Jeff Malone, a senior analyst at Australia’s Defence, Science and Technology organisation discussed the country’s current approach to Information Operations (IO) at this year’s Association of Old Crows’ Electronic Warfare Asia conference being held in Singapore 28 -30 January. Reflecting on the general trend of IO for Australia, Mr Malone stated that the general trend within the domain is that the global and regional security environments are becoming more challenging, and that this is having a direct effect on the preparation and execution of IO. “After a decade or so of Australian operations as part of US-led coalition initiatives in the Middle East, our IO efforts are now expected to occur closer to home,” Mr Malone told delegates.
He continued that Australia’s current joint doctrine focuses on ‘information activities’ at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. He added that, at the tactical level, IOs are focused on informing and influencing, whereas at the strategic level, they are focused on shaping. In the middle of the sandwich, at the operational level, IO continues to support the overall scheme of manoeuvre at the theatre level. Mr Malone continued that the Australian Defence Force now has IO staff based at all of these levels.
Meanwhile, the country’s 2016 Defence White Paper, which outlined Australia’s strategic and defence spending priorities, stressed the procurement of IO capabilities. Mr Malone stated that the ‘jewel in the crown’ of these capabilities is the Royal Australian Air Force’s Boeing EA-18G GROWLER electronic warfare aircraft; 11 of which equip the service. He noted that these aircraft are not only seen as a tool to assist air operations, but are recognised as a potent capability to support he Australian military across the board.
Reflecting on the future for Australian IOs, Mr Malone believes that the next important challenge will be in ensuring an awareness of information operations elsewhere in the Australian government beyond the military: “One of the key challenges is how to integrate IO effects into an overall national effort. In the contemporary information and security environment there is a need to understand how information operations could be used at the national level.”
He argued that one way to address this could be, “a total information defence concept integrating military and non-military IO efforts.”
Dr Thomas Withington