Informational Power

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Power—the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others—has many forms. Informational power is an ability to use information to support achievement of objectivities and create information advantages. Informational power and physical power (strength or force) are interdependent and mutually supporting forms of power applicable below and above the threshold of armed conflict. An effective application of informational power to achieve objectives requires a whole of government, joint, and combined arms approach.


Information is a vital resource for national security. From a U.S. government perspective, the informational instrument of national power is employed in combination with diplomatic, military, and economic power to advance national interests. Previously considered in the context of traditional nation states, the construct of information as an instrument of national power now extends to nonstate actors. Nonstate actors include terrorists, mercenary companies, and transnational criminal organizations—actors who use information to further their causes and undermine those of the U.S. government and its multinational partners. Nonstate actors can also include nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations who can be supportive of U.S. interests.

The U.S. government employs informational power in three primary ways. First, it synchronizes its communications activities to influence the perception and attitudes of other governments, organizations, groups, and individuals deemed vital to strategic objectives. Second, the U.S. government coordinates efforts to secure cyberspace and critical infrastructure against information disruption. Third, the U.S. government provides information to bolster national will and resolve.

Army forces create and exploit informational power similarly to the joint force through five information activities (enable, protect, inform, influence, and attack). Army forces also consider information as a dynamic of combat power employed with mobility, firepower, survivability, and leadership to achieve objectives during armed conflict. Combat power is the total means of destructive and disruptive force that a military unit/formation can apply against an enemy at a given time (JP 3-0). As a dynamic of combat power, Army forces fight for, defend, and fight with information.

Army leaders at every level require and use information to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative and achieve decisive results. Army forces collect, process, and analyze data and information from all domains to develop understanding, make decisions, and apply combat power against enemy forces. Army forces fight for information about the enemy and terrain through reconnaissance and surveillance, and through offensive operations such as movement to contact or reconnaissance in force. Intelligence and cyberspace operations penetrate enemy networks and observe activities to gain and exploit information on the threat. Simultaneously, Army forces defend their own networks to secure friendly data and ensure secure communications. Friendly security operations, operations security, counterintelligence, and defensive cyberspace operations deny enemy access to friendly information and intentions.

JOINT Informational Power (See pp. 2-4 to 2-5.)

For joint force commanders, the essence of informational power is the ability to exert one’s will through the projection, exploitation, denial, and preservation of information in pursuit of military objectives. The joint force uses information to perform many simultaneous and integrated activities ranging from improving friendly understanding and decision making to affecting threat behavior. The joint force leverages the power of information to effectively expand the commander’s range of operations. Joint force commanders apply informational power—

• To operate in situations where the use of destructive or disruptive physical force is not authorized or is not an appropriate course of action.
• To degrade, disrupt, and destroy threat C2.
• To prevent, counter, and mitigate the effects of external actors’ actions on friendly capabilities and activities.
• To create and enhance the psychological effects of destructive or disruptive physical force.
• To create psychological effects without destructive or disruptive force.
• To confuse, manipulate, or deceive an adversary or enemy to create an advantage or degrade a threat’s existing advantage.
• To prevent, avoid, or mitigate any undesired psychological effects of operations.
• To communicate and reinforce the intent of operations, regardless of whether those activities are constructive or destructive.
• To reinforce the will to fight in friendly forces and populations.
• To degrade the will to fight in threat forces and populations.

INFO2 SMARTbook: Information Advantage (Activities, Tasks & Capabilities)This article is an extract from "INFO2 SMARTbook: Information Advantage (Activities, Tasks & Capabilities)" by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:  INFO2 SMARTbook: Information Advantage (Activities, Tasks & Capabilities).

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