Information Monoeuvre : Scaling up IW to the Next Level

Sub Title : Taking Information Warfare to the next level

Issues Details : Vol 14 Issue 3 Jul – Aug 2020

Author : Maj Gen Harvijay Singh, Chander Malhotra, Ashwani Sharma

Page No. : 11

Category : Military Affairs

: July 28, 2020

Information Warfare has always been an integral part of the ‘Art of War’. Its application and exploitation and the form in which it has been applied has been a matter of strategy and situations. Information Manoeuvre is the next level. It weaponises information and involves its use in all its forms to understand the operating environment and shape perceptions both during peace and war. This approach when coupled with manoeuvre by ground, air and maritime forces will help pre-empt, surprise, deceive, dislocate, and disrupt the enemy

Information Warfare is a pursuit of information advantage over the enemy and typically seeks to degrade and control the enemy’s situational awareness. Information warfare has played a key role throughout the history of warfare. Vast improvements in information technologies, have brought about a phenomenal increase in capabilities in the domains of cyberspace, advanced computing, communications, networks and social media. Thus, it is of the essence that these capabilities be exploited and taken to the next level to ‘weaponise’ Information i.e. use the capabilities as a manoeuvre tool to further our strategic aims as also to exploit human behaviour by influencing the cognitive dimension.

Information Manoeuvre pertains to integrating and harmonising various information-centric capabilities to exploit them to advantage. It also enables better understanding of the overall situation, vastly improved methods of communication and more effective means to influence the target audience. It has fundamentally to be a concerted and joint effort, bringing together the forces working in Cyber, Electronic Warfare, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, Counter-Intelligence, Communications and Information Systems to achieve the desired effect.

Information Manoeuvre can be used as a powerful tool for perception management. Such management can lead to avoidance of conflict by acting as a deterrent, re orient audiences to suit our purpose or dispel myths created by ‘psy ops’ and fake news. It blurs the lines between armed conflict and peace. There are no territorial limitations of state borders or distinct timespans like pre conflict and actual conflict and so on.

The Information Manoeuvre approach is not only focussed on the adversary’s military but takes into account a much larger audience across the spectrum. Therefore, the emphasis on integrated action. It requires that the desired outcome to be first identified, This, would help home onto the target audience and the treatment that needs to be meted out. This would lead to the identification of capabilities that need to be employed in terms of soft power or hard power or a combination thereof.

A case study which clearly brings out the possibilities that Information Manoeuvre offers are the Russian operations in Crimea. Russia controlled information and blatantly denied its involvement in the occupation of Ukraine during the early stages of its incursion into Crimea. Russia was thus seen only as an interested party by the rest of the world and not as an aggressor. The world view so created helped stall any direct involvement or intervention by NATO or the US independently.

It flows from the above that as enemies become more capable and threats more complex, the need for astute employment of Information Manoeuvre is becoming more and more critical. It will help in.

• Turning International Opinion Against the Aggressor. Helps to rally international coalition and support. Likely to induce opposition leadership retreat without fighting.

• Altering the Enemy’s Perception. Helps in achieving cognitive dissonance.

• Fostering Instability. Destabilize and disable an adversary without kinetic energy, using social or psychological components of Information Warfare to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behaviour of target population.

Criticalities of Information Manoeuvre

Concerted Effort. All activities should be a concerted effort across the political, economic, diplomatic, military and socio- cultural domains.

Persistent Application. Best results can be obtained only through persistent application over protracted periods of time.

Flexible. No rigid templates should be followed. Modifications must be carried out as results start appearing after the initial launch of operations.

• Right Timing. A critical aspect of Information Manoeuvre is right timing. To this end it is imperative that it be applied with carefully judged timing.

• Use of Appropriate Means. It is of the essence that the most appropriate means or medium be used to further our ends. To give an example the use of social media is ideal for spreading disinformation.

Synchronisation with Kinetic Operations

Manoeuvre is the combination of fire and movement Information Manoeuvre Warfare designed to break enemy’s cohesion and readiness to fight rather than simply destroying its war waging potential. Information, as brought out, is a key element of warfighting. In the present technology enabled scenario, tremendous advantages would accrue from objective based integration of the two, resulting in actions in a quicker time frame and optimum utilisation of
resources. Information Manoeuvre must aim to degrade adversary’s situational awareness by denying information.
Simultaneously, plant information through different sources at targeted audiences. Social media is an ideal medium for a quick feed and viral spread of information. This would adversely impact opponent’s ability to take decisions. In modern times, diversionary attacks can be launched in the information domain.

An important facet is the need to have balanced fusion of Information Manoeuvre and the Kinetic forces. An information campaign may end up so shaping the environment that Kinetic Forces end up using disproportionate force causing unwarranted damage. On the other hand, there would be situations where Kinetic effects create situations for shaping narratives. Hence the need for clear focus on audiences and desired effects. This necessitates the right levels of synchronisation so that there is no conflict between the two and no opportunity missed. Where they are applied together without achieving the right balance, there is the possibility of not achieving desired results or having unwanted fallouts like adverse publicity. Information Manoeuvre, in the context of a war, does not do away with the requirement for Kinetic forces but is a force multiplier. Information Manoeuvre creates another type of ‘ammunition’ viz Virtual Ammunition to take on the enemy.

India’s Surgical Strike to avenge the Uri terror attack was a classic display of concerted application of Information Manoeuvre and Kinetic Manoeuvre. Whilst on the one hand the military response underscored India’s resolve to punish the perpetrators of terror, on the other it was a clear message to the world that enough was enough and that it would no longer take things lying down. The message resonated across the Globe and particularly the country it was specifically targeting- Pakistan. Terrorists, fearing reprisals, stopped targeting camps of security forces. There were no major terror incidents in 2017 and 2018. The Surgical Strike became a tag line of India’s greatness and heroism with the domestic audience.

After the lull, terrorists struck again in 2019. This time in Pulwama – forty personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in a suicide attack on the bus they were travelling in. India once again was able to synchronise Virtual and Actual manoeuvre. The strategy of ‘find and strike’ was employed by India and a successful airstrike was conducted on the Balakot Camp. The power of technology to pre-empt, surprise, deceive, dislocate, and disrupt the enemy was on ample display. A bold information blitzkrieg backed up the strike. Once again, the information about the strike spread cheer amongst the domestic audience. India stood tall amongst the comity of nations as one who would brook no nonsense. As if this was not enough an Indian pilot was captured the next day, when his plane got shot while thwarting a Pakistani reprisal, the widely circulated videos of his dignified conduct in Pakistani captivity, struck an emotional chord with domestic audiences, stoking fires of Nationalism.

In order to refine our information strategy we need an integrated approach which includes the following :-

Organisational Structure. We must have the requisite organisational structure to be able to wage Information Manoeuvre. There is a need to take a cue from of the Six Division of the British Army. The Division focuses on cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence, information operations and unconventional warfare. We can modify the template
to suit our requirements.

Improved C4ISR Capabilities. We must enhance the existing capabilities complemented by near perfect situational awareness to overcome the fog of war, sensors fusion and ubiquitous networked communications for command & control.

Information Based Deterrence. The current standoff with China re-emphasises the overarching need for information based deterrence to manipulate the attitude of a potential adversary to prevent an attack.

Countering Asymmetric Threats. The situation in Kashmir warrants a counter strategy that must involve multiple capabilities and sources to include diplomacy, force (military & psychological), international law, security, crisis management & recovery protocols.

Counter-C4ISR Capabilities. Capabilities for using a mix of offensive Information Warfare tools and techniques to attack adversary sensors and communication assets at critical periods in battle.

Information Manoeuvre will involve integration of all the tools of Net Centric capabilities namely: Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Cyber, Electronic and Information Warfare and Social Media. Its influence will be widespread to include the enemy public, government, infrastructure and even world opinion.

As in case of all the previous forms of manoeuvre, ‘Information Manoeuvre’ too can be integrated with Kinetic Weapons to destroy a confused, disoriented and weakened enemy.

For India, living in such a hostile geopolitical neighbourhood, Information Manoeuvre is likely to be a strategy of overarching benefit. There is Pakistan with its basketful of fakeness and radicalising Psychological Operations, China with its well established and proven Offensive Cyber capabilities and some other shifty neighbours.

The way forward is firstly to educate and convince ourselves of the reach and vitality of Information Manoeuvre. South Asia Defence and Strategic Review makes a beginning with this issue and are confident that the discussion will continue with complementary contribution by the strategists and the specialists. Some issues that merit our attention are the Organisational Structure to support Network Centric capabilities, Improved C4ISR potential across our area of influence in the subcontinent and beyond, Information-Based Deterrence and Countering Asymmetric Threats which have incrementally become overbearing and hurting. We are also sharing experiences of Information Warriors who are at the forefront of these operation in real life

Five Components of Information Manoeuvre

Five Elements. It combines and synchronises five information capabilities to exploit their synergies. These are ISR, Comn and Info Sys, CEMA, Info Activity and Outreach (IA&0) and Counter Int and Security.
Four Outputs. The four outputs are Understand, Communicate, Persuade and Protect. These are not achieved from a single capability but are a collaborative product of many capabilities.
Three Dimensions. The three dimensions are Physical, Virtual and Cognitive. The endeavour is to influence the Cognitive dimension.
Two Fronts. Information Manoeuvre spans two fronts Peace and War and blurs the lines between them.
One Purpose. The sole purpose is to deliver Information Advantage to shape audience perceptions with a view to change and maintain their behaviour.
Courtesy: Force Troops Handbook of the British Army



(Information Operations are incredibly complex and defy a clear-cut definition. Here are some definitions by
specialists involved in Information Operations. They have preferred to use their Pen names)

Public Domain: Manipulating media and ‘Cyberspace’ to influence the target population for social and political control. Military Domain: Strategic and tactical exploitation of information to dominate ‘time and space’ achieving surprise and deception thereby complementing Manoeuvrability. –Harry

Modern political and military Command and Control (C2) Systems are intensely dependent on Information and Communication Technology. This makes the information infrastructure an arena in which operations can be conducted  to steal, deny and destroy information using contemporary non kinetic energy technologies. –AbhaiJ

Operations dominated by ‘information management’ at tactical, operational and strategic levels to cripple the cognitive ability of the enemy concurrently protecting one’s own against his evil designs. Information operations presents a major challenge to governance and military operations. –Gauti

Targeting and influencing the human mind, specifically, observation, perception, interpretation, and opinion not just with false and misleading information but also selective amplification of reputable, mainstream media stories and historical events to fit an agenda. – Chote Kadam

Cyber and media are big enablers of Information Operations. The target is the mind of leaders and the population they influence and lead. The terminal objective is defeating the Leaders in the Cognitive Domain and dominance of the target population through social and political control. – GSM

Using technology to dominate the information infrastructure and environment thereby achieving geopolitical and military ascendency. Increased technological sophistication and the availability of advanced communication networks have rendered the ‘Information Operations’ complicated, and complex and requiring expert handling. – Swapnil

Operations directed against information in any form, transmitted over any media including operations against information content, its supporting systems, software, data storage and the human mind. The human mind is the key vulnerability and target. – Bhavna

Information operations involve victory through perception management. The battle of perception management is always on; it knows no bounds of time and space. The Black Lives Matter campaign shook a nation and is defining example of the might of both information and disinformation. – Yogi

These are operations that involve the population at large. It therefore includes and influences the Social Media, Television, and the Print Media. Its reach is global, and technology plays a vital role. – UditC

Operations across the continuum of the battlefield by providing such information dominance to the commander that he can leverage to effect the outcome of battle in his favour by defeating the enemy’s OODA loop. – Sammy

The growing dependence of the society on ‘Information and Communication Technology’ creates numerous weak points. These can be effectively exploited both in the military and civilian domain to disrupt, deny and destroy information for achieving military, political and social outcomes with far reaching implications. – JagJee

There is normally a tendency to focus on a singular tactics of Information Operations, such as harassment or ‘fake news’. This creates an illusion that rejects the fact that these tactics are part of a broader strategy that see  nformation as a weapon in achieving political and military objectives. – Electronic Joe