Strategic Appraisal

Strategic Appraisal: The Changing Role of Information in Warfare

ZALMAY M. KHALILZAD
JOHN P. WHITE
Foreword by ANDREW W. MARSHALL
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 475
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1016af
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  • Book Info
    Strategic Appraisal
    Book Description:

    Advances in information technology have led us to rely on easy communication and readily available information--both in our personal lives and in the life of our nation. For the most part, we have rightly welcomed these changes. But information that is readily available is available to friend and foe alike; a system that relies on communication can become useless if its ability to communicate is interfered with or destroyed. Because this reliance is so general, attacks on the information infrastructure can have widespread effects, both for the military and for society. And such attacks can come from a variety of sources, some difficult or impossible to identify. This, the third volume in the Strategic Appraisal series, draws on the expertise of researchers from across RAND to explore the opportunities and vulnerabilities inherent in the increasing reliance on information technology, looking both at its usefulness to the warrior and the need to protect its usefulness for everyone. The Strategic Appraisal series is intended to review, for a broad audience, issues bearing on national security and defense planning.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4333-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
  8. FOREWORD
    (pp. 1-6)
    Andrew W. Marshall

    This effort to assess how the role of information in warfare is changing seeks to understand many of the remarkable developments under way in information and communications technology, and their potential effects on warfare. It is because the uncertainties are so substantial in this realm that this effort by Zalmay Khalilzad, John White, and their collaborators is so admirable. They are attempting to deal with a topic whose complexities and lack of consensus, at present, easily match its importance. The principal value in such an effort is that it helps to organize our thoughts and to sort out the areas...

  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 7-16)
    Zalmay Khalilzad and John White

    As these quotes imply, the United States and indeed the world is undergoing dramatic changes due in great part to the dramatic transformations brought about by new information technologies. The technical changes include advances in how information is collected, stored, processed, and communicated. While the speed with which these processes have taken place has increased manyfold, the costs for propagating and storing information have decreased dramatically. The implementation of these capabilities has vastly increased our communications and related functions, including large increases in international connectivity. More and more people and nations around the world are acquiring access to the Internet...

  10. PART I: SOCIETY AND THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM

    • Chapter Two THE AMERICAN MILITARY ENTERPRISE IN THE INFORMATION AGE
      (pp. 19-44)
      Carl H. Builder

      The social and military effects of the ongoing information revolution occupy the thoughts of modern thinkers. From a social standpoint, the true believers hold that the current revolution in computing, telecommunications, and information technologies will profoundly remake our society, our democracy, and our daily lives. From a military perspective, visionaries within the U.S. military see in the new technologies of the information revolution the means to radically increase military effectiveness, reduce casualties, and save money. The purpose of this chapter is to develop an understanding of how these two perspectives, usually considered apart, impinge upon one another.

      A nation’s military...

    • Chapter Three RIGHT MAKES MIGHT: FREEDOM AND POWER IN THE INFORMATION AGE
      (pp. 45-74)
      David C. Gompert

      The locomotive of change in the new era of world politics is information technology. It propels reform and globalization and is increasingly crucial to national power. It has thus recast the relationship between politics and power. In essence, military power now depends on information technology and thus on the openness, freedom, and global integration that spawn and sustain that technology. Consequently, the world’s great powers will be, like the United States, free-enterprise nations, ruled by legitimate governments, motivated by shared interests in the health and security of the global economy, and at least loosely united against threats to those interests...

    • Chapter Four NETWORKS, NETWAR, AND INFORMATION-AGE TERRORISM
      (pp. 75-112)
      John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt and Michele Zanini

      The rise of network forms of organization is a key consequence of the ongoing information revolution. Business organizations are being newly energized by networking, and many professional militaries are experimenting with flatter forms of organization. In this chapter, we explore the impact of networks on terrorist capabilities, and consider how this development may be associated with a move away from emphasis on traditional, episodic efforts at coercion to a new view of terror as a form of protracted warfare. Seen in this light, the recent bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, along with the retaliatory American missile strikes, may...

    • Chapter Five INFORMATION AND WAR: IS IT A REVOLUTION?
      (pp. 113-154)
      Jeremy Shapiro

      On January 29, 1991, an Iraqi probing attack crossed the Saudi-Kuwait border and occupied the deserted town of Al-Khafji, Saudi Arabia. As coalition ground forces battled to retake the town, the Iraqi high command ordered large reinforcements into the battle. On January 30, an experimental Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft and various unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles detected the nighttime movement toward Al-Khafji of two Iraqi divisions some 50 miles behind enemy lines. This information was passed to Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, which rapidly redirected coalition aircraft to attack the formations (Department of Defense [DoD],...

  11. PART II: U.S. OPPORTUNITIES AND VULNERABILITIES

    • Chapter Six INFORMATION AND WARFARE: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR U.S. MILITARY FORCES
      (pp. 157-178)
      Edward Harshberger and David Ochmanek

      Any complex undertaking in which the actions of a large number of people must be coordinated will be information intensive. Think of the production of a complex piece of machinery, the construction of a large building, or the operation of a transportation network. The participants in such activities must know their roles, must be informed of the status of other aspects of the project, and must be able to adjust their activities in reaction to unforeseen events. Someone must also be able to oversee the process, make decisions, and communicate those decisions to others involved. All of this activity creates...

    • Chapter Seven U.S. MILITARY OPPORTUNITIES: INFORMATION-WARFARE CONCEPTS OF OPERATION
      (pp. 179-216)
      Brian Nichiporuk

      Information warfare is often seen as a new threat; a tool for adversaries to use against the U.S. homeland or U.S. forces. Numerous stories about break-ins at Pentagon computers, disabled satellites, and downed phone networks have focused the attention of the public and the national security community on the need for information-warfare defense. The possibility that these new information-warfare tools could threaten America’s ability to project power or to realize its national interests is real and deserves analytical attention and public awareness. However, information warfare creates more than just vulnerability—it may also mean many new opportunities for the U.S...

    • Chapter Eight THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS
      (pp. 217-252)
      Stephen T. Hosmer

      The advanced military and civilian technological systems that are anticipated to flow from the ongoing information revolution will require that the psychological dimension of warfare receive increased priority in the preparation, planning, and conduct of future U.S. military operations. The improved military capabilities arising from these advanced systems will have the potential to produce significant psychological and physical effects and will present new opportunities and risks for both the United States and its adversaries. Advanced technological systems will not only help shape the environment of future conflict but will also magnify the importance of the psychological battle to conflict outcome....

    • Chapter Nine U.S. STRATEGIC VULNERABILITIES: THREATS AGAINST SOCIETY
      (pp. 253-282)
      Roger C. Molander, Peter A. Wilson and Robert H. Anderson

      Previous chapters have discussed military opportunities and vulnerabilities arising from information operations and information warfare. But do information operations and warfare constitute a strategic threat to U.S. society? What, indeed, would constitute “strategic information warfare” (SIW)? In this chapter, we address these questions and present a framework for thinking about SIW issues.¹

      In the future, the possibility exists that adversaries might exploit the tools and techniques of the information revolution to hold at risk (not of destruction, but of large-scale or massive disruption) key national strategic assets, such as elements of various key national infrastructure sectors (energy, telecommunications, transportation, financial,...

    • Chapter Ten IMPLICATIONS OF INFORMATION VULNERABILITIES FOR MILITARY OPERATIONS
      (pp. 283-324)
      Glenn C. Buchan

      Can more effective use of information provide the leverage necessary to offset reductions in military force structure? Can new information systems lead to fundamental changes in the ways the United States uses force or otherwise coerces adversaries? These possibilities, which RAND and others have been analyzing for several years, are certainly extremely attractive, particularly for the United States, which seems to be well-positioned to exploit the new technologies. However, success is by no means preordained. The force has a dark side. One of the potential problems is that relying on the new information-related technologies that appear so powerful could also...

  12. PART III: ISSUES, STRATEGIES, AND LESSONS FOR DECISIONMAKERS

    • Chapter Eleven MILITARY ORGANIZATION IN THE INFORMATION AGE: LESSONS FROM THE WORLD OF BUSINESS
      (pp. 327-360)
      Francis Fukuyama and Abram N. Shulsky

      Technological advances in the areas of telecommunications and data processing (which, together, are often referred to as “information technology”) have given rise to much discussion about “information warfare.” The fundamental expectation behind this discussion is that exploitation of advances in information technology will lead to revolutionary changes in the ways in which wars are fought.

      Students of such “revolutions in military affairs” (RMAs) have noted that they often involve major changes in the organizational structure of the armed forces, as well as in the weapons they use and the doctrines according to which they fight.¹ Indeed, since organizational structure both...

    • Chapter Twelve ARMS CONTROL, EXPORT REGIMES, AND MULTILATERAL COOPERATION
      (pp. 361-378)
      Lynn E. Davis

      In the past, arms control, export regimes, and multilateral cooperation have promoted U.S. security as well as global stability. Vast stockpiles of weapons have been eliminated. Destabilizing nuclear systems have been banned. Confidence-building measures have enhanced security in Europe. Various treaties and export-control regimes have prevented the spread of weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated conventional weapons. Multilateral cooperation agreements have been used to prevent common threats, such as nuclear smuggling.

      The question is whether any of these approaches—arms control, export regimes, multilateral cooperation—can serve U.S. security and global stability in the future in connection with the development...

    • Chapter Thirteen ETHICS AND INFORMATION WARFARE
      (pp. 379-402)
      John Arquilla

      War forms an integral part of the history of mankind, alternately driving civilization forward, then imperiling it. A natural ambivalence toward war has thus developed, with its acceptance as a necessary evil tempered by vigorous, sustained efforts to control its frequency and intensity. Thus, from the dawn of the recorded history of conflict, attempts have been made to craft an ethical approach to war. They break down into two categories: a set of guidelines regarding going to war at all and a set of strictures by which combatants, should they adhere to them, might fight during a war in a...

    • Chapter Fourteen DEFENSE IN A WIRED WORLD: PROTECTION, DETERRENCE, AND PREVENTION
      (pp. 403-438)
      Zalmay Khalilzad

      The effects of new information technology are all around us. Change is abundant in everything from the computers on our desks to the cell phones in our pockets. For the most part, we welcome these changes and the improvements that they herald in our lives. These changes offer many advantages for the United States, which leads the world in the civilian and military application of information technology. Our civilian sectors already bristle with a dense information infrastructure that offers unprecedented wealth and convenience. Our armed forces lead all other militaries in applying new information technologies to the problem of national...

    • Chapter Fifteen CONCLUSION: THE CHANGING ROLE OF INFORMATION IN WARFARE
      (pp. 439-454)
      Martin Libicki and Jeremy Shapiro

      Information achieves value by improving decisions. Thus, the role of information in warfare must be to affect strategic or tactical decisions in one’s favor. This role is as old as warfare itself; indeed, it might be said to be the very purpose of warfare. So what is new, or, more precisely, why does information seem to be becoming more important now? In a word: technology. New machines and new processes have recently become integral to collection, processing, and dissemination of information. An increasing percentage of decisionmaking and decision support has been transferred from people to machines. People operate under familiar...