Vantage Point

by Major General Charles W. Thomas

Information Dominance

The degree of information superiority that allows the possessor to use information systems and capabilities to achieve an operational advantage in a conflict or to control the situation in operations short of war, while denying those capabilities to the adversary.-FM 100-6, Information Operations
This edition of the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin is devoted to the subject of information operations. It is important that the Military Intelligence Corps begin an active dialogue on this rapidly maturing concept. The newly published FM 100-6, Information Operations, is a good start, but is essentially a work-in-progress. It remains for us to further it on its journey toward meaningful application.

Information Dominance is the Key to IO

I use "us" because the most serious application of IO involves the notion of information dominance and the majority of that load is handled in large measure by MI systems, force structure, and subject matter experts. While IO involves integrating everything from traditional command and control warfare (C2W), to psychological operations (PSYOP), civil affairs (CA), and the global information environment (in addition to intelligence), the holistic reason for this integration is information dominance. A key goal of IO is to gain a knowledge advantage in terms of what you know about an adversary versus what he knows about you. This knowledge delta, effectively exploited, is information dominance.
Information dominance begins with knowledge first, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and second, weighing them against those of your adversary. The larger the delta between the two, the more dominant your capability to overmatch an adversary. "Overmatch" is a relative term and, in knowledge-based warfare, may occur only in specific circumstances. Understanding when circumstances are favorable is, again, understanding when you enjoy the information dominance delta.
The most fundamental requirement for information dominance is knowledge about your adversaries' capabilities and intentions classic intelligence in every sense of the word. There is no question, though, that other aspects of information dominance are also critical to enhancing this knowledge delta. For example, command and control (C2) attack is essential to suppress an adversary's ability to develop intelligence about us or to C2 his forces. And no aspect of information dominance would work without effective friendly information systems.

MI Support Essential to Information Dominance

The system of systems that MI brings to warfighting over the whole spectrum of conflict is designed to tilt the information dominance delta in our favor. We do this by collecting, producing, and presenting intelligence; disseminating it; and playing a key role in C2 attack. MI owns the subject matter experts, the systems, and the capability to integrate it all from national through theater to operational and tactical components. The IO mission is ours to work, even though IO is functionally spread throughout the Army. That is, the proponent for IO is the Combined Arms Center, the Signal Center has the lead for C2 enable, and PSYOP and CA doctrine rests with the special operations community and..., well, you get the idea.
The integral part of IO remains knowledge read intelligence and relevant information. The harder of the two, by far, is intelligence because it is usually obtained from uncooperative sources. And our ability to accumulate knowledge about ourselves and our adversaries is what, in turn, enables information dominance. So, while we clearly have a key role to play in information dominance, it is not a wholly mature concept, but one that we must all think about in terms of technical and operational architectures, doctrine, and tactics, techniques, and procedures. Information dominance is a concept for MI operations in the 21st century we need to work as a team to perfect it as an integrated part of military operations.