Military Social Influence in the Global Information Environment: A Civilian Primer


Sara B. King, Psychology Department, Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA 15940 [e-mail:].


This article provides an overview of the role of social influence in modern U.S. military affairs. Many military strategists are now convinced that modern warfare is centered on a battle for public opinion, rather than a battle for physical terrain. As a result, new military periodic literature, texts, doctrine, and initiatives are increasingly likely to place social influence at the core of military operations. Unfortunately, this literature and doctrine is developing in a conversation that is almost completely independent of civilian university-based scholarly consideration. The goal of this civilian “primer” is to help bridge the gap between civilian and military scholarship by providing (1) an introduction to competing conceptions of the role of influence in modern war, (2) a brief description of current military initiatives using information operations, and (3) examples of influence tactics employed in recent U.S. military action. The article concludes by considering questions that modern military information operations raise about the intersection of social science, democracy, and war.