Information-Related Capabilities (IRCs)

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Editor’s note (2024): Based on changes to joint information doctrine, Army forces will no longer use the terms information operations (see Information Advantage), information-related capabilities (see information capabilities), or information superiority. A significant joint doctrinal change is the transition from joint information operations (IO) to operations in the information environment (OIE).

See our NEW articles on Information Advantage, Information Activities, Information Capabilities, and Operations in the Information Environment (OIE).

An information-related capability (IRC) is a tool, technique, or activity employed within a dimension of the information environment that can be used to create effects and operationally desirable conditions (JP 1-02). The formal definition of IRCs encourages commanders and staffs to employ all available resources when seeking to affect the information environment to operational advantage. For example, if artillery fires are employed to destroy communications infrastructure that enables enemy decision making, then artillery is an IRC in this instance. In daily practice, however, the term IRC tends to refer to those tools, techniques, or activities that are inherently information-based or primarily focused on affecting the information environment.

Information Operations (IO) brings together information-related capabilities (IRCs) at a specific time and in a coherent fashion to create effects in and through the information environment that advance the ability to deliver operational advantage to the commander. While IRCs create individual effects, IO stresses aggregate and synchronized effects as essential to achieving operational objectives.

Information-Related Capabilities

Two broad categories of IRCs exist: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic IRCs are those capabilities internal to or embedded in an Army unit. Extrinsic IRCs are those capabilities that exist outside the unit, such as those available at or through higher or other headquarters or that are joint, interagency, non-governmental, or belong to other unified action partners.

IRCs include—
• Public affairs
• Civil affairs operations
• Military deception
• Military information support operations (MISO)
• Operations security (OPSEC)
• Cyberspace electromagnetic activities
• Electronic warfare
• Cyberspace operations
• Space operations
• Soldier and leader engagement (SLE), to include police engagement
• Combat camera
• Special technical operations

All unit operations, activities, and actions affect the information environment. Even if they primarily affect the physical dimension, they nonetheless also affect the informational and cognitive dimensions. For this reason, whether or not they are routinely considered an IRC, a wide variety of unit functions and activities can be adapted for the purposes of conducting information operations or serve as enablers to its planning, execution, and assessment. Some of these include, but are not limited to:
• Commander’s communications strategy or communication synchronization.
• Presence, profile, and posture
• Foreign disclosure
• Physical security
• Physical maneuver
• Special access programs
• Civil military operations
• Intelligence
• Destruction and lethal actions

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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