The Battlefield Within: The information war has many targets, its most valuable is you

Operations in the information environment (OIE) are experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to social media and the democratisation of information. The rapid advancement of technology and it’s increasing accessibility over the past twenty years has also democratised knowledge. While this has had broad implications for military operations across the spectrum of conflict, its broadest and most far-reaching impacts have been felt in the OIE. The evolution of warfare and rise of competitive non-nation state entities have presented challenges we haven’t always been prepared for. This has had cascading impacts on both the military and non-military information environments, often placing civilians squarely in enemy sights.

The Marine Corps has, however, retained an intellectual edge in this domain via simple virtue of its philosophy on warfighting centring around maneuver. Together with the Corps’ distinguishing mindset on the way of thinking about war, this has resulted in a more dexterous outlook than its contemporaries. While Marines may be thinking about war, in all manner of renewed and emergent ways, war is also thinking about Marines. As Leon Trotsky famously said, “war is interested in you.”

War is so interested in Marines that our adversaries have worked hard to place the modern equivalent of a wooden horse at our gates. And we’ve let down our defences and invited war into our lives. This trojan horse fits neatly into our pockets, we even wear it on our wrists. Marvelling at the ingenuity smartphone technology, software and apps bring into our lives, we feed this trojan horse personal information, giving it significant amounts of our attention, all the while actively encouraging others to join in. We are quite literally carrying a gray zone around in our pocket with us each day.

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