US Department of Defense officials are looking to weaponize disinformation, by looking for new “influencing tools” against “enemy propaganda,” military.com reported.
The Pentagon wishes to expand its capabilities in irregular warfare, which according to Defense officials is a critical tool for defeating near-peer adversaries preemptively.
“As a department, we have often exhibited a historical preference in the past century for traditional high-end force rather than irregular solutions,” Andrew Knaggs, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism said on February 5th.
“As DoD shifts to meet the demands of great power competition … we are hard at work institutionalizing the substantial expertise in [irregular warfare, or IW] that we have over the last 17 years of irregular conflict.”
The National Defense Strategy requires that irregular warfare become a core competency for the DoD, said Owen West, assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.
West also added that this is a continuation of Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ efforts to end the habit of “standing up and standing down advisory capacity” in past conflicts.
The emphasis on irregular warfare “isn’t just [special operations forces]; this is the entire joint force … sustaining that ability,” West said.
“Our adversaries have weaponized disinformation and propaganda to their advantage,” Knaggs warned. “Rather than hiding from the transparency afforded by the 24-hour news cycle and pervasive social media, our adversaries embrace that cycle and they use it to their advantage.”
He also said that the Pentagon should embrace “the potential of these tools to shape, compel and deter would-be adversaries.”
“We also need to give renewed emphasis to the information environment. Our adversaries have weaponized disinformation and propaganda to their advantage. Rather than hiding from the transparency afforded by the 24-hour news cycle and pervasive social media, our adversaries embrace that cycle and they use it to their advantage,” he added.
Similarly to what the Institute for Statecraft and its pet project the Integrity Initiative do, the approach to messaging must be changed to have better coordination with “civilian agencies and other civilian entities,” as well as new technologies designed to “isolate and identify disinformation.”
“Conventional forces have proven essential in bringing sufficient mass, scale and lethality to the fight in support of most irregular warfare contingencies,” Knaggs said. “As a result, the current joint force is more experience in IW today than it was in past generations.”
In their efforts, the Pentagon may find assistance in the Integrity Initiative, which appears to also be moving across the Atlantic from the UK.
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