Defence against foreign influence operations – establishing a function in the defence sector

FFI-Report 2024
This publication is only available in Norwegian

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Eskil Grendahl Sivertsen Paul Buvarp
This report considers issues regarding the establishment of a potential function in the defence sector to create situational awareness amongst information professionals and to detect and counter what the EU identifies as Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference, or FIMI. Literature reviews show a handful of recommendations for best practices that such a function should follow. They point out that it is important to integrate analysis into all of the function’s processes. Furthermore, they point out that transparent and effective communication is essential, both within the function and between the function and other agencies and stakeholders. The main thrust of our examination is based on a case study of Sweden’s Psychological Defence Agency. Our report describes the background for the agency, its responsibilities, tasks, and mandate, as well as organisation, state leadership, and the practice of the agency’s activities. We also briefly examine the Lithuanian National Crisis Management Centre and its function in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Our report then deals with the context of this kind of function against FIMI in Norway. Our discussion focusses on NATO doctrines, NATO’s future concept of cognitive warfare, other allied cooperation, and international arenas. In addition, our discussion covers the relationship to the Norwegian Armed Forces and other relevant national institutions. In our analysis, we identify five requirements for a Norwegian FIMI defence: to establish situational awareness, to detect attempts at FIMI, to develop responses, to build resilience and preparedness against FIMI, and to develop national and international coordination. Based on these requirements, we have developed a list of principles that such a defence must or should adhere to. Our report then considers the FIMI defence’s possible organisation and structure as well as specific ethical and legal questions. We recommend that a FIMI defence be responsible for establishing situational awareness amongst information professionals. The FIMI defence must detect FIMI activity and develop response options and preventive measures against FIMI. The FIMI defence should also coordinate national and international participation and knowledge exchange in relevant forums. We recommend that a FIMI defence builds analytical capacity as a foundation through its activities and gathers personnel with relevant skills. Additionally, a mandate for a FIMI defence must be defined, and assessments of suitable digital tools and a possible legal framework for the defence should be carried out. We recommend that a FIMI defence be built in such a way that it will be compatible with a larger, multisectoral function in the future.

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