Volume 1, Issue 3

Volume 1, Issue 3 Editorial

Stylized Image of the Word Editorial


Chief Editor Bill Hutchinson asked us some months ago to lead the effort to produce a special issue of this Journal dedicated to the overarching topic of Perception Management. As members of the Journal’s Advisory Board, we were happy to do so, despite the fact that major new projects rarely arise at the most opportune times. In addition to our own contributions, we have assembled an international team of exceptional theorists and practitioners from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Sweden.

Shaping the ‘Information Space’


Perception Management is a key component of Information Operations. This article presents a taxonomy of Perception Management, which is seen as comprising five principal sub-elements: Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy, Psychological Operations, Deception, and Covert Action. While these are traditional activities, the author argues that they generally have not been employed well and in a synergistic fashion by the Western Powers since the Second World War. The article suggests an approach to foreign political-military challenges in terms of ‘Shaping the Information Space’ as an organising principle of policy and the application of power in the international arena. In order to undertake such an enterprise, the Allied nations require improved understanding of the psychology of adversaries and neutrals, as well as one’s own friends and allies.

Perception Management and the ‘War’ Against Terrorism


This article challenges the popular view that 'propaganda' - here defined in a value- neutral sense - is an inappropriate activity for democratic governments. Indeed, it suggests that it is essential for the 'perception management' elements of the war against terrorism. It argues that we are in a new Cold War type of situation in which our very ideas and values are under attack, and therefore must be defended, albeit within a democratic tradition. The ability of the western democracies to succeed in not just defending, but in actively promoting their value systems over 'the long haul', may even determine the final outcome. Accordingly, great care needs to be taken at both the tactical and the strategic levels of information operations, although the theory is sometimes belied by the practice.

The Offence of Strategic Influence: Making the Case for Perception Management Operations


In the ongoing ‘War against Terrorism’, it is absolutely vital that the Perception
Management campaign of the United States and its allies be coordinated at the highest possible level, resourced adequately and executed effectively. With the demise of the Office of Strategic Influence within the Pentagon, there is currently no central focus for, or high- level coordination of, Perception Management operations. The individuals tasked with undertaking this activity also lack the necessary skills required to formulate target- appropriate messages and the means needed to deliver such messages to their intended audience. 

Information Operations, Public Diplomacy & Spin: The United States & the Politics of Perception Management


The evolution of Information Operations doctrine in the United States is placing more weight upon Perception Management, particularly at the strategic level. This paper argues that if such Perception Management efforts are to be effective they will need to work in conjunction with the State Department and its associated agencies and with the President's communication staff. Such collaboration will require overcoming institutional boundaries and different concepts of what Perception Management involves. This paper examines the place of perception management within military IO doctrine before looking at current debates over the place of public diplomacy in contemporary foreign policy and looking at the role of the White House communications organisation in international perception management.

Waging Public Relations: A Cornerstone of Fourth-Generation Warfare


This paper examines one of the least-understood elements of Information Operations – public affairs. Rather than focusing, however, on traditional military approach to public affairs, it examines how corporations have embraced public relations during the past decade, aggressively pursuing positive coverage that helps win consumer hearts and minds. This article will outline the basic PR techniques and tactics that have been employed in the business world over the past decade. It will show how companies develop messages and marketing plans; evaluate audiences; and disseminate these messages. And it will show how Information Warriors can rapidly and successfully adapt these techniques to an I/O environment. The paper will also outline methods for applying these consumer PR techniques in an IO environment. Most elements of Information Operations doctrine have come a long way in the past ten years, both as a theoretical science and as a practical exercise. 

Who’s in Control? Contemporary Audience-Media Relations and their Implications for Perception Management


The production of media content and meaning has traditionally been considered the sole preserve of media professionals, or producers. As such, in attempting to understand the nature, or potential influential quality of the media, it has largely been thought that the role of the audience is of little consequence. However, research clearly indicates that the audience plays a critical role in constructing the meaning of the information to which they have exposure (Newman, Just and Crigler, 1992; Philo,1993). This fact has only gained recognition as a result of a shift in the way in which mediation and communication has been conceptualised and studied. More contemporary approaches to audience-media relations that have adopted a greater audience-centric approach have shown that media transmission is only half the story. Audiences are, and have always been, active rather than passive consumers of information, and as new technology affords even greater interactive possibilities, the distinction between the producer and the receiver is becoming increasingly blurred and re-defined.

NATO and Strategic PSYOPS: Policy Pariah or Growth Industry?


In the aftermath of 9/11, among many other changes to its defense establishment, the United States has undertaken a significant re-vamping of its strategic psychological operations (PSYOPS) structure and capabilities.xxxviii Similarly, NATO must now determine if it can adapt and face the realities of the modern security environment -- where current and potential threats to peace will confront NATO through asymmetric means rather than through the use of conventional military forces. Of particular interest in this study, are unconventional attempts to confront NATO via aggressive regional and international perception manipulation.

Know Your Enemy, Know Your Allies: Lessons Not Learned from the Kosovo Conflict


There appears to be a world of difference between NATO’s war over Kosovo in 1999 and the US-led war in Afghanistan 2001. The former was a limited war waged with the active involvement of NATO member countries against an identifiable enemy in well-known terrain, whereas the recent war in Afghanistan seems to lack any of these characteristics. Despite the differences, however, US media management in the first weeks of the war in Afghanistan have been hauntingly familiar for observers of previous conflicts. While mistakes will clearly always be made in times of crisis and war, the US efforts to shape the Information Space outside its own territory demonstrates that certain lessons should and could have been drawn from the Kosovo conflict – if the US is genuinely serious about enlisting the aid of its allies in its struggle with global terrorism.

Information Era Manoeuvre: The Australian-Led Mission To East Timor


Several recent international military operations have been criticised, but one success story stands in contrast – the Australian-led mission to East Timor. Australia has a history of seeking to ‘punch above its weight’ with stealth, and battle cunning, backed up with, but not driven by, kinetic capabilities. This paper sets out emergent thoughts on the Australian way of war and the growing awareness of ‘Information Operations’ and Perception Management in Australian military doctrine that preceded the East Timor operation. Australia’s disciplined, restrained and self-deprecating approach helped bind together a 22-nation ‘coalition of the willing’, demonstrating the application of a manoeuvreist mindset adapted for the mass-media information era. The result in East Timor was a method that relied largely on a ‘tactics and television’ approach to accomplish the mission with minimal fighting and collateral damage to the region. The success of this approach would suggest that this form of Information Era manoeuvre is valid for the military challenges of today and beyond.

Fall from Glory: The Demise of the United States Information Agency During the Clinton Administration


This article examines the role of public diplomacy as an instrument of power within the overall United States government organization. It traces the development of various National Security Council directives and policies that attempted to utilize information as element of power, and in turn how successful each one was. This paper also details the formation and historical use of the United States Information Agency as the most visible sign of a strategic organization, designed to use information in the battle against Communism. However, with the changes brought on by the fall of the Soviet Union, calls for the dissolution of this group began. It looks at how the agency was ultimately absorbed by the State Department during the Clinton Administration and suggests reasons for this change. In the end, the author comes to the conclusion, that while the United States government may no longer have a dedicated organization to conduct strategic information campaigns, in reality its ability to do so, has actually been strengthened over previous eras.

Journal of Information Warfare

The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.

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The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.


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