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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 1: Information Operations
Topic A: IO Synchronization Methods of Units

Observation Synopsis

The information operations working group (IOWG) and unit targeting boards are two of the most common methods used to affect IO synchronization. With limited IO staffing at the division level, and none at the brigade and below level, staff officers developed innovative methods to plan and execute IO, as well as to evaluate the success of IO in the context of the overall operation. Different units adjusted their battle rhythms to maximize the use of the IOWG and the targeting process. Units varied in the frequency of conducting IOWGs and targeting boards.

There is no doctrinal method for the format or conduct of the IOWG; it is unique to each unit's area of operations (AO). At the brigade and below level, for example, the PA officer and CA planners/executers have a much bigger role in the conduct of IO, often in its execution. The IO cell has no dedicated IO officer, so the command typically designates an officer to fill that function. At one brigade, the FSO filled the function of the IO officer, and the "core" IO cell consisted of the IO officer, PSYOP planner, PAO, and CA planner, along with S2 and S3 representatives and the unit's combat camera noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC). Although none were IO trained, this IO cell was very effective in developing and executing an IO plan. OPTEMPO kept them from meeting on a regular basis, so they would conduct an IOWG as needed to develop support plans for pending operations. Through these meetings, the brigade developed some tactical deception plans in response to insurgent activities during raids. Insurgents were able to use human intelligence resources to gain advance notice of a pending raid; they would watch the gates when the strike force departed and phone ahead to warn their cohorts. The plans they developed and executed delayed the insurgent's decision-making process on how to respond, resulting in successful raids for the unit.

Senior leader involvement is especially helpful, as it keeps the unit's key leadership updated on the unit's IO activities and allows them a venue to offer guidance and feedback. Also, general officer/commander involvement ensures maximum participation from the various unit staff elements. One division IO officer was effective in involving senior leaders, but did it through a venue different than the IOWG. Once a week, she and the PAO personally briefed the assistant division commander for support (ADC-S) on their IO activities. This update worked very well for this particular unit, but a potential disadvantage is that the absence of other staff elements during the update may result in a less complete picture of the IO effort than if the staff is present.

Ideally, the IO cell should conduct short-, mid-, and long-term planning to support the commander's overall campaign. However, the IOE often dictates otherwise, keeping staffs in a reactive mode. This reactive mode seems to be more exaggerated the lower you go in echelon. At the brigade and below level, staffs primarily focus on the short-term versus any kind of long-term planning. Available, actionable intelligence drives the short-term planning, and units have to adapt to these short-term requirements in order to develop plans that support quick fire missions. Staffs on the ground were able to successfully overcome these reactive missions through effective staff coordination. One division used talking points to successfully outline the left and right limits of the brigades by establishing the division's position in certain areas, i.e. leader engagement with the local Iraqi political, religious, or economic leaders. Additionally, this division would participate in its higher headquarters "IO summits," which was a successful method other units could use in their IO planning and execution.

Lessons Learned

  • Units devised and used a variety of formats and structures for the IOWGs and targeting boards to evaluate success of an operation; they found one that worked for their command that encompassed all aspects of success and failure. Determining the criteria of success, or measure of effectiveness, was a critical mission of these groups.
  • Good working relationships among the staff are imperative for effective IO synchronization; successful IO used the IOWG and targeting board to build these relationships. They made the meeting agendas relevant, and facilitated maximum participation from all the staff elements.
  • The use of PA talking points is an effective means of providing broad guidance to subordinate units in IO synchronization, current themes, and IO focus. The IOWG and targeting board were used in the successful IO programs to vet talking points among the staff.
  • Quarterly IO summits assisted headquarters, across the board, in synchronizing IO. Conducted either by live conference or video teleconference, these meetings allowed the IO officers and planners the ability to leverage other units' successes and adapt them to their AO.
  • An effective method of conducting IOWGs is to integrate the meetings into the unit's battle rhythm.
  • Senior leader involvement in the IOWG and overall targeting process leads to successful vetting of the IO program; staff participation worked well during senior leader updates.
  • Many units found effective workarounds to offset the disadvantage of not having an IO officer; some units dual-hat a staff officer. Using the FSO in the IO officer role worked well for some.
  • Some units successfully used a targeting board specific for IO and CA target development. This board allows the unit to focus on non-lethal fires and leverage the intelligence available. G2 representation in the IOWG and targeting board is critical for successful IO.

DOTMLPF Implications

Doctrine: Review, revise, and fuse Joint and Army IO doctrine to address IOWG development, staffing, and processes.

Leadership and Education: Unit leadership is the center of gravity for successful IO; leaders must understand and require IO in order for IO to function as a successful combat multiplier.

Organization: Add appropriate personnel and equipment to unit organizations/modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) in order to accomplish the IO mission.

Table of Supporting Observations


Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
IO Synchronization and Timeline 10000-05242
IO Long and Short Term Planning 10000-09792
Staff Relationships 10000-16128
Division IOWG and Targeting Boards 10000-62208
IO Coordination 10000-20563
Division IOWG 10000-02822
Brigade IOWG 10000-18576
IOWG 10000-11449
IO Planning 10000-33389
Staffing 10001-16788
Staffing2 10000-72556

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Information Operations
Chapter 1-Topic B: Information Operations and Intelligence




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