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Saving Coalition Lives and Limbs: Disrupting the Improvised Explosive Device Network in Iraq with Center of Gravity Analysis and Social Network Viral Targeting

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Technical Report

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Air University, Air Command And Staff College Maxwell Air Force Base United States

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Improvised explosive devices IED continue to inflict coalition casualties in Iraq, indicating the United States has not found an effective means of disrupting the IED network in that country. This thesis presents center of gravity COG analysis and social network viral targeting as a means of disrupting the IED network in Iraq. A COG is a physical or moral entity that is the primary component of physical and moral strength, power and resistance that allows victory in battles, operations, and wars. COG analysis identifies these COGs and their critical vulnerabilities that are susceptible to neutralization, degradation, or defeat. Social network viral targeting disrupts the human elements of networks by sowing social viruses such as animosity, disinformation, distrust, and humiliation. Disruptive, viral information is first planted into carriers, or people associated in some way with those targeted. These carriers then spread the viral information via various vectors, resulting in the dissemination of disruptive information throughout the targeted persons social network. This research paper uses a problemsolution framework to answer the question how can the United States most effectively further disrupt the IED network in Iraq It describes how COG analysis can help to identify critical vulnerabilities associated with the IED networks key people, facilities, and aspects of its support network. It then shows how viral targeting can disrupt the IED network by disrupting the human element around these critical vulnerabilities. Viral targeting can include planting derogatory information about specific bomb makers and their affiliations into carriers such as friends, acquaintances, associates, or rivals of those bomb makers. These carriers would then spread the viral information via word of mouth or via vectors such as phone text messages and computer e-mails.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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