Joint Publication 3-13.2 Military Information Support Operations December 2011

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Joint Publication 3-13.2 Military Information Support Operations

  • 108 pages
  • December 20, 2011

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Today’s global information environment is complex, rapidly changing, and requires integrated and synchronized application of the instruments of national power to ensure responsiveness to national goals and objectives. In the current operational environment, effective influence is gained by unity of effort in what we say and do, and how well we understand the conditions, target audiences (TAs), and operational environment. Within the military and informational instruments of national power, the Department of Defense (DOD) is a key component of a broader United States Government (USG) communications strategy. To be effective, all DOD communications efforts must inherently support the credibility, veracity, and legitimacy of USG activities.

Military information support operations (MISO) play an important role in DOD communications efforts through the planned use of directed programs specifically designed to support USG and DOD activities and policies. MISO are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals in a manner favorable to the originator’s objectives. Military information support (MIS) professionals follow a deliberate process that aligns commander’s objectives with an analysis of the environment; select relevant TAs; develop focused, culturally, and environmentally attuned messages and actions; employ sophisticated media delivery means; and produce observable, measurable behavioral responses.

b. Within the military and informational instruments of national power, the Department of Defense (DOD) is a key component of a broader United States Government (USG) communications strategy. DOD communications strategy and the separate and unique capabilities of military information support operations (MISO), public affairs (PA) (to include visual information), and defense support to public diplomacy (DSPD) address a variety of communication roles and specific audiences as permitted by operational parameters and policy. DOD informational activities can be used to inform, direct, or persuade. To be effective, all DOD communications efforts must inherently support the credibility, veracity, and legitimacy of USG activities.

c. MISO play an important role in DOD communications efforts through the planned use of directed programs specifically designed to support USG and DOD activities and policies. MISO are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals in a manner favorable to the originator’s objectives. Military information support (MIS) professionals follow a deliberate process that aligns commander’s objectives with an analysis of the environment; select relevant TAs; develop focused, culturally, and environmentally attuned messages and actions; employ sophisticated media delivery means; and produce observable, measurable behavioral responses. It is important not to confuse psychological impact with MISO. Actions of the joint force, such as strikes or shows of force, have psychological impact but they are not MISO unless their primary purpose is to influence the perceptions and subsequent behavior of a TA. Regardless of the mission set, all MISO are conducted within carefully reviewed and approved programs and under mission-tailored product approval guidelines that flow from national-level authorities.

d. MISO contribute to the success of both peacetime engagements and major operations. The combatant commander (CCDR) receives functional and theater strategic planning guidance from the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), Unified Command Plan (UCP), and Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF). These documents are derived from the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) National Defense Strategy, which interprets the President’s national security policy and strategy, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff National Military Strategy.

(1) In peacetime, MISO are planned and integrated to further national defense strategies through the geographic combatant commander’s (GCC’s) theater campaign plan (TCP). CCDRs incorporate MISO programs and integrate them into the broad range of activities required for military engagement, security cooperation, and deterrence (i.e., Phase 0). For example, in steady-state geographic combatant command TCPs, MIS units can deploy to support approved counterinsurgency (COIN), demining, or foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) programs under either a joint force commander (JFC) or US diplomatic control.

(2) MISO reinforce US policies that center on preventing hostilities and advocating peaceful resolutions when possible. MISO are key in furthering US endeavors to deter aggression and to maximize the JFC’s efforts to shape the operational environment. MIS units communicate well-orchestrated and planned information to international audiences to clarify intent, prevent escalation of tension, ease concerns, and mitigate the potential effects and capabilities of adversary information activities.

4. Support of Irregular Warfare

a. General. Irregular warfare (IW) is defined as “a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations. IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.”

(1) Some of the operations and activities that can be conducted as part of IW are insurgency; COIN; unconventional warfare (UW); terrorism; CT; FID; stability, security, transition, and reconstruction operations; MISO; CMO; intelligence and counterintelligence activities; transnational criminal activities, including drug trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions, that support or sustain IW; and law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries. (Some IW activities, such as terrorism and transnational crime, violate international law. US law and national policy prohibit US military forces or other government departments and agencies from engaging in or supporting such activities. However, since our adversaries employ terrorism and transnational criminal activities against the interests of the US and its partners, these activities are included below as examples of the range of operations and activities that can be conducted as part of IW.) IW provides a logical, long-term framework for analyzing the
irregular threat and is both a form of armed conflict and warfare.

(2) IW is complex and focuses on the control or influence of populations, not on the control of an adversary’s forces or territory. Ultimately, IW is a political struggle for control or influence over, and the support of, a relevant population. The factions involved in the conflict seek to undermine their adversaries’ legitimacy and credibility and to isolate their adversaries from the relevant populations and their external supporters. At the same time, they also seek to strengthen their own legitimacy and credibility to exercise authority over that same population.

(3) When MISO occur in IW, their role usually is much greater than during major operations and campaigns. They impact directly on the operational focus of IW in ways unlike that of combat operations.

b. Approaches. Conducting IW focuses on two approaches—direct and indirect. A JFC will often conduct both approaches simultaneously to defeat our adversaries and those of our partners.

(1) Direct Approach. The direct approach addresses the requirement to pursue adversaries and their infrastructure and resources. Some adversaries, such as terrorists and insurgents fighting for a religious or tribal cause, may be so committed that they simply cannot be persuaded or coerced into laying down their arms; these individuals must be either killed or captured.

(2) Indirect Approach. MISO are key supporting operations to each contextual application of indirect approaches to executing IW.

(a) Focus on addressing the underlying economic, political, cultural, or security conditions that fuel the grievances of the population, rather than on applying military power directly against the military and paramilitary forces of adversaries. Both approaches are necessary, but the direct application of military power is unlikely to be decisive.

(b) Disturb, disrupt, and displace adversaries by attacking them physically and psychologically where they are most vulnerable and unsuspecting, rather than attacking where they are strongest or in the manner they expect.

(c) Empower, enable, and leverage interagency and other partners to attack adversaries militarily or confront them nonmilitarily, rather than relying on direct and unilateral military confrontation by US joint forces.

(d) Take actions with or against third-party states or armed groups to influence adversaries, rather than taking actions to influence adversaries directly.

(e) Attack adversaries using a combination of conventional and nonconventional methods and means rather than relying only on conventional military forces. Nonconventional methods and means might include clandestine or covert actions, operations in combination with irregular forces, or the nonconventional use of conventional capabilities.

(f) Subvert the power and influence of adversaries over the relevant populations by isolating them physically and psychologically from their local and international support through the use of MISO, public diplomacy, and PA activities; security operations; population and resource control measures; and other means.

c. Military Information Support Operations and IW. The ideological and political factors associated with IW create a fertile field for MISO. Examples of MISO applications to selected activities within IW are:

(1) FID. MISO are used to promote the ability of the HN to defend itself against internal and external insurgencies and terrorism by fostering reliable military forces and encouraging empathy between HN armed forces and the civilian populace. MISO also may be used to modify the behavior of selected TAs toward US and multinational capabilities. The main objectives of MISO during FID are to build and maintain support for the host government while decreasing support for insurgents.

(2) CT. MISO are an essential part of the capabilities required for CT, in particular in application of the indirect approach to shape, stabilize, and influence the environment in which violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operate. CT focuses on populations, and in some operational areas, the information presented can determine which side will gain the favor of public opinion. Terrorist groups have gained sympathy and support of moderate audiences through disinformation partly based on their propaganda focusing on miscues of the friendly forces. In CT operations, TA identification and the use of MISO to influence the TAs’ behavior are important. Within an operational area there may be several TAs and multiple synchronized themes, messages, and means of delivery required for each. The intent of MISO in CT operations is to shape and influence the terrorist network’s informational environment.

(3) Stability Operations. Successful execution of stability operations tasks depends on informing the local populace and influencing attitudes to secure the trust and confidence of the population. MISO exerts significant influence on foreign TAs.

(4) COIN Operations. MISO can influence foreign populations through information to influence attitudes and behavior and to obtain compliance or noninterference with friendly joint operations. In addition, MIS units may conduct information activities such as recruit for security forces, legitimize HN governments, and establish and maintain popular support for the HN programs and activities. MISO can provide public information to support humanitarian activities, ease suffering, and restore or maintain civil order. MISO can serve as the supported commander’s voice to foreign populations by conveying the JFC’s intent.

(5) UW. UW involves ideological, religious, political, economic, and social factors which promote intense, emotional partisanship. These human factors, associated with armed resistance activity, create a situation that MIS units are uniquely suited to engage. MIS units support all phases of UW; therefore, MISO planning is immediately integrated into the planning process.

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