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Chapter 3
Counterinsurgency Operations


3-61. Commanders conduct information operations (IO) to mass the effects of the information element of combat power. The Army defines information operations as the employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to affect or defend information and information systems, and to influence decision making (FM 3-13). The goal of IO is to gain and maintain information superiority at decisive points. Information superiority is the operational advantage derived from the ability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary's ability to do the same (FM 3-0). It is a condition that allows leaders to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. (See JP 3-13; FM 3-13. See FM 6-0 for a discussion of the commander's C2 system.)


3-62. Insurgents target commanders, leaders and other important decision makers, the commander's C2 system, and information systems (INFOSYS). Information-environment-based threats vary in counterinsurgency operations, based on insurgents' motivation and technical capabilities. Commanders conduct defensive IO to counter insurgent IO. Defensive IO includes OPSEC measures.

3-63. Information fratricide is the result of employing information operations elements in a way that causes effects in the information environment that impede the conduct of friendly operations or adversely affect friendly forces (FM 3-13). A familiar example is friendly force jamming degrading friendly radio communications. However, information fratricide covers other IO aspects as well. Actions, perceptions, and information from friendly forces that create improper impressions can adversely affect IO in sensitive situations.


3-64. Most threats to units engaged in offensive, defensive, and stability operations are straightforward and familiar. During these types of operations, commanders expect an enemy to conduct some form of IO against them and their C2 system. They assume enemies will use multiple means to disrupt their decision making process by denying them information and casting doubts on information they have. During counterinsurgency operations there are other multifaceted threats. These threats come from individuals, organizations, and nation-states with varying capabilities. Commanders anticipate these threats, prepare defenses, and--when appropriate--conduct IO against them.

3-65. Enemy sources at all capability levels are present during counterinsurgency. Insurgents use offensive IO as a weapon, using symbols and unconventional attacks against IOrelated targets. Expect insurgents to analyze friendly vulnerabilities and focus their IO against them.

3-66. Some attacks may have immediate results while others may be designed with delayed effects. Insurgents' operating capabilities include--

  • Hacking to gain unauthorized access to INFOSYS.
  • Attempting to infiltrate organizations associated with counterinsurgency efforts.
  • They will attempt to recruit and develop individuals with legitimate access to C2 system elements. These personnel may also be self-motivated with no direct insurgent links.
  • Transnational insurgents and nonstate criminals using computer Internet message and bulletin boards to pass intelligence and technical data.
  • Terrorist attacks to destroy INFOSYS.


3-67. Threats from adversaries other than insurgents include the following:

  • Espionage, data collection, network mapping or reconnaissance, and data theft. These sophisticated capabilities may be provided by transnational or criminal groups, drug cartels, or insurgents sponsored by another state.
  • State-sponsored offensive IO, especially computer network attacks, using state-ofthe-art tools and covert techniques conducted in coordination with military operations.
  • Attacking systems and satellites by jamming, broadcasting false signals, deceptive transmissions, lasers, or electromagnetic pulses.

3-68. Commanders evaluate insurgents from several perspectives, using the following factors:

  • Insurgent C2 system. Does the enemy C2 system include computers, digital devices, and networks? Or, do the insurgents use less technical means to exercise C2, and what are they?
  • Sources of information. The sophistication and technical complexity of the insurgents' C2 system determine the means required to exploit it. What is the most effective way to collect information on the insurgents' C2 system? Insurgent goals and interests. What are the insurgents' short- and long-range goals? How can friendly forces affect both?
  • Decision makers, influential groups, and individuals. These people may be leaders within the insurgents' political movement, counterstate, or armed forces. They may be outside interest groups not officially associated with the insurgency. They may be located within or outside the AO. Decision makers may be political leaders, commanders or trusted subordinates. Determine what individuals or groups decide or influence insurgents or other group actions.
  • Insurgent IO resources and capabilities. An accurate understanding of current insurgent capabilities is essential to success in a dynamic operational environment. Determine what resources insurgents can use to protect their C2 system or inhibit friendly mission success. Expect these to be dynamic rather than static over time. Insurgents may gain, lose, or reconstitute IO resources and capabilities, based on combat actions or outside support.
  • Insurgent information-based vulnerabilities. How and where are insurgents vulnerable to friendly IO? How can we exploit those vulnerabilities? What countermeasures are insurgents using to prevent exploitation?
  • Friendly vulnerabilities to insurgent IO efforts. How and where are we vulnerable? What can we do to prevent insurgents from exploiting those vulnerabilities?


3-69. Information operations consist of core and supporting elements as well as related activities. (See Figure 3-3.)

3-70. Consider how in a counterinsurgency environment the application of these elements and activities most effectively supports the counterinsurgency effort. IO are enabling operations that create opportunities for decisive operations. Commanders use offensive and defensive IO simultaneously to counter insurgent actions and seize and maintain the initiative.

Core Elements Supporting Elements Related Activities
  • Electronic warfare
  • Computer network operations
  • Psychological operations
  • Operations security
  • Military deception
  • Physical destruction
  • Information assurance
  • Physical security
  • Counterintelligence
  • Counter deception
  • Counterpropaganda
  • CMO
  • PA

  • Figure 3-3. Information Operations Core and Supporting Elements and Related Activities

    3-71. The elements of IO are independent activities, not organizations. These activities are most effective when employed together and synchronized. All elements may not be required for each operation. Commanders decide which IO elements are appropriate to accomplish specific counterinsurgency objectives. For example, computer network operations may be used against a transnational and sophisticated, networked insurgency, such as al Qaeda. These computer network operations may be synchronized with military deception to influence franchise organization decision makers to act or not act. Electronic warfare may target cell phone chips and associated frequencies, disrupt electronic monetary transfers, and jam frequencies. Create an information advantage by using the following effects to attack insurgents:

    • Destroy. Destroy is to damage a combat system so badly that it cannot perform any function or be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt (FM 390). In IO, it is most effective when timed to occur just before insurgents need to execute a C2. Physical attack is the joint term.
    • Disrupt. Disrupt, in information operations, means breaking or interrupting the flow of information between selected C2 nodes (FM 3-13).
    • Degrade. Degrade, in information operations, means using nonlethal or temporary means to reduce the effectiveness or efficiency of adversary command and control systems, and information collection efforts or means (FM 3-13).
    • Deny. Deny, in information operations, entails withholding information about Army force capabilities and intentions that insurgents need for effective and timely decision making (FM 3-13). Effective denial leaves opponents vulnerable to offensive capabilities. OPSEC is the primary nonlethal means of denial.
    • Deceive. Deceive is to cause a person to believe what is not true (FM 3-13). Military deception seeks to mislead insurgent decision makers by manipulating their understanding of reality. Successful deception causes them to believe what is not true.
    • Exploit. Exploit, in information operations, is to gain access to adversary command and control systems to collect information or to plant false or misleading information (FM 3-13).
    • Influence. Influence is to cause adversaries or others to behave in a manner favorable to Army forces (FM 3-13). It results from applying perception management to affect the target's emotions, motives, and reasoning. Perception management also seeks to influence the target's perceptions, plans, actions, and will to oppose friendly forces.
    • Protection. Protection is all actions taken to guard against espionage or capture of sensitive equipment and information (FM 3-13). It denies the insurgents information about friendly capabilities and intentions by controlling indicators.
    • Detection. Detection is to discover or discern the existence, presence, or fact of an intrusion into information systems (FM 3-13). Detection is the identification of insurgent's attempts to gain access to friendly information and INFOSYS.
    • Restoration. Restoration is to bring information systems back to their original state (FM 3-13).
    • Response. Response, in information operations, is to react quickly to an adversary's information operations attack or intrusion (FM 3-13). Timely identification of insurgents and their intent and capabilities is the cornerstone of effective response to insurgent offensive IO.

    3-72. Commanders use IO to shape the environment during counterinsurgency operations. Commanders prepare databases for each IO element using contingency plans to focus their efforts. These databases contain information on possible insurgents and other significant participants. At the strategic, operational, and tactical levels, databases focus on one or more of the following target sets:

    • Political leadership.
    • Information capabilities and vulnerabilities, including military and civilian communication networks, and domestic and foreign media.
    • Military leadership, operations, and infrastructure, and their vulnerabilities at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
    • Economic factors that affect an insurgent's ability to mount and sustain military operations, and those that affect the morale of the population and its leadership. This set includes the infrastructure that supports economic activity.
    • Social effects of ethnic (clan and tribal), racial, and historical animosities/alliances.


    3-73. The overall objective during a counterinsurgency is to win the battle of ideas and the politico-military struggle for power. IO can help the HN explain how the HN is addressing the concerns of the people. Well-synchronized offensive IO can cripple not only insurgent armed forces but also insurgent political decision making capabilities. IO is most effective when coordinated with conventional and special operations, and fully integrated into planning and targeting.

    3-74. Counterpropaganda reduces the ability of insurgent propaganda to influence the HN populace. Counterpropaganda includes preventive actions, counteractions, and rumor control. It attacks insurgent propaganda. Propaganda awareness programs inform friendly populations about the nature of hostile propaganda.

    3-75. Counteractions are measures that PSYOP units take to reduce or neutralize the effects of hostile propaganda. Sometimes the most effective countermeasure is not to respond or attempt to counter the propaganda. Direct response to propaganda can lend credibility to it and may be counterproductive. Rumors are a means of propaganda based on widely disseminated talk or opinion. They have no discernable source and no known authority. Rumor control seeks to counter rumors that are unfavorable to HN interests.

    3-76. Failure to counter insurgent propaganda can produce significant negative effects. These range from simple confusion to disrupting ongoing operations. Common effects of hostile propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation, include--

    • Prompting neutral parties to resist or not support HN military operations.
    • Increasing insurgent will to resist by fanning hatreds, biases, and predispositions.
    • Inciting riots. Leading multinational partners to question their roles.
    • Causing refugees to block lines of communication.
    • Fostering distrust for the police and HN forces. Are the police and HN forces corrupt or puppets? Do they represent the HN society or some other nation?
    • Causing the HN populace not to cooperate with friendly forces.
    • Causing essential communicators to deny cooperation or resist.
    • Causing diversion of military assets to address problems that, while seemingly insignificant, require significant resources.
    • Leading friendly governments to questions their own policies and support for counterinsurgency operations.

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