This late 2018 report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Americans were largely surprised when the intelligence community revealed that Russia had launched a widespread influence operation focused on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. With their high-tech, social-media focus, these practices struck many as a newly implemented tactic against the United States. However, throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed and deployed influence operations—then called "active measures"—against the United States and its allies. During the last decade of the Cold War, the United States actively and systematically combatted this threat. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, active measures seemed to fade into history as well. This study argues that Russia has reincarnated this Cold War relic and is using active measures throughout the world to advance its strategic interests, especially in its post-Soviet space. Russia is utilizing 21st-century technology to gain access to Western populations and sow discord, distrust, and disorder. Thus, this study examines the Soviet-era active measures, the U.S. Cold War countermeasures, and Russian active measures today to make recommendations on ways to counter this form of malevolent influence. This study finds that the United States should organize purposefully and consistently to counter Russian active measures, educate the American public to increase its resiliency against foreign influence, and intensify its strategic public diplomacy efforts throughout Europe.
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
I. Introduction * A. Major Research Question * B. Significance of the Research Question * C. Literature Review * 1. Validity of the Threat * 2. The Cold War Never Ended * 3. NATO Enlargement Created Tension * D. Potential Explanations and Hypotheses * E. Research Design * F. Study Overview and Chapter Outline * II. Active Measures Defined * A. Western Terminology * 1. Propaganda * 2. Disinformation and Misinformation * 3. Political Warfare * 4. Public Diplomacy * 5. Information Operations * B. Defining Active Measures * C. Conclusion * III. Soviet Active Measures During The Cold War * A. Soviet Active Measures * B. Soviet Active Measures Techniques * 1. Media Disinformation * 2. Forgeries * 3. Agents of Influence * 4. Front Groups/Organizations * C. Countering Soviet Active Measures * 1. First Era of Countermeasures: End of WWII to Reagan's Election * 2. Second Era of Countermeasures: The Reagan Administration to the Collapse * D. Conclusion * IV. Russian Active Measures * A. The Rebirth Of Active Measures * B. Russia's Military Perspective * C. Russian Active Measures Apparatus * 1. The Presidential Executive Office * 2. Intelligence Services * D. Russian Active Measures Techniques * 1. Media Disinformation * 2. Forgeries * 3. Agents of Influence * 4. NGO, GONGOs, and Civic Groups as Front Group Substitutes * E. Conclusion * Current U.S. Countermeasures * B. What Is To Be Done? * 1. Impose Sanctions * 2. Develop an Interagency Focused on Russian Active Measures * 3. Create Strategic Communications against Russia's Malevolent Influence * 4. Increase International Broadcasting Capability * 5. Promote Fact-Checking * 6. Institute Offensive Cyber Operations * 7. Build Resiliency through Education
This study hypothesizes that Russia's active measures consist of the same fundamental techniques that the Soviets used during the Cold War that are only modified for use in the 21st century. Russia has increased its active measures' audience by taking advantage of technological developments such as social media and the Internet.