Military Review

The invisible front of warfare. Information operations in the defensive and offensive doctrines of the Canadian Army

The invisible front of warfare. Information operations in the defensive and offensive doctrines of the Canadian ArmyThe Canadian Forces. - CF, which positions itself as one of the closest allies of the US Armed Forces, despite its relatively small size, fully shares the concept of its neighbor to maximize the use of information space for military offensive, defensive and propaganda activities. The emergence in the United States of a common concept of strategic information operations predetermined the vector for the development of Canadian Forces modernization, which was based on the Defense Planning Guide, which contained its own concept of including information operations in defensive and offensive doctrines. The Canadian Army National Information Operations (Info Ops), updated in 2007, is reflected in the Canadian Forces Formation Strategy up to 2020.


The impetus for the development of Info Dops own doctrine for the Canadian Forces was the desire for the presence of national military contingents in crisis areas of the world to participate in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations conducted in a multinational format under the auspices of NATO and the European Union. This corresponds to the new strategic concept of defense and security of the North Atlantic Treaty members, formulated in the Lisbon Summit Declaration and recorded in the PR / CP press release 0155 (2010), which determines NATO’s evolution towards “increasing the level of efficiency in a changing world, against new threats new opportunities and new partners ".

The extremely serious attitude of the NATO member countries to the development of modern concepts of information operations is evidenced by the creation and successful operation of a permanent "multinational forum for specialists in the field of strategic communications, information operations and other related opportunities", known in the circles of specialists as The Multinational Information Operations Experiment - (MNIOE) and created "to identify common and different approaches in the conceptual understanding of information operations."

The declared mission of this structure is “the further development of the concept of Info Ops. The international working group MNIOE includes Canada along with Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Representatives of Austria, Portugal, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden are constantly present in the group coordinated by the German armed forces. The MNIOE initiative is an attempt to study in depth the principles, procedures, tools, and methods for conducting Info Ops, which can be applied in multinational operations. The white paper “Info Ops in future coalition operations” became the clarifying document.

Among the main strategic goals of informational PR-support of military-political actions of NATO member countries in peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations are: the formation of a positive image of NATO forces in the eyes of national and world public and the neutralization of information and psychological means of countries that are negative towards NATO actions in war zones.

The objectives of the operational-tactical level include: discrediting the opposing governments and political groups in the eyes of their own people and world public opinion; demoralization of the personnel of the opposing armed forces, prompting soldiers to desertion and disobedience; positive positioning of the forces opposing the authorities - organizations, politicians and the media; counteracting rumors and misinformation.

The Work Package 1: Overview of Info Ops documents developed in the depths of NATO summarized and analyzed the national concepts of information operations of Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, NATO, the EU "Identifying aspects that are of particular importance for the operations of the alliance." The release, which has an RTO – TR – SAS – 057 index, admits that the lack of necessary materials and language difficulties did not allow NATO analysts to fully explore similar documents from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia , Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.

The NATO Hierarchy of Documents of the Canadian Forces in the Field of Information Operations, compiled by NATO experts, contains the English and French versions of the documents defining the parameters of CF policy and activities in this area. In the table, documents related to problems of psychological operations (B-GJ-005-313 / FP-010 certified document code), military-civilian cooperation (CIMIC) in a world of emergency situations, adjoin documents directly related to information operations. crisis and war, as well as interaction with the public relations service (document code B-GJ-005-361 / FP-000).

Doctrinal documents of the Canadian Forces define information operations "as measures taken in support of political and military objectives and affect decision makers." This definition is consistent with the wording of Info Ops contained in the European Union Concept for EU (PSYOPS in EU-led military operations) and the NATO document MC 422 / 1, where information operations are “measures to influence decision-making in support of political and military goals. The NATO Basic Document JP 3-13 defines information operations as “coordinated actions taken to influence information and information systems of an adversary while protecting their own information and information systems”.

In the Canadian doctrine of information operations, the latter are subdivided into offensive and defensive. Offensive information operations involve psychological operations, computer network attacks, and misinformation. Defensive - aimed at ensuring the protection of their own information and providing commanders and friendly people with “timely access to necessary, relevant and reliable information”. At the same time, it is supposed to organize “full protection of the decision-making process from all side effects, intentional, unintentional or accidental intervention”.


For the practical implementation of the information and propaganda support tasks of the Canadian government’s military-political actions within the structure of the Canadian Forces, a special unit was formed that became known in Western military circles as the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group (CFIOG). Operational management of the group is carried out by the headquarters (Canadian Forces Information Operations Group Headquarters. - CFIOGHQ), located in the town of Leitrim, near Ottawa. The proclaimed mission of CFIOG is to develop, coordinate and implement information operations to ensure favorable opportunities for the activities of the Ministry of National Defense and the Canadian Forces.

CFIOG works closely with services and units such as the Canadian Forces Electronic Warfare Center. (CFEWC), the Canadian Forces Signs Intelligence Operations Center (CFSOC), and the Canadian Forces Network Operation Center. - CFNOC), Joint Information Intelligence Coordination Center (JIIFC). All of these structures found shelter directly at the CFS station in Litrim, which, with a staff of almost 500 military personnel and 29 civilian personnel, provides all the technical and logistical support they need. The motto of the station was the words pacerm petere, which means "exploring the world." At the same time, CFS Leitrim, the oldest Canadian radio information data collection station, is part of the global Echelon system and is used to search for hotbeds of terrorism, control drug trafficking, and also for political and diplomatic intelligence.

However, the effectiveness of the participation of the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group as a part of coalition forces in peacemaking and counter-terrorist operations over the past decade leaves a dual impression. On the one hand, it becomes obvious that Canada has not fully engaged in the battles on the information fronts, but on the other, its servicemen are actively adapting to the conditions and are demonstrating an increasing potential of capabilities. According to experts, the effectiveness of the information operations of the CFIOG is reduced due to insufficient logistics and equipment of its units abroad.


The first serious test of CFIOG in the field of Info Ops was participation in the Kinetic operation, conducted under the leadership of KFOR in Kosovo. In an information briefing by the DoD of Canada, BG-99,035, it was reported about the direction of military personnel near the 1470 site. CFIOG employees focused on promoting the positive mission of the coalition forces in Kosovo. For this, press releases, interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, the Internet and e-mail were used. For the implementation of humanitarian actions - reconstruction of schools, kindergartens, medical institutions and for the implementation of other projects, CF had a fund in 750 thousand.

Canadians participated in direct contacts with local and international media. The overall responsibility for information channels and psychological operations using posters, sound-amplifying equipment, leaflets, radio and television advertising was borne by the British team KFOR. This was the first PR experience in working with the public relations of the Information Operations Group of the Canadian Forces.

Nevertheless, during the Kinetic operation, the CFIOG personnel in Kosovo had to act in a difficult situation and with great effort. For contacts with the press, only one officer was allocated who dealt exclusively with Canadian issues. At the same time, there was a need to build our own information policy system for broadcasting our themes and information interaction within NATO. In addition, as a result of a serious virus attack, the TITAN system, which provided security for Canadian communication channels in Kosovo, was put out of action for a long time. The open sources of information that remained with the Canadian contingent immediately made them vulnerable to misinformation, and the troops participating in the operation were left without reliable and verified information.

To be fair, it should be noted that the information operations of the alliance in Kosovo did not always give the planned result and it was not Canadians who were to blame for this. Thus, several local political leaders, specially selected to disseminate positive information about the mission of the alliance, did not meet expectations. It later emerged that most of the population had long refused to trust them. As a result, the initial stage of the information campaign, designed to prepare local residents for the arrival of the Alliance troops, was completely failed.

The lack of a unified information strategy has become a major challenge for the NATO leadership. The alliance command did not succeed in instilling to Belgrade the idea of ​​the inevitability of a ground operation in the event of refusal to accept ultimatum demands. From the Western media, the Yugoslav leadership was aware of the unwillingness of the NATO leadership to risk the lives of alliance soldiers. As one senior US officer admits, “a stronger and more focused information operation could have cut the Kosovo campaign in half. All the necessary details were present, but only a few of them took advantage of exactly and at the right time. ”

Only at the end of 2003 did the CFs start training as part of the ground forces a reserve of specialists in the field of propaganda and psychological events held in peacetime and wartime to influence worldview, life values, beliefs and emotions of foreign hostile, neutral or friendly audiences change their behavior in a favorable direction. The propaganda personnel consolidated as part of the Special Operational Command (USSOCOM) were under the patronage of Lieutenant General Rick Hiller and were considered by the command as an important component of information operations.


Supporting national capacity building in the area of ​​information-psychological operations, Canadian military experts understood that Canada "would hardly ever be able to plan psychological operations at the international level." Military observers agreed that “Canada can rely more on the participation in the implementation of similar operations by its allies, such as the United States.” At the same time, the military maintained and maintained the conviction of Canada’s ability to exert a significant influence on activities that had become one of the key elements of multinational operations.

However, the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces allowed the possibility of conducting independent information and psychological operations at the tactical level, that is, the implementation of brigade support. The emphasis on the recognition of the priority of conviction over violence meant the realization that peacekeeping required more than cannons. Weapon does not change beliefs. The conceptual foundations of the Canadian doctrine B-GG-005-004 / AF-033 not only declared the need for information operations, but also aimed at constant readiness to work with other countries to create a favorable environment for our peacekeepers.

At first, Canadian Armed Forces officers acquired the skills of information and psychological operations abroad in the armies of NATO member countries. Today, teaching information and psychological effects is conducted directly in Canada. "We carry out the preparation and conduct of psychological operations when the need arises, and not as a tribute to fashion," said one of the leaders of Canadian PsyOps, Lieutenant Colonel Vanessa Bruno, who led the counter-propaganda activities of the Southern Regional Command in Kandahar, in Montreal. In NATO circles, Vanessa Bruno is known as a major theorist in the field of information-psychological operations and strategic communications. He has repeatedly spoken at various specialized conferences, round tables, seminars, including military schools in the USA, Canada, Denmark, NATO (SHAPE). The author of the sensational speech "Rethinking Information Activities and Strategies to Combat the Insurgent Movement in Afghanistan" at the London Conference on Information Operations, as a guest speaker, Vanessa Bruno made a presentation on "The Role of Strategic Communications in Modern War", chaired by the Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces General David Richards.

External gloss is also a means of convincing the fairness of military force. Photo of Canadian Forces

The first 24 reservist received six-week training in civilian and military establishments in the Montreal area. For professional training of future participants of information and psychological operations, the best specialists in the field of PR, journalism, advertising, psychology and cultural studies were involved. Emily Bowtervick, a professor at York University in Toronto, instructed the students on culture of mutual relations and finding mutual understanding with the target audiences. According to one of the leading instructors of the Canadian Forces, Major Colin Robinson, “the problems studied are interesting and useful for all participants.” New methods of detecting emotional reactions in the target audience rely "on traditional methods of propaganda, which still continue to work and which are still difficult to resist."


One of the leading places in efficiency among similar structures in the armed forces of major powers is occupied by the famous 15 group of psychological operations in the UK - 15 (UK) PsyOps. The Canadian and British Armed Forces have agreed to conduct a joint course for 15 (UK) PsyOps and CFIOG specialists in Montreal. Two weeks British instructors engaged with Canadians. "I see it as a privilege to teach these charming and savvy soldiers," said 15 (UK) PsyOps employee Simon Bergman about working with Canadian colleagues.

The deputy commander of the management of information and psychological operations of the Canadian Forces, Maj. Major Benoit Meinville, points out the importance of developing their own training system for PsyOps. According to him, "the armed forces of Canada must have their own constant potential." Therefore, the selection of a group of information and psychological operations is quite strict. Candidates must have communication skills, a high level of education, a tolerant attitude towards different types of cultures, and, added Mainvill, “creative spirit”.

Creativity becomes crucial at the stage of producing posters, leaflets, newspaper publications, and even radio and television messages. Design, style, colors, symbols and images have different meanings in different cultures. Knowing the intended effect of these Info Ops products on the target audience is key. However, warns Major Mainville, "when the CF issues leaflets, the information they contain must always be correct." This thought was supplemented by Lieutenant Philip Zongiambali: "If your poster contains any inaccuracies, it will not work."

The candidates include highly educated people who are already fluent in several languages. During the preparation period, PR, psychology, communication, journalism, political science, publishing and so on are studied. The course of study is divided into three modules, covering issues related to the analysis and definition of the target audience, the selection of the necessary information, the manufacture of the information product and its dissemination. Practical classes are held in conditions as close as possible to the fighting. “To test their training,” explains Major Mainville, “we have created two villages where they will be put to the test in various situations requiring them to use all the experience and skills acquired during their studies.”

In two modeled villages in the training area, Farnham recreated the very real situation of a small settlement, the “inhabitants” of which become the object of informational influence. Around 40, civilians, including men, women and even children, play the role of local people in an inspired and very realistic manner. Communicating with them entered the village fighting group is only using 11 translators. The walls of the houses are covered with specific graffiti drawings. The "population" initially encounters warriors with hostility. Soldiers talk with "residents", distribute leaflets, offer to hand over weapons. The contact is established gradually. The Canadian Maneu- vre Training Center. - CMTC has already begun working out ways to interact with the local administration, for which the CMTC simulates the activities of the country's local authorities, where the information operations team is sent to the peacekeeping mission.

The former high school teacher, Sergeant Reginald Oubasa, is involved in informational-psychological operations with the fact that "he just loves to communicate with people." In his opinion, "communication skills are extremely important for negotiations." The experience of his three missions to Afghanistan suggests that you always need to control the situation, maintaining "a complex balance - when negotiating with residents, collect information, while ensuring personal safety and the safety of the group." As Major Mainville puts it, “the psychological aspect of conflict has the same meaning as the physical.”


During the counterterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the commander of the Kabul Interethnic Brigade (KMNB), Brigadier General of the Canadian Forces Peter J. Devlin understood the importance of using Info Ops to protect the mission’s “center of gravity” and pointed out the need for international and local support for the international security forces (ISAF). Devlin demanded information support for the security policy and the development of the transitional administration. The legendary participant in six foreign missions of the Canadian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General P. Devlin, in a recent interview with the illustrated magazine Legion Magazine, summing up the stay of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan, noted "the importance of information operations in the development of civil-military relations."

In the phase of active hostilities, overall responsibility for conducting information operations was assigned to Romanian officers. Their lack of knowledge of the English language adversely affected the quality of work. Romanian officers who did not read in English could not use the materials prepared for information-psychological operations. The ISAF leadership continued to print these materials in English and Dari. General Devlin had to convince the ISAF of the expediency of printing out individual soldiers' memos for KMNB troops in other European languages. "Even people who know English well should receive information in their own language."

The omission of the leadership of the coalition forces in Afghanistan should be considered the lack of regular army television. The possibilities of television were not used either for informational and cultural information of the personnel of the coalition forces, nor for massive propaganda influence on the population of the country. And despite the fact that in Kabul and its surroundings there were a huge number of television sets owned by the residents, and only one local TV channel competed. Only later it turns out that due to the low level of literacy of the population, television for Afghans was the main way to get information. The deployment of a broadcasting system would allow television to become a key information medium.

At KMNB headquarters, there was a certain disappointment and some irritation at the desire of the ISAF headquarters to concentrate in its hands the development of strategic levels of information operations. In this case, the command of KMNB was assigned the role of implementing exclusively tactical tasks. This created dissonance in the activities of the two organizations, since each team had its own vision of the needs and prospects of information operations. The activities of the Canadian Information Operations Group in Afghanistan allowed the military experts to make the following recommendations: briefings should cover in detail all possible scenarios, including alternative ones; employees of special services involved in the formation of information should be used in training; All military and civilian specialists arriving at a theater of military operations must possess knowledge of the cultural, ethnic, religious characteristics of the region.

Relatively recently, the United States recognized the success of Canada in developing Info Ops management and compatibility systems to be used in joint operations. The head of the Canadian Forces Armed Forces Information Operations Group, Colonel Robert Mazzolin, called the Canadian Multilateral Compatibility Models (MIP) program an outstanding result in the development of military coordination networks (NCW). “MIP,” Mazzolin noted with satisfaction, “provides key interoperability opportunities, allowing 26 participating countries to create a common language for the exchange of command and control information, and the exchange of necessary information during strategic planning and coordination of actions will also be arranged.”

Information operations CFIOG, in the opinion of the Canadian Forces Command, having the ability to influence the views and perceptions of people, will continue to be crucial in creating safe conditions in the zones of operations of combat units. The ability to build effective communications with the local population, troops of allies and citizens of their country will be crucial for ensuring and supporting ongoing military-political actions.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. makarov
    makarov 23 November 2013 09: 24
    So after all, without modern technologies, PR is nowhere to go !!!
    There are lots of examples, I don’t even exclude this site.
  2. Boris55
    Boris55 23 November 2013 09: 53
    First thought, then action.
    Thoughts, in our heads, are laid by the media.
    Their slogan is to tell the truth, only the truth, nothing more than the truth and NEVER all the truth.
    An example about "our" media.
    For the first time since perestroika, Russia, through the mouth of the president, announced its concept of further development - The media are silent.
  3. Technologist
    Technologist 23 November 2013 09: 58
    It sounds somehow funny: Armed forces of Canada). .... Australia and New Zealand ...
  4. Ols76
    Ols76 24 November 2013 04: 51

    This video clip tells how to get in and what to expect in the Canadian Army.
  5. mountain
    mountain 24 November 2013 10: 44
    Everything is clear, a complete drive. But it’s interesting to know the strategy and ambitions of Vietnam, what did they like in this world?
  6. Stinger
    Stinger 24 November 2013 17: 52
    Yes ... You can’t get far with such a concept. And what will they do if New Zealand attacks them?
  7. Doktor-2
    Doktor-2 25 November 2013 07: 55
    “I see as a privilege the opportunity to teach these charming and savvy soldiers, ”said Simon Bergman, 15 (UK) PsyOps employee, about working with Canadian colleagues.
    I present a new type of military action - by the method of charm ... and Reports from the theater of operations: "Yesterday the servicemen of the Canadian contingent managed to charm the village near Kabul, after fierce resistance the militants burst into tears and rushed into the arms of the NATO military ..." love