The head of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the command launched a new task force to focus on information operations to counter China in the Pacific.
According to a report from C4ISRNET, the task force, known as the Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific team, will focus “on information and influence operations in the Pacific theater.” Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the commander of SOCOM, said the task force will work with “like-minded partners” in the region.
“We actually are able to tamp down some of the disinformation that they [China] continuously sow,” Clarke said. It’s not clear exactly what this new task force will be doing, but the C4ISRNET report suggested that offensive cyber operations could be part of the influence campaign.
Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of US Cyber Command, also spoke with senators on Thursday and pointed to offensive cyber operations the command took prior to the 2020 election that he claims thwarted election interference.
“The idea of operating outside of the United States, being able to both enable our partners with information and act when authorized. This is an active approach to our adversaries,” Nakasone said. “It’s been most effective as we’ve seen with the 2018 and 2020 elections with adversaries attempting to influence us, attempting to interfere but not being able to do that.”
Gen. Clarke also spoke of information operations conducted under SOCOM’s Special Operations Forces, specifically a group known as Military Information Support Operations professionals that are deployed at embassies around the world.
“By working closely with those partners to ensure that our adversaries, our competitors are not getting that free pass and to recognize what is truth from fiction and continue to highlight that to using our intel communities is critical,” he said.
The Biden administration has made it clear that countering Beijing is its top foreign policy priority. The task force shows that Washington’s campaign against Chinese influence will be played out in many theaters.