Learning Objective:

Train selected individuals in the functionality capabilities, and integration of social network analysis processes into the targeting cycle using the Organizational Risk Analyzer (ORA) software suite and the ANAT methodology. Objective is to enable the student to apply SNA principles and the ORA software to rapidly identify key network nodes that, if engaged, will likely yield specific, desired effects on the network. This also facilitates achieving broader Network Engagement objectives to, support friendly networks, influence neutral networks, and neutralize threat networks.

Course Outline:

Seven modules with integrated software labs and capstone practical exercise

  • Mod 1 – ANAT Overview
  • Mod 2 – Social Network Analysis (ANAT 101)
  • Mod 3 – ORA software and Input
  • Mod 4 – Algebra Fusion
  • Mod 5 – Meta-Networks
  • Mod 6 – Tools and Reports
  • Mod 7 – Capstone Exercise

TRADOC’s​​ Network Engagement​​ Team (NET):

A brief history and focus on network​​ data​​ and cognitive maneuver​​ training

​​ “Military operations are human endeavors, contests of wills characterized by continuous and mutual adaptation among all participants. In operations, Army forces face thinking and adaptive enemies, differing agendas of various actors (organizations and individuals), and changing perceptions of civilians in an operational area.”​​ – ADRP 5-0 The Operations Process

Born by a tasking from a​​ U.S. Marine Corps​​ Major General in 2007, TRADOC G-2’s​​ Network Engagement​​ Team​​ (NET)​​ has grown from a temporary​​ two-person​​ team assigned to complete a​​ specific tasking​​ into a close-knit​​ team of​​ five​​ uniquely-qualified individuals.1​​ During that time, the​​ NET’s​​ scope​​ has grown from developing a methodology to​​ understand,​​ attack and​​ counter​​ IED networks​​ in Iraq and Afghanistan to​​ partnering with the U.S. Army War College to develop a​​ global​​ strategic approach​​ for the Army and the Joint Force to​​ prevail in competition with​​ adversaries such​​ as China and Russia.​​ One constant throughout the​​ NET’s​​ 12-year​​ maturation​​ process​​ has been its​​ steady​​ focus on​​ developing​​ ways to better understand​​ and​​ influence​​ human networks​​ (aka relevant actors)​​ within​​ the human domain.​​ 

The​​ NET’s​​ initial​​ Attack the Network​​ training program​​ benefitted greatly by​​ innovating​​ a​​ unique​​ military application of​​ the scientific field of​​ social network analysis. This adaptation​​ was originally​​ developed by two professors at West Point. The two (then) Army Majors travelled​​ to Afghanistan​​ during their 2008/09​​ “Christmas vacation”​​ and​​ proved​​ their new training program, “Advanced Network Analysis and Training” (ANAT),​​ by conducting a pilot course​​ on​​ Bagram Airbase, AFG.2​​ They then operationalized​​ ANAT​​ in Afghanistan and Iraq, and​​ those​​ units that embraced it were able to conduct a nuanced process of​​ military​​ engagements​​ with human networks.3​​ This​​ unique engagement​​ process,​​ employed​​ with great success​​ by the 1st​​ Calvary Division and others,​​ became the basis for new Army doctrine.​​ Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 5-0.6, Network Engagement,​​ was published in June 2017 following​​ a four-year effort by​​ NET,​​ in partnership​​ with the Maneuver Center of Excellence and​​ a broader community of interest,​​ under the leadership of the​​ Army’s​​ Combined Arms Center​​ (CAC).​​ The Network​​ Engagement​​ ATP​​ combines elements of attack the network and ANAT and​​ applies them to military engagement with​​ any human network​​ in any operational environment​​ at any level, from tactical to strategic.​​ Although​​ Network Engagement​​ (NE)​​ can be applied by any military organization at any​​ level, the​​ NET​​ recognized the need to better clarify its strategic application.

The opportunity to apply NE at the strategic level​​ came from the U.S. Army War College (AWC) in 2018 when the​​ NET​​ began a partnership with the AWC’s leading expert in human cognition.​​ After only two years, that partnership has blossomed into​​ a new course currently underway at​​ the​​ AWC called “Cognitive Maneuver”. Just as the​​ NET​​ developed the pre-doctrinal concept of attack the network into a broadly applicable doctrinal concept, Network Engagement,​​ the​​ NET​​ is now developing the concept of Cognitive Maneuver (CM), in collaboration with the AWC, into what will likely be a future doctrinal approach to countering U.S. adversaries throughout the competition continuum.​​ The requirement for such a​​ capability is clearly articulated in the 2017 National Security Strategy​​ (NSS)​​ and the 2018 National Defense Strategy​​ (NDS).​​ The​​ NSS states,​​ Our adversaries will not fight us on our terms. We will raise our competitive game to meet that challenge, to protect American interests, and to advance our values”.​​ ​​ The​​ 2018​​ NDS describes how the DoD​​ and Joint Force​​ will​​ raise their​​ competitive game, “To succeed in the emerging security environment, our Department and​​ the​​ Joint Force will have to out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate revisionist powers, rogue regimes, terrorists, and other threat actors.” ​​ CM is the methodology​​ for achieving what is described above in the excerpt from the NDS. And not surprisingly, NE is an essential component of CM.​​ So,​​ while the​​ NET​​ remains a​​ close-knit team of uniquely qualified individuals, they are now engaging in concept and doctrine development at all levels from tactical to strategic within a​​ complex​​ network of partnerships.

After the two West Point professors who developed the ANAT program handed it off to the​​ NET​​ in 2012, ANAT training was formally integrated into the​​ NET’s Attack the Network (AtN) training program. The formerly separate AtN and ANAT training teams combined, and they continually refine the training while also presenting it to​​ many​​ units, most of which were​​ then​​ deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.​​ 

At the same time, the​​ NET​​ was working with the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) to refine the concept of AtN based heavily on written accounts of units that had successfully engaged friendly, neutral, and threat human networks while deployed. Figure 1, below is taken from the 2017 ATP 5-06, Network Engagement. It depicts the expansion of the AtN concept to the broader concept of “Network​​ Engagement​​ (NE), which​​ is​​ defined as​​ the interactions with friendly, neutral, and threat networks, conducted continuously and simultaneously at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, to help achieve the commander’s objectives within an operational area (JP 3-25). Network engagement utilizes the three activities of supporting, influencing, and neutralizing to achieve the commander’s desired end state.​​ Commanders and staffs use network engagement activities to support and influence friendly and neutral human networks and to influence and neutralize threat human networks.”4

Figure​​ 1: Network Engagement Concept

Although ANAT training and trainers were merged with Network Engagement (NE) training and trainers, the two programs retained a degree of separate identity as two options that could be tailored based on the needs of the individual unit. ANAT training is based on the science of Social Network Analysis (SNA) and tends to be most effectively applied when the analyst understands applicable concepts​​ and is open to working with their mission-specific data.​​ Performing​​ SNA​​ in support of specific mission objectives often leads to​​ rapid​​ identification of​​ potential targets that​​ may not have been readily apparent when using more traditional analytic methods. SNA provides understanding of how people​​ or organizations​​ have significance based​​ on how they​​ are connected to​​ the​​ wider​​ network. ​​ Intelligence analysts, and others, who are​​ guided only by link analysis tend to identify potential targets based on hierarchical significance​​ and basic​​ relationships​​ drawn from​​ structured data,​​ reporting, link diagrams or other data sources.5 ​​​​ This type of network analysis is​​ often​​ largely subjective.​​ SNA​​ supports objective analysis​​ because it identifies potential targets​​ for further collection or engagement​​ based on relational significance. Ideally, the two analytic approaches should be combined for comprehensive understanding,​​ analysis, course of action development, ISR planning and targeting

The​​ NET​​ offers pre-exercise NE training and on-site NE mentoring during exercises and events across the Army, joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational (JIIM) communities.​​ There are two core​​ training programs​​ offered by​​ NET. The first is a standard 3-5 day​​ course​​ known as Advanced​​ Network​​ Analysis and Targeting (ANAT),​​ and the second is a​​ 7-10​​ day Train the Trainer (T3) course. The standard​​ ANAT course is broken into separate blocks of instruction​​ spanning 3-5 days​​ covering topics​​ such as​​ NE,​​ link diagram development, networking terms / principles, structured data management, social​​ network​​ analysis (SNA) methodology,​​ practical application of SNA,​​ SNA software​​ (ORA, UCINET, Gephi, and R​​ training available)​​ instruction, and​​ a team-based capstone​​ practical exercise​​ where students utilize​​ notional or, optimally, their own​​ network data to produce an informative SNA product intended to provide sound recommendations​​ to support planning, information collection and​​ targeting.​​ 

Train the trainer (T3)​​ instruction​​ was designed​​ to be a​​ force multiplier​​ with​​ blocks of instruction following the standard​​ Advanced Network Analysis and Targeting (ANAT)​​ instruction,​​ but​​ also​​ providing an​​ opportunity to mentor​​ and enable students to train​​ NE,​​ ANAT, and SNA​​ organically​​ within their organization.​​ The first week of this instruction follows the same​​ cadence as the standard ANAT course, and the second is focused on development of​​ a​​ standard operating procedure (SOP)​​ for network data​​ development,​​ application of​​ SNA​​ to specific missions, and​​ network data SOP (codebook)​​ refinement. All of these​​ T3 efforts​​ enable​​ a​​ unit-specific​​ standardized approach to​​ human network​​ data management, storage, retrieval, analysis and visualization.​​ This approach was designed, primarily, to enable more efficient and effective sharing and fusion of relational data.​​ Through​​ the application of​​ NE and​​ ANAT​​ principles,​​ teams​​ are able to​​ develop a better​​ understanding of​​ what networks​​ are present within their respective areas​​ of operation​​ and​​ the relations between​​ people, places, processes, and activities.​​ The NET also supports teams as they apply these principles during training, education and leader development​​ events.​​ 




Figure​​ 2:​​ ​​ Process from​​ text​​ reporting to​​ evaluating targets with​​ social network analysis

Accurately​​ identifying the key individuals, organizations and other nodes​​ within networks is challenging. By​​ applying social network analysis (SNA), a team​​ can​​ often better​​ identify​​ relevant actors​​ that potentially hold key​​ positions,​​ information,​​ or serve as channels for resources – including information --​​ throughout the network. This type of analysis can also aid a team in identifying nodes whose removal​​ from the network​​ would​​ induce system-wide fragmentation. ​​ This is not intended to replace traditional link analysis, but provides an​​ objective layer to the analytical​​ process. Through augmenting​​ traditional​​ link analysis with SNA, analysts are​​ able​​ to rapidly identify potential targets that may not be readily apparent when using more traditional methods. SNA​​ illuminates​​ nodes​​ that may​​ have significance based on how they are tied into​​ a broader​​ network​​ structure​​ (see Figure 2 below).​​ Analysts guided only by link analysis are vulnerable to biases in their identification of potential targets such as expecting hierarchical leadership where there is none and over-emphasizing the importance of nodes​​ with which​​ they have prior​​ familiarity.​​ This type of analysis is largely subjective based on the analysts reading​​ of the link chart​​ or related information and intelligence reporting.​​ SNA supports objective analysis​​ based on a battery of quantitative measures because it identifies potential targets for further collection or engagement based on the node’s significance to the broader network.​​ 

 Despite the doctrinal expansion of AtN into the broader concept of NE, and the integration of ANAT training within NE training, the​​ NET​​ searched in vain during 2017 for relevant examples of NE being applied effectively at the strategic level. The 2017 NSS and 2018​​ provided some insight as to why such an example was lacking. The U.S. “was emerging from a period of strategic atrophy”.6​​ The​​ NET​​ was given an opportunity to help the U.S. emerge from strategic atrophy in 2019 when the​​ U.S. Army War College (AWC)​​ enabled the TRADOC team to develop and conduct a summer seminar titled, “Cognitive Maneuver”. Although the concept of CM was not yet fully developed, it became clear during the​​ July 2019 CM seminar that there were overlapping and common themes among the perspectives of various DoD organizations involved. The​​ NET​​ ​​ members involved in the CM Seminar were able to subsequently weave together a strategic approach for CM. Strategic CM​​ is essentially a strategic application of NE that is aligned with the latest concepts and thinking within DoD regarding how to achieve U.S. strategic objectives, often without resorting to armed conflict, in today’s global security environment.7​​ The CM seminar has now progressed into a course of instruction that is currently underway at the AWC, and both the concept and the strategic approach for CM continue to be refined. What is clear, however, is that applying CM “as the synchronized application of physical power and informational power to influence adversaries' decision-making behaviors” will help the U.S. more consistently achieve strategic goals.8

 The training offered by​​ NET​​ supports the U.S. Army and JIIM communities​​ by teaching and coaching students and teams from tactical​​ through the​​ strategic levels of competition and conflict. This is consequently producing enhanced network engagement​​ plans,​​ operations​​ and​​ strategies.​​ Increasing an organization’s ability to apply network engagement​​ concepts​​ enables them to more efficiently and effectively accomplish their objectives at any level. Network analysis provides important foundational skills to better understand the relevant actors within​​ complex operational environments and within the global security environment. NE applied at any level increases the likelihood that the unit or organization will better understand the human domain, win the clash of wills, and achieve​​ their​​ objectives.​​ 



​​ The initial tasking in 2007 that gave birth to the​​ NET​​ came from a stakeholder in the first of many organizations that evolved into the current Operational Environment Center (OEC). In 2007, Major General Spiese (USMC) commented at a Joint IED Defeat Organization​​ (JIEDDO)​​ stakeholders’ meeting, “We need a methodology for Attack the Network”.​​ The Attack the Network line of effort is widely viewed as a critical component of the higher level and more broad Joint doctrinal term; Network Engagement.


​​ LTC (ret.)​​ Ian McCullough and​​ LTC​​ (ret.) Anthony Johnson developed TRADOC’s initial ANAT course as a way to conduct social network analysis on threat networks in Afghanistan and Iraq.​​ This course continues to be offered by the TRADOC Network Engagement team.


​​ The best example of this “nuanced form of human network engagement​​ is the 1st​​ Cavalry Division, which clearly described the process and the results they achieved in an article in​​ Military Intelligence​​ in​​ the April – June 2012 edition​​ titled,​​ Effective Network Targeting.​​ While heavily focused on the intelligence warfighting function, many of the lessons observed and captured over the past few decades have been​​ applied across all functions, domains, staff sections and levels of classification.​​ 


​​ Army Techniques Publication 5-06, Network Engagement, published in 2017 expands the​​ nested​​ concept of​​ Attack the Network (AtN)​​ to the broader concept of Network Engagement​​ (NE).​​ 


​​ While this course is available to US Army Intelligence teams through the use of Foundry resources (GEN 305 course title) and is often applied to the intelligence WfF, many mission areas from Fires and Effects to Assessment,​​ Civil Affairs and Information Warfare teams have applied these concepts with great success around the globe.


​​ While the specific term “strategic atrophy” comes from the unclassified summary of the 2018 NDS, it is well supported by the 2017 NSS.


​​ The CM seminar conducted in July 2019 assembled top DoD SMEs representing OSD, SOCOM, JS J-2, and others who provided a range of perspectives that were subsequently woven together to form an approach for CM.


​​ This comes from the current working definition of CM, which is being carefully considered by the AWC staff and students currently​​ participating in​​ the initial CM course during April - May 2020.