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The OODA Loop, Information Warfare, the Ukrainian Defense and the Collapse of the Russian Army

Editor’s note:  We typically provide research and analysis utilizing the OODA Loop as a positive tool for decision intelligence and risk awareness.  Usually, this takes the form of advice and recommendations on how to leverage the OODA Loop for business strategy.   Here,  OODA Network Member Chris Flaherty takes another angle – that of interventions on and disruptions of an adversary’s information ecosystem  – so as to disrupt the clarity, management, and effectiveness of an adversary’s OODA Loop during the fog of war (impacting disinformation campaigns and propaganda).  This formative suggestion of an attack on an adversary’s OODA Loop is an interesting exercise – especially now, as we seek to develop further tools to combat the unique severity of the challenges with cognitive infrastructure, information disorder, and dis-misinformation.

Chris’ thoughts are promising  – a ‘back of the napkin’ brainstorming session of sorts (which are sometimes the best kind of creative, informal strategy and OODA Loop analysis – as Matt and Bob discussed with Chet Richards in and OODAcast conversation last year):  ideas put together in response to a week of a war in Europe marked by a dizzying array of information and situational awareness updates.   – dtp

The OODA Loop, Information Warfare, the Ukrainian Defense and the Collapse of the Russian Army

If I was to map this out using Informational-OODA concepts, then we are looking at how social media influencers and open-source intelligence creates a challenge to a leader’s false narrative.

There are several consequences in terms of the potential for ordinary Russian soldiers to rebel against the war. The recent video by Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Zelenskyy’s direct appeals to Russian Soldiers points to a central issue in this war:  that every person with a mobile phone showing the truth (Admiral Stavridis), can ‘speak truth to power.’

In OODA terms it is about taking the message to every level: Leaders, Soldiers, Civil Population, and simply telling and showing the truth to impact Russian decision making (to, in a sense, ‘hit’ their OODA Loop). The question in terms of the informational aspects to the Russian Invasion, and Ukrainian defence, is how effective or what contribution this messaging makes to an implosion of the Russian field army – bringing about the surrender of soldiers, soldiers actively rioting and refusing orders.

Is it an informational tactic as simple as pointing loudspeakers at Russian positions, messaging interviews of captured soldiers, or leaving electronic devices like mobile phones for soldiers to find, with information about the war and giving them the ability to ring home (a right currently denied to the Russian soldier under the information blackout imposed by Putin)?

Or are we looking at a more concentrated Information warfare campaign breaking through the news blackout in Russia – bringing the realities of this war into every TV set at mealtime, as happened in another war?

Graph:  A Formative Model of the Information Component of the Russian Invasion and Ukrainian Defence.

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Further OODA Loop Resources

OODAcast: Chet Richards on John Boyd and applying OODA principles to the business world

Chet Richards and the Origin Story of The OODA Loop (Part 1 of 2)

Chet Richards on Applying OODA Loops in Business (Part 2 of 2)

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Perspectives for the C-Suite Decision-Maker

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Chris Flaherty

Chris Flaherty

Dr. Chris Flaherty is a commentator on security, defence and counter terrorism research, its application, and project management. Currently living in London. He is involved in the development of a "Scripted Agent Based Microsimulation Project". This project began at the University of New South Wales, and has moved to the University of Wollongong (NSW, Australia). As well, this research incorporates affiliate team membership with the London Metropolitan Business School: Centre for International Business and Sustainability. He has also developed basic research and tools for vulnerability and resilience analysis. His current research work is on 3D Tactics and counter terrorism building vulnerability analysis for mass gathering commercial, industrial and shopping areas. He is currently a Senior Risk Consultant at Greymans Limited. And was recently made a Fellow of the UK Security Institute (April 2010).