WASHINGTON – The U.S. special operations command has set up a task force in the Pacific to work with allies to thwart China’s information operations, the commander told lawmakers Thursday.
The Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific team will focus on intelligence and influence operations in the Pacific, a part of the world that is receiving a lot of military attention due to China’s growing capabilities.
The team stands ready to work with like-minded partners in the area, General Richard Clarke, commander of the Special Operations Command, told the Armed Forces Committee. “We are actually able to contain some of the disinformation they contain [China] sow continuously, ”he said of the task force’s efforts.
The task force is an example of the new ideas the military is trying to quell harmful adversary influence and intelligence operations. Officials are increasingly concerned about these operations, which are creating chaos, doubt and confusion.
“Adversary’s use of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda is one of the greatest challenges facing the United States, not just the Department of Defense,” said Christopher Maier, assistant secretary of defense for special operations / low-intensity conflicts, earlier this month at a hearing from the United States House Armed Services Subcommittee.
Today’s information environment enables Russia, China and non-state actors to access a global audience in real time, Maier said. “With the first mover advantage and the inundation of the information environment with intentional and manipulated information, largely truthful with carefully crafted misleading elements, these actors can leverage to threaten our interests.”
By and large, Maier stated that the Ministry of Defense is organizing its efforts to combat disinformation, misinformation and propaganda in four steps: combating propaganda by opponents, protecting the armed forces, combating disinformation and strategic deception by opponents abroad, and deterring and disrupting the Ability of Adversary Influence.
Given that the primary mechanism for conveying this malicious information is in cyberspace, US Cyber Command has seen a bigger role than just influencing the ones and zeros that are the language of the domain. Cyber Command also conducts its own cyber-enabled intelligence operations.
The command’s leader pointed to the Department of Defense’s “Defense Forward” policy, which urges Cyber Command to get as close as possible to opponents in networks outside the US as a critical aspect of combating foreign cyber and influence operations, before they hit the US coast.
General Paul Nakasone, head of cyber command, told senators Thursday that the command had conducted over a dozen operations to counter threats from foreign influence prior to the 2020 elections.
“The idea of operating outside of the US and providing our partners with information and acting when authorized. This is an active approach for our opponents, ”he said. “It was most effective, as we saw in the 2018 and 2020 elections, when opponents tried to influence us, to interfere, but were unable to do so.”
The concept of forward defense doesn’t just apply to cyberspace. Clarke described Special Operations Forces, specifically specialists in military information support operations, that are forward deployed and work closely with embassies around the world.
“By working closely with these partners to make sure our adversaries, our competitors, don’t get that free pass, and to see what truth is from fiction, and to continue to emphasize that leveraging our Intel communities is vital Meaning is, “he said.
1st Special Forces Command established an Information Warfare Center specifically designed for the development of “Influence Artillery Shells” to detect enemy activity around the world and quickly relay that information to those who need it.
Ultimately, however, officials stated that the military was only an instrument of national power to suppress this malicious activity.
“That is the power of [Department of] The Treasury Department brings the Federal Bureau of Investigation to [Department of] Justice, Department of Homeland Security. This is the lesson we learned: we have to work together because partnership is where power is, ”said Nakasone.
While responding to information or influencing operations is imperative, Nakasone said the response could be diplomatic or financial, not just military action.
“There’s a bigger piece the government is working on right now: How can we improve the continued resilience of the United States when we look at adversaries who continue to shun our laws and policies and try to use our own infrastructure in theirs? own attempts? “He added.” This is not going to be episodic. The US cyber command and the other combatant commandos must continue to work on this. “