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Institute for National

StrategicStudies


WHAT IS INFORMATION WARFARE?

MARTIN LIBICKI

Chapter 2

Seven Forms in Search of a Function

Seven forms of information warfare vie for the position of central metaphor: command-and-control (C2W), intelligence-based warfare (IBW), electronic warfare (EW), psychological warfare (PSYW), hacker warfare, economic information warfare (EIW), and cyberwarfare. Note 4

As Anne Wells Branscomb has pointed out, "in virtually all societies, control of and access to information became instruments of power, so much so that information came to be bought, sold, and bartered by those who recognized its value." Note 5 Branscomb could have added, stolen and protected as well. This essay examines information warfare as the struggle over information processes rather than the efforts made to acquire information. Although the information systems required to manage logistics are substantial, they enter into information warfare only if and when an opponent targets the logistics information system to degrade it; similarly, weather collection systems enter information warfare only if they are subject to attack. By contrast, IBW systems are part of information warfare because they are used to read a target that would avoid being read and that often has ways (e.g., cover, concealment, and deception) to distort readings at the source.

The critical aspects of information warfare are information denial (or distortion) and its counterpart, protection. C2, EW, hacker war, and information blockade clearly fit into this definition. IBW may be included, insofar as attacks on the instruments and integrity of collection systems become important to conventional operations. Psychological warfare also is about denial, in the sense that elevating one perception usually subjugates its opposite (e.g., a nation is either friendly or hostile). Cyberwarfare fits, too, as a grab bag in which warfare and information are jumbled.

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