Information Environment

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Mapping the Information Environment By Robert Cordray III
Marc J. Romanych, Major, USA (Retired) Editorial Abstract: A follow-on discussion from last issue’s article, “A Theory Based View of IO,” authors Robert Cordray and Marc Romanych present a methodology to “map” the information environment, much like a commander’s J2 maps the physical characteristics of the area of operations. Giving clarity to the information environment, in turn, allows the commander to gain an understanding of its impact and importance, ultimately leading to a more effective information operation.

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f information operations (IO) are to be fully integrated and is needed to organize our view of the environment. For this executed by the Joint Force, then the commander and staff’s purpose, a model – the three domains of conflict – developed visualization of the area of operations must be expanded to by the Department of Defense Command and Control Research include the information environment. However, graphic Program (DoD CCRP) is particularly appropriate.3 The CCRP representation of the information environment remains a model describes three distinct, but closely interconnected challenge for IO staffs. The problem confronting the staff is domains – physical, information, and cognitive – that, in how to analyze and succinctly describe the character and effects sum, explain the importance of information to military of an operating environment that is largely non-physical and operations and, for the purposes of analysis, the character of abstract. the information environment. The three domains can be very This article presents a methodology that, as part of Joint briefly described as follows (see Figure 1).4 Intelligence Preparation of the The physical domain is the Battlespace (JIPB), can be used to “For the practitioner of IO, the most real world environments of land, “map” the information environment intangible element of the information sea, air, and space. It is where in a manner similar to how the J2 conventional environment – information – is of maneuver and occur. As part of maps the physical characteristics of combat operations the area of operations.1 The result supreme importance.” the information environment, it is is a product called the “combined where individuals, organizations, information overlay;” a concise information systems, and the physical networks that support graphic that depicts where and how information flowing in them reside. and through a given geographic area will impact military The cognitive domain is where individual and organizational operations. collective consciousness exists. It is where information is used to form perceptions and attitudes and make decisions. What is the Information Environment? The information domain is formed by the intersection of the physical and cognitive domains, and is the abstract space where The information environment is a construct based upon the idea that the existence and proliferation of information information exists. The domain consists of information and is and information systems creates a distinct operating where the functions of information systems (i.e., information dimension or environment. As a combination of tangible collection, processing, and dissemination) create information (physical information systems and networks) and intangible content and flow. The information domain is the link between elements (information and decision-making), the information the reality of the physical domain and human perceptions and environment is both a resource for military operations and a medium in which armed forces operate. For the practitioner of IO, the most intangible element of the information environment – information – is of supreme importance. This is because, in spite of its lack of physical existence, the content and flow of information within a specific geographic area produces real, tangible effects in the physical world and on military forces present in the operating...
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