In Athena's Camp

In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age

John Arquilla
David Ronfeldt
Alvin Toffler
Heidi Toffler
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 525
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr880osd-rc
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  • Book Info
    In Athena's Camp
    Book Description:

    The information revolution--which is as much an organizational as a technological revolution--is transforming the nature of conflict across the spectrum: from open warfare, to terrorism, crime, and even radical social activism. The era of massed field armies is passing, because the new information and communications systems are increasing the lethality of quite small units that can call in deadly, precise missile fire almost anywhere, anytime. In social conflicts, the Internet and other media are greatly empowering individuals and small groups to influence the behavior of states. Whether in military or social conflicts, all protagonists will soon be developing new doctrines, strategies, and tactics for swarming their opponents--with weapons or words, as circumstances require. Preparing for conflict in such a world will require shifting to new forms of organization, particularly the versatile, hardy, all-channel network. This shift will prove difficult for states and professional militaries that remain bastions of hierarchy, bound to resist institutional redesign. They will make the shift as they realize that information and knowledge are becoming the key elements of power. This implies, among other things, that Mars, the old brute-force god of war, must give way to Athena, the well-armed goddess of wisdom. Accepting Athena as the patroness of this information age represents a first step not only for preparing for future conflicts, but also for preventing them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4858-5
    Subjects: Technology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. FOREWORD: THE NEW INTANGIBLES
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
    Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler

    The way any society engages in conflict reflects the way it does a lot of other things—especially the way its economy is organized. And just as the industrial revolution industrialized warfare, and mass production led to mass destruction, with Clausewitz as the theoretical genius of the era, so today the entire society is going beyond the industrial age—and taking the military with it. This turns out to be a revolutionary moment in the fullest meaning of that much overworked word.

    A true revolution occurs when the entire structure of a society changes, not just when the palace and...

  6. Chapter One A NEW EPOCH—AND SPECTRUM—OF CONFLICT
    (pp. 1-20)
    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

    Look around. No “good old-fashioned war” is in sight. There are a few possibilities—for example, on the Korean peninsula; or between China and Taiwan; or India and Pakistan; and, as usual, in the Middle East—but these do not seem imminent. Moreover, the most recent war, the Gulf War of 1990–1991, reflected the advent of the “revolution in military affairs” among U.S. forces and thus was more new- than old-fashioned—perhaps enough to discourage would-be conventional warmakers elsewhere from supposing they could win anytime soon against the newest generation of U.S. military forces. If another conventional war involving...

  7. Part I: The Revolution in Military Affairs

    • Chapter Two CYBERWAR IS COMING!
      (pp. 23-60)
      John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

      Suppose that war looked like this: Small numbers of your light, highly mobile forces defeat and compel the surrender of large masses of heavily armed, dug-in enemy forces, with little loss of life on either side. Your forces can do this because they are well prepared, make room for maneuver, concentrate their firepower rapidly in unexpected places, and have superior command, control, and information systems that are decentralized to allow tactical initiatives, yet provide the central commanders with unparalleled intelligence and “topsight” for strategic purposes.

      For your forces, warfare is no longer primarily a function of who puts the most...

    • Chapter Three PREPARING FOR THE NEXT WAR: REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS
      (pp. 61-78)
      Stephen J. Blank

      All strategizing occurs under duress, e.g., in the context of the burden of defeat, permanently perceived threats, or simply the eternal scarcity of resources needed to materialize a vision of future war. Reality always constrains strategists’ vision and nations’ capabilities.

      Commanders recognize that the actual clash of arms takes belligerents, as chessplayers say, “out of the books” intoterra incognitaor the fog of war. Since no plan survives actual combat, and the art of forecasting is imperfect, efforts to predict with certainty the future of today’s revolution in military affairs (RMA) must inevitably fail. Any view of the RMA...

    • Chapter Four AN INFORMATION-BASED REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS
      (pp. 79-98)
      Norman C. Davis

      The world is on the cusp of an epochal shift from an industrial- to an information-based society. History demonstrates that changes of this magnitude do not occur without being accompanied by fundamental change in the way war is conducted.¹ This “Information Revolution” is a product of advances in computerized information and telecommunications technologies and related innovations in management and organizational theory.

      Today, rapid and far-reaching changes are occurring in how information is collected, stored, processed, and disseminated, and in how organizations are designed to take advantage of this increased availability of information.² The Information Revolution is setting in motion forces...

    • Chapter Five ANOTHER VIEW OF THE REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS
      (pp. 99-140)
      Jeffrey R. Cooper

      Since the subject was raised within the American defense community² [see the end of this chapter for notes], the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) has been the subject of at least three summer studies, many conferences, numerous papers and briefings, and a host of war-gaming exercises. As a result of these efforts, DoD is now investigating an RMA initiative. But while the community seems to agree on a number of important issues, concord on other critical points is lacking.

      First, almost all participants in the debate now accept that RMAs are more than just new military technologies or systems and...

    • Chapter Six INFORMATION, POWER, AND GRAND STRATEGY: IN ATHENA’S CAMP—SECTION 1
      (pp. 141-172)
      John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

      Information has been associated with power, war, and the state since at least the time of the Greek gods. One normally thinks of Ares, or the Roman refinement Mars, as the god of war. But where warfare is about information, the superior deity is Athena—the Greek goddess of wisdom who sprang fully armed from Zeus’s head and went on to become the benevolent, ethical, patriotic protectress and occasional wrathful huntress who exemplified reverence for the state. According to Virgil, for example, Troy would be powerful enough to withstand all its enemies so long as it possessed and honored the...

  8. Part II: Information Warfare

    • Chapter Seven WARFARE IN THE INFORMATION AGE
      (pp. 175-190)
      Bruce D. Berkowitz

      Pentagon officials and defense analysts have a new topic to add to their list of post–Cold War concerns: information warfare, or IW, in the usual manner of military-speak. The term refers to the use of information systems—computers, communications networks, databases—for military advantage, either by the United States or by a variety of unfriendly parties.

      IW is drawing increasing attention for at least two reasons. First, the United States is potentially vulnerable to IW attack. The United States, in civilian as well as military matters, is more dependent on electronic information systems than is anyone else in the...

    • Chapter Eight THE SMALL AND THE MANY
      (pp. 191-216)
      Martin C. Libicki

      Today, platforms rule the battlefield. In time, however, the large, the complex, and the few will have to yield to the small and the many. Systems composed of millions of sensors, emitters, microbots, and miniprojectiles, will, in concert, be able to detect, track, target, and land a weapon on any military object large enough to carry a human. The advantage of the small and the many will not occur overnight everywhere; tipping points will occur at different times in various arenas. They will be visible only in retrospect.

      The triumph of the small and the many, of information technologies over...

    • Chapter Nine INFORMATION WARFARE: TIME FOR SOME CONSTRUCTIVE SKEPTICISM?
      (pp. 217-230)
      John Rothrock

      Future historians might well cite the years 1993 and 1994 as the period during which the U.S. military and associated national defense organizations identified Information Warfare as a conceptual vehicle for transitioning from the precepts of the Cold War into the new global realities of the Information Age. The concept is gaining momentum throughout the national security community at a breakneck pace.

      Information Warfare’s already strong institutional influence is readily evident in the spate of military and other national security organizations which have taken it on as a key element of their mission responsibilities or, as in a growing number...

    • Chapter Ten EMERGING CHALLENGE: SECURITY AND SAFETY IN CYBERSPACE
      (pp. 231-252)
      Richard O. Hundley and Robert H. Anderson

      With more and more of the activities of individuals, organizations, and nations being conducted in cyberspace,¹ the security of those activities is an emerging challenge for society. The medium has thus created new potentials for criminal or hostile actions, “bad actors” in cyberspace carrying out these hostile actions, and threats to societal interests as a result of these hostile actions.

      Security holes in current computer and telecommunications systems allow these systems to be subject to a broad spectrum of adverse or hostile actions. The spectrum includes: inserting false data or harmful programs into information systems; stealing valuable data or programs...

    • Chapter Eleven AN EXPLORATION OF CYBERSPACE SECURITY R&D INVESTMENT STRATEGIES FOR DARPA
      (pp. 253-272)
      Robert H. Anderson and Anthony C. Hearn

      “The Day After …” exercise methodology, developed over the past several years under the leadership of Roger Molander, has proven useful in eliciting thinking about complex strategic issues from groups of up to about 60 individuals. The exercises are also useful in “awareness building”—exposing participants to the possible ramifications of current trends, and options for altering those trends. For examples of previous uses of this methodology to explore the national security policy implications of the continued diffusion of nuclear weapons capabilities, see Millot, Molander and Wilson (1993); Mesic, Molander and Wilson (1995); Molander, Wilson, Mesic and Gardiner (1994); and...

  9. Part III: Societal Perspectives

    • Chapter Twelve THE ADVENT OF NETWAR
      (pp. 275-294)
      John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

      In our view, the information-age conflict spectrum looks like this: What we term “cyberwar” will be an ever-more-important entry at the military end, where the language is normally about high-intensity conflict (HIC) and middle-range conflict (MRC). “Netwar” will figure increasingly at the societal end, where the language is normally about low-intensity conflict (LIC) and operations other than war (OOTW—a broader concept than LIC that includes peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations). Whereas cyberwar will usually see formal military forces pitted against each other, netwar is more likely to involve nonstate, paramilitary, and other irregular forces. Both concepts are consistent with...

    • Chapter Thirteen SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS
      (pp. 295-314)
      Brian Nichiporuk and Carl H. Builder

      The societal implications of the information revolution are both pervasive and profound. Prior revolutions—industrial, political, and social—may justly claim the same, but none before have conveyed power so widely or quickly downward to individuals, not just to a new set of elites. Political revolutions have sometimes diffused power more widely—as in the American Revolution—but most often they have transferred power from one elite to another. The revolutionary changes introduced through gunpowder diffused power from the castled and armored knight to a larger cadre of cannoneers and musketeers, but the transfer of power was from one very...

    • Chapter Fourteen TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
      (pp. 315-338)
      Phil Williams

      To understand the causes of turbulence and disorder in the post–Cold War world it is necessary to examine sub-national and transnational forces as well as inter-state relations. The danger is that the consideration of new security challenges will encourage the fabrication of enemies or security threats. This, however, should not inhibit efforts to reassess the challenges to national and international security, and to identify non-traditional threats when these have a strong empirical basis.

      There are several reasons why one might object to treating transnational criminal organisations (TCOs) as an international security problem: they are economic rather than political organisations;...

    • Chapter Fifteen RESPONDING TO TERRORISM ACROSS THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPECTRUM
      (pp. 339-368)
      Bruce Hoffman

      The “revolution in military affairs,” it is argued, heralds a new era of warfare dominated by the American military’s mastery of the conventional battlefield. Just as gunpowder, the mechanization of battle, and atomic weapons previously changed the fundamental conduct and nature of warfare so will a combination of technological progress, doctrinal sophistication, and innovative force employment in turn “render … existing methods of conducting warfare obsolete.” The assumption that the United States armed forces alone will have the capability to harness all the elements of this revolution is in large measure derived from the demonstrated superiority of American combined arms...

    • Chapter Sixteen A COMMENT ON THE ZAPATISTA “NETWAR”
      (pp. 369-392)
      David Ronfeldt and Armando Martínez

      On New Year’s Day 1994, some two to four thousand insurgents of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) occupied six towns in Chiapas, declared war on the Mexican government, proclaimed radical demands, and mounted a global media campaign for support and sympathy. Through its star-quality spokesman “Subcomandante Marcos,” the EZLN broadcast its declarations through press releases, conferences, and interviews, and invited foreign observers and monitors to Chiapas.

      The Mexican government’s initial reaction was quite traditional. It ordered army and police forces to suppress the insurrection, and downplayed its size, scope, and sources, in keeping with official denials in 1993 that...

  10. Part IV: Emerging Paradigms

    • Chapter Seventeen NEOCORTICAL WARFARE? THE ACME OF SKILL
      (pp. 395-416)
      Richard Szafranski

      If General McPeak is correct, and I believe he is, the opposite proposition should also be true. That is, if our country employs air and space power thoughtlessly or unimaginatively, this power will be less effective or even disastrously impotent. To help avoid such grave risks in the future, the thesis of this article takes us at least one stop beyond. McPeak’s already powerful insight. This article argues that military power resides in the domain of the mind and the will; the provinces of choice, “thinking,” valuing or “attitude,” and insight or “imagination.” Further, it argues that, because of this,...

    • Chapter Eighteen INFORMATION, POWER, AND GRAND STRATEGY: IN ATHENA’S CAMP—SECTION 2
      (pp. 417-438)
      John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

      According to tradition, power considerations drive strategic choices, and grand strategy consists of the “knitting-together” of a nation’s political, economic and military resources and capabilities in pursuit of its overall aims.¹ Indeed, the major dimensions of grand strategy have long been the political, economic, and military ones—anything else has been deemed secondary, significant only as it affected the major dimensions. Information and related technologies and systems play a role in this tradition, but mainly a supporting one.

      Yet even though information is generally deemed a subsidiary factor, it sometimes has transformative effects. Examples abound throughout history. With regard to...

    • Chapter Nineteen LOOKING AHEAD: PREPARING FOR INFORMATION-AGE CONFLICT
      (pp. 439-502)
      John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

      As we assembled this volume, we initially expected to conclude it in a standard manner: revisiting themes noted in the introduction, summarizing key points from the selections, and identifying issues for future research and development. This concluding chapter still has some of that flavor. But as we discussed how to write it, we realized our thoughts were cohering around four sets of ideas which, together, amount to the outlines of an integrated vision of information-age conflict—from how to think about it, to how to prepare for it and deal with it.

      As a result, this chapter represents not only...

  11. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 503-504)