Winning the War of Ideas: A Framework for Warfighters
MARINE CORPS UNIV QUANTICO VA SCHOOL OF ADVANCED WARFIGHTING (SAW)
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The Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication Warfighting instructs battlestaffs to orient on the enemy. Accordingly, Marine Corps doctrine regarding Information Operations is almost exclusively oriented toward influencing the enemy. Activities are directed against the enemys civil and military leadership and enemy troops in the field, in support of traditional military objectives. This approach toward Information Operations seems appropriate during conventional warfare, where defeat of the enemys military forces leads to victory. It seems less adequate, however, in small wars where the People will likely play a decisive role in determining the victor. The outcome of small wars, in many cases, are decided not by who won the war with weapons, but who won the war with better ideas. It is often a question of which side presented a better case ideologically and emotionally, thereby winning the support of the populace. The requirement to convey our national goals and policies in a persuasive manner is therefore vital to our overall mission accomplishment. Given that the Global War on Terror resembles a global insurgency more than it does a conventional war, one can surmise that U.S. forces will increasingly be involved in small wars in the foreseeable future. If this is the case, then the Marine Corps must change its mindset from the limited manner in which it conducts Information Operations today, to a more holistic Ideological Operations approach in the future. In short, we must prepare to win the War of Ideas. The purpose of this paper is to offer suggestions as to how the Marine Corps can better prosecute a War of Ideas.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics