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Institute for National

StrategicStudies


WHAT IS INFORMATION WARFARE?

MARTIN LIBICKI
Chapter 10

Summary

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., territory)? 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 engineering talent)? 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 likely defenses.

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-

                                        tected.



          Antineck    Hard wired com-   New techniques (e.g.,

                      munication links  redundancy, efficient

                      matter.           error encoding) permit

                                        operations under reduced

                                        bit flows.



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 

                      gets.             hiding.

EW Antiradar Around since Dispersed generators and WW II. collectors will survive attack better than monolithic systems.

Anticomms Around since Spread spectrum, frequency WW II. hopping, and directional antennas all suggest communications will get through.

Crypto- Digital code New codemaking techno- graphy making is now nologies (DES, PKE) favor easy. code makers over code breakers.

Psycho- Antiwill No. Propoganda must adapt logical first to CNN, then to Warfare Me-TV.

Antitroop No. Propaganda techniques must adapt to DBS and Me-TV.

Anti No. The basic calculus of commander deception will still be difficult.

Kultur- Old history. Clash of civilizations? kampf

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 Warfare flows.

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 computer files.

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 warfare fiction.

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