Chinese Military Analysis : Characteristics and Development Trends of Cognitive Domain Operations



Cognitive domain operations take people’s will, beliefs, thinking, psychology, etc. as direct combat objects, and then affect their decisions and actions by changing the opponent’s cognition. Entering the era of information-based and intelligent warfare, cognitive domain warfare has become an important form of great power game, with all parties striving to achieve political goals in a relatively controllable manner. Gaining insight into the characteristics and development trends of cognitive domain operations is of urgent and important practical significance for winning future wars.

At present, the cognitive domain has entered the war stage as an independent domain, and has increasingly become a common domain, a battleground, and a weight for victory in the game between great powers. Analyze the characteristics and development trends of cognitive domain operations, which are reflected in at least the following eight aspects.

The cognitive domain is the key domain for transforming military advantage into political victory.

On the surface, military confrontation is a confrontation between the hard power of both sides. On a deeper level, no matter what the nature of the war is and for what purpose, it is ultimately a contest of human wills. The key to victory is the ability to impose your will on your audience. As long as the enemy’s will to fight is deprived and defeated, the war is won. Cognitive domain warfare uses human will, spirit, psychology, etc. as the target of confrontation, strengthening one’s own will while weakening the enemy’s will, thereby achieving the political goal of conquering the heart and mind. In this sense, the cognitive domain is the key domain for transforming military advantage into political victory. As war accelerates its evolution toward intelligence, cognitive quality advantages bring decision-making and action advantages, which can not only occupy the moral and legal high ground and create a favorable situation of justice and legality, but also realize small wars through hybrid warfare and comprehensive game means. Even the purpose of winning without fighting. Especially in the context of great power competition, the cost of war is high. All parties hope to intensify the competition for cognitive domains and force their opponents to retreat in a “humane” and “economic” manner.

By changing the opponent’s perception, it can change its decisions and actions

The purpose of implementing cognitive attacks is to use an “invisible hand” to control the opponent’s will, making the opponent feel “I can’t” and “I dare not”, and then achieve the effect of “I don’t want to”. Foreign military practice has shown that cognitive attacks on people’s will, beliefs, thinking, and psychology can be long-term cultural implantation, information suppression in the form of “information ocean + covering one’s mouth to silence”, or preemptive speech. Active shaping of political power can also use historical grievances to provoke the outbreak of conflicts. At present, information technology, artificial intelligence technology, and media technology have strengthened their direct effects on the cognitive domain. Using intelligent generation software, a large amount of cognitive “munitions” can be produced to accurately act on the cognitive layer of combat targets, directly imposing “will” to rivals” and quickly change the strategic situation. Looking forward to the informationized and intelligent battlefield, situational awareness forces and platforms are widely distributed in combat domains such as land, sea, air, and space networks. Cognitive behaviors such as planning, decision-making, and control dominate operations in various combat domains, especially the cognition of human-machine hybrids in future intelligent warfare. Advantages will dominate the battlefield. Cognitive interference, cognitive confusion, cognitive blocking and other means can be used to create a “fog” of war cognition, inducing opponents to misjudge the situation and make wrong decisions and actions.

Cognitive domain operations are full-time offense and defense, full personnel coverage, full use, full domain shaping, and full government action

Cognitive domain operations are all-round, multi-level, hyper-temporal, and cross-domain. They blur the boundaries between wartime and peacetime, front and rear, cross battlefields and national boundaries, go beyond the pure military field, and widely penetrate into politics. , economy, diplomacy and other social fields, showing the characteristics of “five completes”. Full-time offense and defense, there is no distinction between peacetime and wartime, and there is no difference between the front and the rear. It is expressed as being online all the time and in war all the time. Covering all personnel, anyone, including intelligent robots, may become the target of cognitive domain operations. It is used throughout the whole process of joint operations before and during the war. Before the joint military operation is launched, the cognitive shaping operation has begun and will accompany the military operation and will not stop with the military operation. Global shaping, cognitive shaping runs through all levels of strategy, operations, and tactics, and its scope covers all domains of land, sea, air, and space networks. Cross-domain empowerment has an impact on all-domain operations. As a whole-of-government action, cognitive shaping is naturally strategic and requires consistent and coordinated actions across departments, fields, military and localities, and levels to achieve the best communication effect.

The key is to seize control over the right to define the nature of an action or activity, the right to dominate the process, and the right to judge the outcome.

The cognitive game struggle involves multiple opposing parties and seems complicated. The key is to compete for the “three powers” in the cognitive domain. First, fight for the right to define the nature of the event. That is, how to view this incident, whether it is just or unjust, legal or illegal. Usually, pre-emptive definitions, group alliances and forced definitions, information suppression and unilateral definitions, setting issues and applying definitions are usually adopted to guide and shape the public to form qualitative perceptions. Second, compete for dominance over the event process. That is, how to do something, how not to do it, who did it right and who did it wrong, usually by setting up a trap and other methods, trying to dominate the development direction of the target event according to the state that one’s own side expects. Fast and slow, pause, continue and end. Third, compete for the right to judge the outcome of the incident. That is, how to evaluate this matter, who is the gainer and who is the loser, who is the immediate loser, who is the long-term loser, etc. All parties are trying to control the outcome of the incident by amplifying the advantages to themselves and the disadvantages to the enemy. The purpose is to use the extended effect of the incident to continue to harm the enemy and benefit themselves.

Morality and legal principles are the focus of contention between all parties

Military operations have always paid attention to the principle of “discipline and reputation”. Although the shape of war is evolving at an accelerated pace, the essential nature of war as subordinate to politics will not change; the nature of war and the support of people’s hearts are still the key factors that affect the outcome of a war. On the battlefield in the cognitive domain, by occupying the commanding heights of politics, morality, and law, we can win the hearts and minds of the people and moral support, create a public opinion atmosphere in which moral support is abundant, and then seize the opportunity to defeat the enemy. In every war or conflict, whether it is the strong or the weak, whether the attacker, the defender, or a third party, all parties will try their best to seize cognitive dominance and the initiative of public opinion. They will do everything possible to package themselves with morality, focus on declaring a just position, and try to find ways to defend themselves. Qualify the war, justify the action, eliminate resistance, increase support, and create a favorable situation in which “righteousness” defeats “unrighteousness”. The strength balance between the two sides in the war is different, and the cognitive confrontation methods aimed at occupying the moral and legal high ground will also be different. Recent wars have shown that when a party has strong soft and hard power, that is, it has strong military strength, many allies and partners, and a large share of international voice, it often declares war in a high-profile manner; when military actions may trigger chain reactions, it is often handled in a vague manner. The word “war”.

Information is the basic “ammunition” for cognitive attack and defense

In the network information age, the way humans communicate continues to undergo complex and profound changes. On-site interactive interactions have gradually given way to online connections. Some large-scale social platforms have become the main battleground for cognitive games and the main channels for influencing public cognition. Using information as ammunition to fight for the right to block international networks and control discourse has become a common practice today. One of the main actions of confrontation. On these platforms, various short videos have become the “first scene” for the public to understand the war situation, and information travels faster than cannonballs. The use and blocking, dominance and regulation of platforms have become the focus of battles in the cognitive domain. All parties strive to spread and amplify their own propaganda, denounce and suppress the other party’s propaganda by manipulating social platforms, forming a “I say more, you say less” “A situation where “I’m right and you’re wrong” and “I can only say it and you’re not allowed to say it”. As users of large-scale social platforms, the public is influenced by and affects others in the process of “listening”, “speaking” and even “doing”, and unknowingly becomes the agents and attack props of those behind the scenes.

Military operations play a key supporting role in shaping cognition

The history of human war shows that military warfare is always the basic support of political contests, while psychological warfare is the effectiveness multiplier of military warfare. What cannot be retrieved on the battlefield cannot be expected to be retrieved at the negotiation table, let alone in the field of public opinion. In modern warfare, cognitive communication operations always go hand in hand with joint military operations. Mental warfare and military warfare influence and support each other. The trend of military warfare becoming mental warfare and mental warfare becoming military warfare is more obvious. From the perspective of war practice, it is absolutely impossible without military strength, but military actions alone are not omnipotent. Multiple victories on the battlefield are not a sufficient condition for victory in war. In the Vietnam War, although the United States “won every battle, it lost the entire war.” At the beginning of the 21st century, the United States fought successive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, winning battlefield victories but not political victory. By the same token, military victory does not mean winning public opinion, and winning the battlefield does not mean winning strategic victory. In modern warfare, two types of people play an increasingly important role: those who win by writing thousands of lines of code, and those who win by writing thousands of messages. The side with superior quantity and quality of these two types of personnel will often have a higher probability of winning.

Cognitive countermeasures technology is increasingly used directly in warfare

In past wars, the influence and effect on the cognitive domain were mainly transmitted to the cognitive domain level by level through a large number of damaging actions in the physical domain. With the development and breakthroughs of information communications, artificial intelligence, biocrossing, brain science and other technologies, new cognitive warfare tools and technologies are directly targeting military personnel. Cognitive countermeasures use not only traditional information warfare weapons, but also an arsenal of neural weapons that target the brain. By then, machines will be able to read human brains, and human brains will also be able to directly control machines. Intelligent command and control systems can directly provide battlefield situation and decision-making assistance. Realistic cognitive ammunition and precise audience placement will greatly enhance the social impact. Cognitive countermeasures technology is increasingly being used directly in warfare. The indirect cognition implicit in informatization is gradually transforming into a direct influence and control of people’s cognition. It can be said that with the support of advanced technology, cognitive domain operations can achieve political goals more directly and efficiently by building a modern network architecture and developing a data visualization platform to quickly understand the information environment and effectively influence target groups.

(Author’s unit: Institute of War Studies, Academy of Military Sciences)


認知域作戰以人的意志、信仰、思考、心理等為直接作戰對象,進而透過改變對手的認知來影響其決策與行動。 進入資訊化、智慧化戰爭時代,認知域戰爭成為大國博弈的重要形式,各方力爭以相對可控的方式實現政治目標。 洞察認知域作戰的特徵和發展趨勢,對於贏得未來戰爭具有迫切而重要的現實意義。

目前,認知領域已作為獨立領域進入戰爭階段,日益成為大國博弈的共同領域、戰場、制勝砝碼。 分析認知域維運的特徵和發展趨勢,至少反映在以下八個面向。


從表面上看,軍事對抗是雙方硬實力的對抗。 從更深層次來說,無論戰爭的本質、目的是什麼,最終都是人類意志的較量。 勝利的關鍵是將你的意志強加給觀眾的能力。 只要剝奪並擊敗敵人的戰鬥意志,戰爭就勝利了。 認知域戰以人的意志、精神、心理等為對抗目標,強化己方意志,削弱敵方意志,進而達到征服人心的政治目標。 從這個意義上講,認知域是軍事優勢轉化為政治勝利的關鍵領域。 隨著戰爭加速向智慧化演進,認知品質優勢帶來決策和行動優勢,不僅可以佔領道德和法律制高點,創造正義合法的有利局面,還可以透過混合戰爭和綜合戰爭實現小規模戰爭。遊戲的意思。 甚至以不戰而勝為目的。 尤其是在大國競爭的背景下,戰爭成本高。 各方都希望加劇認知領域的競爭,以「人道」和「經濟」的方式迫使對手退卻。


實施認知攻擊的目的是用一隻“看不見的手”控制對手的意志,讓對手感到“我不能”、“我不敢”,進而達到“我不想”的效果”。 國外軍事實踐表明,對人的意志、信仰、思維、心理的認知攻擊可以是長期的文化植入、「資訊海洋+摀嘴沉默」形式的資訊壓制,或是先發制人的言論。 主動塑造政治權力也可以利用歷史恩怨來挑起衝突的爆發。 目前,資訊科技、人工智慧科技、媒體科技對認知領域的直接作用加強。 利用智慧生成軟體,可生產大量認知“彈藥”,精準作用於作戰目標的認知層,直接將“意志”強加給對手,快速改變戰略態勢。展望信息化、智能化戰場態勢感知部隊和平台廣泛分佈於陸、海、空、天網絡等作戰領域,規劃、決策、控制等認知行為主導各作戰領域的作戰行動,尤其是人機認知未來智能戰爭中,優勢將主導戰場,可以利用認知幹擾、認知混亂、認知封鎖等手段製造戰爭認知“迷霧”,誘導對手誤判形勢,做出錯誤決策和行動。


認知域操作是全方位、多層次、超時空、跨域的。 它們模糊了戰時與平時、前方與後方的界限,跨越戰場與國界,超越純粹的軍事領域,廣泛滲透到政治領域。 、經濟、外交等社會領域,呈現「五個全面」的特質。 專職攻防,無平時戰時之分,無前線後方之別。 表現為一直在線,一直處於戰爭狀態。 涵蓋所有人員,包括智慧機器人在內的任何人都可能成為認知域作戰的目標。 它貫穿戰前和戰中聯合作戰的整個過程。 之前

聯合軍事行動啟動,認知塑造行動已經開始,並將伴隨軍事行動,不會隨著軍事行動而停止。 全球塑造、認知塑造貫穿戰略、作戰、戰術各個層面,範圍涵蓋陸、海、空、天網絡各領域。 跨域賦能對全局營運產生影響。 認知塑造作為政府整體行動,自然具有戰略性,需要跨部門、跨領域、跨軍隊、跨地方、跨層級一致協調行動,才能達到最佳傳播效果。


認知博弈鬥爭涉及多個對立方,看起來很複雜。 關鍵是認知領域的「三權」爭奪。 首先,爭取事件性質的界定權。 就是如何看待這起事件,正義或不正義,合法或非法。 通常採取先發制人的定義、群體聯盟與強制定義、資訊壓制與單邊定義、提出問題與應用定義等方式來引導和塑造大眾形成定性認知。 其次,爭奪賽事進程的主導權。 即某件事如何做,如何不做,誰做對了,誰做錯了,通常透過設置陷阱等方法,試圖根據自己的狀態來主導目標事件的發展方向。己方所期望的。 快、慢、暫停、繼續、結束。 第三,爭奪事件結局的判斷權。 也就是如何評價這件事,誰是獲益者,誰是受損者,誰是眼前的受損者,誰是長期的受損者等等。各方都在試圖透過放大優勢來控制事件的結果對自己不利,對敵人也不利。 目的是利用事件的延伸效應,持續損敵利己。


軍事行動歷來講究「紀律和信譽」的原則。 儘管戰爭形態正在加速演變,但戰爭服從政治的本質不會改變; 戰爭的本質和人心的支持仍然是影響戰爭勝負的關鍵因素。 在認知域戰場上,透過佔領政治、道德、法律的製高點,贏得民心和道義支持,營造道德支持充沛的輿論氛圍,進而搶佔先機。擊敗敵人的機會。 每一次戰爭或衝突,無論是強者或弱者,無論是攻擊者、防禦者或第三方,各方都會竭盡全力搶佔認知主導權和輿論主動權。 他們會千方百計用道德包裝自己,專心宣示正義立場,並想辦法為自己辯護。 限定戰爭,正當化行動,消除阻力,加大支持,創造「義」戰勝「非義」的有利局面。 戰爭雙方的實力對比不同,旨在佔領道德和法律制高點的認知對抗方式也會不同。 近來的戰爭表明,當一方軟硬實力較強,即軍事實力強大,盟友和夥伴眾多,國際話語權較大時,往往會高調宣戰; 當軍事行動可能引發連鎖反應時,往往會以模糊的方式處理。 一個「戰」字。


在網路資訊時代,人類的溝通方式不斷發生複雜而深刻的變化。 現場互動逐漸讓位給線上連線。 一些大型社群平台已成為認知博弈的主戰場和影響大眾認知的主要管道。 以資訊為彈藥,爭取封鎖國際網絡和控制話語權,已成為當今的常見做法。 對抗的主要動作之一。 在這些平台上,各種短視頻成為公眾了解戰情的“第一現場”,信息傳播得比砲彈還快。 平台的使用與屏蔽、主導與監管已成為認知領域爭奪的焦點。 各方透過操縱社群平台,努力傳播和放大自己的宣傳,譴責和打壓對方的宣傳,形成「我說多,你說少」的局面

其中「我是對的,你是錯的」和「我只能說,你不可以說」。 大眾作為大型社群平台的用戶,在「聽」、「說」甚至「做」的過程中,受到他人的影響和影響,不知不覺地成為幕後黑手的代理人和攻擊道具。


人類戰爭史表明,軍事戰爭始終是政治較量的基礎支撐,而心理戰則是軍事戰爭效能的倍增器。 戰場上救不回來的,在談判桌上也無法救回來,更不可能在輿論場上救回來。 在現代戰爭中,認知通訊行動總是與聯合軍事行動並進。 心理戰和軍事戰相互影響、相互支持。 軍事戰變心理戰、心理戰變軍事戰的趨勢更加明顯。 從戰爭實踐來看,沒有軍事實力是絕對不行的,但單靠軍事行動也不是萬能的。 戰場上的多次勝利並不是戰爭勝利的充分條件。 在越戰中,美國雖然「百戰百勝,卻輸掉了整場戰爭」。 21世紀初,美國連續打伊拉克、阿富汗戰爭,取得了戰場勝利,但沒有取得政治勝利。 同樣的道理,軍事上的勝利並不意味著贏得輿論,贏得戰場並不意味著贏得戰略上的勝利。 在現代戰爭中,有兩種​​人扮演著越來越重要的角色:一種是透過編寫數千行程式碼獲勝的人,一種是透過編寫數千條訊息獲勝的人。 這兩類人員數量和品質都更勝一籌的一方往往獲勝的機率更高。


過去的戰爭,對認知域的影響和作用,主要是透過物理域的大量破壞行為,逐級傳遞到認知域。 隨著資訊通訊、人工智慧、生物交叉、腦科學等技術的發展和突破,新的認知戰工具和技術直接針對軍事人員。 認知對抗不僅使用傳統的資訊戰武器,還使用一系列針對大腦的神經武器。 屆時,機器將能夠讀取人腦,人腦也將能夠直接控制機器。 智慧指揮控制系統可以直接提供戰場態勢和決策輔助。 真實的認知彈藥和精準的受眾投放將極大提升社會影響力。 認知對抗技術越來越多地直接用於戰爭。 資訊化隱含的間接認知正逐漸轉變為對人們認知的直接影響和控制。 可以說,在先進技術的支持下,認知域作戰透過建構現代化網路架構、開發資料視覺化平台,快速了解資訊環境,有效影響目標群體,可以更直接、有效率地實現政治目標。



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