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APRIL 2021

U.S. SOCOM Forms Task Force To Counter China’s “Information Operations” In Indo-Pacific

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U.S. SOCOM Forms Task Force To Counter China's "Information Operations" In Indo-Pacific

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United States Special Operations Command formed a task force in the Pacific region to counter China’s information operations.

This also involves “likeminded allies”.

The Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific team will be focused on information and influence operations in the Pacific theater, as this part of the world requires more attention from US and Co. since China’s capabilities appear to be growing exponentially.

Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of Special Operations Command, said before the Armed Services Committee that the plan is to involve more allies.

“We actually are able to tamp down some of the disinformation that they [China] continuously sow,” he said of the task force’s efforts.

“Adversary use of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda poses one of today’s greatest challenges to the United States, not just to the Department of Defense,” Christopher Maier, acting assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations/Low-intensity Conflict, said earlier this month at a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing.

Currently, Russia, China and non-state actors real-time get access to a global audience due to the state of the world’s information environment.

“With first-mover advantage and by flooding the information environment with deliberated and manipulated information that is mostly truthful with carefully crafted deceptive elements, these actors can gain leverage to threaten our interest,” Maier explained.

In general, Maier explained that the Pentagon organizes its efforts to combat disinformation, misinformation and propaganda in four directions:

  1. countering propaganda by adversaries;
  2. force protection;
  3. countering disinformation and strategic deception abroad by adversaries;
  4. deterring and disrupting adversarial influence capabilities.

This is further supported by Cyber Command’s “defend forward” directive – to get as close as possible to adversaries in networks outside the United States.

Basically, offensive cyber-attacks, hidden behind the veil of being “defensive”.

Gen. Paul Nakasone, Cyber Command’s head, explained to senators that the command conducted over a dozen operations to head off foreign influence threats prior to the 2020 elections.

“The idea of operating outside of the United States, being able to both enable our partners with information and act when authorized. This is an active approach to our adversaries,” he said. “It’s been most effective as we’ve seen with the 2018 and 2020 elections with adversaries attempting to influence us, attempting to interfere but not being able to do that.”

The forward defense concept isn’t just applicable to cyberspace. Clarke described Special Operations Forces, specifically Military Information Support Operations professionals, that are deployed forward and work closely with embassies around the world.

“By working closely with those partners to ensure that our adversaries, our competitors are not getting that free pass and to recognize what is truth from fiction and continue to highlight that to using our intel communities is critical,” he said.

1st Special Forces Command built an Information Warfare Center specifically designed to develop “influence artillery rounds”.

But what the military does is only one aspect of countering one’s adversaries. In the explanation of Nakasone, below, it turns out that the US is, essentially, a warfare state in which all of its state institutions work together to counter the rising capabilities of China, Russia and more.

“This is what the power of [Department of] Treasury brings to it, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, [Department of] Justice, Department of Homeland Security. This is the lesson that we’ve learned, is that we have to operate together because the partnership is where the power is,” Nakasone said.

In response to alleged, and largely imaginary operations and threats, Nakasone said the US decided it could carry out diplomatic or financial, not just a military action.

“There’s a broader piece that is being worked right now by the administration in terms of: How do we improve the further resilience of the United States as we look at adversaries continuing to avoid our laws and policies and try to use our own infrastructure in their own attempts?” he added. “This is not going to be episodic. This is something that U.S. Cyber Command and the other combatant commands need to continue to work at.”


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