Massing Effects in the Information Domain—A Case Study in Aggressive Information Operations

Lieutenant General Thomas F. Metz, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Colonel Mark W. Garrett, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Colonel James E. Hutton, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Colonel Timothy W. Bush, U.S. Army

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Lieutenant General Thomas F. Metz, U.S. Army

. . . I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma.

—Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 9 July 20051

If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a “D” or a “D-plus” as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today.

—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 27 March 20062

In 1995, the Department of the Army, Forces Command, and the Training and Doctrine Command began a joint venture called Force XXI, the focus of which was to understand how information-age technology could improve the U.S. Army’s warfighting capabilities. While many experiments with information technology and theory were conducted across the Army, the Task Force XXI (TFXXI) and Division XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWE) were the capstone events of this venture. Over 70 initiatives were reviewed in the TFXXI AWE, which culminated at Fort Irwin, California, in March 1997 with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division’s National Training Center rotation.

At the heart of this experiment was near real-time location knowledge of friendly units down to individual vehicles and in some cases, individual Soldiers. The experiment proved that “Where I am and where my buddies are” is powerful information for combat leaders. Leaders at all echelons became convinced that information-age technology would help our Soldiers, leaders, and formations become much more capable.

Post-AWE, the Army decided to reduce its combat power in combat and combat support formations by a quarter to afford the coming technology. However, our Army has not fully exploited the available technology, especially in the domain of information and knowledge management operations.

Left Quote

Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.


—President Abraham Lincoln

Right Quote

Information Operations (IO) in the AWE

After graduating from the U.S. Army War College and serving as a division G3, brigade commander, and division chief of staff, I was assigned to the Training and Doctrine Command with duty at Fort Hood in the 4th Infantry Division to support the Force XXI Joint Venture. Although I had no background in information technology or acquisition experience, I was involved with the preparation, execution, and after action reviews of the TFXXI AWE and preparation for the Division XXI AWE. In the summer of 1997, I was assigned as assistant division commander for support of the 4th Infantry Division. As I took on this assignment, I was optimistic that the results of the Division XXI AWE would support what we had learned with the TFXXI AWE, and that our Army would continue to aggressively pursue applying information-age technology to improve our warfighting capabilities. Although I lacked a technical background in information technology, I was confident that we were only beginning to understand the potential improvements to warfighting. I believed that funding, developing, understanding, and maturing these capabilities were certainly going to be challenging. I was excited about their prospects. But I was not prepared for the management of information operations (IO).

Shortly before the Division XXI AWE, a decision was made to add an objective to the experiment, focusing attention on IO. Because the simulation that would drive the Division XXI AWE was not designed to train this new aspect of warfighting, a “Green Cell” was established that would inject information operations events. Major General William S. Wallace, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division at that time, gave me the task to manage this new IO challenge.

I wasted no time gathering all I could find on the subject of IO and began to study it. At this stage of our preparations, our standard operating procedures, battle rhythm, and command post drills were well established. Adding IO at this late date seemed to be a good idea added too late. Nevertheless, in the short time available, I learned as much as I could about the five disciplines which make up our doctrinal IO: psychological operations (PSYOP), deception, operational security (OPSEC), electronic warfare (EW), and computer network operations (CNO).

IO’s Importance in Iraq

Although I don’t think we enhanced the AWE by adding IO, the opportunity to focus on this new doctrine did pay dividends 6 years later when, as the commanding general of III Corps, I found myself preparing the Corps headquarters to deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although IO doctrine had not changed over those 6 years, its importance to a successful campaign in Iraq and to the Global War on Terrorism was crystal clear to many in and out of uniform.

On 1 February 2004, III Corps relieved V Corps. Lieutenant General Ric Sanchez remained the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-7, and I became his deputy. Over the next 13 months, 5 as Sanchez’s deputy and 8 as the commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I), my staff, our subordinate units, and I gained a very healthy respect for IO and knowledge and perception management, primarily because our enemy was better than we were in operating in the information domain, certainly in perception management. Although little has formally changed in our IO doctrine, many leaders, both friend and foe, understand its awesome power. So why is it that we can’t seem to be the best at IO as we are in so many other areas? Where is our initiative? Where is our offensive spirit?

In April 2006, with the help of the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), III Corps conducted a constructive simulation to train the headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Division as it prepared for its potential return to Iraq. As the exercise director of this Warfighter, I was disappointed at what little progress we have made in IO. The capabilities to move information not only around the battlefield but also around the world have grown exponentially, IO’s importance grows daily, and our enemy, who recognizes that victory can be secured in this domain alone, has seized the opportunity to be the best at operating in the information domain.

MNC-I and Iraqi government officials discuss security plans associated with the January 2005 elections.

The Green Cell had matured over the 8 years since the Division XXI AWE, and, although its formal objective for 1st Cav’s BCTP Warfighter was to drive IO, it spent little time in the 5 disciplines of our doctrinal IO. It did, however, spend very important time in helping Division Headquarters prepare for the perception of a war it might face in Iraq—regretfully by being reactive instead of proactive.

I am absolutely convinced that we must approach IO in a different way and turn it from a passive warfighting discipline to a very active one. We must learn to employ aggressive IO. We cannot leave this domain for the enemy; we must fight him on this battlefield and defeat him there just as we’ve proven we can on conventional battlefields.

The Current Information Situation

In an open letter to President George W. Bush published in the January 2006 issue of the Armed Forces Journal, Joseph Collins, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations in Bush’s administration, predicted that “[i]f our strategic communications on Iraq don’t improve, the strategy for victory will fail and disastrous consequences will follow.”3 We are not consistently achieving synergy and mass in our strategic communications (consisting of IO, public affairs [PA], public diplomacy, and military diplomacy) from the strategic to the tactical level, but blaming the IO component for the overall situation is too convenient and too narrow. The perception that IO should shoulder the blame is based on expectations that are beyond the doctrinal charter or operational capabilities of IO as currently resourced. The collective belief is that we lack the necessary skills, resources, and guidance to synchronize IO in order to achieve tangible effects on the battlefield.

Further complicating our efforts in the information domain is the fact that we are facing an adaptive, relentless, and technologically savvy foe who recognizes that the global information network is his most effective tool for attacking what he perceives to be our center of gravity: public opinion, both domestic and international. And the truth of the matter is that our enemy is better at integrating information-based operations, primarily through mass media, into his operations than we are. In some respects, we seem tied to our legacy doctrine and less than completely resolved to cope with the benefits and challenges of information globalization. We are too wedded to procedures that are anchored in the Cold War-Industrial Age.

U.S. Marines of Weapons Platoon, Company E, 2d Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, dig in while they wait to go in and patrol the city of Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Vigilant Resolve.

Nevertheless, there appears to be an emerging recognition among warfighters that a broader and more aggressive, comprehensive, and holistic approach to IO—an approach that recognizes the challenges of the global information environment and seamlessly integrates the functions of traditional IO and PA—is required to succeed on the information-age battlefield. Furthermore, a clear need exists for strategic and operational commanders to become as aggressive and as offensive-minded with information operations as they have always been with other elements of combat power and warfighting functions—movement and maneuver, fire support, intelligence, and so on. Given the follow-on successes of XVIII Airborne Corps and the current success of V Corps, we are clearly making progress, but we still have much to do to ingrain these advances into the institutional structure.

Examples abound where we have failed to mass effects and leverage all of the available tools in the information domain; likewise, we have examples where we have effectively bridged the gap between IO and PA to achieve integrated full-spectrum effects. Comparing Operation Vigilant Resolve and Operation Al-Fajr clearly illustrates the power of an aggressive, holistic approach to integrating IO into the battle plan. A careful study of IO in support of Operation Al-Fajr suggests three imperatives for the future of full-spectrum operations:

  • The successful massing of information effects requires the commander to clearly articulate his intent for the integration of all the available elements of operations in the information domain into the battle plan.
  • The successful massing of information effects requires precise and disciplined execution from shaping operations through exploitation.
  • Commanders at all echelons must, at present, serve as the bridge across the doctrinal gap between IO and PA in order to synchronize efforts in the information domain. Only in this way will the intended effect be achieved.

Information Power

In April 2004, in response to the murder and desecration of Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, Coalition forces led by the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) launched Operation Vigilant Resolve, an assault to restore control of Fallujah. In spite of the superior combat power of I MEF—in leadership, movement and maneuver, and fire support—the operation failed because operations in the information domain were not integrated into the battle plan; in effect, we failed to give the warfighter-on-the-ground the best opportunity to achieve a decisive victory. Steps to prepare the information battlefield, including engaging numerous and varied Iraqi leaders, removing enemy information centers, and rapidly disseminating information from the battlefield to worldwide media were not woven into the plan.

U.S. forces unilaterally halted combat operations after a few days due to lack of support from the Interim Iraqi Government and international pressures amid media focus on unsubstantiated enemy reports of collateral damage and excessive force. Marines won virtually every combat engagement throughout the battle and did so within the established rules of engagement. The missing element was an overall integrated information component to gain widespread support of significant influencers and to prepare key publics for the realities of the battle plan. Without such advance support, the finest combat plan executed by competent and brave Soldiers and Marines proved limited in effectiveness. The insurgent forces established links with regional and global media outlets that had agendas of their own. Our failure to mass effects in the global information sphere proved decisive on the battleground in Fallujah.4

Raising the IO Threshold

As the summer of 2004 passed and the Fallujah brigade experiment failed, it became imperative that the city’s festering insurgent safe haven had to be removed. Planning for Operation Al-Fajr, an assault to decisively clear Fallujah of insurgent activity, was initiated. A key task for MNC-I planners was to ensure that the information defeat of Vigilant Resolve was not repeated in Operation Al-Fajr. Accordingly, we focused our planning to avoid replication of Vigilant Resolve and to prevent the worldwide media clamor and international public condemnation that would negatively impact operations.

To articulate a clear intent in the information domain, we developed what we called “the IO threshold.” Its purpose was to enable the MNC-I commander to visualize a point at which enemy information-based operations (aimed at international, regional, and local media coverage) began to undermine the Coalition forces’ ability to conduct unconstrained combat operations. As Operation Vigilant Resolve proved, the enemy understands the idea of an IO threshold. He is capable of effectively using the global media to impede our operations by creating the perception that our combat operations are indiscriminate, disproportionate, and in violation of the rules of war.

Using the commander’s intent for massed effects in the information domain as expressed in terms of the IO threshold, we illustrated to our subordinate commanders that kinetic shaping operations had to be conducted underneath the IO threshold; that is, we couldn’t remove a city block to prepare the battlefield because such an act could create negative effects in the information domain. Any resulting negative international and local media coverage could impair the conduct of the overall campaign, as had happened during Operation Vigilant Resolve.

Marines from Charlie Company, 3d Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 7, provide security while a mortar team fires on enemy positions during Operation Al-Fajr, 12 November 2004.

We used the same concept to brief the operation to Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) commander General George Casey and to convince him that when I MEF executed the decisive operation, crossing the IO threshold could not distract us from our tactical and operational objectives. Once across the threshold, we planned for success to be achieved in days and hours.

Using this intent as a guideline, MNF-I, MNC-I, and Multi-National Force-West (MNF-W) developed courses of action to mass effects in the information domain, thereby raising the IO threshold and creating additional “maneuver” room for combat operations in Fallujah. We deliberately countered enemy information campaigning, planned and executed IO shaping operations, and executed carefully planned senior leader engagements, military diplomacy, and public diplomacy activities. As a result of these synchronized, integrated, and complementary actions, we were able to mass information effects and build a strong base of support for combat operations in advance of the operation; in other words, we were able to raise the IO threshold by preparing key influencers and agencies for the impending operation.

This offensive mindset and aggressive massing of effects resulted in two additional complementary effects: first, MNC-I placed additional pressure on the enemy throughout Iraq through the elimination of widespread support for his activities; second, decisionmakers were prepared for the pending operation and given the necessary information to prepare their constituencies for the operation.

FOX News Reporter Geraldo Rivera interviews LTG Thomas Metz in Baghdad in 2004. LTC Dan Baggio, III Corps PAO, monitors the interview. FOX News Reporter Geraldo Rivera interviews LTG Thomas Metz in Baghdad in 2004. LTC Dan Baggio, III Corps PAO, monitors the interview. (DOD)

In the weeks leading up to the historic January 2005 elections in Iraq, we in the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) Public Affairs Office had developed a comprehensive plan to publicize important aspects of pre-election preparations together with whatever events might unfold during that historically important day. Part of that plan included having obtained clearance to have Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera cover events from the command’s Joint Operations Center in Baghdad. During the preparation phase of this plan, we arranged for Rivera to visit several units “outside the wire,” including accompanying mounted and dismounted patrols in Mosul. This preparation phase culminated with us dropping him off in Tikrit two days prior to the election for a final sensing of the Iraqi population.

However, on the evening just prior to the election, the MNC-I chief of staff called me in to inform me that higher headquarters had made a last-minute decision not to permit interviews with MNC-I forces on election day. This was a stunning development owing to the many commitments we had made to the media. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate a modification to the guidance that permitted interviews with battalion and lower level elements. However, we were unable to clear media access for interviews at HQ MNC-I. This placed us in a very difficult position with Rivera, potentially putting him and his network in a bad position at virtually the last minute and compromising our ability to show an immensely important dimension of what we believed was going to be a great and vitally needed story.

Both concerns weighed heavily on me as we scrambled to find alternatives. I viewed the situation as a matter of honor, believing that the broken commitment could easily be perceived as a betrayal of trust. The anxiety apparently showed on my face as I went to the helipad the

next day to meet Rivera coming from Tikrit. As Rivera saw me walk towards him, he asked me what was wrong. I paused, and then said: “Geraldo I’ve got some bad news.”

His chin dropped, his face became tensely serious, and his eyes narrowed with concern. He said: “What’s wrong—what happened?” “Well,” I began, “though I know that we committed to support your coverage of the election from here, for reasons I am not at liberty to explain, we have to cancel your access to the MNC-I operations center.”

At that point, his eyes opened, his face regained its composure, and he let out a gasp of relief. He then grabbed my head and, with his hand behind my neck, placed his forehead on my forehead—skin to skin—and said: “Is that all?” Continuing, he said, “Man, you had me worried. I thought you were going to tell me another helicopter with troops was shot down or something like that—Man, am I relieved.” After briefly discussing our efforts to find alternative ways to cover the election, he then said, “Don’t sweat it—this is just bureaucratic B.S. —we’ll figure something out.”

As it turned out, the 1st Cavalry Division’s public affairs officer, LTC James Hutton, was able to set up a visually rich opportunity at a police station in Saba Al Boor, supported by the 256th Enhanced Separate Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard. Ironically, the change of venue resulted in some of the most dramatic and famous coverage of election day. Rivera reported from polling stations and featured the work of the Soldiers of the 256th, who demonstrated the great effort that had gone into making the election a resounding success.

Subsequently, Rivera continued to provide some of the most consistently comprehensive, informed, and accurate reporting that we saw during III Corps’ entire tour in Iraq.

Editor’s note: The above anecdote was solicited by the Editor, Military Review, from the Public Affairs Officer, COL Dan Baggio, who served under LTG Metz in Iraq during the period encompassing the first Iraqi election.

IO in Operation Al-Fajr

As with other operations, massing effects in the information domain requires disciplined execution by leaders, Soldiers, and staffs at all echelons. In Operation Al-Fajr, this meant precise, painstaking execution of all the core elements of traditional IO as well as other elements of combat power that had information implications. Doctrinal IO—PSYOP, deception, OPSEC, EW, and CNO—played a significant role in our shaping operations. Fallujah became a textbook case for the coordination and use of the core elements of IO capabilities in support of the tactical fight.

Arab news reporters conduct an on site interview with MAJ M.N. Hawkins, 4th Civil Affairs Group, in front of the Dr. Talib Al-Janabi Hospital.

Deception and OPSEC. MNF-I, MNC-I, and MNF-W used deception and OPSEC to conceal our buildup of forces north of Fallujah. We attempted to focus the enemy’s attention on the south by constant and aggressive patrolling and feints from the south while simultaneously executing precision strikes in the southern parts of the city. Movement by the British Black Watch Battle Group and employment of a very maneuverable brigade combat team in a dynamic cordon also aided in this effort.

PSYOP. MNC-I conducted very effective PSYOP encouraging noncombatants to leave the city and persuading insurgents to surrender. These doctrinal psychological operations might have been the most important aspect of our operations to defeat the enemy in Fallujah, as some estimates showed that 90 percent of the noncombatants departed the city.

Electronic warfare. MNC-I and MNF-W also controlled the enemy’s communications capabilities by restricting his access to select communications and not only denying the enemy a means to communicate but also directing him to a means that we could monitor.

Computer network operations. Although we cannot discuss operations in this realm here, we must not allow the enemy to win the battle in cyberspace.

The massing of information effects in Al-Fajr was also apparent in the incorporation of information considerations into the application of other elements of combat power. The seizure of the Fallujah hospital by Iraqi commandos during the early stages of the battle provides an excellent example of the integration of full-spectrum planning, rehearsing, and execution of IO in support of overall campaign objectives. During the military decisionmaking process, MNF-W identified a piece of key IO terrain that it believed had to be secured early in the operation to begin eliminating the enemy’s ability to disseminate misinformation and propaganda. The Fallujah hospital had long been used as a propaganda organ by insurgent forces and had been one of the most significant sources of enemy information during Operation Vigilant Resolve. By securing this key IO terrain, MNF-W could significantly disrupt the enemy’s access point to disseminate information.

The Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion captured the Fallujah hospital in the first major combat operation of Al-Fajr. Documented by CBS reporter Kirk Spitzer, this operation established Coalition control of the enemy propaganda platform while building the legitimacy of the Iraqi Security Forces as well as the Interim Iraqi Government. Although this small attack garnered only a footnote in history, it was decisive to winning the IO battle: Without this portal, the enemy had a much weaker voice.

An Iraqi soldier and an M1A1 Abrams tank provide security for Marine ground forces during Operation Al-Fajr, 11 December 2004.

Bridging the IO-PA firewall. In order to mass effects in the information domain and effectively integrate IO into the battle plan, the warfighter must find a way to bridge the doctrinal firewall separating IO and PA without violating the rules governing both. This firewall is essential to ensuring PSYOP, Deception Operations, EW, and CNO do not migrate into PA and discredit the PA effort. We need to be proud of our values and be prepared to underwrite the risk that we will expose too much in the service of transparency; this is counterbalanced with an implicit trust that our values and the truth will eventually prevail. Truth and transparency are strengths and not hindrances. Truth and transparency in PA are the military’s legal obligation, and they also reinforce the effectiveness of our IO by providing a trusted source of information to domestic and international media. Providing information is only effective in the long run if the information is truthful and squares with the realities faced by its recipients.

The challenge is getting the truth out first, in an appealing package, before the enemy does. Timing is critical. Furthermore, we must recognize that the current global media gravitates toward information that is packaged for ease of dissemination and consumption; the media will favor a timely, complete story. As an aside, the enemy knows this, but he is not encumbered by the truth or regulations, which makes our challenge that much harder.

As our main force entered Fallujah from the north (which the enemy did not expect until 2,000-pound precision weapons breached the railway berm and the main attack launched), they did so with guidance—

  • To be prepared to execute actions specifically tailored to capture photographic documentation of insurgent activities (figure 1).
  • To pass that information quickly up the chain to MNC-I, which would then turn that documentation into products that could be disseminated by the Iraqi Government and our PA elements.

Specific guidance was handed down to key elements to develop bite-sized vignettes with graphics and clear storylines.5 An example of massing effects, this small component of the battle enabled the Coalition to get its story out first and thereby dominate the information domain. Figure 2 is an example of this type of product: MNC-I used information from combat forces to construct a document that illustrated insurgent atrocities discovered in Fallujah. To borrow a football analogy, MNC-I flooded the zone with images and stories that the media could—and did—use.

The PAO and other staff sections can use information gathered from external sources. For example, the 1st Cavalry Division, operating as Task Force Baghdad, used information gained from multiple sources to create a product for public distribution. On the eve of the January 2005 election, insurgents attacked the U.S. Embassy with rockets and killed embassy personnel. Media outlets fixated on the event. Some media coverage initially focused on the Coalition’s inability to stop the insurgents even in the most secure areas. Even though the truth of the matter was that the insurgents had no targeting capability and had merely struck the building through luck, the storyline still had resonance.


What the insurgents did not know was that the image of the rocket-firing was captured by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Through the UAV, analysts saw the group assemble and fire the weapon, and then tracked their movement. Coalition forces moved to a house where the insurgents reassembled following the firing and detained most of those who had participated.

The Division simultaneously recorded the event, and the recording was quickly taken to the public affairs officer and edited for delivery to media. The product showed the rocket firing, the attempted escape from the area by the insurgents, and their capture. Using the relatively new capability for posting such items to a publicly accessible webpage via the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), the Division alerted the media to its availability.6 Media outlets downloaded the product, and the storyline in the media shifted from the Coalition’s inability to stop insurgent activity to how successful the Coalition was in detaining the insurgents.

Was this PA or IO? Developing a packaged product for dissemination might appear more like IO than PA, but it was clearly a PA action to utilize the DVIDS’ capability. No media outlet could have collected this information independently. The PAO is charged by the commander to determine how best to provide information about the conduct of operations within the construct of doctrine and law. Surely, close cooperation with IO officers fits within doctrinal and legal parameters. Of course, such work should be done in conjunction with standard embedding of reporters and the provision of senior-leader access to the media as often as possible. First-hand reporting by reporters from commercial outlets is indispensable to commanders seeking transparency; in fact, embedded reporters were critically important in the media coverage of Operation Al-Fajr: Over 80 embedded reporters worked with MNF-W during combat operations.

In reality, these two vignettes (Al-Fajr and the embassy attack) are clear examples of how we can mass effects in the information domain by leveraging all available tools. The 1st Cav PAO decided to use available technology to deliver a clearer public message about the course of events. Why shouldn’t we use our situational awareness technology and network-centric warfare to give us an asymmetric advantage over our enemies? In Fallujah, when enemy forces used a mosque, a minaret, or some other protected site as a sniper position, the rules of engagement rightfully—and legally—enabled our Soldiers and leaders to engage with lethal force. We must have the agility to use our technological advantage, too, so that as a main gun round moves downrange to destroy a sniper position, simultaneously the digital image of the sniper violating the rules of war, plus the necessary information to create the packaged product, can be transmitted for dissemination to the news media.

Iraqi soldiers help carry a baby through a checkpoint during the January 2005 elections.

Implications for the Future

The big issue in our world is whether our doctrine and our policy are up to date. We owe more thinking to the combatant commanders. What are the things that should be balanced when you look at information and communications issues?7

—Lawrence Di Rita

MNF-I, MNC-I and MNF-W were successful in massing effects in the information domain in Operation Al-Fajr for three reasons: We articulated an achievable end-state; we took pains to integrate, synchronize, and execute with discipline all of the elements of combat power (leadership, movement and maneuver, intelligence) and all of the tools available in the information domain (traditional IO, PA, engagement, and political actions); and we were able to effectively bridge the firewall between IO and PA to achieve our desired end-state without violating the rules of either discipline.

This integration has broader implications. We must consider how tactical actions will influence the operational and strategic levels. Because of its failure to influence important audiences, Operation Vigilant Resolve offers a cautionary tale for anyone who would downplay the significance of information in modern warfare.

If general expectations are that we should be able to compete and win the information battle in the global media environment—and this appears to be the general perception within our Army—then we must reshape our doctrine and develop ways to train in the new domains, ways that will evolve as the Information Age evolves. We should restructure the definitions of IO and PA and the relationship between them and develop a considerable global mass-marketing and public-relations capability. There is no other option because “winning modern wars is as much dependent on carrying domestic and international public opinion as it is on defeating the enemy on the battlefield.”8

This idea is not without controversy. The recent debate in the media concerning the use of the Lincoln Group to push written opinion-editorials to Iraqi news outlets by paying for their placement illustrates that there are no clean lines in this discussion. Despite this situation, innovation and the use of new techniques will help us win future campaigns. The new reality simply will not enable Cold War methods to figuratively outgun technologically able enemies unfettered by cumbersome processes for dissemination of information.

In an article published in the New York Times on 22 March 2006, Lawrence Di Rita, co-director of a Pentagon panel studying communications questions for the Quadrennial Defense Review, said Rumsfeld and other senior officials were considering new policies for regional combatant commanders. Di Rita noted that “[t]he big issue in our world is whether our doctrine and our policy are up to date. We owe more thinking to the combatant commanders.”9

Massing of effects in the information domain can be achieved, as evidenced by Operation Al-Fajr. Functional progress within the realms of the communications professions (IO and PA) requires that we accommodate to the globalization of information. After III Corps departed and XVIII Airborne Corps took over as the new MNC-I in early 2005, it remained (and remains) clear that in Iraq our U.S. and Coalition partners have inculcated the lessons of Vigilant Resolve and Al-Fajr.

We must address the challenges an interconnected global media/communications environment and its processes pose to our information-related operations, an environment in which timely and fully packaged stories are far more valuable than mere imagery. While acknowledging continued greater levels of globalization, we must be able to harness all of the elements of national power in an integrated manner. Doing so is absolutely critical if the United States is to successfully defend itself. Failure to do so could be ruinous.


  1. Ayman al-Zawahiri, intercepted letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 9 July 2005, on-line at <>, accessed 26 April 2006.
  2. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in response to a question after a speech at the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 27 March 2006.
  3. Joseph J. Collins, "An Open Letter to President Bush," Armed Forces Journal 143, no. 6 (January 2006): 28, on-line at <>, accessed 1 May 2006.
  4. Ralph Peters, “The Counterrevolution in Military Affairs—Fashionable thinking about defense ignores the great threats of our time,” The Weekly Standard, Volume 11, 2, 6 February 2006.
  5. LTG Thomas F. Metz, “The Battle of Fallujah: A Case Study for Warfare in the Information Age,” briefing to the Capitol Bohemian Club, 26 October 2005, Washington, D.C.
  6. The Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) feeds a signal from a portable machine to a satellite. News stations can pull the signal from the DVIDS website either live or from stored data on the site. It was first used in Iraq in 2004.
  7. Thom Shanker, “No Breach Seen in Work in Iraq on Propaganda,” New York Times, 22 March 2006.
  8. Kenneth Payne, “The Media as an Instrument of War,” Parameters 35, 1 (Spring 2005): 81, on-line at <>, accessed 1 May 2006.
  9. Shanker.


Lieutenant General Thomas F. Metz is the Deputy Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command. He commanded III Corps from February 2003 to May 2006, including 13 months in Operation Iraqi Freedom. From January to May 2004, he served as the Deputy Commanding General, Coalition Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7), and from May 2004 to February 2005 commanded the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). He has commanded at every echelon, from company to corps, in the continental United States (CONUS) and multiple theaters overseas.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark W. Garrett is the Information Operations Chief, III Corps and Fort Hood. He received a B.S. from Texas Tech University and an M.S. in Information Operations from the Naval Postgraduate School. LTC Garrett has served in a variety of command and staff positions in CONUS, Germany, the Balkans, and the Middle East.

Lieutenant Colonel James E. Hutton is the Public Affairs Officer, III Corps and Fort Hood. He received a B.S. from Oklahoma State University and an M.A. from Webster University. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in CONUS, Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy W. Bush is the Executive Officer to the Commanding General, III Corps and Fort Hood. He received a B.S. from Bowling Green State University and an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in CONUS, Iraq, Korea, and Panama.


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March-April 2006