EXCERPT: 4D Warfare

The following is an excerpt from the newly released 4D Warfare: A Doctrine for a New Generation of Politics by Jack Posobiec:

In a discussion of perception management, its probable impact needs consideration: What is the impact of this deception on adversary leaders? Does it influence their operatives? Does it modify the information they believe to be true? And should adversary operatives or some other element of the adversary coalition play a more active role in combating the impact of perception management on adversary leaders?

The CIA defines deception as, “an action or set of coordinated actions intended to mislead through the creation or perpetuation of false perceptions with the objective to induce the opponent to act, or react, in a way prejudicial to his interests.” The purpose of deception is to cause an adversary to act in a way that is not in his best interest, without the adversary realizing what was done to him and, more importantly, who did it.

CIA-defined denial includes the routine operational security known as OPSEC, such as practiced by military forces. It also includes withholding information that is deemed sensitive at the time. Denial, strictly speaking, is not deception, but denial activities are usually part of any major deception operation. Denial measures are generally intended to promote uncertainties and confuse assessments, whereas deception is intended to lead an opponent towards erroneous conclusions. Therefore, denial tends to involve more passive measures while deception is usually more active.

As a term, “deception” carries a lot of baggage. Nobody wants to admit that his judgment is flawed or that he’s been misled by undetected deception. Being deceived suggests we are naïve or have not devoted significant time and energy to understanding the problem. But it is important to grasp that deception is designed to create a component of ambiguity that renders your judgment less effective. Deception is designed to affect the judgment of adversary operatives, especially as it concerns their analysis of your goals. In short, deception helps you to achieve your goals by confusing your adversaries about what they truly are.

Disinformation is best described as the dissemination of false, half-true, and misleading information. Disinformation is often combined with truthful information and is designed to achieve a specific objective. Disinformation is similar to propaganda, but not synonymous with it. Propaganda is overtly aimed at a mass audience, either foreign or domestic, and it is not necessarily deceptive. In contrast, disinformation is aimed only at specific targets, is deliberately deceptive, and is usually utilized in a covert manner.

Strategic deception involves large-scale deception programs designed to achieve major national objectives. Such a program involves multiple deception plans and a wide array of deceptive techniques. One of the greatest examples of strategic deception is the deception operations carried out by the allies leading up to the Normandy landings in 1944. These deception operations tricked the Germans into thinking that Calais was the mainland landing area rather than Normandy. They achieved this objective through the use of fake uniforms, fake communications, fake documents, and even the death of a fake soldier.

The Normandy strategic deception campaign was so successful that it was not until several days after the Allied landings that the German High Command realized that Normandy was, in fact, the primary invasion site.

Deception operations successfully target multiple cognitive biases that all humans exhibit to varying degrees. Some of these include biases and estimating probabilities, availability bias, anchoring bias, overconfidence bias, biases in evaluating of evidence, oversensitivity to consistency, absence of evidence, persistence of impressions based on discredited evidence, the perception of causality, casual explanations, and internal-versus-external causes of behavior. Because people tend to cling to their beliefs, they tend to see patterns where none actually exist. They also tend to assume that the simplest solution is the correct one, tend to trust the last thing they heard, and dislike having their biases challenged. Deception operations take advantage of all these tendencies.

Psychologists argue that individuals are most likely to follow their predispositions when they are relaxed or when they are very tense. In the first case, facing no urgency to make a decision, individuals see no disadvantage in going along with their original predispositions. On the other hand, when pressed to make important decisions in a hurry, people tend to fall prey to what they subconsciously choose to see. In this state, moderate tension, or vigilance responses, are elicited that overcome predispositions and confirmation bias. Individuals are then more open-minded as they seek out information to make a rational decision.

This dichotomy means that those intending to change a target’s beliefs through deception should confront a target with the need to make an important decision, while avoiding placing the subject in a crisis situation. In Operation Mincemeat, the British presented the Germans with a variety of clues suggesting that Sardinia would be invaded some time in the coming months, but not any time soon. Hitler and his intelligence officers were given excuses to doubt their previous expectations about an Allied invasion of Sicily. They were given time to reassess the situation and put together an alternative scenario incorporating Sardinia. Had the British pushed the Germans into a crisis decision-making mode, the Germans probably would not have shifted their forces in the way the deceiving British intended.