JUST IN: Information to Play Decisive Role in Marine Corps Operations

By Mikayla Easley

Marine Corps photo

From social media campaigns to blocking intelligence gathering efforts, China and Russia have proliferated the use of information warfare in their military tactics.

Now, the Marine Corps wants to gain the upper hand in the information competition, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger said. He noted that harnessing, understanding and employing information can often give an advantage.

“I think some could argue it could be decisive, even more than kinetically, perhaps,” Berger said July 7 during the Hudson Institute’s latest Defense Disruptors Series. “You could win before firing a shot … if you’re organized for it and if you can think deeply enough about it.”

To outline how the Marine Corps will gain the information advantage, the force recently published the Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 8, or MCDP 8. The purpose of the document is to introduce the framework for using information warfighting tactics and making it a key tool in the Marine Corps’ operations, according to the force.

MCDP 8 was written in the context of Force Design 2030 — Berger’s plan to restructure and modernize the corps as it prepares for potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific. However, the way information has been used by Ukraine since being invaded by Russia in February has demonstrated its importance in modern conflict, Berger said during the discussion.

“This isn’t just about great power. For every power, information is … pretty much ubiquitous,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your gross domestic product is, if you can manage information you can actually gain an advantage.”

While the document highlights the importance of social media messaging and disinformation tactics, it also details how information can be exploited on the battlefield to improve decision making and the tempo of operations.

Berger also emphasized the importance of gathering data after any kind of information operation so that future decision makers can understand what effect it had and how it can be improved.

“We’re actually going to have to carve out some level of effort in front of whatever we do to measure the back side effect of it, just like dedicating a satellite or a second flight to go look at bomb damages,” he said, noting that it would be a continuous effort.

Information warfare will also help the Corps’ new stand-in-forces operate better, Berger noted. The small, mobile units are meant to travel inside an enemy’s weapons-engagement zone, and ongoing experiments have demonstrated how units can creatively use information to their advantage — from knowing an adversary’s satellite vulnerability windows to the basics of camouflage, he said.

“Knowing when [an adversary] can see me, how do I operate? How do I use that from an information perspective effectively,” Berger said. “How do I either confuse them or how do I convince them that what they’re seeing is what they want to see, but it’s not really accurate?”


Topics: Marine Corps News

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