[Table of Contents][Chapter 6]
Information warfare is emerging as a potent new element of strategy. Info War is not the same as intelligence operations, although it is clearly related to intelligence. As it is emerging in Defense Department thinking, information warfare is an attack on an adversarys entire information, command and control, and, indeed, decision-making system.
As Air Force Plans puts it: information warfare is any action to deny, exploit, corrupt, or destroy the enemys information and its functions; protecting ourselves against the actions; and exploiting our own information operations. Information warfare is directed at shrinking or interfering with the enemys Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop while expanding and improving our own. Strategists now speak of information as a strategic asset, and planners describe the objective of information war as information dominance.
Dr George Stein places emerging thinking on information warfare into the context of the Tofflers wave theory: As first wave wars were fought over land, and `second wave wars were fought over physical resources and productive capacity, the emerging `third wave wars will be for the access to and control of knowledge. Related to information war are net war and cyberwar. Net war is information war waged largely through communications systems. The 1991 Gulf War exhibited it via the Coalitions attack on the whole spectrum of Saddam Husseins information, propaganda, command and control, etc.
But it is to the realm of info propaganda where Dr Stein calls our particular attentionthe emergence of techniques combining live actors with computer generated video graphics, and fictive simulators, and other information manipulation which creates virtual realties that could seriously threaten a states control. Cyberwar is the operational extension of information war and net warthe tactical disruption, then domination, and perhaps even the reordering, of an enemys decision-cycle. However, Stein cautions that whether cyberwar can actually shape the battlefield, or merely generate chaos remains to be seen.
All this has obvious implications for command and control warfare against an adversary. Governments which rely for their legitimacy on insulating their societies from reality look particularly vulnerable to information war. Sound strategy, then, employs info war as an offensive element of operations, designed to disrupt or end an adversarys communications and decision making. Stein cautions, however, that democratic societies may be particularly vulnerable to attack by adversaries using information war, especially its components net war and cyberwar. Their communications infrastructure is wide open to attack for their domestic computer, communications, and information networks . . . are very vulnerable to penetration, manipulation, or even destruction by determined hackers.
The essay by Col McLendon is built around a critique of the historical evolution of information war. He uses the allied deception and crypt analysis during WWII, and the impact of information technology during the Gulf War, to illustrate the quantum leap from propaganda and disinformation during WWII to the systematic application of information warfare in the post-Cold War age.
The use of allied Ultra intercepts of Nazi war plans and operations was critical to allied success. Indeed, Ultra intercepts, which were never compromised, provided the bulk of intelligence to the Allies during the war. As Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, who had worked with Ultra during WWII prior to launching his legal career, stated, In no other war have commanding generals had the quality and extent of intelligence provided by Ultra. Ultra gave the British advance warning of the German attack on England and of U-boat operations against Atlantic convoys. Indeed, Churchill had to make numerous painful decisions not to defend Allied assets he knew were going to be attacked for fear of alerting the Germans to Allied prior knowledge of their plans. An example was the Luftwaffe raid on Coventry.
The Gulf War brought the use of information deception and information war to its zenith. US Army units used the NAVSTAR GPS at the tactical level to locate Iraqi units even in the midst of desert sand storms. GPS, writes McClendon, was the capability that made possible the [Allies] `left hook used to defeat Saddam Husseins armored divisions. The sheer information overload attendant to Coalition operations was mind boggling: 700,000 phone calls and 150,000 messages per day; successful deconfliction of over 35,000 different communications frequencies; AWACS aircraft controlling 2,240 air sorties per daymore than 90,000 during the war with no midair collisions.
The Gulf War experience has spurred recognition within the US Defense Department that an ability to achieve information dominance could represent a new era in strategy formulation. Global dominance, writes former Vice Chairman of the JCS, Adm David E. Jeremiah, will be achieved by those that most clearly understand the role of information and the power of knowledge that flows from it.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the US Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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