Joint Chiefs’ Information Officer: U.S. Is Behind on Information Warfare. AI Can Help

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, director, command, control, communications and computers/cyber; and Joint Staff chief information officer speaks and answers press questions regarding JADC2, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., June 4, 2021

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, director, command, control, communications and computers/cyber; and Joint Staff chief information officer speaks and answers press questions regarding JADC2, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., June 4, 2021 DoD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Taryn Escot

Concerns mount about how quickly the Pentagon can respond to global influence campaigns.

The United States needs a better strategy and more advanced tools for information operations, Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, the Joint Staff’s chief information officer, said Thursday. 

The government has become slower and less confident in its approach, a reticence it can’t afford as artificial intelligence drastically increases the pace of messaging and information campaigns, said Crall, who is also the Joit Staff’s director for command, control, communications, computers, and cyber. . 

“The speed at which machines and AI won some of these information campaigns changes the game drastically for us. If we study, if we're hesitant, if we don't have good left and right lateral limits, if every operation requires a new set of permissions...We're never going to compete.”

Crall made his remarks at the NDIA conference for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, or SOLIC. 

Rep. Michelle "Mikie" Sherrill, D-N.J., a former Navy helicopter pilot, said the issue has risen to the attention of the White House.  

“I've heard this directly from the president of the United States that they [China and Russia] are doing a better job at this right now. They are telling people across the world that democracy is not fast enough. ‘Democracy can't compete in the world today. Democracy doesn't have the unity of purpose that we need.’ And we need now to come together to portray why you want to be part of the democracy,” Sherrill said. “We need to convey why it's a bad outcome to have China running all of your internet operations.”

Currently, the U.S. government lacks a central organizer for influence campaigns.The State Department has a Global Engagement Center that can identify and respond to things like extremist messaging on social media, disinformation campaigns, etc., and can award grants to private and non-governmental organizations as well as academics, but it’s not positioned to engage with global audiences on broad topics like the desirability of democracy or authoritarian rule. 

In the U.S. military, the lead roles in information operations have traditionally gone to the Army and the special operations community. That usually comes as part of larger military campaigns, such as the effort to take down the Lord’s Resistance Army that was terrorizing Uganda, South Sudan, the Congo, and the Central African Republic. But the need for information campaigns has greatly expanded beyond combat areas, and adversaries such as China and Russia have grown adept at using the internet to influence populations across the globe on trade, human rights, the climate, and more.

Too often, Crall said, the information environment has been an afterthought for the U.S. military. 

“We understand kinetic operations very well. Culturally we distrust some of the way that we practice information operations,” he said. “If you wait until the last minute or if you—as we all have heard the term, “sprinkle some IO [information operation] on that”—all you have is hypnotism. And we're not too good at it. Right? If you're going to condition an adversary, if you're going to condition the space to put these things forward, you've got to put the time and work into it and be sophisticated.”

In addition to strategy—and better interagency coordination on that strategy—the United States also has to be quicker and more proactive in the way it talks about its activities and the contrast between democratic and nondemocratic societies, he said, lest authoritarians use internet-enabled speech and automation to their advantage, rendering U.S. messaging and influence efforts futile. 

“I would look at irregular warfare, whether it be messaging or really any kind of warfare in the future, the speed game of...digital transformation, predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, they are changing the game...and if we don't match that speed, we will make it to the right answer and that the right answer will be completely irrelevant,” Crall said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.