Information in Marine Corps Operations

Information and the changing character of warfare
>Mr. Uchytil is currently a defense contractor for Troika Solutions and provides support to the Information Plans and Strategy Division, Deputy Commandant for Information, Headquarters Marine Corps. He served a combined 26 years as both a Marine Corps Communications Officer and enlisted Marine Infantryman.

“While dependent on the laws of science and the intuition and creativity of art, war takes its fundamental character from the dynamic of human interaction.”

“War is both timeless and ever changing. While the basic nature of war is constant, the means and methods we use evolve continuously. … One major catalyst of change is the advancement of technology. As the hardware of war improves through technological development, so must the tactical, operational, and strategic usage adapt to its improved capabilities both to maximize our own capabilities and to counteract our enemy’s.”
—MCDP 1, Warfighting

Critical Imperative or Call to Action
The Marine Corps needs a pragmatic reference for operating in and through the information environment. A 2021 RAND study identified that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army views information as a key enabler for success in a future conflict and the single most critical domain for success in contemporary and especially next-generation warfare.Leveraging this observation, the 2022 National Defense Strategy calls for a future force that is resilient—in that it maintains information and decision advantages, preserves command, control, and communications systems, and ensures critical detection and targeting operations. Additionally, the National Defense Strategy calls for a department that will improve the Nation’s ability to integrate, defend, and reconstitute surveillance and decision systems to achieve warfighting objectives, particularly in the space domain, and despite the adversary’s means of interference or deception.These are no small tasks in this age of advancing technology where competitors capitalize on technology and information activities to achieve objectives. While accomplishing these endeavors will require the DOD to examine the challenges across the entirety of the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy framework to realize success, this discussion is focused on the influence of Marine Corps doctrine to realize these imperatives.

The Marine Corps is moving forward with generating doctrine that presents a path to achieving information advantages through the MCWP 8-10, Information in Marine Corps Operations. The June 2023 Force Design 2030 Annual Update identified that as the pace of change in the information domain accelerates, the Marine Corps cannot afford to allow doctrinal efforts to languish. It must keep pace with the emerging and evolving operational environment, as well as with the agencies and organizations that will be essential to its success.In support of this analysis, the Deputy Commandant for Information published its second “8” series doctrinal publication. This article will discuss the imperative for the MCWP 8-10 and review some key topics presented by the publication.

“Every action a Marine Corps unit or individual Marine takes or does not take has the potential to communicate a message.”
—MCDP 8-10, Information in Marine Corps Operations

Changing Landscape
Leveraging information power is nothing new to the Marine Corps. However, today’s hyper-connected digital environment has created new and constantly evolving opportunities and challenges that impact Service and Joint Force operations from competition to conflict. This current environment poses challenges at all levels of command while simultaneously driving change across the Marine Corps and the greater Joint Force. Commanders across the Service are integrating information considerations into planning efforts and operations to generate multi-domain effects and achieve mission objectives. The speed and reach of today’s technology portend that tactical actions can have far-reaching, strategic information and influence implications. Both the accessibility and use of information can be a vulnerability as Marines can quickly upload digital imagery, videos, or other material that has not been appropriately vetted for release and share it on information technology platforms (social media, email, etc.) at the speed of the internet and at the cost of negating command narratives or blunting operational security actions. Recently, MajGen Ryan Heritage, the Commanding General of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command and Marine Corps Forces Space Command, was asked about information and Marine Corps culture. He was quoted as saying, “I would tie that to the Marine ethos, Marine culture, and understanding how information is a key to warfighting and therefore every Marine a rifleman, every Marine needs to understand the power of information and where that’s applied and how they apply it.”With this in mind, MCWP 8-10 seizes the opportunity to address how all Marines can apply informational power by presenting innovative solutions to operational problems and strategic challenges within the information environment.

Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 8, Information
In June of 2022, the Marine Corps published MCDP 8, Information. With MCDP 8, the Marine Corps established its first Service-level information doctrine. This publication provided a foundational theory for leveraging the power of information, described the Marine Corps information warfighting function, and discussed the function’s mutually supporting relationship with other Marine Corps warfighting functions. MCDP 8’s framework supports the high-level understanding of the Marine Corps information warfighting function and introduces the three information advantages generated through its application: systems overmatch, prevailing narrative, and force resiliency. This foundational doctrine provides the context and theoretical framework that is expanded upon through the MCWP 8-10. MCDP 8 was written with an understanding of the continuously evolving global security environment and it allows for future subordinate doctrine to keep pace.

Operationalizing MCDP 8
MCWP 8-10 is a subordinate publication to MCDP 8. MCWP 8-10 supports the understanding and employment of the means for conducting information and how those activities generate an information advantage. It operationalizes the information warfighting function and tenets of MCDP 8 while serving as an intermediary doctrinal publication bridging the gap between the MCDP and the more detailed tactics, techniques, and procedures found in reference or tactical publications. It addresses a methodology for incorporating the four functions of information (generate, preserve, deny, project) and by extension, the information warfighting function into plans, operations, and day-to-day activities. Lastly, it presents principles for assessing successful outcomes and tools to support planners and operators alike in assessing if those activities generated the desired effects. As doctrine is authoritative and not directive, the MCWP 8-10 requires prudent judgment in its application. It is intended to provide a practical reference for all Marines to leverage the power of information to gain and maintain advantages across the spectrum of operations and activities. Additionally, it seeks to facilitate formal school programs of instruction and unit standard operating procedures to maximize the effectiveness of information activities.

General Information Activities … Presence, Posture, and Profile
A key tenet of the MCWP 8-10 is the idea that creating and maintaining information advantages are not solely the responsibility of commanders and staff but rather the total force. MCWP 8-10 identifies that all operations and activities include inherent informational aspects that must be understood, synchronized, and leveraged as an integral part of planning and operations and that all observed Marine activities can be considered consistent, inconsistent, irrelevant, or contradictory to a prevailing narrative.With this in mind, all Marines would benefit from recognizing the important role that their everyday activities, whether deployed or at their home station, play in the greater context of creating or degrading a friendly information advantage. Every action, from the mundane to the worldly, is an observable activity that communicates a message. Though not specifically stated, MCWP 8-10 conveys the idea that while it is incumbent upon leaders to ensure Marines understand the prevailing narrative, command messaging, and desired outcomes, the responsibility to ensure actions are consistent with these outcomes resides with the individual Marine.

Both individual and unit actions leverage presence, posture, and profile to convey tactical, operational, and strategic messages. These messages may influence adversary actions or strengthen relationships with friendly forces to achieve an information advantage. Presence, posture, and profile can be visualized in the following ways. Presence may be the physical act of being in a location or a virtual space (such as social media and Internet platforms). Posture may be how one presents oneself through attitude, stance, comportment, etc. Finally, profile is the representative combination of presence and profile to communicate a message to adversaries and friendly forces alike. Conveying consistent, sound, and well-planned presence, posture, and profile helps to shape an operational environment that is advantageous to friendly forces and provides commanders with operational flexibility.

Figure 1. Six ITCC Phases.6 (Figure provided by author.)

Figure 2.7 (Figure provided by author.)Planning for Information: Information Tasking and Coordination Cycle and the Information Tasking Order
A hallmark of the MCWP 8-10 is the introduction of the Information Tasking and Coordinating Cycle (ITCC) and its output, the Information Tasking and Coordinating Order (ITCO). This is the first instance of a doctrinal Marine Corps process for integrating the employment and coordination of specialized information activities and capabilities that predominantly reside in units such as the MEF Information Groups. It establishes a predictable framework for planning, executing, and assessing information activities. Through a six-phase cycle, the ITCC supports the identification of objectives and outcomes; identifies the targets and relevant actors for action; evaluates information activities or capabilities available to achieve the objectives; generates an order for the execution of information activities and tasks; allows for detailed tactical-level planning, coordination, and execution; and identifies the necessity for assessing the effectiveness of the cycle to achieve the objectives. This cycle’s products, specifically the ITCO, become the commander’s mechanism to synchronize information activities with other communities’ cycles, such as aviation, logistics, fires, and maneuver.

The ITCO is the primary product of the ITCC. It conveys all aspects of the ITCC in a product that is approved by the MEF commander. The ITCC is generally understood to be an MEF-level process. However, it can be scaled to apply at any echelon of the organization to facilitate coordination, planning, and execution of specialized information activities to achieve overall operational objectives. While the ITCO identifies those activities of an operations order (situation, mission, execution, admin and logistics and command, and control), the focal point is conveyed through the identification of information tasks. It is through these tasks that the phases of the ITCC are captured and applied to organizations and units. The execution of these tasks along with the effects and outcomes then leads to the ability to assess results and validate if desired effects were achieved.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Information Activities
MCWP 8-10 addresses one of the more difficult activities when discussing information advantage—how to assess whether actions in and through the information environment are achieving the desired outcomes or effects. Rather than an assessment methodology, MCWP 8-10 presents guiding principles that should be addressed in phase six of the ITCC, emphasizing the necessity to integrate information activities and outcomes into the planning process. Evaluating effects against relevant actor perceptions, behavior, and capabilities is seemingly more challenging than conducting a battle damage assessment of the effects of conventional fires. As such, it is imperative to identify specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives while executing the first two phases of the ITCC. Objectives generated in phase one or phase two of the ITCC that inadequately address SMART criteria will lead to difficulty during phase three when planners identify capabilities to match against relevant actors and desired effects. The MCWP 8-10 suggests that when objectives follow SMART criteria for assessing effectiveness they directly lead to more valuable measures of effectiveness and measures of performance.

The ever-changing character of warfare requires new approaches to leverage the power of information. Gaining and maintaining an information advantage supports the other warfighting functions and Marine Corps and Joint Force operations as a whole. It accelerates the friendly command and control process to out-cycle the adversary. This translates into making quicker, more informed decisions thus increasing friendly tempo while degrading the adversary’s. MCWP 8-10 expands upon the tenets of MCDP 8 and provides Marines at all echelons of command the reference material to gain and maintain an information advantage through a practical, repeatable, and predictable framework. It delivers a functional publication for commanders, individual Marines, planners, and staff alike to leverage during planning and operations. It seeks to lay a foundation for the preparation, execution, and evaluation of all information activities thus increasing the options available to commanders in both competition and conflict. The publication of the MCWP 8-10, coupled with the MCDP 8, delivers a deliberate methodology for integrating information into all facets of warfighting to arm Marines for the challenges of current and future battlefields.


1. Scott W. Harold, Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, and Jeffrey W. Hornung, Chinese Disinformation Efforts on Social Media (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2021).

2. Department of Defense, 2022 National Defense Strategy, (Washington, DC: 2022).

3. Headquarters United States Marine Corps, Force Design 2030: Annual Update, (Washington, DC: 2023).

4. Mark Pomerleau, “Marine Corps’ New Information Command Needs a Common Operational Picture for Digital Landscape,” Defensescoop, January 5, 2024,

5. Headquarters Marine Corps, MCWP 8-10, Information in Marine Corps Operations, (Washington, DC: 2024).

6. MCWP 8-10, Information in Marine Corps Operations.

7. Ibid.