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Byting BackA-Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents

Byting BackA-Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents: RAND Counterinsurgency StudyA-Volume 1

Martin C. Libicki
David C. Gompert
David R. Frelinger
Raymond Smith
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    Byting BackA-Regaining Information Superiority Against 21st-Century Insurgents
    Book Description:

    U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to exploit information power, which could be a U.S. advantage but instead is being used advantageously by insurgents. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency involve a battle for the allegiance of a population between a government and an armed opposition movement, the key to exploiting information power is to connect with and learn from the population itself, increasing the effectiveness of both the local government and the U.S. military and civilian services engaged in supporting it. Utilizing mostly available networking technology, the United States could achieve early, affordable, and substantial gains in the effectiveness of counterinsurgency by more open, integrated, and inclusive information networking with the population, local authorities, and coalition partners. The most basic information link with the population would be an information technology (IT)-enhanced, fraud-resistant registry-census. The most promising link would come from utilizing local cell phone networks, which are proliferating even among poor countries. Access to data routinely collected by such networks can form the basis for security services such as enhanced-911 and forensics. The cell phones of a well-wired citizenry can be made tantamount to sensor fields in settled areas. They can link indigenous forces with each other and with U.S. forces without interoperability problems; they can also track the responses of such forces to emergencies. Going further, outfitting weaponry with video cameras would bolster surveillance, provide lessons learned, and guard against operator misconduct. Establishing a national Wiki can help citizens describe their neighborhoods to familiarize U.S. forces with them and can promote accountable service delivery. All such information can improve counterinsurgency operations by making U.S. forces and agencies far better informed than they are at present. The authors argue that todayÂ's military and intelligence networks-being closed, compartmentalized, controlled by information providers instead of users, and limited to U.S. war fighters-hamper counterinsurgency and deprive the United States of what ought to be a strategic advantage. In contrast, based on a review of 160 requirements for counterinsurgency, the authors call for current networks to be replaced by an integrated counterinsurgency operating network (ICON) linking U.S. and indigenous operators, based on principles of inclusiveness, integration, and user preeminence. Utilizing the proposed ways of gathering information from the population, ICON would improve the timeliness, reliability, and relevance of information, while focusing security restrictions on truly sensitive information. The complexity and sensitivity of counterinsurgency call for vastly better use of IT than has been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is a practical plan for just that.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4288-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Armed conflict has always made serious demands on information, whether regarding the disposition of our own forces and resources or intentions and status of the adversary’s forces. With the advent of modern information systems, the management of information on friend and foe has become one of the more important determinants of how armed conflict plays out. War-fighting networks have assumed corresponding importance within a military’s overall war-fighting architecture. The Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) information architecture for conventional warfare reflects that fact.

    Counterinsurgency, though, differs from conventional warfare in many important respects. Whereas conventional war is waged between dedicated armed forces,...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Influence of User Requirements
    (pp. 11-20)

    As noted, the purpose of this monograph is twofold. One is to explore ideas that are, if not novel, at least deserving of further emphasis in supporting counterinsurgency. Two is to develop some fundamental parameters to guide the development of an ICON.

    This chapter discusses information requirements in support of these two purposes. Consistent with the theme of the overall RAND counterinsurgency work, we conclude that a counterinsurgency is first and foremost a war “among the people.”¹ As such, it requires information about the people and their society if it is to conclude well. It also calls for ways to...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Registry-Census
    (pp. 21-42)

    This is the first of four chapters on the sources of information. The first two—how to facilitate and carry out a registry-census of the population and cell phones—mostly deal with information on specific individuals. The next two—on embedded cameras and a national Wiki—also collect fine-grained information in which the actions or opinions of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people are highlighted. This stands in great contrast to the requirements of conventional warfare in which information of enemy forces is all important and information on local citizens, who are best advised to leave the scene, of much...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR A Well-Wired Country
    (pp. 43-78)

    The ability to control the cell phone switch—and through it, the cell phone system—can be a tool of singular power in the search for information superiority. To demonstrate as much, this chapter outlines a systems concept of cell phone switch control and user registration, illustrates how such control can be used to facilitate counterinsurgency operations, and addresses issues associated with making the system work in the interest of the government.

    If, as noted, insurgencies are about individuals who choose to align with or oppose the constituted government in greater or lesser degree, then information about individuals at a...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Embedded Video
    (pp. 79-88)

    Embedding video capabilities into military systems—notably, but not exclusively, small arms—has two attractive features: It provides material for lessons learned after engagements, and it creates a record of such incidents so that authorities can pursue or defend against charges of weapon misuse.

    Linking the alleged use of force to video evidence is already common practice within U.S. police departments. Following the 1992 Rodney King incident, video cameras began to appear on the dash-boards of police cruisers. At first, these cameras were resented as symbols of the distrust with which police officers were held. Over time, such cameras became...

  14. CHAPTER SIX A National Wiki
    (pp. 89-104)

    Knowledge about the indigenous community is a critical requirement for both long-term stabilization and episodic operations. Indeed, almost 20 percent of the 160 data items in the Appendix require knowledge of the social, political, and economic structure where operations will be taking place.

    The normal way for militaries to get such knowledge is to send out intelligence operatives to look around and ask questions. Even in today’s information-rich environment, there is no substitute for this activity, but its efficiency remains little higher today than in biblical times—and such operators are “thin on the ground.” Even in Iraq, intelligence officers...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN The Principles of ICON
    (pp. 105-130)

    Prior chapters have proposed several ideas for generating information: the registry-census, the national CAD model, an expansion of the cell phone infrastructure with reliable links between the phone and its owner, embedded video cameras, and a national Wiki. Because naked information is of limited use, we have to then ask how best to make the material available to users. Specifically, what kind of information system should the United States employ to conduct counterinsurgency most effectively? How can the system best serve users (rather than some externally determined set of users’ needs)? How best can timeliness, reliability, and security be balanced?...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Implications and Implementation
    (pp. 131-144)

    Four core ideas have emerged from the larger RAND counterinsurgency project of which this study is a part: First, the main goal of counterinsurgency remains to establish government legitimacy in the eyes of the people whose allegiance is contested by the insurgency. Second, such legitimacy can be undermined by the large-scale presence and use of foreign (notably U.S.) military force in counterinsurgency, especially in the Muslim world. Third, the dangerous fusion of local-political insurgency, criminal activity, and global jihad—as seen in varying degrees in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Levant, and elsewhere—makes it both harder to establish government legitimacy and...

  17. APPENDIX Disaggregated Information Requirements
    (pp. 145-156)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-159)