Simon Bergman, Director, Information Options outlines Critical Lessons from Information Operations

Simon Bergman, Director, Information Options, Outlines Critical Lessons from Information Operations

Simon Bergman addresses the lessons learnt from IO in the last nine years. He believes "the improved synchronisation of information activities and a deeper understanding of how communications and influence efforts impact on audiences will lead to mission success."

Having served as an officer in the British Army in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, Simon Bergman has personally experienced the impact poorly executed communications can have on the ground.

Understanding the community and the people can make or break a mission, thus engagement on the ground level is of vital importance. All deploying staff should undertake cultural awareness training before deployment to ensure they are prepared for the cultural and environmental differences they will face. This is particularly true of Afghanistan where the region is built of smaller entities consisting of different dialects, values and ways of life.

The effort by the US Military over the past three years, led by General Petreus, echoes the importance of this and the development of engagement strategies that reflect a deep understanding of the people and shapes everything that is initiated on the ground is the key to success.

The Information Operations battle is on-going and encompasses both technical components and cognitive behavioural aspects. Bergman reflects on the operational feedback from Iraq and other mission environments and discusses the issue that components of this received knowledge seem to have been forgotten when applying lessons learned to the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan.

He concludes by indicating that tactical influence operations in the form of communications are an under-utilised resource. Communications and influence operations need to be focused at a local level and synchronised with good PSYOPS (another component of IO that provides support to tactical commanders), supporting and providing broader and enduring mission success.

Watch the interview in full