"Deconstructing Information Warfare"

Slides (and more information) from a talk given by K.A. Taipale to the Committee on Policy Consequences and Legal/Ethical Implications of Offensive Information Warfare, at the National Academies, last week.

Posted on November 9, 2006 at 6:53 AM • 15 Comments

Comments

Peter PearsonNovember 9, 2006 9:56 AM

Those slides are the most entertainingly vacuous pile of pompous bafflegab I've seen in years.

RichNovember 9, 2006 10:33 AM

Consider the still valuable role of an insider (e.g. undercover spy/saboteur) in "information operations". That is, the operations are high tech, but disruption or theft will be much easier with an insider. Therefore, spies on the ground are still very important.

elbows-on-tableNovember 9, 2006 11:47 AM

There's an ethics committee on Implications of Offensive Information Warfare? Who knew?

Miss Parsed AdjectiveNovember 9, 2006 3:42 PM

@elbows-on-table

Yeah, I guess everyone already knows about the committee on Implications of Inoffensive Information Warfare.

jmrNovember 9, 2006 5:49 PM

I'm not sure why people are pooh-poohing the study of the military value of information warfare. Knowing how a weapon will work, or not work, and ramifications of using such a weapon are important considerations in using said weapon. For example, I think everyone could agree that the ethics of using Nuclear Weapons deserve investigation. What about the use of depleted uranium munitions?

One of the points made in the slide is very suggestive: if the US feels free to engage in OIW, won't other states or entities take that right upon themselves? People the world over are intelligent, and if the US engages in some warfare activity against them that they themselves are not using against us, wouldn't they consider it? Further, one has to ask what responses your enemy might make given your engagement. For example, knowing that China will (or will not) use nuclear weapons to combat an attack on their banking infrastructure (thus potentially starving their citizenry) is important information to have prior to the decision to engage in OIW.

Personally, I would prefer that war plans be good plans that have considered objectives, methods, and consequences thereof. I'm not suggesting that the US should engage in any particular war, but the likelihood is that some day, some where, war will be waged. I'd rather my side be the winning side, all other things being equal.

If that means pointing out apparently obvious things, then so-be-it. But don't overlook all the things this document does. A statement that certain technological attacks could be implemented but that they require manpower of certain technical skills indicates to a beaurocrat that they have to plan to hire those people and budget for it. You don't budget for and hire people without justification. How do you justify those people? With a document such as this.

Also keep in mind that the entire information content of the presentation was probably not contained in this slide show.

RogerNovember 9, 2006 10:51 PM

According to this theory,
1GW (1st generation warfare) is agrarian societies producing massed formations and is typical of the Napoleonic Wars;
2GW is industrial society using economic production to get more "steel on target: and is typical of the US Army (when?);
3GW is a modern nonlinear society using manouveur to achieve control and is typical of the USMC; and
4GW is a "postmodern" chaotic system using information warfare to control morale and is typical of Special Forces.

Anyone who believes all that lot could really benefit from some detailed reading about the Peninsular War (1808–1814), in which the Allies (Britain, Portugal and Spain) used manouveur, economics, cryptanalysis, and psychological/political warfare to defeat a vastly larger, better trained, better equipped and better funded French Napoleonic army.

There may be other, even better examples, but this is the earliest case I can think of in which one side manipulated the internal politics of the other through control of information flow, and then specifically exploited the reduction in tactical options caused by those politics.

I think people should be very wary of propounding new doctrines without first studying what has gone before: "Nihil sub sole novum."

supersnailNovember 10, 2006 8:00 AM

""There may be other, even better examples, but this is the earliest case I can think of in which one side manipulated the internal politics of the other through control of information flow, and then specifically exploited the reduction in tactical options caused by those politics ""

I think Ulyses engaged in in quite a lot of this and you dont get much earlier than that as far as history goes.

It always comes as a surprise to people who dont study history how little humans and human soiciety have changed over the past 10,000 years.

Same old monkeys; bigger better rocks.

sigint warriorNovember 10, 2006 9:07 AM

@ Peter Pearson

> Those slides are the most entertainingly vacuous
> pile of pompous bafflegab I've seen in years.

Would that be 'most vacuous' you've seen since you last set the benchmark with your posts on the rectal temperature of raccoons or the feasting habits of water bugs, or, just 'most pompous' since you started channelling Milton Smith?

Seriously, little P.P., thanks for adding your deeply insightful comments to understanding the policy issues raised by the slides. With helpful input like yours governments should have no trouble developing coherent and accountable national security policies for information operations. It is in part, of course, contributions like yours to the public dialogue that result in these issues usually being resolved in secret. But, I can't commend your self-evidence of towering intellect enough - please post more useful commentary like this.

@ Roger

Let me see if I have this right. Historical counterexamples of general evolutionary trends invalidate the commenting on those trends -- even in a single slide of what looks like a rather lengthy, wide-ranging briefing. How novel, I guess we can finally do away with narrative in historical or policy analysis.

Likewise, I guess, because Sun Tzu and Tacticus (and Homer) wrote about the principles of maneuver and information dominance, and Machiavelli, among others, about the principles of political warfare, (and there is ample evidence throughout history of the successful employ of these principles - particularly in insurgencies - to achieve victory, not just in the Peninsular War - aka "Napoleon's Vietnam" - with which you seem vaguely acquainted) there is probably no point in even trying to develop doctrine for the use of information operations in a modern ICT based, information reliant world since, as you so eruditely point out, nihil sub sole novum (Eccl. 1:10 in the Vulgate).

On the other hand, I'm confused since your specific example - the defeat of Napoleon by "4GW" tactics - seems to make the very point the briefer seems to be making in the slide - that 4GW principles can defeat armies organized on earlier models. Indeed, the specific focus of the slide in question seems to be on the principles of organization (USA, USMC, SOF, etc.) rather than an espousal of the linearity of history. (Also, I'm not sure what the "cumulative" in the slide title refers to but it would seem to acknowledge non-exclusivity of the paradigms.)

>I think people should be very wary of propounding new doctrines
> without first studying what has gone before: "Nihil sub sole novum."

Personally, I think people should be wary of propounding pedantic pettifoggery based on a passing familiarity with military history without understanding the need to develop policy to meet new challenges: "adapto vel intereo".

@ supersnail

>Same old monkeys; bigger better rocks.

Isn't that the point of the briefing - understanding the characteristics of "bigger better" [sic] (or, in this case, potentially more insidious, subtle and dangerous) rocks and developing policy to govern or control their use?

>It always comes as a surprise to people who dont study history how little
>humans and human soiciety have changed over the past 10,000 years.

Actually, it always comes as a surprise to people who study history from armchairs when new opportunities and new threats present themselves.

@ all

BTW, this isn't just about government "CNO": for example, see http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue1/...


info warriorNovember 12, 2006 9:27 AM

>Someone here certainly likes the big words, don't they?
>Could you be any more of a egonormous pompeous ass? :)

Well, theoretically I could be, but I wanted to make sure you could follow the confabulation, so I kept it unostentatious.

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