Information Operations Part III: The Colombian Case
By Dialogo July 24, 2012
(Continued from Part II)
The Colombian Military, taking the U.S. Military’s Information Operations doctrine as a point of reference, along with its extensive experience in using these capabilities in combating internal threats, developed a document of its own, known as the “Doctrine of Integrated Action,” in which the objectives and strategic lines of Integrated Action in Colombia are established.
Accordingly, Integrated Action “seeks to support the effort to consolidate territorial control and the legitimacy of the state and strengthen interagency and interinstitutional coordination in order to attain security and peace as a common good, in a scenario of victory as an irreversible process,” in the words of the “General Instructions on the Doctrine of Integrated Action” issued by the Armed Forces General Command.
In the same way, the doctrine of Integrated Action establishes three strategic lines under which the different operations are carried out:
General Integrated Action: has a general objective to support Military operations and assist “in strengthening legitimacy, by armoring and strengthening the Military’s institutional image, collaborating in breaking the Irregular Armed Groups’ will to fight, and facilitating their demobilization.”
Coordinated Integrated Action: assists in the social recovery of territory, well-being, and the sustainable peace that the nation needs, through the use of Civil Affairs, Government Affairs, Indigenous Affairs, and the Professional Reserve Officers Command by the Military commander and other legal representatives of the state and organized civil society.
Resolutory Integrated Action: “seeks the development and the ongoing and simultaneous coordination of political, economic, social, and Military actions directed toward strengthening the state’s basic structures by guaranteeing the defense and protection of human rights, the observance of international humanitarian law, and social freedoms.” Resolutory Integrated Action is intimately connected to the National Policy of Territorial Consolidation, especially during the phases of recovery and transition of territory, during which the presence of the Military and the National Police is fundamental to the entry of other state institutions, with the interagency process as its fundamental axis.
Along these lines, the Information Operations Planning Directorate (DIPOI), assigned to the Joint Integrated Action Bureau of the Colombian Armed Forces General Command, has the objective to obtain the population’s trust by assisting in the defeat of Irregular Armed Groups (GAML) and promoting their demobilization.
Considering this fact, the Army’s Integrated Action Directorate recently created an Information Operations Section, made up of a multi-disciplinary team, the purpose of which is to plan, design, and execute strategies to neutralize actions against institutional legitimacy by the GAML.
The section seeks to support the Army’s efforts throughout the country, by developing information strategies specifically directed at combating 4th Generation Warfare, which encompasses the fields of ideology, politics, cybernetics, mass mobilization, intelligence, and the legal system, among others. These multi-dimensional characteristics are transforming the Military’s instruction and training, in order to have better tools to confront an enemy who, in the majority of cases, is intangible, and who manages information as he pleases, with the aim of obtaining the support of the masses.
In addition to the media, multimedia, audiovisual, broadcast tools and press releases, among others, are also relevant. The coordination and unification of clear and specific messages by means of these different channels is what makes it possible to counteract the impact of the GAML on the Colombian population.
Along these lines, the neutralization of 21st-century threats outlines a future full of challenges for IO, and their evolution goes hand in hand with the projection of scenarios, the construction of long-term strategies, and the development of cooperation opportunities in order to defeat the enemy and consolidate the country as a regional pioneer in this area.
To the extent that these operations consolidate their position as a strategic pillar in the fight against the irregular armed groups, it will become increasingly easy to understand their modus operandi and capacity for infiltrating society; in addition, it will make it possible to strengthen the protocols for managing and appropriately interpreting information, in order to be able to design efficient strategies that can neutralize the GAML.
The importance of Integrated Action and Information Operations is rooted in empowering the community through coordination and interaction with national, departmental, and local government entities. An empowered community is a community that collaborates with the authorities, that reports cases of human-rights violations, and most importantly, that armors itself on its own against illegal armed actors, by strengthening itself as a whole and shaping itself into a strong and effective actor for social change.