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Developing a Lessons Learned Process

Conflicts will continue and there will be successes as well as setbacks in all situations. However, what is learned from conflict activities can be used to improve training and the effectiveness of defensive and offensive social media warfare. This is helpful in improving the all-around capabilities of a fighting force. If tactics are effective, they need to be analyzed, recorded, and taught. If tactics are not effective, they also need to be analyzed, recorded, and taught so they can be avoided in future conflicts.

The process of using both positive and negative experiences as a feedback mechanism is an approach of the Lessons Learned Process [4], illustrated in Table 1.7.


Warfare and the development and definition of warfare strategies and tactics have long been dominated by military leaders, planners, and field commanders. Military science has advanced in part because of the growth and maturity of military academies and war colleges. Social media warfare has become a study topic in military science and will play a bigger role in future conflicts. This chapter introduced the basic concepts and definitions of social media warfare. The following important conclusions can be drawn from the material presented in this chapter:

Table 1.7 The Lessons Learned Process

Triggering Events

Defensive Actions

Offensive Actions

Observations of Day-to-Day Operations

Step 1: ^

Collect information from field reports, f event summaries, and observations. f

Step 2: ^

f Aggregate and analyze information f

Step 3: ^

f Validate applicability and relevance of lessons f

Step 4: ^

f Store and archive lessons for future reference f

Step 5: ^

Disseminate and share lessons to strategists, tacticians, f planners, and trainers f

Step 6: ^

Decide whether to apply lessons learned and how to f apply the lessons learned f

Step 7: ^

Develop training courses or modules for f multiple deliver mechanisms f

Step 8: ^

Deliver training and collect and analyze training f evaluations from participants f

Step 9: ^

Observe, audit, or otherwise evaluate the effectiveness f of training and that lessons were learned f

Step 10: ^

Evaluate and document the effectiveness of lessons learned f process as applied to identified training objectives f

Step 11: ^

Use evaluation results to help guide future lessons learned projects

Source: United States General Accountability Office. Steps 7, 8, and 11 were added by the author.

  • ? In the twenty-first century, we are firmly entrenched in an age of irregular warfare and unconventional warfare, where the theater of war is far less well- defined and theater strategy must be fluid and adaptable, including in and through cyberspace and social media.
  • ? The Internet has made insurgency easier to initiate and maintain; and it has also opened the realm of warfare not only to insurgents fighting against a government, but to conflicts between social, cultural, economic, and religious factions around the world.
  • ? Several academic disciplines will eventually provide research in the area of social media warfare; but currently, military science is clearly well ahead of other disciplines in terms of actual attention allocated to the impact of social media on warfare and conflict situations.
  • ? The dynamics driving social media warfare are rooted in conflict that is inherent between social institutions, governments, corporations, and groups or individuals.
  • ? Social media warfare has entered the political electoral process and social change movements of all types.
  • ? An organization’s size, purpose, and its relationships with other organizations will greatly influence how social media warfare strategies and tactics can be effectively deployed.
  • ? Corporations face threats outside of the realm of national and infrastructure threats that governments and military organizations face. Corporations are especially vulnerable to damaging slander and harassment social media campaigns.
  • ? There is a long list of identifiable defensive and offensive tactics that can be used in social media warfare.
  • ? Irregular and unconventional warfare leaves open the possibility that a wide variety of tactics will be employed as situations change, including social media warfare.
  • ? There have been hundreds of social media applications launched over the last decade, and the capabilities of social media applications are in a constant state of evolution.
  • ? The large number of social media applications makes it very difficult to monitor the activity of potential attackers in all applications or the content and/ or messages created using applications.
  • ? Launching effective social media warfare attacks requires knowledge of the target as well as the skills to use social media tools in an offensive manner.
  • ? Using social media applications in warfare is a double-edged sword that can harm the attacker as much as it does the defender.
  • ? Both defenders and attackers must have a disciplined approach toward using social media applications in conflict situations, as well as for day-to-day use in non-conflict times.
  • ? Lessons learned from past conflicts can be used to improve training and the effectiveness of defensive and offensive social media warfare.
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