Weaponized Narrative: Exploring New Vocabulary for the Cognitive Domain Fight
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB
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The US lacks a sufficient lexicon for fully comprehending cognitive threats as the character of warfare and conflict changes in the information age. The current lexicon of cognitive domain termspropaganda, disinformation, information operations, MISO,PSYOP, military deception, and cognitive hackingis insufficient for identifying and communicating intricate cognitive threats and for formulating an appropriate strategy in response to them. This study explores the value of a newly proposed termWeaponized Narrativefirst coined by Braden Allenby in January 2017. The study modifies Allenbys original conception, contending that Weaponized Narrative is best understood as the use of story-based communication to foment political and social schisms with the intent of subverting an adversaries institutions, identities, andor will. The objective of this project is primarily twofold First, it aims to extract the distinct attributes of Weaponized Narrative. This aim is accomplished by comparing and contrasting the contextual definition provided above with other common terminology used to describe and understand the cognitive battlespace. Second, the project considers how these qualities explain recent Russian cognitive influence activities in the US. Two sets of cases are examined, including 1 Russias meddling in the US 2016 Presidential Election and 2 Russias manipulation of pre-existing socio-political divides, with examples found in cases like Black Lives Matter and Hearts of Texas versus the United Muslims of America. The paper concludes with a discussion about how Weaponized Narrative presents a unique challenge to democracies that struggle to thwart foreign meddling while preserving democratic values of equality and liberty. Additionally, it proposes a revival of an appropriately-scoped entity that can actively lead, manage, and optimize the US information instrument of power.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics