House panel wants to force DOD to develop common language on information operations

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Congress is aiming to limit the secretary of Defense’s travel if the Department of Defense does not develop a joint lexicon regarding information operations.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems wants the department to develop a joint lexicon for terms related to information operations, including information environment, operations in the information environment, and information-related capabilities, according to staff members familiar with the subcommittee’s plans to mark the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

The subcommittee will mark up the bill Wednesday morning.

“Information operations have been a real focus area for our members, particularly given what’s going on in Ukraine. Right now, each service defines information operations differently,” said a committee aide, who like others that briefed reporters on the contents of the mark asked not to be identified by name. “If you were to go to the Army and say, ‘How do you define information operations?’ That would actually be different than how the Navy defines it, which makes synchronizing these capabilities often very difficult.”

Each of the services has organized slightly differently around and has varying definitions for information warfare broadly, which encompasses some level of cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence and/or information operations.

According to a 2021 Congressional Research Service report, there is currently no official U.S. government definition of information warfare. It asserts that the government has typically defined information warfare as “a strategy for the use and management of information to pursue a competitive advantage, including both offensive and defensive operations,” noting the link for such a strategy is information operations. Strategy can be defined as the process of planning to achieve objectives and goals in the national interest.

A provision under the fiscal 2020 version of the annual defense policy bill, which created the position of principal information operations adviser, directed DOD to “develop and persistently manage a joint lexicon for terms related to information operations, including ‘information operations’, ‘information environment’, ‘operations in the information environment’ and ‘information related capabilities.’”

The committee aide said that has not been done yet.

“As a nudge and a push, we’re doing a funding limitation of the office of the secretary of Defense travel … to encourage and really push the department to do that work, which we’ve seen is really important and important to the members,” the aide said.

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Congress, information operations, NDAA
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