Congress wants the Pentagon to create a new position to advise the Secretary of Defense on information operations, essentially operations aimed to influence the decision making of adversaries.
The provision in the annual defense policy bill, finalized by a conference committee of House and Senate leaders Dec. 9, instructs the Department of Defense to designate a principal information operations adviser 30 days after the enactment of the bill.
Lawmakers involved in annual defense authorization negotiations finalized a sweeping deal late Monday.
According to the legislation, the new adviser will oversee policy, strategy, planning, resource management, operational considerations, personnel, technology development, overall integration and supervision of information operations. The job will also include implementation of polices to ensure deconfliction with other U.S. agencies and deciding on attribution or public acknowledgment of operations in the information environment.
The provision also establishes a reporting mechanism for Congress to keep abreast of operations related to information warfare each quarter.
To keep up with the changing nature of war and in response to nations such as China and Russia restructuring their militaries around a consolidated information warfare discipline, each of the services in their own ways have reorganized to some degree. Much of the restructuring surrounds consolidating cyber, space, electronic warfare, information operations, and intelligence under a single information warfare pipeline.
The changes come as Congress has grown concerned in recent years regarding lack of coordination for information operations across the department.
How information-related capabilities – especially through the cyber domain – manifest themselves from a joint command construct, is murky.
In late October, the Government Accountability Office delivered a report mandated by the House Armed Services titled “Information Operations: DOD Should Improve Leadership and Integration Efforts.” The report, however is classified.
Congressional committees and national security experts have been concerned, not only about the frequency of information operations and influence campaigns, but also how the military might leverage its own capabilities to conduct information operations during times of conflict. The defense policy bill for fiscal year 2020 also directs the creation of a cross functional team composed of experts within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to focus on the information environment.