Cell phones, smart phones, the Internet, and GPS are increasingly available and are changing the nature of conflict, even in remote areas. Information can now reach out in new ways to global audiences because of the revolution in Information Technology (IT), particularly using cell phones and smart phones. The revival of hybrid warfare manifested in recent developments in the international security environment – such as the Arab Spring, the Ukrainian crisis, the rise of Jihadist-Salafist terrorism, and the European migrant crisis – demonstrates the power of communication, broadly based on IT advantages: messages and perceptions become predominant of physical engagements and strongly impact the behaviour of people. Orchestrated activities carry messages and have a crucial effect on 55 public opinions, decision-making processes, and domestic support.
A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for “strategic communications” activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations. The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. These activities are designed to contribute “positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities” as well as “influence the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of target audiences . . . with the goal of achieving political or military objectives”.
NATO Technical Report: Measuring the Effectiveness of Activities that Influence Attitudes and Behaviors
The emphasis of military operations is shifting more and more towards non-kinetic activities, such as Psychological Operations and Information Operations, which are geared towards influencing attitudes and behaviors of specific target audiences. Though many such activities are undertaken, there is little systematic evaluation of the effects they bring about and their effectiveness. As a result, it is not well known what these operations contribute to the overall operation and to what degree they are achieving their goals. The purpose of the Task Group HFM-160 was to develop a systematic approach to the Measurement Of Effectiveness (MOE) of influence operations.
The need to communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences is not just desirable, it is essential to gain understanding and support for NATO’s operations. Public support for NATO’s missions and tasks follows from public understanding of how the Alliance makes a difference to international peace and security. Public confidence, in turn, is enhanced by NATO’s ability to achieve its mandate in a way that is open, transparent. and consistent with member nation values and expectations.
A September 2012 presentation from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force for training media spokespersons to work with Afghan and international media.
NATO/ISAF engagement in Afghanistan in 2010 was characterised by a refreshed, comprehensive civ-mil strategy as reflected in a substantial force uplift, significant progress in the growth and development of the Afghan National Security Forces, and discernable campaign progress in priority districts. These were reflected in the NATO/ISAF Strategic Communications Framework 2010. In parallel, political events, including the London Conference, the Consultative Peace Jirga, the Kabul Conference, Afghan Parliamentary elections and the NATO Summit in Lisbon, helped define a clear political roadmap for Afghanistan. These developments are reflected in the Lisbon Summit Declaration which provides political guidance for the focus of our efforts in 2011 and reaffirms that NATO’s mission in Afghanistan remains the Alliance’s key priority.
The mission of KFOR as authorised by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) is to contribute to a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and to support the development of security institutions capable of operating without NATO assistance. The adaptation of KFOR’s force posture during 2010 and its unfixing from Properties with Designated Special Status have been supported by an effective strategic communications (StratCom) approach which has been closely coordinated at all stages throughout the NATO chain of command and NATO HQ. Continued StratCom efforts will be required to complement and support military and civilian activities during 2011 as KFOR’s footprint and posture continues to adapt and as progress is made toward mission achievement.
OPERATION OCEAN SHIELD was launched by the North Atlantic Council on 17 August 2009. NATO is conducting counter-piracy activities as part of an internationally recognised and supported effort in a region of strategic interest to the Alliance. NATO’s commitment is as a complementary player in coordination with the other international counter-piracy actors including the EU’s Operation ATALANTA, CTF-151, and individual nations.
All aspects of NATO activities have a critical information and communications component. This concept proposes that Strategic Communications is not an adjunct activity, but should be inherent in the planning and conduct of all military operations and activities. As part of the overarching political-military approach to Strategic Communications within NATO, the vision is to put Strategic Communications at the heart of all levels of military policy, planning and execution, and then, as a fully integrated part of the overall effort, ensure the development of a practical, effective strategy that makes a real contribution to success.
Today’s information environment, characterized by a 24/7 news cycle, the rise of social networking sites, and the interconnectedness of audiences in and beyond NATO nations territory, directly affects how NATO actions are perceived by key audiences. That perception is always relevant to, and can have a direct effect on the success of NATO operations and policies. NATO must use various channels, including the traditional media, internet-based media and public engagement, to build awareness, understanding, and support for its decisions and operations. This requires a coherent institutional approach, coordination of effort with NATO nations and between all relevant actors, and consistency with agreed NATO policies, procedures and principles.
The current transatlantic environment will continue to challenge NATO’s ability to carry its messages proactively and engagingly to diverse audiences across the globe, but it also entails a number of positive trends on which NATO’s future communication efforts should build. From a broader perspective, the public climate in Europe and North America has recently become more supportive of a close transatlantic security relationship compared to previous years. As the 2009 Transatlantic Trends survey shows, the Alliance has regained public support in many, albeit not all Allied countries. Moreover, NATO’s 60th anniversary, the NATO Summit in Strasbourg/Kehl, the arrival of a new Secretary General in late summer and the launching of a public debate about NATO’s new Strategic Concept have spurred broader public attention and interest in the Alliance.
The role of Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) is to induce or reinforce the perceptions. attitudes and behaviour of North Atlantic Council (NAC) approved audiences in support of Alliance political and military objectives. Additionally, PSYOPS can mitigate the effective use of hostile propaganda against friendly forces, local civilian audiences and other audiences of importance to NATO.
The aim of this reference book is to provide the additional information needed by Information Operations (Info Ops) practitioners to better understand and implement the advising and coordinating function of Info Ops in the staffs throughout all levels of command. The reference book covers the experiences and lessons learned on principles, procedures, and techniques in current operations as well as some basic understanding on how to best integrate the Info Ops function in the new evolving structures (new Peacetime Establishment) and procedures within NATO with respect to effects based thinking and the new Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive.
The Information Environment (IE) comprises the information itself, the individuals, organizations and systems that receive, process and convey the information, and the cognitive, virtual and physical space in which this occurs. This environment has seen significant changes in recent years. The importance of worldwide distributed information, the speed at which information is communicated, the role of social media and the reliability of information systems have created a situation in which no Alliance decision or action can be taken without considering its potential impact on the IE. The ubiquitous nature of information and the potential strategic ramifications of tactical actions add to the challenge faced by NATO Commanders. In this new IE it is more difficult to distinguish between the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The coordination, synchronisation and execution of information activities (IA) that deliberately create desired effects in the IE is essential to the Alliance’s successful functioning in peace, crisis and conflict.
The purpose of Allied Joint Publication (AJP)-3.10 Allied Joint Doctrine for Information Operations is to explain how Info Ops support the planning, conduct and assessment of operations. The provenance for AJP-3.10 is MC 422/3 NATO Military Policy on Information Operations, which clearly acknowledges the primacy of civil/political direction on information issues and that the policy and subordinate doctrine applies to the military lever of power only. AJP-3.10 is focused on the operational level. It defines and discusses principles of Info Ops, and highlights those particular Info Ops considerations relevant to the conduct of operations, such as the sensitivity to political factors, and the role of non-military entities and emerging technological capabilities in the information environment, both within and external to NATO.
Over the last 10 years, the U.S. government has made significant investments in science and technology in order to enhance its ability to understand and shape public opinion and behavior abroad—a domain of activity referred to in this report as “shaping,” “influencing,” or “communication and persuasion.” Because this effort is taking place across a vast government bureaucracy, the policy-makers and practitioners engaged in communication and persuasion do not always know what tools are at their disposal and what tools need to be invented. To address this problem, the Department of Defense’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) issued a “Strategic Communication Science and Technology Plan” in 2009 that surveyed the government’s programs in this area and their gaps. To keep abreast of the latest technological developments, RRTO commissioned CNA to update this report for FY 2012. The updated report discusses domains for future investment in research and development (R&D); identifies gaps and proposes new science and technology (S&T) initiatives; and surveys current S&T programs.
A list of current, ongoing, and planned Department of Defense Science and Technology Strategic Communication (SC) programs taken from the 2009 Strategic Communication Science and Technology Plan compiled by the Defense Research and Engineering Rapid Reaction Technology Office.
The concept of strategic communication is an often-discussed topic within government policy circles and at all levels of professional military education. Doctrinal definitions are continually updated and refined to the point that few appear to agree upon the role that strategic communication should play as either a diplomatic function, an aspect of military operational planning, or a process to be executed in the course of national policy. There are, however, a set of key points that all sides seem to agree upon.