Information Environment

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The information environment is the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information. This environment consists of three interrelated dimensions which continuously interact with individuals, organizations, and systems. These dimensions are the physical, informational, and cognitive. The JFC’s operational environment is the composite of the conditions, circumstances, and influences that affect employment of capabilities and bear on the decisions of the commander.

Information Environment

The information environment is not separate or distinct from the operational environment but inextricably part of it. In fact, any activity that occurs in the information environment simultaneously occurs in and affects one or more of the operational environment domains.

A. The Physical Dimension

The physical dimension is composed of command and control (C2) systems, key decision makers, and supporting infrastructure that enable individuals and organizations to create effects. It is the dimension where physical platforms and the communications networks that connect them reside. The physical dimension includes, but is not limited to, human beings, C2 facilities, newspapers, books, microwave towers, computer processing units, laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, or any other objects that are subject to empirical measurement. The physical dimension is not confined solely to military or even nation-based systems and processes; it is a defused network connected across national, economic, and geographical boundaries.

B. The Informational Dimension

The informational dimension encompasses where and how information is collected, processed, stored, disseminated, and protected. It is the dimension where the C2 of military forces is exercised and where the commander’s intent is conveyed. Actions in this dimension affect the content and flow of information.

C. The Cognitive Dimension

The cognitive dimension encompasses the minds of those who transmit, receive, and respond to or act on information. It refers to individuals’ or groups’ information processing, perception, judgment, and decision making. These elements are influenced by many factors, to include individual and cultural beliefs, norms, vulnerabilities, motivations, emotions, experiences, morals, education, mental health, identities, and ideologies. Defining these influencing factors in a given environment is critical for understanding how to best influence the mind of the decision maker and create the desired effects. As such, this dimension constitutes the most important component of the information environment.

INFO1: The Information Operations & Capabilities SMARTbookThis article is an extract from “INFO1: The Information Operations & Capabilities SMARTbook (Guide to Information Operations & the IRCs)” by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:INFO1: The Information Operations & Capabilities SMARTbook (Guide to Information Operations & the IRCs).”

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