Military Information Support Operations (MISO) is one of the core capabilities of Information Operations. MIS forces specialize in influencing the cognitive aspect of the information environment (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2012, II-10). The primary goal of MISO is to employ information to alter the perceptions and behavior of foreign authorities and individuals (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2012, II-9). These operations play the central role in reducing aggression levels and promoting peaceful solutions to conflicts (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-2).
MIS forces normally operate at tactical levels, aiming to make an immediate impact (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-4). However, they can assist other departments, agencies, or international partners in achieving strategic goals (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-4). The Department of Defence (DOD) sets objectives for MISO, and the policymakers design a legal framework for the operations (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-3). MIS forces play an essential role in achieving DOD goals not only during wars but also in peacetime.
MIS forces missions include the support of combat operations, DOD information capabilities, civil authorities, and special operations. The objective of MIS forces in combat operations is to change the attitudes of the target audiences and increase the local support for the US forces (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-5). In peacetime, MISO play a pivotal role in achieving strategic goals set by DOD through participation in foreign civil programs, disaster relief, evacuation operations, and so forth (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-5). In the event of natural disasters, MIS forces can assist public information efforts of domestic civil authorities (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-6). Special operations support missions have goals similar to those of combat operations support. However, MISO play a more valuable role in irregular warfare, as direct military confrontation is less efficient in these scenarios (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, IV-12).
The general goal of MISO in combat is to lower the effectiveness of enemy military and increase local support for the US and allied forces operations (Department of the Army 2017, 2-138). In these scenarios, MIS forces aim to produce immediate results, leading to tactical advantages (Department of the Army 2017, 2-138). MIS forces typically isolate and target specific echelons to ensure the maximum efficiency of their efforts (Department of the Army 2017, 2-138). While aiming for a short-term impact, MISO planners also have to consider the long-term effects of their operations. It is particularly important in cases when the friendly forces occupy foreign territories (Department of the Army 2017, 2-140).
There are several factors that contribute to the success of MISO. Early planning and sustained application are key to ensure maximum impact on the information environment (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-6). MIS forces must synchronize their actions with the overall strategy of the US and ally states (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-6). They should carefully assess indigenous assets to improve communication with the target audiences (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-7). Lastly, the commander’s involvement in MISO and quick approval process play a central role in maximizing the effectiveness of the operations (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-7). Commanders must develop the plans following the guidelines from the headquarters, allocate resources, and plan logistics (Department of the Army 2017, 2-138; Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-7). Delegating the approval process to the lowest officially authorized level ensures the timely implementation of MISO (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2010, I-7).
Department of the Army. Operations, FM 3-0. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 2017.
Joint Chiefs of Staff. Information Operations, JP 3-13. Washington, DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2012.
Joint Chiefs of Staff. Military Information Support Operations, JP 3-13.2. Washington, DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2010.