Remember: “The war abroad always comes home”.
And this one “starts with hyper-connectivity”.
“Cognitive warfare, when practiced effectively has strength, an insidious nature and disrupts our ordinary understandings and reactions to events. The term, cognitive warfare, requires some dissection and interpretation in the context of national security; broadly defined it is a disinformation process to psychologically wear down the receivers of the information. It is strategically spread through information resources like social media, networking, Internet resources, videos, photos taken out of context, simplistic resources like political cartoons and even well-planned websites that encourage the making of disinformation.”Diana Mackiewicz
University of Massachusetts Lowell – Cognitive Warfare – Conference: INSS-Summer Institute 2018, Tel Aviv, Israel
Canada – NATO Innovation Challenge Fall 2021: Cognitive Warfare – 2021
Informational webinar on October 5th as Canada hosts the Fall 2021 NATO Innovation Challenge organized by Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) and the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) iHub. Innovators will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the concept of Cognitive Warfare as well as the Innovation Challenge’s eligibility requirements, application process and timeline.
Commenting on the video above, The Gray Zone notes:
The other institution that is managing the Fall 2021 NATO Innovation Challenge on behalf of Canada’s Department of National Defense is the Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM).
A Canadian military officer who works with CANSOFCOM, Shekhar Gothi, was the final panelist in the October 5 NATO Association of Canada event. Gothi serves as CANSOFCOM’s “innovation officer” for Southern Ontario.
He concluded the event appealing for corporate investment in NATO’s cognitive warfare research.
The bi-annual Innovation Challenge is “part of the NATO battle rhythm,” Gothi declared enthusiastically.
He noted that, in the spring of 2021, Portugal held a NATO Innovation Challenge focused on warfare in outer space.
In spring 2020, the Netherlands hosted a NATO Innovation Challenge focused on Covid-19.
Gothi reassured corporate investors that NATO will bend over backward to defend their bottom lines: “I can assure everyone that the NATO innovation challenge indicates that all innovators will maintain complete control of their intellectual property. So NATO won’t take control of that. Neither will Canada. Innovators will maintain their control over their IP.”
The comment was a fitting conclusion to the panel, affirming that NATO and its allies in the military-industrial complex not only seek to dominate the world and the humans that inhabit it with unsettling cognitive warfare techniques, but to also ensure that corporations and their shareholders continue to profit from these imperial endeavors.
Considerations on resilience
Since the early days of the Alliance, NATO has played an essential role in promoting and enhancing civil preparedness among its member states. Article 3 of the NATO founding treaty establishes the principle of resilience, which requires all Alliance member states to “maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” This includes supporting the continuity of government, and the provision of essential services, including resilient civil communications systems.NATO
A Taipei think tank and observers in Taiwan say China is trying to influence residents with “cognitive warfare,” hoping to reverse opposition to Beijing’s desired takeover of Taiwan so it can be accomplished without having to go to war.
Taiwanese attitudes have been drifting away from the mainland, especially among the younger generation, whose members see themselves “born independent” with no ties to China.
China’s effort, these analysts say, includes tactics ranging from military intimidation and propaganda to misinformation spread by its army of online trolls in a bid to manipulate public opinion. They say the complexity and frequency of the effort puts Taiwan on a constant defensive.
“Its ultimate goal is to control what’s between the ears. That is, your brain or how you think, which [Beijing] hopes leads to a change of behavior,” Tzeng Yi-suo, director of the cybersecurity division at the government-funded Institute of National Defense and Security Research in Taipei, told VOA.
Campaign intensifies amid COVID
Cognitive warfare is a fairly new term, but the concept has been around for decades. China has never stopped trying to deter the island’s separatists, according to Tzeng, who wrote about the Chinese efforts last month in the institute’s annual report on China’s political and military development.
Liberal democracies such as Taiwan, that ensure the free flow of information, are vulnerable to cognitive attacks by China, while China’s tightly controlled media and internet environment makes it difficult for democracies to counterattack, according to Tzeng.
China’s campaign has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19, using official means such as flying military jets over Taiwan, and unofficial channels such as news outlets, social media and hackers to spread misinformation. The effort is aimed at dissuading Taiwan from pursuing actions contrary to Beijing’s interests, the report said.
China has used these tactics to attack Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, undermine support for democracy and fuel Taiwan’s social tensions and political divide, it said.
NATO Releases Disturbing Stance on Cognitive Warfare
Cyber and economic warfare are often seen as the future of war. There is, however, a new type of warfare being discussed. It is called “cognitive warfare.”
Cognitive warfare, similar to information warfare, involves the the swaying of public opinion as a means of war. What differentiates the two, is that information warfare is simply defined as the manipulation of public opinion via propaganda. Cognitive warfare, on the other hand, involves the literal manipulation of the human brain. Seems far fetched? Well according to a NATO-sponsored study, it is now being classified as a “sixth domain” of warfare. While even acknowledging the horrific dangers of this type of warfare, the report goes on to claim NATO should develop the means to use cognitive warfare to get ahead of China and Russia. There is far from any proof that either countries are developing cognitive warfare capabilities, with reports of information warfare being falsely labelled as “cognitive warfare.” The NATO Association of Canada has even admitted that cognitive warfare is “one of the hottest topics” for the military alliance.
The fact that NATO is lying about the ambitions of its enemies when it comes to developmental warfare is not surprising. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has repeatedly exaggerated the threat of Russia in order to expand its influence eastward. Could the US government use these false pretexts in order to convince the public that cognitive control over our minds is necessary to defend ourselves? If you think that’s far fetched, then just look at how successful the government was in pushing for vaccines on children. Despite the overwhelming evidence that vaccines for children are unnecessary (studies have shown children are more likely to die from the vaccine than COVID-19 itself), the government has successfully manipulated a large portion of the public into believing they are indeed necessary. In the future, will some people be convinced to willingly volunteer to have chips placed in their heads, in order to protect themselves from “Russian cognitive attacks”?
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Lu Li-shih, a former teacher at the Republic of China Naval Academy, said: “This staged photograph is definitely ‘cognitive warfare’ to show the US doesn’t regard the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] as an immediate threat.
“In the photo, Commander Briggs looks very relaxed with his feet up watching the Liaoning ship just a few thousand yards away, while his deputy is also sitting beside him, showing they take their PLA counterparts lightly.”
One Hong Kong newspaper reported that the photo sent one clear message to China: “We’re watching you.”
The image comes as the US and the Philippines begin two weeks of military drills in a show of force against China after hundreds of ships anchored off Whitsun reef last month.
By Emily Bienvenue, Zac Rogers & Sian Troath May 14, 2019 – THE COVE (Australian Defense publication)
The term cognitive warfare has entered the lexicon over the last couple of years. General David L. Goldfein (United States Air Force) remarked last year we are “transitioning from wars of attrition to wars of cognition”. Neuroscientist James Giordano has described the human brain as the battlefield of the 21st Century. Cognitive warfare represents the convergence of all that elements that have lived restlessly under the catch-all moniker of Information Warfare (IW) since the term’s emergence in the 1990s. However, military and intelligence organisations now grappling with this contentious new concept are finding cognitive warfare to be something greater than, or as Gestalt intended, different than, the sum of these parts. Cognitive warfare is IW with something added. As we begin to understand more about what has been added, awareness is growing that western military and intelligence organisations may have been caught playing the wrong game.
As Martin Libicki explained, IW burst onto the scene in the early 1990s in line with the shift from attrition-based to effects-based operations and the increasingly digitised and networked infrastructure underpinning contemporary warfare. It overarched lines of effort in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare (EW), psychological operations (PSYOPS), and cyber operations that in general raised the need to contend for and take advantage of control of information flows. These elements overlapped but remained disparate and lacked a unified concept and unity of effort. Despite the desire for integration being an ever-present agenda item, such unity did not eventuate and the individual streams continued to evolve, driven by more-or-less separate military and intelligence communities of interest.
The various elements under the IW construct were largely pursued throughout the ensuing period as adjuncts in support of objectives defined by the traditional remit of military organisations – namely, to deliver lethal kinetic effects on the battlefield. The War on Terror provided an unconventional sandbox for the refining of IW elements; but again, little impetus emerged for their drawing together under a unified concept. Influence operations across both cyber and human terrains remained episodic and an adjunct to a kinetic main effort – even while the separation between victory on the battlefield and the capacity for enduring political successes became starker. The disconnect should have been more unnerving for Western military organisations. The capacity for an adversary to contend for battlefield victory below the threshold of conventional conflict is only one aspect of asymmetry. The disconnect raises the more fundamental question of why, if battlefield superiority was demonstrably not resulting in political success, would a conventionally inferior opponent pursue such a pathway at all? What if strategic success – the causing of a preferable behaviour change in those with which we contend – could bypass the traditional battlefield altogether?
For the nation-state adversaries of the US and its allies, the disconnect provided an opportunity to observe and to learn. While the ‘winning without fighting’ ethos is a well understood heuristic of Chinese strategic culture, as Wirtz has suggested also, Russian strategic culture has consistently excelled at imagining some of the non-intuitive and strategic level implications of technological change. Much more than mere opportunism, Russia’s unfavourable geo-strategic circumstances, combined with its deep distrust of US intentions, forced it to render strategic level gains from a weakening hand. Here-in lies the temporary advantage it gained in finding and filling the gap between IW and cognitive warfare. As Clint Watts has surmised, where IW described a war of information, the cognitive battlespace is a war for information as it is transformed into knowledge via the processes of cognition. The technologies of the networked digital age, conceived by the US and its allies as an accumulation of advantages on the conventional battlefield, and unleashed by the clamour for profit of the commercial sector, were transformed into a strategic gift for an imaginative adversary and thus presents us with the current dilemma. The convergence of IW into cognitive warfare has been forced upon us.
This gift emerged in the mid-2000s with the advent of hyper-connectivity, largely a product of the social media phenomenon and its attendant business model based on accessing the constant attention of the human brain. This phenomenon created the bridge between IW and cognitive war which has been exploited by an unscrupulous adversary. Hyper-connectivity created the opportunity to transform IW from a set of episodic activities, largely associated with operational lines-of-effort by military and intelligence practitioners in support of lethal and kinetic effects on the battlefield, into a single continuous effort to disrupt and deny the cognitive conditions in which whole societies are situated. Cognitive warfare gathers together the instruments of IW and takes us into the realm of ‘neuro-weapons’ – defined by Giordano as “anything that accesses the brain to contend against others”. When coordinated and directed at open liberal democratic societies, cognitive warfare has paid off in spades. The capacity of open societies to function – to sustain and renew the narratives upon which their superior material strength relies – gets quickly scrambled when certain cognitive processes are exposed to manipulation.
It remains an item of curiosity how American and allied military and strategic culture, imbued as it is with the insights of John Boyd and many others, has been slow to recognise the shift in orientation. Boyd’s OODA loop may be one of the most bastardised concepts in modern military strategy, but its central insights are absolutely prescient for the age of cognitive warfare. The loop’s second “O” – Orientation – subsumes each of its other points. Getting orientation wrong, no matter how well an actor can Observe, how quickly they can Decide, and how concisely they can Act, can nonetheless mean the actor is caught playing the wrong game. It centrality is made patently clear for anyone who actually reads Boyd, or any of a number of good biographies of his work. It is imperative that this strategic culture understands the way in which its own orientation has been turned against it.
As digitised and networked warfare has matured and evolved over the last 25 years into its contemporary iteration of Multi-Domain Battle (MDB), it has pursued better observation through superior ISR, better decision-making through big data and machine learning, and better action through the constant advance of military-technical capabilities. Its orientation, however, has remained the same. As Albert Palazzo has iterated, MDB remains oriented toward a military problem solvable by lethal kinetic means in which political success is considered as a follow-on phase and to which influence operations across cyber and human terrain remain adjunct lines of effort. What is becoming clearer is that the age of cognitive warfare is highlighting the joints and fissures in this basic construct to an unprecedented extent. General Michael Hayden has made this point in his 2018 book, The Assault on Intelligence.
Cognitive warfare presents us with an orientation problem. Adversary actors have strategised to avoid a confrontation with US and allied forces at their strongest point – namely, in high intensity conventional warfare. They have pursued gains in various domains that remain under the threshold of inducing a conventional military response. While US and allied forces have mused over ways to bolster below-the-threshold capabilities, the adversary has been busy changing the rules of the meta-contest. By denying, disrupting, and countering the narratives that underpin US and allied legitimacy, and by stifling our capacity to regenerate the preferred narrative via sophisticated and targeted disinformation operations, the adversary has changed the context within which force and the threat of force is situated. In other words, the diplomatic power of the traditional force-in-being of allied militaries to influence the behaviour of others is being diminished. Furthermore, the actual deployment of lethal kinetic capabilities will be subject to a similar reorientation where and when they occur. Simply put, lethal kinetic capability, as the traditional remit of military organisations, has undergone a reorientation at the hands of an adversary enabled by the hyper-connected digital age to manipulate its context to an unprecedented extent.
Cognitive war is not the fight most professional military practitioners wanted. A little discussed aspect is the extent to which our military and strategic culture perceives it as a deeply dishonourable fight. A cultural bias – if not a genuine cognitive blind spot – is at work and has slowed our response. But national security, before it is about winning kinetic battles and before it is centred on the profession of arms, is at its core about ensuring that people are safe to live their lives: it is about keeping the peace and protecting the population from harmful interference. This includes the harm that disrupts our capacity to conduct our collective social, economic, and political lives on our own terms.
About the Authors:
Emily Bienvenue, Zac Rogers & Sian Troath
Dr Emily Bienvenue is a Senior Analyst in the Defence Science and Technology Group’s, Joint and Operations Analysis Division. Her research interests include trust as a strategic resource, the changing nature of warfare, and competition below the threshold of conflict.
The views expressed here are her own and do not represent the official view of the Australian Defence Department.
Zac Rogers is a senior researcher at the Centre for United States and Asia Policy Studies and PhD candidate at the College of Business, Government, and Law, Flinders University of South Australia.
Sian Troath is a PhD candidate at Flinders University, and a combined Flinders University-DST Group research associate working on Modelling Complex Warfighting (MCW) Strategic Response (SR) 4 – Modelling Complex Human Systems. Her areas of expertise are international relations theory, trust theory, Australian foreign policy, Australia-Indonesia relations, and Anglo-American relations.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.
THE PERSPECTIVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Media, Cognitive Warfare and One World Government Social Engineering
Ownership of mainstream media and popular social media is imperative to control desired narrative during psychological and military operations. In the last 30 years, it has been the accessibility and freedom of the internet which has been invaluable for the communication of independent and objective analysis which is often evidence-based rather than information used in cognitive warfare for perception manipulation.
We now live in a time where the powers that shouldn’t be are scrambling to find methods to disrupt these free lines of communication without appearing to be an all-out assault on freedom-of-speech; so the current methodology is slow implementation of concepts like “community standards” violations to shut down people who are often disseminating information that government does not want communicated. When a new forum is formed that allows freedom of speech—that forum quickly attracts attention and efforts are quickly made to either buy out the forum and disparage it publicly — sometimes labeling it as politically “right-wing” which automatically loses most users who may identify as politically “left-wing.”
With the popular accessibility of the internet starting in the 1990s, the exchanges of information and ideas have been facilitated throughout the globe. Before internet popularity, channels of information were mainly held by mainstream media corporations. In the last twenty-five years, billions of people worldwide have been exchanging information instantly outside of official government and corporate filters. These developments have fractured the monopoly on information once held by government and corporations on behalf of elite interests worldwide.
A significant percentage of the global population still blindly trusts corporate mainstream media and prestigious academic sources of news and information without verification. These same people instinctively avoid ‘alternative’ sources of news and information. However, a growing number of people have awoken to the realization that mainstream media sources of information are agenda-driven and often purposely deceiving while engaging in systemic censorship. These are the people more inclined to seek alternative sources of information and communicate using channels free from corporate and academic monopolies. The current battle to disturb and eventually shut down these channels are extremely important to one-world-government social-engineers. This is a major battleground in today’s cognitive warfare.
As we enter the mid-2020s, it will likely be increasingly difficult to freely exchange evidence-based and independent research and analysis on the internet. There is a cognitive war against freedom of information in the emerging totalitarian global scheme. Unlike conventional warfare, cognitive warfare is everywhere a communication device is used. Independent researchers, analysts, and journalists are being disrupted and banned from forums like YouTube and Facebook.
To counteract cognitive warfare and ultimately avoid a one-world-government dystopia—engage your neighbors and build local and personal relationships of information exchange and commerce as opposed to relying on long-distance electronic communications. Get off the grid as much as possible and reverse the psyop of ‘social-distancing’ that the Covid-19 operation has promoted for the last year and a half.
Cognitive Electronic Warfare: Conceptual Design and Architecture – 2020
Qinghan XiaoPages – 48 – 65 | Revised – 30-11-2020 | Published – 31-12-2020 Published in International Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems (IJAE) Volume – 9 Issue – 3 | Publication Date – December 2020
Computing revolution is heralding the transition from digital to cognitive that is the third significant era in the history of computer technology: the cognitive era. It is about the use of computers to mimic human thought processes, such as perception, memory, learning and decision-making in highly dynamic environments. In recent years, there is a growing research interest in the development of cognitive capabilities in radio frequency technologies. Using cognition-based techniques, a radar system would be able to perceive its operational environment, fine-tune and accordingly adjust its emission parameters, such as the pulse width, pulse repetition interval, and transmitter power, to perform its assigned task optimally. It is certain that traditional electronic warfare (EW) methods, which rely on pre-programmed attack strategies, will not be able to efficiently engage with such a radar threat. Therefore, the next generation of EW systems needs to be enhanced with cognitive abilities so that they can make autonomous decisions in response to changing situations, and cope with new, unknown radar signals. Because the system architecture is a blueprint, this paper presents a conceptual cognitive EW architecture that carries out both electronic support and electronic attack operations to synthesize close-to-optimal countermeasures subject to performance goals.
The cognitive warfare: Aspects of new strategic thinking
Combining the strategic observations on revolutionary war – those made by Colonel Trinquier during the war in Algeria, in particular–with US strategy regarding information warfare, the authors Harbulot and Lucas, leading experts at the French École de guerre économique, and Moinet, Director of the DESS (Intelligence économique et développement des Entreprises) – place their emphasis on the profoundly innovative and strategic role played by information warfare and on its implications for companies. Naturally enough, it emerges with clarity that the authors’ intention is to utilize cognitive warfare in defense of the interests of French companies against their US competitors.
It is undeniable – in the opinion of the authors – that the date of September 11, 2001, represented a change in strategic thinking of fundamental importance. Undoubtedly, the war in the Persian Gulf, the US military intervention in Somalia, and the conflicts in former Yugoslavia had already presaged – even if in terms not yet precisely defined – an evolution of military strategy in the direction of newer strategic scenarios. It is enough to consider – the authors observe – that at the time of the invasion of Kuwait, US public opinion was mobilized following a disinformation process planned at military level or more exactly, at psychological warfare level. In this regard, it is sufficient to recall how the televised landing of US troops on the beaches of Mogadishu, the televised lynching of a US Army soldier enabled the marginalization of the politico-military dimension of the civil war in progress. Yet the importance ascribed to the manipulation of information was determined by the conviction – which proved to be correct – that the absolute mastery of the production of knowledge both upstream (the educational system) and downstream (Internet, media audio-visual means) can ensure – the authors emphasize – the long-lasting legitimacy of the control of world affairs.
Yet in light of the American political-military choices and reflections on the revolutionary war in Algeria, French strategy felt the need to define in strict terms exactly what information warfare is. First of all, the expression used in the context of French strategy is the one of cognitive warfare defined as the capacity to use knowledge for the purpose of conflict. In this regard, it is by no mere chance that Rand Corporation information warfare specialists John Arquilla and David Rundfeldt assert the domination of information to be fundamental to American strategy. Secondly, the ample and systematic use of information warfare by the US creates the need – in geographical-strategic terms–for the European Union to do some serious thinking on cognitive warfare. On the other hand, the absence of legal regulation of manipulation of knowledge in the architecture of security inherited at the end of the Cold War can only lead to serious concern above all for economic security of European companies and must consequently bring about the formulation of a strategy of dissuasion and the use of subversive techniques that must be capable of creating barriers against attempts at destabilization.
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