Taking advantage of the changing nature of both media and warfare itself, writes Yaacov Falkov, major powers like Russia and China as well as guerrilla groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda have grown astute at undermining the morale of their enemies. The failure to keep up with such strategies, according to Falkov, might amount to the U.S. military’s greatest weakness—one that can outweigh battlefield superiority. Moreover, he writes, American allies tend to suffer from the same liability, although Israel is working hard to remedy the situation:
Iran is fully aware of the strategic advantages of the ongoing information revolution in military affairs and is devoting growing attention, energy, and resources—as well as intellectual, organizational, and technical efforts—to improve its doctrines and capabilities in the sphere of information warfare. . . . The head of Iran’s National Security Council has recently picked up the habit of tweeting in Hebrew to gain Israeli attention. The influence tools at the Iranians’ disposal are numerous, ranging from the official media platforms, social networks, religious-cultural centers abroad, and unattributed cyberattacks, to covert, semi-covert, or overt violent actions—including terror, commando raids, and drone or missile strikes—performed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and/or its different regional partners.
Multiple violent non-state actors, including the Afghan Taliban, Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas (which in recent rounds of fighting used social networks to sow fear in Israeli society), and, above all, Hizballah, have also fully entered the era of the information revolution in military affairs.
Since the 2006 Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces and the intelligence community have recognized the appearance of a new sphere of encounter, beyond that of classical [battlefield] combat—“the battle for consciousness” (ha-ma’aracha al ha-toda’a)—and understood its challenges and advantages. The IDF created a special function for “consciousness operations,” aimed at shaping opinions and attitudes toward Israel’s military actions among enemy forces, other Middle Eastern players, as well as Western and global audiences. Besides official warnings sent to Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran through the Israeli and regional non-Hebrew media channels, constant messaging is directed at the broader international community, including foreign civil and military leaders, diplomats, the press, and the greater public.