Chinese Military & Cognitive Confrontation – Value attack and defense: Designing Combat in the Cognitive Domain



Value attack and defense is an important way to conduct cognitive domain operations from a strategic level. Usually, value attack and defense is achieved by intervening in people’s thinking, beliefs, values, etc., in order to achieve the purpose of disintegrating the enemy’s consensus, destroying the enemy’s will, and then gaining comprehensive control over the battlefield. Accurately grasping the characteristics, mechanisms, and means of value attack and defense is crucial to gaining future cognitive domain combat advantages.

Characteristics of the cognitive domain of value attack and defense

Value attack and defense refers to the intervention and influence on relatively stable cognitive results by inducing deep logical thinking and value judgment changes of individuals or groups, in order to reconstruct people’s cognitive abilities such as will, thinking, psychology, and emotions. Value attack and defense mainly has the following characteristics:

Soft confrontation. Traditional warfare mainly relies on violent means to weaken and disintegrate the enemy’s military capabilities, and usually has a high intensity of war. Cognitive domain warfare will no longer be limited to hard confrontations such as siege and conquest, but will focus more on infiltration and counter-infiltration, attack and counter-attack, control and counter-control around value positions. By competing for the dominance of cognitive domain confrontation, the combat effectiveness of the physical domain and information domain will be further stimulated, thereby seizing the initiative on the battlefield and even achieving the effect of defeating the enemy without fighting. In practice, value offense and defense often focus on the cultural traditions, values ​​and social psychology of a country or nation, and ultimately achieve the purpose of destroying the enemy’s will, cognitive manipulation, and mental control.

Full-dimensional release. Modern warfare is increasingly characterized by being holistic, multi-domain, and all-time. Cognitive domain warfare aims to influence battlefield effects by intervening in human consciousness, and the relative stability of consciousness determines that people’s worldviews, beliefs, and other values ​​are generally relatively stable. Therefore, value offense and defense need to be carried out in a long-term, uninterrupted, holographic, and full-dimensional manner. From a temporal perspective, value offense and defense blurs the boundaries between peace and war, and is always at war, constantly accumulating and gradually releasing combat effectiveness; from a spatial perspective, value offense and defense blurs the boundaries between the front and rear of combat, and is carried out in all directions in tangible and intangible spaces; from a field perspective, value offense and defense blurs the boundaries between military and non-military, and occurs not only in the military field, but also in the political, economic, diplomatic, and cultural fields, showing the characteristics of full-domain coverage.

Empowered by science and technology. Cognitive domain warfare is a technology-intensive and complex system engineering. The full-process penetration of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, brain science, and quantum computing is triggering iterative upgrades and profound changes in cognitive domain warfare. Intelligent tools fundamentally enhance the ability of cognitive domain combatants to manipulate and interfere with the opponent’s thinking. Human-machine hybrid as a new means and new style of combat power will change the main body of future wars. Autonomous confrontation and cloud brain victory may become the mainstream attack and defense mode. In recent years, NATO has launched cognitive electronic warfare equipment aimed at changing the opponent’s value cognition and behavior through information attack and defense. Technological development has also triggered a cognitive revolution. The rapid spread of information has further accelerated the differences in public value cognition. Cognitive islands have exacerbated the value gap between different subjects. The social structure changes brought about by intelligence are profoundly changing the political and cultural pattern. From this point of view, in future cognitive domain warfare, it is crucial to grasp the “bull’s nose” of scientific and technological innovation and master key core technologies to seize the initiative on the battlefield.

The mechanism of cognitive domain of value attack and defense

Value attack and defense is a high-level confrontation in cognitive domain operations, and the target of action is people’s deep cognition. Consciousness is the reflection of social existence in the brain. The regulation of social existence, the guidance of public consciousness and the change of human brain function can strengthen or reverse human consciousness. If you want to win the opponent in the attack and defense confrontation, you must follow the laws of thinking and cognition and grasp the winning mechanism of value attack and defense.

Impacting the value “protection zone”. Occupying the commanding heights of values ​​is the logical starting point for conducting value offense and defense. Social consciousness is often composed of relatively stable core values ​​and peripheral auxiliary theories. Various theories such as economy, politics, religion, and culture can be constructed and adapted to protect core values ​​from external shocks, and therefore also bear the impact and challenge of other values. In the eyes of foreign militaries, value offense and defense is to continuously impact the “protection zone” of the opponent’s ideology through cultural infiltration, religious conflict, strategic communication and other means, in conjunction with actions in the physical and information domains. This often requires seizing the values, political attitudes, religious beliefs, etc. that affect the opponent’s cognition, disrupting their social group psychology, inducing value confusion, shaking their will to fight, destroying cultural identity, and even changing and disintegrating their original cognitive system, so as to instill or implant new values ​​that are beneficial to themselves in order to achieve combat objectives.

Ignite the “trigger point” of conflict. Cognitive domain warfare involves multiple categories such as history and culture, political system, national sentiment, and religious beliefs. The main body of the war has also expanded from simple military personnel to ordinary people. It will become an important means of cognitive domain warfare to stimulate cognitive conflicts among ordinary people by hyping up topic disputes and public events. In recent local conflicts, it is not uncommon for the warring parties to ignite national sentiments through purposeful narratives, trigger political crises and thus affect the war situation. In future wars, some countries will use hot and sensitive events to detonate public opinion, rely on network technology to gather, absorb, mobilize, accurately manipulate and induce ordinary people, thereby promoting general conflicts to rise to disputes of beliefs, disputes of systems, and disputes of values. It will become the norm.

Control the cognitive “fracture surface”. Cognitive space, as an existence at the conceptual level, is composed of the superposition of the subjective cognitive spaces of all combat individuals. It is a collection of differentiated, differentiated, and even conflicting values. However, ideology has a “suturing” function. Through cognitive shaping and discourse construction, it can effectively “suturing” the broken cognition, condense the scattered values, and form a relatively stable cognitive system. After World War II, France had carried out effective cognitive “suturing” on the trauma of defeat. It used a whole set of independent narrative logic to explain how the war provided France with “new opportunities”, which greatly condensed the political identity of the French people with the government. In the battle for value positions in cognitive domain operations, we should focus on the cognitive fracture surface within the enemy, find the cognitive connection points between the enemy and us, and “suturing” the cognition, so as to unite the forces of all parties to the greatest extent and isolate and disintegrate the enemy.

The main means of cognitive domain in value attack and defense

Value attack and defense expands cognitive confrontation from public opinion, psychology and other levels to thinking space, and from the military field to the overall domain, thus achieving a blow to the enemy’s deep political identity. At present, the world’s military powers are strengthening strategic pre-positioning, aiming at the profound changes in target subjects and tactics, changing combat thinking, and actively controlling the initiative of cognitive domain operations.

Aiming at deep destruction. Cognitive domain warfare directly affects people’s brain cognition, and is easier to achieve deep strategic intentions than physical domain warfare. In particular, once the “high-level cognition” of people’s language level, thinking level, and cultural level is broken through, it will help to strategically reverse the battlefield situation and achieve the political purpose of the war. Based on this, cognitive domain warfare often begins before the war, by intervening in the opponent’s internal and foreign affairs, shaking its ideological and value foundations, etc.; during war, it focuses on influencing the enemy’s war decision-making, campaign command, and combat implementation. The value judgment, attack or weaken the decision-making ability and resistance will of combatants, etc. All hostile parties try to “maintain their own world while increasing the destructive pressure of the opponent” in order to achieve decision-making advantages by competing for cognitive advantages, and then achieve the goal of action advantages.

Centered on ordinary individuals. In the future, the subjects of cognitive domain operations will no longer be limited to military personnel. Broadly speaking, individuals who can communicate and disseminate information may become participating forces. Compared with elites in the social field, ordinary people are more likely to accept and disseminate diverse values, and their cognitive space is more likely to be manipulated. At present, online media is becoming the main channel for information exchange and dissemination in the social field, and the purpose of cognitive shaping can be achieved through targeted information guidance and information delivery. Foreign military practices have proved that with the help of cognitive shaping of ordinary individuals, progressive infiltration and cognitive interference can be caused from bottom to top, causing a deviation in the consciousness and ideas between ordinary people and social decision-makers, and failing to reach an effective consensus in key actions.

In the form of protracted warfare. Unlike the direct attack and destruction of “hard” targets in the physical domain military struggle, the potential target of cognitive domain warfare is human cognition. The value attack and defense is aimed at changing the concepts, beliefs, will, emotions, etc. of the combat targets, which often requires subtle influence and step-by-step operations. Effective cognitive offense is generally launched in the combat preparation stage and runs through the entire war. By collecting the opponent’s cognitive situation, decision-making habits, thinking patterns, etc., targeted actions such as creating a situation and changing the atmosphere are carried out. Therefore, cognitive domain warfare needs to strengthen the overall design, especially focusing on coordinating multiple forces, and strengthening pre-positioned preparations in multiple positions such as public opinion field creation and diplomacy, so as to form an overall combat force.

(Author’s unit: Military Political Work Research Institute of the Academy of Military Sciences)




















Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *