Information Capabilities (IC) Descriptions

Article 9 min
Formerly known as Information Related Capabilities (IRCs), review each Information Capability's (ICs) objective, purpose, administer and mechanism as it exists in the information environment.

The information environment is made up of all individuals, groups and organizations that collect, process, disseminate or act on information. Information Capabilities (IC) exist in the information environment.

ICs are the tools, techniques and activities critical to the information environment. They are employed in a joint environment to affect the information provided or disseminated to the target audience to inform and influence their thought process and decision making. They are critical to information operations (IO), whose purpose is to inform, influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own sovereignty.

It is important to know and understand each of these capabilities to ensure there isn't crossover, interference or discrediting of another IC. It is especially important that all ICs work together to synchronize, align, coordinate and deconflict.

For these reasons, it is especially critical for the Public Affairs capability to understand the objective of Operations Security, Military Information Support Operations, Military Deception and Key Leader Engagement, as they are all working with information going out to the public, with differences in specific, and potentially overlapping, target audiences and objectives.

Learn more about each IC below.

Objective: Leverage Informational Power

Purpose:

  • Create, strengthen or preserve conditions favorable for the advancing national interests, policies and objectives by understanding and engaging key audiences
  • Convey the military’s use of information to shape the perceptions, attitudes and other elements that drive desired behaviors and shape the course of events
  • Cause relevant actors to act in accordance with our interests
  • To protect and ensure the observations, perceptions, attitudes, decisions and behaviors of the Joint Force, its allies and its partners
  • To acquire, process, distribute and employ data to enhance combat power

Administered by:

  • Governments

Mechanism:

  • Coordinated programs
  • Planning
  • Themes and messaging
  • Products
Objective: Coordination

Purpose:

  • Accomplish national objectives requiring the combined and coordinated use of the diplomatic, informational, military and economic instruments of national power
  • Coordinate activities with elements of the United States Government (USG), regional organizations, foreign forces and host nations
  • Help the IO cell with interagency coordination

    IO is not the primary function of the JIACG but the group’s linkage to the IO cell and the rest of the interagency is an important enabler for synchronization of guidance and IO

Administered by:

  • DOD and other USG departments and agencies
  • Private-sector entities
  • Nongovernmental organizations

Mechanism:

  • Geographic combatant commander establishes JIACGs as part of their normal staff structures

Objective: Inform

Purpose:

  • Engage external and internal publics in public information, command information and public engagement activities directed toward interest in DOD
    • External publics includes allies, neutrals, adversaries and potential adversaries
    • Note: When addressing external publics, overlap opportunities exist between PA and IO
  • Maintain situational awareness between IO and PA to minimize potential for information conflict
  • Coordinate IO and PA activities that may have converging target audiences and affect the adversary or potential adversary

Administered by:

  • Businesses
  • Governments
  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Close cooperation, synchronization and deconfliction with IO within the IO cell and joint planning group
  • Adherence to all legal and policy constraints in conducting the different activities

Objective: Protect Information and Information Systems

Purpose:

  • Gain and maintain information superiority
  • Protect infrastructure to ensure its availability, to position information to inform and influence and to deliver information to the adversary

Administered by:

  • Businesses
  • Governments
  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Working with and relying on Cyber Operations (CO)

Objective: Collect Information and Protect

Purpose:

  • Enhance the potential of the US and multinational partners
  • Ensure a significant force multiplier when integrated with joint operations
  • Support IO through the space force enhancement functions of:
    • intelligence
    • surveillance
    • reconnaissance
    • missile warning
    • environmental monitoring
    • satellite communications
    • space-based positioning, navigation and timing

Administered by:

  • Government and Military Space Forces

Mechanism:

  • Coordinating and deconflicting the space force enhancement functions with other ICs
  • Utilizing space-based assets, including: space and terrestrial systems, equipment, facilities, organizations and personnel

For more information, see Joint Publication 3-14: Space Operations and United States Space Force.

Objective: Influence

Purpose:

  • Establish, maintain, influence or exploit relations between military forces, governmental and nongovernmental civilian organizations and authorities and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral or hostile operational area in order to achieve U.S. objectives
  • Affect friendly and neutral populations (adversary and potential adversary audiences may also be affected)
  • Take action prior to, during or subsequent to other military operations
  • Shape interaction with local populace to ensure significant effect on the local perception, including potential adversaries
  • Potential roles in IO:
    • Assist in identifying target audience(s)
    • Synchronize communications media, assets and messages
    • Provide news and information to the local population

Administered by:

  • Governments
  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Working with local, regional or national government to place them into direct contact with civilian populations
  • Effectively integrating CMO and other ICs
  • Promoting coordination through CMO representative on the IO staff

Objective: Enable Economic and Physical Security

Purpose:

  • Defined as a global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures and resident data, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors and controllers
  • Employment of cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to achieve objectives in or through cyberspace
  • Provide opportunities for the US military, its allies and partner nations (PNs) to gain and maintain continuing advantages in the operational environment (OE)
  • Enable the nation’s economic and physical security
  • Generally focuses on:
    • the integration of offensive and defensive capabilities exercised in and through cyberspace
    • being in concert with other ICs
    • coordination across multiple lines of operation and lines of effort
  • Supports the process that integrates the employment of ICs across multiple lines of effort and lines of operation to affect an adversary or potential adversary decision maker, IO can target either the medium (a component within the physical dimension such as a microwave tower) or the message itself (e.g., an encrypted message in the informational dimension)

Administered by:

  • Militaries
    • Joint Staff (JS)
    • Combatant Commands (CCMDs)
    • Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM)
    • Service Cyberspace Component (SCC)
    • Combat Support Agencies (CSAs)

Mechanism:

  • Capabilities, when in support of IO, deny or manipulate adversary or potential adversary decision making, through:
    • targeting an information medium (such as a wireless access point in the physical dimension)
    • the message itself (an encrypted message in the information dimension)
    • a cyber-persona (an online identity that facilitates communication, decision making and the influencing of audiences in the cognitive dimension)

For more information, see Joint Publication (JP) 3-12: Cyberspace Operations.

Objective: Influence

Purpose:

  • Convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals
  • Focus on the cognitive dimension of the information environment where the target audience (TA) includes not just potential and actual adversaries, but also friendly and neutral populations
  • Applicable to a wide range of military operations such as stability operations, security cooperation, maritime interdiction, noncombatant evacuation, foreign humanitarian operations, counter-drug, force protection and counter-trafficking

Administered by:

  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Planned operations
  • MISO representative within the IO cell consistently interacting with the PA, CMO, JIACG and IO planners

Objective: Deconflict and synchronize

Purpose:

  • Obtain detailed information related to STO and its contribution to IO from the STO planners at CCMD or Service component headquarters
  • Gain a decisive advantage over an enemy or adversary through classified operations

Administered by:

  • Militaries
    • Special Technical Operators

Mechanism:

  • Providing an STO planner to the IO cell for whenever there is IO and STO crossover
  • Close coordination with Integrated Joint Special Technical Operations (IJSTO)

Objective: Collect information

Purpose:

  • Utilize information operations intelligence integration (IOII) to facilitate understanding of the interrelationship between the physical, informational and cognitive dimensions of the information environment
  • Provide population-centric, socio-cultural intelligence and physical network lay downs, including the information transmitted via those networks, intelligence, to assist IC planners and IO integrators in determining the proper effect to elicit the specific response desired
  • Establish an IO support office to provide IOII by a Joint Intelligence Support Element (JISE) due to the long lead time needed to:
    • Establish information baseline characterizations
    • Provide timely intelligence during IO planning and execution efforts
    • Properly assess effects in the information environment
  • Work with the JISE collection management office to facilitate development of collection requirements in support of IO assessment efforts

Administered by:

  • Governments
  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Integrating processes of fusing collection, analysis and dissemination to provide products that will expose a target audience's potential capabilities or vulnerabilities
  • Using a variety of technical and nontechnical tools to assess the information environment and provide insight into the target audience

Objective: Mislead

Purpose:

  • Take action to deliberately mislead adversary decision makers, creating conditions that will contribute to accomplishing the friendly mission
  • Focus on desired behavior:
    • Misleading the adversary or potential adversary is not sufficient
    • Designed to cause them to behave in a manner advantageous to the friendly mission, such as misallocation of resources, attacking at a time and place advantageous to friendly forces or avoid taking action at all
  • Affect the decision-making processes of an adversary or potential adversary in a particularly powerful way when integrated with other ICs

Administered by:

  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Planning and researching carefully
  • Coordinating mechanisms in place to enable or integrate MILDEC with other ICs
  • Enforcing a strict need-to-know policy on all MILDEC plans, goals and objectives
  • Requires a thorough knowledge of an adversary or potential adversary’s decision-making processes

Objective: Cognitive

Purpose:

  • Meet operational needs through a standardized process designed to mitigate risks associated with specific vulnerabilities in order to deny adversaries critical information and observable indicators
  • Identify critical information and actions attendant to friendly military operations to deny observables to adversary intelligence systems
  • Use other ICs (e.g., MILDEC, CO) to satisfy OPSEC requirements once vulnerabilities are identified
  • Balance the responsibility to account to the American public with the need to protect critical information
  • Not to deny noncritical information to the public

Administered by:

  • Businesses
  • Governments
  • Militaries

Mechanism:

  • Applying, coordinating and synchronizing other ICs
  • Exhibiting complete situational awareness, regarding friendly activities to safeguard critical information to "protect our own" decision makers
  • Working in concert to integrate and synchronize actions among a wide range of planners to achieve a common IO objective

Objective: Security

Purpose:

  • Exploit, attack, protect and manage the electromagnetic operational environment (EMOE)
  • Enables EMS-dependent systems to function in their intended operational environment
    • Electronic warfare (EW) is the mission area ultimately responsible for securing and maintaining freedom of action in the EMS for friendly forces while exploiting or denying it to adversaries
  • Supports IO by enabling successful mission area operations

Administered by:

  • Military
    • Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operational Cells
    • Electromagnetic Battle Management

Mechanism:

  • Coordinating electronic warfare and joint EMS management operations by two or more Services
  • Planning and managing by personnel dedicated to JEMSO and members of either the Joint Force Commander’s Electronic Warfare Staff (JCEWS) or Electronic Warfare Cell (EWC)
  • Integrating JCEWS or EWC efforts into the JFC’s targeting cycle and coordinates with the JFC’s IO cell to align objective priorities and help synchronize EW employment with other ICs

For more information on EW, see JP 3-13.1: Electronic Warfare.

For more information on JEMSO, see JP 6-0: Joint Communications System.

Objective: Influence

Purpose:

  • Plan deliberate engagements between U.S. military leaders and the leaders of foreign audiences that have defined objectives, such as a change in policy or supporting the JFC’s objectives
  • Shape, inform and influence foreign leaders at the strategic, operational and tactical levels
  • Direct engagements toward specific groups such as religious leaders, academic leaders and tribal leaders; e.g., to solidify trust and confidence in U.S. forces

Administered by:

  • Militaries
    • J-9 Civilian Military Affairs
    • Public Affairs and Communication Strategists

Mechanism:

  • Planning
  • Engaging with and meeting with foreign leaders
  • Involvement of wide range of operations such as stability operations, counterinsurgency operations, noncombatant evacuation operations, security cooperation activities and humanitarian operations

For more information on information operations, read the Congressional Research Report to get at the heart of how the U.S. defines Information Operations and ICs.