Before any shots are fired in a major conflict, a war of words and ideas is already underway.

The modern era’s unprecedented level of interconnectivity and the proliferation of communication methods, such as social media, has made that information battle fiercer than ever, and it will be crucial for the U.S. as it competes with near-peer rivals China and Russia.

However, the U.S. military has fallen behind in the information realm.

At a recent congressional hearing, Pentagon and Intelligence Community officials said the U.S. has let its Information Operations (IO) atrophy compared to those of its competitors. Russia now poses the more serious IO threat, but China follows close behind.