WHAT IS INFORMATION WARFARE?
A summary evaluation of the various forms and subforms of
warfare asks: which are real, for which the United States has an
advantage, which are new, and how effective each might be.
(i) Which wars are real and which are theoretical
constructs, (which do not yet exist or, if it did, could stretch
the definition of warfare)? Specifically, which are war as commonly
recognized -- a destructive, extralegal struggle between two forces
for control of a state's powers, its actions, or its assets (e.g.,
Real forms of warfare include everything under C2W, EW,
IBW, and psychological operations against commanders and forces.
Arguable forms of warfare include psychological operations
against the national will and culture, as well as techno-
imperialism. Hacker warfare, information blockades, information
terrorism, and semantic attacks are potential forms of
warfare. Finally, simula-warfare and Gibson-warfare are
unlikely in the foreseeable future.
(ii) How would the United States fare against a
prototypical sophisticated foe of the future (e.g., a middle-income
country with access to global markets for electronic equipment and
The United States is powerful at antiradar and
cryptographic aspects of EW, offensive intelligence-based warfare,
psychological warfare against commanders and forces, and simula-
warfare; it has distinct advantages in kulturkampf and
blockading information flows. The United States is both
powerful but vulnerable when it comes to C2W, defensive
intelligence-based warfare, hackerwarfare, techno-imperialism, and
Gibson-warfare. The United States is vulnerable to
psychological warfare against the national will, information
terrorism, and semantic attack on computer networks.
(iii) The following table lays out which of
these forms are new in whole or in part. It also sketches the
effectiveness of each form of information warfare against its
Table 1. Information Warfare -- What's New, and
What is Effective
FORM SUBTYPE IS IT NEW? EFFECTIVENESS
C2W Antihead Command systems, New technologies of
rather than dispersion and repli-
commanders, are cation suggest that
the target. tomorrow's command
centers can be pro-
Antineck Hard wired com- New techniques (e.g.,
munication links redundancy, efficient
matter. error encoding) permit
operations under reduced
IBW The cheaper the The United States will
more can be build the first system
thrown into a of seeking systems, but,
system that stealth aside, pays too
looks for tar- little attention to
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EW Antiradar Around since Dispersed generators and
WW II. collectors will survive
attack better than
Anticomms Around since Spread spectrum, frequency
WW II. hopping, and directional
antennas all suggest
communications will get
Crypto- Digital code New codemaking techno-
graphy making is now nologies (DES, PKE) favor
easy. code makers over code
Psycho- Antiwill No. Propoganda must adapt
logical first to CNN, then to
Antitroop No. Propaganda techniques
must adapt to DBS and
Anti No. The basic calculus of
commander deception will still
Kultur- Old history. Clash of civilizations?
Hacker Yes. All societies are be-
Warfare coming potentially more
vulnerable but good house-
keeping can secure systems.
Economic Economic Yes. Very few countries are yet
Infor- that dependent on high-
mation bandwidth information
Techno-Im- Since the Trade and war involve
perialism 1970s. competition, but trade
is not war.
Cyber- Info- Dirty linen The threat may be a good
Warfare Terrorism is dirty reason for tough
linen wheth- privacy laws.
er paper or
Semantic Yes. Too soon to tell.
Simula- Approaching If both sides are
warfare virtual civilized enough to
reality. simulate warfare, why
would they fight at all?
Gibson- Yes. The stuff of science