Toward a Simple, Useful, and Common Understanding of Information

By Colonel Brian Russell (@OIECol)

Part 1

“It is now up to us to understand information – how to both defend against it and leverage it to best impose our will on the enemy – and the new operating environment.”

LtGen L.E. Reynolds, Deputy Commandant for Information

Information. It has certainly garnered a lot of attention lately. The global COVID-19 pandemic brings into sharp relief the argument some have been making for years that our nation is losing the information war. The Department of Defense is striving to do its part to fight back against those powers in the increasingly pervasive information environment. As such, each of the services has embarked on a journey to reinvigorate information maneuver, information dominance, or information warfare. Our own service stepped out smartly with the creation of MEF Information Groups, new occupational fields, emerging concepts, and refined terminology to arrest the momentum of our adversaries and exploit opportunities in the new competitive space. But it strikes me as almost ironic that with so much information on information, perhaps we need to take a step back in this Call to Action to evaluate exactly what we’re dealing with here. Before we can ever begin to answer our Commandant’s question about how to win the information battle, we need to help our Marines and their commanders truly understand what information is, why it’s so important, and how to think about its application in warfare. What started for me as an attempt to reconcile all the existing terminology, concepts, and capabilities into a unified theory for operations in the information environment turned into an exploration about the basic nature of information and then building from there into our operational concepts. In short, information is order and the implications of that understanding are revealing. In my next post I will describe this concept of information as order and argue why information is so important to understand in our profession. Future posts will then detail my thoughts on information’s implications for both leadership and warfighting. Stay tuned and I look forward to your feedback on this post and others.