Data As A Weapon: Psychological Operations In The Age Of Irregular Information Threats | Modern War Institute
The Army’s Psychological Operations Units need modernization.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is possibly the first war to be filmed and waged entirely via social media. Making sense of and exploiting this onslaught of data is a strategic priority for every contemporary force. If the US Army wishes to influence the information age significantly, it must upgrade psychological operations units. PSYOP teams in Iraq and Somalia have shown that PSYOP units must grasp very detailed settings to wield influence successfully. The Somali National Army and US personnel communicated well in rural regions by using handbills, posters, stickers, and pamphlets densely packed with explanatory graphics.
They suffered in metropolitan regions, where the information environment is unrestricted, with various media outlets including high-speed internet access, television, radio, and conventional news media. The Army’s PSYOP community must modernize to comprehend and effectively impact the information environment swiftly. Increased access to publicly available data may result in enhanced capabilities for data exploitation through automated processes, software tools, and skill training. A varied spectrum of knowledge is required to identify and suggest solutions to pain spots at all levels of the business. PSYOP teams need technologies for language translation, optical character recognition (OCR) for converting written or newspaper content, and speech-to-text conversion.
In an open environment, only automated systems can fully leverage the digital complexity of social media. A standard algorithmic toolbox may include
- Tools for language translation,
- Multimodal algorithms for processing memes and videos, and
- Access to open-source news and publicly accessible statistics.
The information environment is a critical battleground in contemporary warfare. Analysis and speed are essential for effectively influencing target populations: The PSYOP community’s capabilities must be modernized, but this does not have to be a lengthy multibillion-dollar process. It entails using publicly accessible data, skill development, automated and machine learning–assisted workflows, and software solutions. Multiple warfighting tasks, including intelligence, mission command, and sustainment, will be enabled via modernization.