The University of Melbourne’s leading academic on disinformation says training in this topic is crucial for organisations to help them to recognise and counteract malicious influence.
Controlling the narrative and maintaining influence within the information environment is critical to tactical and strategic success, says Dr Morgan Saletta, Senior Research Associate with the internationally recognised Hunt Laboratory for Intelligence Research, at the University of Melbourne.
He said, “Disinformation can critically impact the relationship between local civilian populations and land forces in both combat and non-combat operations.
Disinformation can also have lasting impacts on the reputation of Defence Forces.”
Malicious influence and disinformation can be used to undermine military operations.For example, in the Ukraine, US and UK intelligence and diplomatic efforts leading up to the Russian invasion aimed to pre-bunk Russia’s propaganda narratives and disinformation.
Throughout the war, Zelensky and the Ukrainian defence forces use traditional and social media to control the narrative. Russia’s control of propaganda is to maintain domestic population’s support for invasion.
Deception and disinformation to mislead adversaries about intentions and capabilities.
A known example of example of Ukrainian counter-offensives in the country’s south was telegraphed for months, and for weeks small but incremental gains were seen and been splashed in headlines.
However, the information was designed to distract and mislead the Russians about a large counter-offensive taking place in the north-east to massive success.
Disinformation is not a new tactic.
In an interesting NATO exercise in Latvia in a 2019 wargame, operatives used the dating app Tender to influence soldiers.
‘Bikini trolls’ influenced soldiers to post photos of themselves and lured some of them away from their duty posts in anticipation of meeting up with their ‘dates’.
The training from University of Melbourne aims to help participants to recognise, track and counter disinformation and malicious influence situations.
See the University of Melbourne within the LAND FORCES 2022 exhibition on stand 4X12.