An Insight into Information Warfare

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post suggests a model for thinking about the negative advertising campaigns of the Presidential election that is straight out of US Army doctrine.
The extent of [the Obama campaign's] effort is only now becoming clear. The Associated Press reports: “President Barack Obama’s campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall.” Think of it like the Confederacy’s artillery barrage on the third day of Gettysburg before Pickett’s charge — you have to in essence disable the other side before the charge begins or its curtains.
This is exactly how the US Army thinks of what it currently calls "information operations."  It considers them a kind of strategic effect, a "shaping" effort almost precisely analogous to artillery.  You can use a heavy information barrage to deny terrain (as for example by blanketing a neighborhood with wanted posters with a picture and a large reward:  you might not catch the guy, but he'll have to feel very shaky about trying to pass through the neighborhood).  You can use it to demoralize.  You can use it to disrupt the cohesion of an enemy unit.

It's sort of surprising to see someone like Rubin get that concept so well.  It's also surprising to see the Obama campaign's efforts likened to a Confederate barrage.


Eric Blair said...

Now the real funny thing is, that barrage didn't clear the way like it was supposed to.

Dad29 said...

Eric's exactly right. The tactic has won Obozo nothing for his $100 million.

And Romney (comparatively) hasn't spend a dime, although he's managed to refute most of the crap quickly and deftly.

bthun said...

I'm not sure if the $100M won Teh Won nothing. It appears to this old Hillwilliam as if the barrage may have caused Teh Won's enemy to close ranks.