“A Tactical Staff Structure for an Ideological War,” by Major G John David and Captain E Lawson Quinn, Marine Corps Gazette, February 2006, Vol. 90, Iss. 2, p. 30-32 (3 pp.).
Matt from Mountain Runner sent me an interesting article by David and Quinn on organization for the Long War. Despite an initial negative reaction, I reread the article and became impressed. The Marine Corp is learning the lessons of 4GW.
The authors recognize that moral warfare extends beyond merely influencing an enemy’s will, but rather:
IO that deals with terror’s supporting ideology must be a combined arms effort the object of which is to isolate the enemy from its justification and radical ideology, supplant its message with ours, and convince the various target populations to accept our message and change their behavior accordingly.
This combined arm of information is best used to influence the social decision cycle.
All physical (also referred to as kinetic) actions taken on the battlefield generate a message to all of the populations in the area of operations (AO)-and some external to it-who witness them through information sources, whether that message is planned or not. Accordingly, just as fire supports maneuver and vice versa, physical and information battles must be viewed as combined arms achieving synergy only if intended and controlled. Although the Marine Corps will never have, nor would it seek, charge of all information producers in an AO, it can determine friendly message objectives that can preempt, counteract, or grow more powerful than terrorist weapons of fear by employing information to achieve its objectives. Moreover, it can and must target more than simply the enemy. Adversarial populations not actually engaging in fighting, potentially friendly populations not willing to act, neutral groups, voters in coalition or allied nations, all of these elements will be reached by messages our Corps sends when engaged, and we must have a plan for managing and directing what those populations receive.
Best part: the Marines understand the heart of 4GW. 4GW relies on subversion — changing the enemy’s orientation. The greatest of 4GW victories can even make your enemy an active accomplice, as the North Vietnamese made the US Congress in the 1970s. In that context, get this:
All of this will require training in an expanded vision of IO that incorporates PsyOp, commander’s acceptance of the idea of the combined arms impact of physical and informational forces, and a commitment by the Marine Corps to extend into the PsyOp realm with the current level of personnel from both PA and intelligence. Sun Tzu wrote, “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” And the only way to do so against the radical practitioners of today’s extremist religious ideologies, prone to resorting to terrorism, is to have an effective means of conducting IO. Terrorism in and of itself is just a tactic. It is horrible and morally repugnant, but still just a tactic. Declaring war on a tactic is akin to declaring war on amphibious landings. The Marine Corps must do more than react to the enemy’s tactic. It must attack insurgent or terrorist centers of gravity by comprehensively addressing intelligence collection, information projection, and information protection to shape the perceptions of all those in or observing the battlespace in order to influence them to make decisions in support of a defined objective. It must fight the battle for the message.
“All” means everyone, including the enemy. The Marines want to shape the orientation of the enemy so that his acts “influence them to make decisions in support of [our victory].”