Pentagon unveils new strategy for operating in the information environment

The document, which was signed out by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in July, marks the first update of the strategy since 2016.
The Pentagon (Getty Images)

The Department of Defense on Friday publicly released its new strategic guidance for operations in the information environment, which calls for a shift in how the Pentagon approaches the integration of “informational and physical power.”

The document, which was signed in July by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, marks the first update of the strategy since 2016.

The U.S. military defines the information environment as the “aggregate of social, cultural, linguistic, psychological, technical, and physical factors that affect how humans and automated systems derive meaning from, act upon, and are impacted by information.”

Operations in that realm include “military actions involving the integrated employment of multiple information forces to affect drivers of behavior by informing audiences; influencing foreign relevant actors; attacking and exploiting relevant actor information, information networks, and information systems; and protecting friendly information, information networks, and information systems,” according to a DOD joint publication.


The aim of the updated strategy is to shape and improve the Defense Department’s planning, resourcing and employment of its capabilities and forces.

“Effective application of informational power must be more broadly understood and deliberately incorporated into the full range of DoD strategies and operations, activities, and investments (OAIs) to support the advancement of national interests across the diplomatic, information, military, and economic instruments of national power in support of specific defense policy objectives,” the document states.

In the past, operations in the information environment were often an “afterthought” in military planning, according to officials.

“DoD must embrace a cultural shift wherein information is a foundational element of all military strategies and OAIs, and where the consistent integration of informational and physical power becomes the norm … This change ensures DoD’s capability to positively affect the drivers of human and automated system behaviors, shaping operational environments, and reinforcing the strength and credibility of the United States,” the strategy states.

The 24-page document outlines four main lines of effort: people and organizations, programs, policies and governance, and partnerships.


The Pentagon plans to follow up with an implementation plan that assigns specific sub-tasks and responsibilities to various offices.

Jon Harper

Written by Jon Harper

Jon Harper is Managing Editor of DefenseScoop, the Scoop News Group’s newest online publication focused on the Pentagon and its pursuit of new capabilities. He leads an award-winning team of journalists in providing breaking news and in-depth analysis on military technology and the ways in which it is shaping how the Defense Department operates and modernizes. You can also follow him on Twitter @Jon_Harper_

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