PsyOps / Information Warfare Operations

In this section, I look into the murky world of PsyOps / Psychological and Information Warfare Operations.

With the world swamped with noise from misinformation, disinformation, and fake news together with strategically planned psychological and information-based warfare operations sense-making is difficult. I look to figure out why and what we can do to protect ourselves from it. 

The Russian Information War – where do we begin?

This is the first of my articles looking at the Russian Information Warefare Machine

As I write these words Russia is on the ninth day of its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. There are many words I could and have on my social media channels and website where I write about this. About the war crimes, the inhumanity, the shelling of civilians, and the attacks on people trying to flee but there are many more qualified people on the ground in Ukraine who are doing a much better job of that than I can.

So, what can I do? This is a question many ask. There are practical things we can do like donating money and fundraising, working with a local humanitarian group to back up goods for refugees, petitioning the government for more action and so forth. These are all good and if you can do any or all of them it would be a very worthwhile action. There is however something else we can do, from our homes, our computers and smartphones we can combat the Russian Information War. There is more power in the digital disruption and digital activism of the people than they often realise.

As a former SEO engineer, and as a marketing optimisation specialist that has a keen interest and training in behavioural communication, I feel these are skills I can utilise in the war on information.

I hope by starting the series of posts and podcasts, which will follow, I can help others also make a difference in this arena and at the very least help protect themselves and others from the impact of Russian propaganda.

This was not the original intention of this site. Russia, although a country of interest on my radar for influence in the Trump election and in general on the cyber warfare scene, was never really the focus of my attention. Until they invaded Ukraine 

My skillset in strategic data-driven and digital marketing research, analysis and operational deployment together with behavioural and psychological communication and systems of influence are what I am hoping to bring to the table.

Any good strategic marketing and communication plan starts with understanding the current situation. For this, I am not talking about the situation in Ukraine but the situation of the Information War that Russia has been deploying on the rest of the world for well over a decade.

To do so I am going to start by working through, researching, analysing and breaking down the contents of the “Handbook of Russian Information Warfare” written by Kier Giles. In the bio in the handbook, it says “Keir Giles is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London. He also works with Conflict Studies Research Centre, a group of subject matter experts in Eurasian security based in Cambridge.“

This handbook was written for the NATO Défense College and whilst its intended audience is not the public it is freely available and a simple Google search will take you to a direct link to the PDF link of it if you would like to get a head start in reading it.

This handbook also comes with multiple citations and further reading and my intention is to collate all this information and break it down it to useful useable chucks so that you can do two things; one, be educated in the area so as to protect yourself as much as possible from Russian influence and help others to do the same, and two, counter the tools, techniques and weapons of their Information War on the battleground of the digital ecosystems we all now live in.

All of this is my personal opinion and does not in any way reflect the opinion of anyone I work for or am associated with. And I have to say I am not an expert in Russian warfare or even their Information War techniques. I have read this handbook a couple of times in the past together with some other sources but now I think would be a good time to deep dive into this area to gain a better understanding of the challenges ahead and what we can do to meet them head-on.

Please bear with me over the next few days, weeks and months. I will do my best to research, write, post and podcast on this subject as often as I can whilst also trying to navigate a hectic world of life and work post lockdown, juggling the dangers that are still present with Covid, my own digital activism work. Working for both this conflict and keeping an eye on the UK government, governments of the world, big business and big tech to not take advantage of this situation to erode of yet more of our freedoms. Or to use it to manipulate and coerce us with fear whilst they get away with previously headline-grabbing behaviour, changes to law and actions as we are distracted by the conflict and worn out after the last two years of restrictions.

It is a confusing and stressful time so I will also try and keep up my creative writing, digital art and work through ways to make sense as to what is really going on in order to give us the tools and techniques to remain more calm and balanced during difficult times.  

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A way you can help the people of Ukraine is by donating go to With Ukraine dot Org has been set up by the Ukrainian Embassy in the UK and is taking donations. 

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

 

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Written by Sam

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