The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command told members of Congress Thursday (March 25) that his command has established a working group in the Pacific to work with allies in the region to thwart China’s information operations.
The Joint Indo-Pacific Working Group will focus on information and influence operations in the Pacific theater. The region has received extensive military attention due to China’s growing military power. The working group is ready to work with like-minded partners in the region, Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of Special Operations Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “We’ve actually been able to dispel the disinformation that they (China) keep spreading,” he said.
The working group is one of the military’s new ideas in trying to stifle the influence and information operations of destructive adversaries. Officials are increasingly concerned about these operations that cause confusion and doubt.
Christopher Maier, acting lead Defense Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, told a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month that the use of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda in the military is one of the biggest challenges facing not just the Defense Department, but the United States today.
Meyer said today’s information environment allows Russia, China and non-state actors to reach a global audience in real Time. He said, “The information environment is flooded with information that is largely true, but laced with carefully crafted deceptions, by virtue of first-mover advantage and carefully orchestrated and manipulated, and these actors can use that to gain influence and threaten our interests.”
Meyer cited four DoD efforts to combat disinformation, misinformation and propaganda at that hearing: countering adversary propaganda, military protection, countering adversary disinformation and strategic deception abroad, and stopping and disrupting adversary influence.
The head of U.S. Cyber Command referred to the Defense Department’s “defend forward” directive at Thursday’s Senate hearing, which requires Cyber Command to get as close as possible to adversaries in cyberspace outside the United States, which is the key to countering foreign cyber and influence operations before they enter the United States. The key.
General Paul Nakasone, head of Cyber Command, told senators that they have conducted more than a dozen operations to deter threats from foreign powers in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The Frontier Defense concept does not only apply to cyberspace. Gen. Clark briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on special operations forces, specifically military information support operations professionals who have been deployed and work closely with embassies around the world.
Military officials also noted that the military is only one means of deterring these malicious activities from national forces. Working together with the Treasury, FBI, Justice and Homeland Security departments, among others, is where the power lies, Gen. Nakasone said.
However, Nakasone said that while there must be a response to information or influence operations, the response may be by diplomatic or financial means, not just military action.