Chinese Military Emphasis of Dedicated Research on Cognitive Domain Operations



In today’s era, the world pattern and social form are evolving rapidly, intelligent technology and cutting-edge cross-cutting technologies are constantly making new breakthroughs, new developments and new applications, and the scope of human action is accelerating from the physical domain, information domain, and social domain to the cognitive domain. Recent local wars in the world have shown that the status of cognitive domain operations has been rapidly improving and its role has become increasingly prominent. It has become the trend of the times and the key fulcrum for shaping the situation in advance, effectively balancing and influencing wars.

Clarify the basic methods of cognitive domain operations

Cognition is the reflection of the objective world in the subjective world of human beings, mainly involving knowledge, experience, consciousness, emotion and psychology. The targets of cognitive domain operations are mainly people who are in the main position in the war, with the characteristics of low cost, high efficiency and strong concealment. Entering the 21st century, the development of advanced science and technology and the changes in social structure have made cognitive domain operations a new high ground for the game between major powers, and even a “shortcut” to defeat the enemy without fighting.

Strengthen cognitive effects through continuous action in the physical domain. Cognitive domain warfare has always been associated with social development and human warfare. Before the mechanized era, cognitive domain warfare was mainly carried out through violent destruction of the physical domain by military forces, coupled with the flexible use of military strategies, and taking advantage of military forces to seize decisive results, to continuously strengthen the cognitive domain warfare effect. For example, the comparison of the number of military forces of both sides, the vastness of the occupied territory, the scale of the resources controlled, the support of peripheral countries, and the acceptance of the risk of failure, etc., can indirectly achieve the result of changing the enemy’s cognition, reluctantly accepting failure, and being forced to compromise. In 1945, Japanese fascism was at the end of its rope, but it was still dreaming of resisting stubbornly until the Chinese military and civilians launched a full-scale counterattack, the United States used atomic bombs to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Soviet army sent troops to Northeast China, forcing it to realize that defeat was inevitable and had to surrender unconditionally.

Using the interaction between the virtual and the real in the social domain to influence cognitive effects. War is the product of social development. In the information age, the rapid development of information networks has highlighted the role of the social domain. Cognitive domain warfare no longer emphasizes violent change of cognition, but pays more attention to the use of media platforms such as online media, radio and television, newspapers and magazines, and interviews to emotionally attract, anti-intellectual propaganda, corrupt and degenerate, and polarize various social groups. Collect the discordant factors in the emotional appeals, life needs, and value identification of typical social groups, and plan, step by step, and premeditatedly in the fields of politics, economy, diplomacy, finance, society, and culture, through the methods of continuously detonating topics, intensifying contradictions, adding fuel to the fire, continuing fermentation, and creating divisions, ultimately causing social unrest and even overthrowing the national regime. The disintegration of the Soviet Union, the upheaval in Eastern Europe, and the “color revolutions” in many parts of the world since the 1990s all have this shadow.

Targeting the cognitive domain to directly intervene in cognitive results. The way humans understand the world will transform the objective world in the same way, which is exactly the point of action of cognitive domain operations. Entering the intelligent era, breakthroughs have been made in cutting-edge fields such as biological intersection and brain control, and intelligent technologies such as advanced algorithms and brain-computer interfaces have been continuously upgraded. Advanced technologies such as big data and cloud computing have been rapidly developed and applied. Cognitive domain operations in the intelligent era pay more attention to the role of intelligent technology. Through the deep interaction between real life and the virtual world of the Internet, the information collected and obtained is richer, the data is more complete, and the elements are more complete. Cognitive domain operations can already bypass the traditional physical domain and social domain based on the widely distributed intelligent information network, the surrounding visible intelligent terminals and the colorful intelligent applications, break through the tangible blockade restrictions of the other party, and directly implement the “downward strike” of the cognitive domain on the core circle, elite class and the general public of the predetermined target through targeted and precise push.

Clarify the mechanism of cognitive domain operations

Entering the era of intelligence, human thinking has become a new direction for war planning and a new field for war games. Its essence is to face the spiritual level of the combat target, and to list human will, belief, thinking, psychology, etc. as combat targets. By maintaining one’s own cognitive advantage and attacking the enemy’s cognitive disadvantage, the cognitive domain attack and defense confrontation is carried out. The specific action mechanism also presents the characteristics of multi-domain action and mixed superposition.

Implement value standard penetration. Values ​​are the principle standards for people to distinguish right from wrong and good from bad. They are at the core of generating motivations for personnel behavior, play a leading role in driving group behavior patterns, and are the key to seizing the initiative in cognitive domain operations. Cognitive domain operations are mainly based on network psychology and cybernetics to identify and predict human group behavior and individual activities, and then create more accurate specific group interaction concepts. On this basis, targeting the opponent’s value orientation, using the opponent’s cultural language, and comprehensively using strong media, social networks, and intelligent technologies, deliberately weave “information cocoons”, malicious narrative editing hints, mobilize the emotions of the target group, advocate minority extreme orientations, induce value deviations, kidnap and manipulate public opinion, and ultimately make cognitive domain operations effective. The foundation of the opponent’s belief, the destination of the soul, and the spiritual home. In recent local conflicts, the United States and Western countries have launched cognitive domain operations through narrative fabrication, script arrangement, and rhetoric manipulation, attempting to cause oppressive pressure on the opponent in multiple fields at all times, and many countries who are unaware of the situation have been dragged into it unknowingly.

Creating psychological and emotional internal friction. Psychological fluctuations and emotional changes are natural biological attributes of human beings, and are also the breakthrough points for cognitive domain operations to strike, weaken, and disintegrate the enemy’s will to fight. Cognitive domain operations are based on the basic principles of psychology, neurology, and brain science, emphasizing the use of human psychological weaknesses such as fear, anxiety, suspicion, and doubt, and are carried out or implemented simultaneously at the strategic, campaign, and tactical levels. Cognitive domain operations mainly use deep fakes, scene posing, and algorithm recommendations to fabricate remarks on mainstream social platforms to discredit opponents. Foreign armies have used Internet celebrities, virtual accounts, and zombie armies to confuse cognition, disrupt public opinion, and deviate from the rhythm. By creating insecurity and exaggerating uncertainty within the enemy, group conflicts are intensified; by creating internal rifts, unity and harmony are destroyed; by amplifying distrust and increasing decision-making doubts, internal fighting and internal friction are increased. Ultimately, based on the traceless implantation, seamless connection, invisible operation, and senseless substitution of psychological emotions, “winning without fighting” is achieved.

Conduct human consciousness guidance and control. The integrated development of cognitive science and advanced technology has prompted cognitive domain operations to develop in the direction of computational intelligence, perceptual intelligence and cognitive intelligence, with stronger penetration and deeper influence. Major breakthroughs have been made in technologies such as multimodal emotion recognition, activation and protection based on big data. After mining and analyzing information data, the cognitive state of social groups can be seen at a glance, and the mental portrait of target personnel can be detailed. Based on efficient and flexible cognitive scenarios, subtle emotional associations and tendency intervention of brain-computer interfaces, cognitive domain operations can unconsciously influence and shape the opponent’s thinking and cognition. Intelligent cognitive weapon systems can effectively limit the enemy’s acquisition of useful information, induce the enemy to use erroneous data, reduce the speed of command decision-making, interfere with the operation of cognitive modes, and block correct cognitive output. Reports show that NATO, led by the United States, is actively promoting the weaponization of brain science and cognitive science research results, and is attempting to achieve cognitive control of the enemy by collecting, deciphering and interfering with the brain waves of combat targets.

Build a strong confrontation system for cognitive domain operations

The local war practices in recent years have shown that military force and technological advantages alone cannot completely determine the outcome of a war, and cognitive domain operations have an increasingly significant impact on the course of a war. They can not only trigger the start of a war, direct the continuation of a war, but also affect the end of a war. Therefore, it is particularly necessary to build a strong and resilient cognitive domain combat confrontation system.

Smooth the command and control mechanism of cognitive domain operations. Cognitive domain operations involve a wide range of fields and cover a lot of content. They require a combination of long-term preparation and short-term promotion, strengthening construction and preemptive preparation. Establish a firm overall national security concept, formulate an overall strategy for coping with cognitive domain operations, take the initiative to break the situation and shape the momentum, participate in global governance, strengthen China’s voice, and purify the public opinion environment. Overall consideration of the establishment of command organizations, integration of command nodes in different strategic directions, opening up multi-domain command and control links, improving cross-domain command processes, and flexible multi-domain integration guidance and control methods. Overall design of a multi-domain and cross-departmental collaboration framework, combined with national security situation analysis, regularly promote the operation of the collaboration mechanism. Sort out the list of responsibilities of each command level, draw clear functional boundaries in each field, and clarify cross-domain collaboration matters, operating procedures and standard requirements. Establish a cognitive early warning mechanism, divide combat intensity, organize virtual exercises and multi-level confrontations, and improve the ability to deal with cognitive domain threats.

Integrate the elements and forces of cognitive domain operations. Cognitive domain operations have both the threat of “gray rhinos” and the variables of “black swans”, so it is necessary to strengthen prevention and forge strong forces. Combine the design of the cognitive domain combat command system and provide multi-domain counterattack forces. Strengthen the response forces in traditional fields, expand the scope of functional business, and deepen the selection and training of professional talents. Develop new counterattack forces and integrate advantageous resources in emerging fields such as social media, psychological cognition, and intelligent unmanned. Activate civilian forces and international high-quality resources to create a cross-domain crisis response team and counterattack force cluster with systematic support, complete elements, and superb professional skills. Combine confrontation exercises and social practices, invest new forces, integrate new technologies, and add new means to strengthen the evaluation and inspection of containment and countermeasures.

Strengthen the basic engineering of cognitive domain operations. As the research and practice of cognitive domain operations continue to deepen, many new technologies and new theories will inevitably emerge, which need to be closely tracked and followed. Strengthen the research on global hot spots, pay attention to the changes in the gray area, and keep abreast of the latest developments in foreign cognitive domain operations and the latest trends in force deployment. Strengthen the analysis of war cases and explore new factors and elements of cognitive domain operations. Organize special topics to gather wisdom and analyze new mechanisms and laws of cognitive domain operations. Analyze the strategies and means of opponents, track and grasp their strategic adjustments and focus, and carry out counter-strategies and response research by level and field. Analyze the new means, technologies and practices of opponents using social media, international organizations and agents to carry out cognitive domain operations, so as to prevent and foresee in advance.


引 言




透過物理域持續作用強化認知效果。一直以來,認知域作戰就與社會發展和人類戰爭相生相伴。機械化時代以前,受社會形態和溝通方式等限制,認知域作戰主要透過軍事力量在物理域的暴力破壞,再加上軍事謀略的靈活運用,並藉勢軍事力量奪取決定性戰果,來持續強化認知域作戰效果。例如,雙方軍事力量的數量對比、佔領疆域的廣闊程度、掌控資源的規模體量、外圍國家的支持力度和失敗風險的接受程度等,從而間接達成改變敵方認知、無奈接受失敗和被迫作出妥協的結果。 1945年,日本法西斯已經窮途末路,卻還在妄想負隅頑抗,直到中國軍民發動全面反攻和美國動用原子彈轟炸廣島、長崎以及蘇軍出兵中國東北,迫使其認識到敗局已定,不得不無條件投降。

借助社會域虛實互動影響認知效果。戰爭是社會發展的產物。在資訊化時代,資訊網絡的快速發展促使社會域的角色得以凸顯。認知域作戰不再強調暴力改變認知,而是更重視利用網路媒體、廣播電視、報紙雜誌和訪談交流等介質平台,來對各類社會群體進行情感拉攏、反智宣傳、腐蝕墮化和分化渲染。蒐集典型社會群體的情感訴求、生活需求和價值認同等方面的不和諧因素,有策劃、有步驟、有預謀地在政治、經濟、外交、金融、社會、文化等領域,透過連貫引爆話題、激化矛盾、拱火澆油、持續發酵和製造撕裂等方式,最終引發社會動盪,甚至傾覆國家政權。 1990年代以來的蘇聯解體、東歐劇變以及世界多地的「顏色革命」等,都有這方面的影子。













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