“To be forewarned is to be forearmed”
Back in 2017, I wrote a piece called “Understanding China’s Unrestricted Warfare Concepts.” In that article we highlighted the use of “information warfare” in combination with other methods such as diplomatic warfare, economic warfare, media warfare, psychological warfare, drugs warfare, and even what we call now as Lawfare.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Sun Tzu (Art of War).
Warfare is the set of all lethal and nonlethal activities undertaken to subdue the hostile “will” of an adversary.
In essence, warfare does not require a declaration of war nor does it require existence of a condition widely recognized as “a state of war”. Warfare can be undertaken by anyone with an agenda. This can be a single individual, a group or an organization. It can also be state-controlled or state-sponsored or non-state controlled.
What is Neocortical Warfare?
Neocortical warfare is a part of information warfare and psychological operation. It’s a warfare that strives to subdue the “will” of the enemy and fulfill political and military objectives without force. It aims to control, shape and even to regulate the behaviour of the enemy organisms, but without killing the organisms.
This approach to warfare targets by way of influencing the adversary’s perceptions of patterns and images, insights, imaginings and even nightmares. It seeks to know and understand the culture, way of thinking, values, verbal and non-verb language, mental syntax, cultural vulnerabilities and susceptibilities.
In knowing what the adversary values and using the adversary’s own view of the world and/or mental syntax, neocortical warfare will shape the impressions, perceptions, and affect the enemy’s initiative and responses whereby the enemy’s OODA loop (Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action) will be constantly delayed, corrupted , replaced and influenced by a now malleable and receptive behaviour towards the opposing agenda.
Who are the targets?
The targets of neocortical warfare are the enemy nation’s political leadership, policy makers, military leaders and eventually the whole nation’s mindset.
In a neocortical warfare, a situation or scenarios can be created in order to make the opposing “leadership” system see an avenue or a choice which was premeditatedly created by the enemy. The end result will be leaders that will be willing to bend, change or kowtow their policies and or strategies because of fear, perceived multiple consequences and even perceived benefits.
“Supplying the stimulus, controlling the response”
By manipulating and influencing the adversary’s leaders with perceptions, sensory and cognitive data designed to overwhelm and disorient their OODA loop, their narrow and controlled evaluations and calculations can be channeled to a predetermined choices that the enemy designed as a solution.
The concept is not merely to avoid battles. The aim is to cause the enemy to choose not to fight by exercising reflexive influence and as a result to push that potential “hot war” into a “cold war”.
The supreme skill and hallmark signature of Neocortical Warfare
The supreme skill and excellence is when the objective is attained when the adversary chooses the non-fighting/no resistance alternative voluntarily. The hallmark and key signature of success, is that the target, be it individual, country/nation or political personality is not even aware that the decision that was made by him or by them was created by their enemy’s neocortical warriors.
We can also reference history in which neocortical warfare was used and successfully reframed and influenced thinking.
* Adolf Hitler’s use of paranoia and hate speeches and his Aryan race supremacy declarations.
* Winston Churchill’s political will and resistance speeches against Hitler’s military aggression.
* President Kennedy’s decision to ignore the provocative threats of Nikita Khrushchev’s letters during the crisis over the Soviet missiles in Cuba.
* Philippine’s Ramon Magsaysay and Col. Edwards Lansdale’s use of the legendary NENITA unit of Col. Napoleon Valeriano and the creation or use of folklore, symbolism against the Huk’s insurgents in the Philippines.
* Genghis Khan’s use of psychological fear and paranoia, speed of information and communication and diplomacy.
* Russia’s recent war in Crimea in 2014.
These are some examples of reframing and adjusting the adversary’s perception a.k.a. neocortical warfare/information Warfare.
In the theory of information warfare, Richard Szafranski outlined the four characteristics of neocortical warfare.
First, it recognizes that competition, conflict and conflict resolution are permanent features of the human condition. The target of all human conflict and its resolution is the ultimate battleground of all — the human mind.
The second is to accept that any adversarial entity will wage and will constantly wage this form of warfare, and there is no need for a declaration of war.
Neocortical warfare uses language, images and situational information to assault the mind. It undermines the morale and seeks to change or defeat the will.
It also uses the weakness and the strength of the adversary in ways that are unexpected and imaginative. The leaders are the critical and primary targets of neocortical warfare.
Third, it has a nonviolent/nonmilitary strong influence over the adversary or the target country.
Let us review the pattern, look at the news and situational facts – economic loans, flooding the target country with illicit and illegal drugs, diplomatic and economic pressure to make the target country to reverse or if not change policies and/or to look the other way.
And the fourth characteristic which will support and preserve the effect of neocortical warfare is the intentional “display of a violent, fast-reacting, military action” in order to serve as a threat or a tool of coercion.
Let us expect that one day a specifically structured situation will happen that will demonstrate this capability. Remember the classic “carrot & stick”. Well, when the carrot does not work, let the fear of the stick do the job.
Let us therefore be conscious of our political leader’s rhetoric, pronouncements, political and/or economic policy changes, military directions and or strategies and/or the lack of it. Let us be proactive in making our leaders be aware that there is such a concept and method in waging a war that is not declared nor seen. After all, they are the representative of their people’s interest and not of their enemy’s political and strategic needs.
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Gen. George S. Patton
“Sa Manlulupig, Di Ka Pasisiil.” Lupang Hinirang
Datuk Joseph Orbase is a Security & Risk Management Consultant, and Radio Producer & Host of Radio Bandila and Radio Rizal.