The DoD released their 2023 Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment. It’s intended to help their ability to ‘plan, resource, and apply the informational power toward integrated deterrence, campaigning, and building enduring advantages as described in the 2022 National Defense Strategy,’ the SOIE states.
The four lines of effort prioritized in the 2023 DoD SOIE are People and Organizations, Programs, Policies and Governance, and Partnership. These four LoE are identified as primary means to enable the DoD to fully ‘integrate and modernize operations’ in the information environment.
According to a DoD news release, this strategy is an important step forward for the DoD’s operations in the information environment. The goal is to strengthen integrated deterrence, as well as gain and sustain information advantages for DoD activities and operations.
“At the Department of Defense, we are driving hard to further strengthen America’s deterrence in the 21st-century world,” said Lloyd J. Austin III, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, in the opening letter of the DoD SOIE. “With the National Defense Strategy as our North Star, we are taking on the ‘pacing challenge’ of the People’s Republic of China, tackling the acute threat of today’s highly aggressive Russia, and increasing our vigilance against the persistent threats of North Korea, Iran, and transnational terrorist networks.”
According to the SOIE, the effective application of informational power must be more broadly understood and deliberately incorporated into the full range of DoD strategies and operations, activities, and investments of national interests across diplomatic, information, military, and economic instruments of national power in support of specific defense policy objectives.
The SOIE elaborates that in the past OIE has been more of an afterthought; ‘only considered when beneficial to lethal/tactical objectives. Currently, there is more of a combined arms approach where OIE uses all military capabilities to accomplish tactical missions and achieve operations success. The intent of the SOIE going into the future is full integration of informational and physical power, especially during the initiation of operational planning.
Secretary of Defense Austin finished his statements in the SOIE by stating, “make no mistake: America’s competitors and enemies are moving quickly in the information environment, hoping to offset our enduring strategic advantages elsewhere. This strategy is an important step forward in swiftly and seamlessly synchronizing and integrating our own operations in the information environment so that we can continue to strengthen our deterrence—and position the United States to lead the way toward a 21st-century world that is more secure and free.”
The SOIE breaks down several key pieces of its approach and uses in the informational environment by laying out the current and future strategic environment, key OIE principles, and the SOIE’s strategic approach to specific foreign actors; including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
“According to the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, ‘Globally, foreign states’ malicious use of digital information and communication technologies will become more pervasive, automated, targeted, and complex during the next few years, further threatening to distort publicly available information and probably will outpace efforts to protect digital freedoms,” The SOIE states. “The exploitation of U.S. citizens’ sensitive data and illegitimate use of technology, including commercial spyware and surveillance technology, probably will continue to threaten U.S. interests.”
The SOIE states that the “DoD operates in a world evolving both technologically and socially at an ever-accelerating pace, and that our adversaries and others are effectively leveraging the information environment to advance their objectives. The 2023 DoD SOIE is essentially the DoD’s response to those efforts and is our own strategy to enable integrated deterrence, campaigning, and building enduring advantages.”
The SOIE concludes with the statement, “this strategy informs and guides the investments that the Department should make to improve its abilities to influence our rivals and adversaries’ decisions and behaviors, while protecting DoD personnel and institutions against foreign malign influence. This is an enduring effort and significant work remains”