Cognitive Warfare

  • The art of using technology to alter the cognition of human targets.

  • They are usually unaware.

  • Those countering the results may be unaware.

  • Combat without fighting.

  • There are many misconceptions on this topic.          Our training starts here!

What is Cognitive Warfare?

The Treadstone 71 series of Cognitive Warfare courses study practices, methods, tools, technologies of information operations, examples of hybridization, including approaches of countering this type of warfare. The militarization of the information space changes the need for forceful geopolitical takeovers. We continue to experience a genuine technological revolution in waging information warfare. We study complex and elaborate schemes using a methodology of system analysis that identifies and convert an informal description of a process or a procedure into an algorithm starting with machine learning with the goal of mature artificial intelligence.

The Cognitive Warfare Training Course

Our courses are detailed description of the main forms, schemes, elements of modern-day information operations. We demonstrate the use and intent of fake news with  examples of specific information operations.  Cognitive warfare uses fake news for strategic operations of information wars. The course covers Chinese, Russian, and Iranian methods covering operational warfare of foreign intelligence services. Our content includes the aggressive plots and results of real-world cognitive warfare operations used by:

  • Hostile governments
  • Proxy groups
  • Foreign intelligence agencies.

We see cognitive warfare as much more than an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of some other group or institution. Adversarial intelligence services continue to build and enhance their cognitive warfare battalions coupled with specific technologies that force multiple their capabilities.  Possible Goals of Cognitive Warfare that we cover include methods of destabilization through:

  • Increasing social and political polarization
  • Igniting movements to cause chaos and confusion
  • The delegitimization of government institutions and leadership
  • Isolating target groups and individuals
  • Disrupting visible economic activities
  • Causing critical infrastructure disruption and 
  • Confusing normal communications

From an influence perspective, possible Cognitive Warfare goals include the promotion of extremist ideologies through conspiracy theories, tribalism and cults while manipulating civilian beliefs. Additionally:

  • The ability to control key economic activities
  • Regulating government actions
  • Delegitimizing elections, election results, and election officials
  • Recruiting people into cults via conspiracies
  • And quelling any dissent.

Color Revolutions - What are they?

Color Revolutions

We associate color revolutions with pro-western governments coming to power in former Soviet republics. Their characteristics include a semi-autocratic regime with an unpopular leader opposed by a united and well-organized group. Media and narrative control used to convince the public that voting was falsified combined with protests of election fraud and extremist groups infiltrating police and military organizations driving internal divisions to the point of fighting one another (sound familiar aka the January 6 Insurrection and all that preceded this event). We examine the following ‘revolutions’ considered in this genre:

  • Velvet Revolution, Czech Republic, 1989
  • Rose Revolution, Georgia, 2003
  • Orange Revolution, Ukraine, 2004
  • Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan, 2005
  • White Revolution (the name we give the insurrection), United States 2021
    • January 6 Insurrection and continued attempts at a revolution, United States 2021

Russia sees the culmination of the January 6 attempted coup as retribution for the United States’ support of color revolutions in other countries. Russian leadership sees Color Revolutions as the illegitimate toppling of governments in other countries, and for treating them as an absolutely normal process if they correspond to US interests.

Russia believes the activities of radical public associations and groups using nationalist and religious extremist ideology, foreign and international non-governmental organizations, and financial and economic structures, and also individuals, focused on destroying the unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, destabilizing the domestic political and social situation—including through inciting "color revolutions"—and destroying traditional Russian religious and moral values.

Michael McFaul identified these seven stages of successful political revolutions common in color revolutions:

  1. A semi-autocratic rather than fully autocratic regime
  2. An unpopular incumbent
  3. A united and organized opposition
  4. An ability to quickly drive home the point of falsified voting results
  5. Enough independent media to inform citizens about the falsified vote
  6. A political opposition capable of mobilizing tens of thousands or more demonstrators to protest electoral fraud
  7. Divisions among the regime's coercive forces.

Other actions related to Color Revolutions and also part of Hybrid Warfare include:

  1. Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
  2. Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
  3. Use colors and symbols to demonstrate a unity of resistance
  4. Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
  5. Use non-violent “weapons”
  6. Identify the dictatorship’s pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each
  7. Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
  8. Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence.
What are Cyber Gray Zone activities?

Cyber Gray Zone

Gray-zone activities are coercive cyber (or physical) statecraft actions short of war. The Gray Zone uses doubt creating an atmosphere where adversaries cannot make timely and confident strategic decisions. The gray zone is a mainly non-military domain of activity in which states use online methods to deliberately coerce the adversary. From fake news and online troll farms to terrorist financing and paramilitary provocations, these approaches often lie in the contested arena somewhere between routine statecraft and open warfare—the “gray zone.” - https://www.csis.org/programs/gray-zone-project “The gray zone phenomenon is also referred to as hybrid threats, sharp power, political warfare, malign influence, irregular warfare, and modern deterrence. Although it reflects an age-old approach, it is newly broad in its application. Today, the toolkit for coercion below the level of direct warfare includes information operations, political coercion, economic coercion, cyber operations, proxy support, and provocation by state-controlled Forces. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as non-state actors, are increasingly turning to these strategies to overcome U.S. strengths in global diplomacy, law, and commerce.” The Center for Strategic and International Studies

The gray zone describes a set of activities that occur between peace (or cooperation) and war (or armed conflict). A multitude of activities fall into this murky in-between—from nefarious economic activities, influence operations, and cyberattacks to mercenary operations, assassinations, and disinformation campaigns. Generally, gray-zone activities are considered gradualist campaigns by state and non-state actors that combine non-military and quasi-military tools and fall below the threshold of armed conflict. They aim to thwart, destabilize, weaken, or attack an adversary, and they are often tailored toward the vulnerabilities of the target state. While gray-zone activities are nothing new, the onset of new technologies has provided states with more tools to operate and avoid clear categorization, attribution, and detection—all of which complicates the United States’ and its allies’ ability to respond. - Clementine G. Starling is the deputy director of the Forward Defense practice and a resident fellow in the Transatlantic Security Initiative.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) - Neurolinguistics. Neurolinguistics is a behavioral communication model and a set of procedures that improve communication skills. The HUMINT collector should read and react to nonverbal communications. He must be aware of the specific neurolinguistic clues of the cultural framework in which he is operating. NLP may be used to program the mind for better habits and help shift perceptions, and heal wounds or traumas. But in cognitive warfare operations, NLP is used to change behaviors, influence, and manipulating your targets to the perceptions you wish.

Influence Operations

Influence Operations is a coordinated effort to influence targets using a range of illegitimate and deceptive means. Influence means to alter the opinions, attitudes, and ultimately behavior of your target through inform and influence. activities, presence, and conduct.

Information Warfare

Information Warfare is information warfare as a conflict involving the protection, manipulation, degradation and denial of information. Any action to deny, exploit, corrupt, or destroy the enemy`s information and its functions, protecting ourselves against those actions, and exploiting our own military information functions-information as a weapon and target.

Leaks Operations

Leaks Operations convey information to the target audience information that the adversary might wish to keep out of public view, and when disclosure occurs in the context of disclosing secret information, it gains notoriety and attracts attention disproportionately to its actual importance.

The essence of cognitive confrontation is knowledge confrontation and intellectual competition. Adversaries need to have full cognition, deep understanding and rapid response to the cyber environment, threats, targets, and opponents, and the analysis, judgment, decision-making, will and other cognitive level.

Ability, will directly affect cyber confrontations, the organization of the campaign, the decision of the strategy, and the trend and success or failure of the engagement. The concept of winning and losing in cognitive warfare has expanded from "hard damage to compete for battlefield space and focus on destroying the enemy's living forces" to "soft penetration affecting morale and people's hearts, and cognitive games interfering with the adversary's command and decision-making".

Cognitive confrontation in human warfare will be upgraded from intellectual competition and knowledge confrontation between people to AI. But first, we as humans need to learn all we can about cognitive warfare.

Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid warfare entails a fusion of conventional as well as unconventional instruments of power and tools of subversion. We blend tools in a synchronized manner to exploit the vulnerabilities of an adversary achieving harmonious effects. We also cover Third Wave Warfare from Alvin and Heidi Toffler.

Disinformation, Misinformation, Malinformation, & Manipulation

Disinformation: Carefully contrived misinformation prepared to mislead, delude, disrupt, or undermine confidence in individuals, organizations, institutions, or governments. “False information about someone or something, disseminated as a hostile act of tactical subversion.”

Misinformation is “false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.”

Malinformation is information based on reality, but used to inflict harm on a person, organization or country.

Manipulation: A series of related techniques of creating an image or argument that favors somebody’s particular interests.

Information Operations

Information Operations (IO or soft power) includes influence the behavior of your adversary with the intent of impacting their decision-making. IO may include cyber attacks against target information systems and their ability to make timely and accurate decisions. IO is commonly associated with the disruption, corruption, or direct modification of the decision-making of your targets while protecting your own from the same fate.

Validated and registered students receive preparation information 1 week prior to class start.

Corporate accounts are not Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Mail, Hushmail, Protonmail, and the like). Treadstone 71 reserves the right to restrict course registration based upon certain risk factors. This course presents the student with foundational concepts and processes in the discipline of cyber counterintelligence with a focus on cyber counterintelligence missions, defensive counterintelligence, offensive counterintelligence, and counterespionage as these realms apply to traditional tradecraft, and how they are or will evolve into the cyber domain. The course includes a very different approach to counterintelligence using models exhibited online over the past few years to steer the conversation to the desired outcome


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