Propastop has noticed how recently the use of the wording „information operation“ has intensified in the Estonian media. Unfortunately, however the spreading of the wording does not have much to do with the original meaning of the term; the concept, in fact has become a tag that seeks to mark opponents. The statement that somebody arranges information operations sounds as if it is being done for ominous and abusive reasons. Use of the label is to create the impression that the opponent is engaged in manipulating public opinion and media for the purpose of hidden malicious objectives.
Similar labeling includes the calling of an opponent a useful idiot or an influence pedlar, as well as any kind of information without tagging its fake news contents.
Some examples of the misuse of the wording „ Info operation“
Andres Herkel appreciates the work of Jevgeni Ossinovski
Urmas Reinsalu comments on the activities of the Tallinn City administration.
Eveli Padar and Häli Tarum criticize the NGO’s Society Research Institute.
Raivo Aeg speaks on Oudekki Loone’s actions in the Greek media.
The Latvian Ministry of Defence and a large shareholder of Norvik bank interview’s comments on the Chairman of the Latvian Central Bank is also referred to as an Info operation.
Please note that, not a single one of these examples is information operations. Rather the terms PR campaigns or media actions would be more appropriate for describing these activities. Perhaps even biased information, election campaigns, an attempt to influence the public – but not information operations.
What is an information operation? In particular, this concept means military action in support of its objectives in the field of information. For example, disinformation to opponents, the undermining of his morals and the collection of intelligence information would be included here. The term also includes for example electronic surveillance or misleading the opponent with fake military equipment. Such operations are generally carried out in real or virtual space, well organized and purposefully, sometimes clandestine. Read also Lieutenant Urmas Abel’s article.
The concept, in today’s hybrid warfare is no longer as clear as it was previously. For example, the malicious campaign conducted during the Bronze soldier incident against Estonia could be called an information operation even though the Russian army did not directly orchestrate it. On the other hand, the recent military marching song incident is not an information operation; it lacked leadership, planning, coordination and purposefulness.
We are looking at a concept that cannot be strictly defined. Even more, we should be reserved about its use in public, so that we do not consider the promotion of every opinion or personal statement immediately as an „information operation“. Otherwise, we will add much demagoguery to our own sensible statements.
Photo: Rusty Sheriff / Flickr / CC