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Network effects in strategic planning of information operations
Material posted: -Publication date: 07-10-2010

A number of research centers in the U.S. work continues on the creation of software systems of strategic planning and decision support in the area of national security. Of particular interest developers of such programs raises the issue of modeling the behavior of decision makers, in conditions of increase of crisis phenomena and of the origin of the conflict in the area of national security of the state and use of the results obtained for the formation of plans and evaluating the effectiveness of information operations.

The term "strategic" refers to long-term (several years) approach to plan the results of information operations.

Thus, in particular the work of the International Corporation of scientific applications (Science Applications International Corporation, SAIC) focused on the development of approach to modeling decision making and analysis of the effectiveness of information operations on the basis of the probabilistic semantic networks (in the terminology of the authors - "networks of influence").

The situational approach to modeling based on "network effect" is defined by the authors as a structured process that allows experts responsible for strategic planning and training solutions, explore complex issues of causality in the assessment of the situation. The main goal is to allow the decision maker to determine the optimal course of action that can directly affect the end result at minimum cost of resources.

According to the authors, the approach based on "network effect" allows analysts and decision makers, to identify and assess the relationship between formally unrelated events. The term "network effect" describes the network situation model, which displays the correlation of events, their causal relationships.

The proposed approach is based on using expert knowledge about the situation to improve the quality of forecasting. Maintenance and development of the "network effect" takes place in two main ways: receiving information from experts in the subject area in the course of conferences, seminars and informal contacts and by mathematical modeling. The effective work of the expert group possible subject to the availability of pre-prepared templates of possible scenarios of situation development, which further promptly updated expanded and supplemented during the analysis of the development of current events.

The basic principle of the modeling approach based on "network effect" is that people and only people, can with sufficient accuracy to evaluate the approach to the formation of inference and decision. Any arbitrarily precise mathematical apparatus, according to the authors the method does not allow to consider all the facets of the algorithm for situation assessment and human decision-making.

The efficiency of the approach is early identification of events and relationships that have great potential impact on the end result of the formation of the future situation

As noted in the research Corporation SAIC, a situational approach to modeling based on "network effect" combines two known methods: a network (graph) description of the situation and the network of probabilistic inference (Bayesian networks, also known as "semantic network").

Using factual information, their own intuitive judgment, assess the level of confidence and degree of uncertainty in the assessment of various events, an analyst can form a "network of influence". During the model building environment experts focus on creating "nodes of influence" showing important events the occurrence of which is accompanied by some effect (consequence of event). Also created the "context of influence" between cause (event) and effect that graphically illustrate the causal relation between the connected pair of events. Formed structure reflects the topology of the "network of influence".

This topological structure of the "network effect" is the starting point for the work of the expert group on filling models own knowledge about the situation. The work of the experts is to select and install the boundary values of the weights and probabilities of the basic events in the model structure.

Today, simulation technology is based on a "network effect" is implemented in the automated system of decision support, called "Module of evaluation of the Situational Influence" (Situational Influence Assessment Module, SIAM). According to some information, both the approach and established on its basis the software product has received high marks from analysts in the U.S. intelligence community engaged in the analysis and forecasting of development of situation in various regions of the world.

In complex software development SIAM was attended by specialists of information Center of excellence at George Mason (George Mason University). The attraction of a specified team allowed the authors of the SIAM project is to use the achievements in the area of reasoning algorithms, which increased the efficiency of the software system as a whole.

In addition, the method used by the Office of advanced research programs U.S. Department of defense (DARPA) in establishing the system of CRISISNET. The goal of this project is to give a working tool to the members of crisis groups (experts) in the decision makers, in order to reduce to a minimum the time of their decision. The purpose of the system is to provide each member of the crisis group, regardless of its location, means of sustainable remoting with the "network effect" created by the specific situation and in the situation centre, for its early adaptation and adjustment to fit the dynamics of the changing circumstances.

SIAM software product allows to organize the work on "filling the" architectural skeleton "network of influence" of a distributed team of experts and analysts, each specializing in its own, quite narrow area. Such technology gives an opportunity to all stakeholders to review and track the effects of many problems, events, motives, and other factors. There is an opportunity to identify key events that can improve or worsen the probability of a desirable outcome. Thus, it can be revealed the best course of action, and also predicted some unforeseen circumstances.

According to some information, experience with approach based on "network effect" has been studied in detail and adopted for use in strategic planning of information operations of the U.S. Department of defense.

According to experts of the Ministry of defence, the approach is in good agreement with the multi-faceted nature of information operations that enables analysts and planners to identify and model the motives, power, economic and political factors, as well as to clarify their effectiveness on various stages of the operation, in certain situations.

Specialists of the Ministry of defense of the USA in the field of information operations emphasize that traditional approaches to planning strategic operations ineffective for planning information operations. The success of information operations depends not only on the ability to clearly implement these measures. Regardless of whether the purpose of information operations attack information infrastructure of the enemy or protect your own infrastructure, plans for successful information operations require detailed explanation and understanding of behaviour of decision makers, from both the enemy and the allies, and in many cases with private parties. In this regard, the most important element of a successful planning information operations is the understanding and awareness of the main motives of certain political leaders and groups of individuals (governments, parties, etc.). Human motives are at the basis of any conflict of action, whether traditional military conflict, act of terrorism or other acts aimed against the government. Developments in Iraq, according to the American expert, showed that the high mobility and firepower of a modern army, when it is used without a detailed knowledge of the multidimensional decision-making process of the adversary and comprehensive analysis of information on developments in the situation do not always have effective means of solving problems.

Effective strategic planning requires not only constant collection and analysis of information on past and current events, but also fully informed of the algorithm for decision-making by the enemy, the intentions and motives of the key players. All aspects of this process are focused on a single goal – the reduction of uncertainty in the perception of the evolution of the situation through long-term planning of information operations for the purpose of correcting influence on the motives and behavior of the enemy, allies, and third parties in the interests of the main goals of the operation.

In some cases the planning process is based on a psychological model of individual decision-makers, which has sole authority in determining the course of events. However, in most cases, the decision-making process involves a group of people (government) or the population of the country. In such cases, the ability to positively affect the final result of the operation is determined by the correct identification of critical events and players. The success of identification will have long-term, comprehensive effects on the transformation of the situation in the desired direction. According to the authors of this approach, there are two sides to such effects: the formation of public opinion, which is consistent with the purpose of the entire operation if there is a problem of unity of views among the decision makers; and creating a split in opinions among the decision makers that entirely prevents the ability of the enemy to resist to the successful achievement of the main goal of the operation.

Experts point out that in the slang of specialists in the field of information operations these two approaches are called, respectively, "seam" and "crack". Identification of critical "seams" and "fractures" - is the key to determining effective strategic planning of information operations.

Modeling based on "network effect" contributes to the identification of "seams" and "fractures" that define the essence of information operations. In addition, the methods and analysis tools assist planners in determining optimal courses of action that most effectively influence these critical events and actors.

Experts say one of the features of the developed software complex SIAM - ability to decompose complex problems into a number of smaller, more appropriate for analysis: the software package is different, but interdependent subnet of influence can be presented on separate "pages" a single coherent model of "network of influence".This feature allows the user to organize the construction of "networks of influence" to predict the development of the situation on the complex and multidimensional problems, the formation of a unified "network of influence" which would be a very difficult task.

Use of funds program complex SIAM allows also to identify undesired or unexpected effects. So, if the experts forming the content of "networks of influence" made a mistake in assessing the value of a certain factor of influence, in the case of the Union of all significant factors from different nodes of influence that are used by the algorithm can reveal missing or unaccounted factors. The results also indicate that combined factors of weak effects, and possible in this case, an unexpected result.

Automated assessment tools, used in SIAM, include, including, and means of comparative analysis. This analysis provides assessors with the opportunity to feedback in real time from sequences of judgement and intuition, as well as the completeness and accuracy of the constructed model. The results of the analysis contribute to identifying critical "pressure points" in the distribution of power. "Pressure points" - those events that have the greatest potential to change the outcome.

Technique of analysis of efficiency impacts incorporated in SIAM, to minimize the consumption of resources for the operation by the redistribution effect on the "pressure points". In addition, if the critical "point of pressure" is not revealed, the decision maker, is presented with a list of information requirements that must be met to continue the detailed planning process, which allows purposefully adjusting the structure of "network of influence".

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