Sweden’s Psychological Defense Agency

Sweden's Psychological Defence Agency

At the start of this year, Sweden officially launched the Psychological Defense Agency. The purpose of the agency, as the agency’s website explains, “is to safeguard our open and democratic society, the free formation of opinion and Sweden’s freedom and independence.” The website further explains the need for, the scope of, and imperative to be proactive for psychological defense.

Psychological defence must be able to identify, analyse, meet and prevent undue information influence and other misleading information that is directed at Sweden or Swedish interests both nationally and internationally. It can be disinformation aimed at weakening the country’s resilience and the population’s will to defend itself or unduly influencing people’s perceptions, behaviours and decision making.

Psychological defence must also strengthen the population’s ability to detect and resist influence campaigns and disinformation. Psychological defence contributes to creating resistance and willingness to defend among our population and in society as a whole.

The agency’s deputy director, Magnus Hjort, explained to The Washington Post why now: “The security situation in our near European environment has deteriorated for some time now and therefore we need to rebuild our total defence.” Note the use of “rebuild” and how the framing aligns as the flipside of the offensive means of political warfare. The latter is for another time, with the former (“rebuild”) the topic of this post.

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Government (Re)Organization to confront Disinformation and Misinformation

Bottom line upfront: A multi-dimensional “whole-of-government” approach requires a will to act from the president. It does not require a proper strategy, just a will, which is substantially more than a whim. Structure and method will follow and provide, as long as the will is there to push, a backstop to hold efforts accountable and on track. Without the president’s commitment whatever happens will be tactical and reactionary. This is demonstrably true in the area of foreign information operations.

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Comment on “The lost art of ideological warfare”

Alice asking the Cheshire Cat for Directions

There are plenty of discussions today, and for the past many years, about “information warfare,” “ideological warfare,” and, more rarely, “political warfare.” While some may read these as largely synonymous terms, they should convey different meanings which translates into a differing understanding of the threat and thus the response required.

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The two-sentence review of my “The Politics of Information Warfare in the United States”

Chapter head: Politics of Information Warfare in the United States by Matt Armstrong

It is nice to have your work reviewed. This is especially true when the product is otherwise “locked” away behind a paywall of an “academically” priced book (translation: the cost is several multiples of a reasonable price). That joy is subverted a bit when a review lacks clarity and may be interpreted to claim the opposite of what I wrote. This happened recently with a review that appeared in Parameters, a quarterly magazine from the US Army War College. The review was of my contribution — a 9500-word, footnoted version of my War on the Rocks article from January 2017, “The Past, Present, and Future of the War for Public Opinion” — in an edited book.

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Call for Papers: 6th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security

A call for papers:

Information warfare, cyber-operations, and information security are areas of specialized research covering multiple areas of expertise. This conference is designed to bring together conceptualists, operators, and researchers to exchange and explore ideas covering these areas. Past conferences have attracted participants from all over the globe, providing for a rich environment of idea exchange.

What: 6th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security
When: 17-18 March 2011
Where: The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Conference Chair: Dr. Julie Ryan, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Program Chair: Dr. Edwin Leigh Armistead, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Keynote Speaker: Matthew A. Stern, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, USA

Details can be found at the event’s website.