U.S. Space Command last year created a new position specifically dedicated to information warfare, DefenseScoop has learned. It is the only combatant command among the many that responded to queries from DefenseScoop, that has created such a position.
The role, deputy operations (J3) for information warfare, was established on April 7, 2022, according to a spokesperson, to integrate and synchronize information forces such as cyber and information operations within the command.
While other combatant commands may not have created an analogous position in name alone, some created positions with similar roles. There is currently no official definition or lexicon for information warfare within the Department of Defense. As a result, the services and commands have sought to organize under their own specific lines of how they interpret and approach information warfare.
Those areas generally include cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, information operations, deception, psychological operations and intelligence.
The DOD in September revised its doctrine, publishing Joint Publication 3-04, Information in Joint Operations, which builds upon previous doctrine and introduces some new concepts, to include getting away from parochial “information operations” and moving toward broader “operations in the information environment,” as the U.S. military refers to them.
Spacecom’s global operations directorate, or J3, is split between a deputy for space operations and a deputy for information warfare. It sought to create a position to better posture itself to compete in the information environment all the way from the competition phase to conflict.
“Consistent with JP 3-04, the U.S. Space Command commander established the Information Warfare division to synchronize its information forces in a manner that ensures we can effectively compete in the information environment from competition to conflict,” a spokesperson said, adding that each combatant command is organized differently to best address their requirements.
“Consistent with Joint Publication 3-04, U.S. Space Command’s overall Information Warfare effort focuses on conducting operations in the information environment that involves the integrated employment of multiple information forces to affect drivers of behavior by informing audiences, influencing foreign relevant actors, and attacking and exploiting relevant actor information, information networks, and information systems,” the spokesperson said.
DefenseScoop reached out to the other combatant commands to see if they had created an information operations director or an analogous position.
Strategic Command, Central Command and Northern Command said they do not have information warfare directorates.
Transportation Command, typically always the supporting command as a functional combatant command, said while it does not have a director or directorate staff section for information warfare, it coordinates with the supported command’s public affairs office for synchronized communications for messaging in line with DOD’s principles of information and public affairs guidance.
Most combatant commands have a staff section, dubbed the J-39, that handle and coordinate information ops.
European Command “maintains this doctrinal structure through the USEUCOM J-39 Information Operations Division,” a spokesperson said. “In September of 2022, Joint Stuff published the Joint Publication 3-04, Operations in the Information Environment (OIE), superseding the JP 3-13 Information Operations. The OIE term replaced information operations. Although some services use the term ‘information warfare,’ information warfare is not in Joint Staff lexicon with respect to organization and structure. Strategic documents and Service publications may use the term ‘information warfare’ to describe the mobilizing of information to attain a competitive advantage and achieve United States (US) policy goals.”
The personnel within Eucom’s J-39 include military information support operations, operations security, data science and operations research used by information planners to achieve the combatant commander’s objectives, the spokesperson added.
In a similar vein, Southern Command doesn’t have an information warfare director or directorate, but rather a doctrinal Information Operations Working Group, a spokesperson said. This working group brings together a cross section of representatives from offices and divisions such as public affairs, military information support operations and civil affairs, they added.
“The working group’s primary purpose is to ensure synchronized communications planning, implementation, and evaluation in support of the command’s theater strategy, mission, operations, and partnerships,” the spokesperson said. “Though the working group does not have direct meetings with other combatant commands programmed into their schedules, they do coordinate closely with counterparts from other combatant commands when supporting operations, engagements and events requiring collaboration between geographic and functional combatant commands.”
Cyber Command’s information operations entity is also located in its J3 operations directorate and assists in planning, coordinating, integrating, assessing and de-conflicting information-related capabilities for various military operations across all service components, a spokesperson said. That support is provided to combatant commands through the services within their specific theaters of responsibility.
Special Operation Command, which as a functional combatant command is not an operational headquarters and thus doesn’t actually command and control operations, has an official that runs the J-39 division, called the operations in the information environment (OIE) division chief, according to a spokesperson.
This entity works with all other combatant commands and contains three branches: civil affairs, military information support and information coordination.
“The J39 OIE Division leads the integration of Joint Information Operations and is responsible for Special Operations Forces’ Information Operations policy, strategy, plans, and operations to achieve national security objectives globally,” the spokesperson said. “The division is also responsible for USSOCOM’s authorities and requirements as the Joint Proponent for Civil Affairs and Military Information Support Operations.”
Africa Command and Indo-Pacific Command have not provided responses.
Updated on May 16, 2023, at 2:10 PM: This story has been updated to clarify that U.S. Space Command is the only combatant command among the many that responded to DefenseScoop’s queries, to create a new position specifically dedicated to information warfare. A previous version of this story said it was the only combatant command to create such a position. DefenseScoop did not receive comment from Africa Command or Indo-Pacific Command about whether they have created a similar position.
Updated on May 16, 2023, at 5:29 PM: This story has been updated to include a response from Northern Command that was received after the story was first published.