third Dream

    How Do We Know Whether We're Doing It Right?

  • The Fourth Dream

    Populations Aren't Terrain to Be Navigated

  • The Fifth Dream

    The Enemy Has a Say in This, Too

  • The Sixth Dream

    Well-Integrated Capabilities Have Significant Effects In and Through the Information Environment

Research conducted by

This work was sponsored by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office on behalf of the Marine Corps Information Operations Center (MCIOC) and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute. The conversion to Army vernacular and emphasis and the publication of this version were sponsored by the U.S. Army and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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