Information Operations

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Information operations and warfare, also known as influence operations, includes the collection of tactical information about an adversary as well as the dissemination of propaganda in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. RAND research has enabled military leaders and policymakers to develop strategies and policy frameworks to address the challenges of these military operations.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Moscow, Russia, June 30, 2022, photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters

    Report

    Russia's Evolving Use of Information Confrontation

    Information confrontation is the use of offensive or defensive informational means to achieve political, economic, or military objectives. Russian strategy likens information weapons with weapons of mass destruction since both have the potential to reshape the international system. The Ukraine experience offers insights into Russia's tactics.

    Aug 18, 2022

  • BTS perform during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. April 3, 2022, photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Commentary

    Could K-Pop Help Deter Kim Jong-un's Provocations?

    The United States and Republic of Korea could be more specific and creative in seeking to deter Kim Jong-un. The global popularity of K-Pop could be part of the strategy.

    Oct 11, 2022

Explore Information Operations

  • Ukrainian Army soldiers launch a drone near Bakhmut, Ukraine, November 25, 2022, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ukraine's Lessons for the Future of Hybrid Warfare

    A new decision-analysis approach is necessary to capture the use of disinformation in the context of hybrid warfare. Multiple tools must be integrated to help generate a robust policy response to modern hybrid threats.

    Nov 28, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Educating for Evolving Operational Domains: Cyber and Information Education in the Department of Defense and the Role of the College of Information and Cyberspace

    This report examines how Department of Defense educational institutions are addressing cyberspace and information education, the potential demand for this education, and how the College of Information and Cyberspace can contribute.

    Nov 17, 2022

  • An Orthodox priest conducts a service for Russian reservists during a ceremony of their departure for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea, September 27, 2022, photo by Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Russia's War in Ukraine Has Impacted Its Christian Image

    Over the past decade, the Russian government has taken pains to present itself as a bastion of Christianity and traditional values. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, however, there have been noticeable cracks in the receptivity to this messaging strategy.

    Nov 16, 2022

  • Mining facilities at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, January 30, 2020, photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

    Commentary

    Emerging Domestic Battery Supply Chain Should Be Wary of China's Information Ops

    China has a huge stake in producing lithium-ion batteries, and is not above waging disinformation campaigns against U.S. firms involved in the battery supply chain. Extraction sector companies could work with cybersecurity experts and the U.S. intelligence community to educate their executives and local governments about any foreign disinformation risks.

    Nov 15, 2022

  • A compilation of images showing global connections, chess pieces, and a member of the U.S. military, photos by piranka/Getty Images; Anusorn/Adobe Stock; and Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Binion/U.S. Marine Corps

    Report

    The Role of Information in U.S. Concepts for Strategic Competition

    Gray zone activities—acts of aggression that remain below the threshold of war—can be used to gain an edge in great-power competition. How can the information environment support U.S. responses to these activities?

    Oct 25, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Putin's Gambits, Xi Jinping, Machine Learning: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Putin's latest “desperate measures” in Ukraine, support for Xi Jinping, whether machine-learning tools can tell if you're lying, and more.

    Oct 21, 2022

  • Elon Musk's twitter account on a smartphone in front of the Twitter logo, April 15, 2022, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Elon Musk May Have a Point About Bots on Twitter

    Twitter has a deep bench of engineers working for the company. They have access to trillions of data points on their over 300 million monthly active users. Why has a company this size struggled to clean up its platform?

    Sep 23, 2022

  • Hands typing on a laptop keyboard at night, photo by Zhanna Danilova/Getty Images

    Announcement

    Fake RAND Report on 'Weakening Germany'

    A supposedly leaked RAND report about a bizarre U.S. conspiracy to “weaken Germany” is fake. Genuine RAND research, analysis, and commentary on the war in Ukraine may be found at rand.org.

    Sep 14, 2022

  • Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia attends Security Council meeting convened at the request of the Russian Federation who accused Ukraine of developing biological weapons under the tutelage of the United States, at U.N. Headquarters in New York, March 11, 2022, photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Debunking Russian Lies About Biolabs at Upcoming U.N. Meetings

    Before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, its diplomatic missions began circulating some particularly fantastical lies. It's tempting to write off such claims as cartoonish propaganda. But Russia is making similarly outrageous claims to the United Nations and other international forums. Such maneuvers could dangerously undermine international arms control agreements.

    Sep 12, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Information Warfare: Methods to Counter Disinformation

    We consider the nature of disinformation and its use in the hybrid warfare domain, before examining the problem through frames of planning approach, truth theory, systems thinking, and military strategy.

    Sep 8, 2022

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg fencing in the Metaverse with an Olympic gold medal fencer in a video released October 28, 2021, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Facebook Misinformation Is Bad Enough. The Metaverse Will Be Worse

    Virtual reality environments such as the metaverse will enable psychological and emotional manipulation of users at a level unimaginable in today's media. We must not wait until these technologies are fully realized to consider appropriate guardrails for them. We can reap the benefits of the metaverse while minimizing its potential for great harm.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Russian and Ukrainian Perspectives on the Concept of Information Confrontation: Translations, 2002–2020

    This volume compiles texts from leading members of the military-scientific communities in Russia and Ukraine and illustrates how decisionmakers in these countries understand and debate information weapons and information influence.

    Aug 18, 2022

  • Student walks through an archway at Cambridge University, photo by burcintuncer/Getty Images

    Commentary

    New Legislation May Not Be Enough to Counter Chinese Interference in British Universities

    There is alarming evidence of growing Chinese espionage and influence in UK universities that could threaten UK national security and academic freedoms. Three complementary initiatives could increase university researchers' awareness of the potential risks of collaborating with certain Chinese partners.

    Jul 8, 2022

  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shaking hands with Secretary of State Dean Acheson in front of a world map, as Director W. Averell Harriman of the Mutual Security Agency (right) looks on, January 8, 1953, photo by U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

    Commentary

    The Irony of Misinformation: USIA Myths Block Enduring Solutions

    Unlike Russia and China, the U.S. government has failed to institutionalize the importance of information in foreign policy. The United States lacks formalized leadership structures to tackle information issues head on, and a central organization to coordinate activities to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences.

    Jul 7, 2022

  • Ballet dancers perform Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake at the Mikhailovsky theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, September 28, 2016, photo by Grigory Dukor/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Cognitive Dissonance and Repression Shape Russian Perceptions of the Conflict in Ukraine

    Cognitive dissonance theory offers a compelling explanation for one of the confounding phenomena emerging from the war in Ukraine—Russians who refuse to believe their Ukrainian family members' lived experiences of the war. How is it that of the two cognitions Russians are wrestling with, the Kremlin's manufactured truth often prevails?

    Jun 29, 2022

  • Illustration of network connections over Earth, image by Anton Balazh/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Russia's Information Warfare with the West

    Popular portrayals of the Russian disinformation machine imply an organized and well-resourced operation, but evidence suggests that it is neither. Nonetheless, Russian social media activity can be harmful to U.S. interests and is likely to evolve.

    Jun 7, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Gun Policy, China and Taiwan, Russian Propaganda: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reducing America's unacceptably high rates of gun violence, what would happen if China “quarantines” Taiwan, and Russia's “firehose of falsehood.”

    May 27, 2022

  • A still from a powerful animated video created by RAND artists-in-residence Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre, known as V+J, to show how Russian propaganda spreads—and how it can influence its audience by entertaining, confusing, and overwhelming them.

    Project

    Russia's Propaganda Model

    RAND artists-in-residence Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre, known as V+J, created a powerful animated video to show how Russian propaganda spreads—and how it can influence its audience by entertaining, confusing, and overwhelming them.

    May 24, 2022