“From the first use of the telegraph during the Civil War to the first battlefield use of a computer, the Univac 1005... in Cu Chi, Vietnam, in 1966, armies have constantly struggled to be one step ahead of the enemy in knowledge.” Even one of history's greatest strategists, Sun Tzu, who lived around 500 BC, who wrote, “Know the enemy and know yourself” saw the necessity of information sharing in fighting a nation's wars. Former defence correspondent and Washington bureau chief of the London Times, James Adams, draws on two decades of research and intelligence to show us how information warfare (IW), and more precisely, the computer chip, has permanently changed the nature of warfare. The Next World War: Computers Are the Weapons and the Front Line is Everywhere is a study about how information warfare (IW), or war by other means (WBOM), will impact on the future of conflict. This book is a first attempt to frame the ongoing debate in the Department of Defence about weather IW is a panacea for success or merely a facet “subservient to the greater cause.” The Next World War freezes a moment in time on the information roller coaster so that we may understand how the national military strategy has evolved and where this nation is heading. There is no doubt that the nature of warfare has changed dramatically in the past decade. As former CJCS, General Colin Powell writes in an article for Byte Magazine, “information systems have become essential ingredients to success of combat operations on today's battlefield.” The question is, how essential are information systems and where does the common soldier, sailor, marine and airman fit into the equation? The premise for this book is that in order to win the battles of the future we must first “achieve information superiority and information first-strikes much like we desire to achieve air superiority.
Putting The Next World War into perspective “... coming to grips with information warfare... is like the effort of the blind men to discover the elephant: the one who touched its leg called it a tree, another who touched its tail called it a rope.” The Next World War circumscribes that the 1991 Gulf War was the “last hurrah” for conventional type warfare and, in fact, it was the catalyst for change. Smart bombs, the American's ability to black out power grids using Kit 2 Tomahawk's, and computer assisted Force Management System (CAFMS) data accumulators are all examples of how the information era emerged from the war with Iraq. The global conflicts in the post-Gulf War era depict what is threatening the US Military's ability to win the next war. No longer is there a major threat along conventional terms, rather, what is threatening, are information based processes. The media in Somalia was used against the American forces simply because the enemy understood the American publics disdain for casualties. As a result, Aidid mounted a strategic attack in the information domain. While his forces used low-tech walkie-talkies and talking drums to signal each other the obvious technology gap worked against the Americans. In the end, by killing 18 American soldiers and then capitalising on extensive media coverage, Aidid was able to force the US withdrawal from Somalia, even though the American military had decisively won the battle. Haiti, on the other hand, was an information success for the US. American forces used derisive e-mail messages, EC-130's carrying transmitters broadcasting pro-American and pro-Aristide propaganda, and other psychological operations to entice the enemy into not fighting. Soon after Haiti, the Americans enjoyed a diplomatic and military success in Bosnia, where electronic and human intelligence gatherers on the ground, in the air and in space created one of the most intensive and profitable deployments of IW capabilities ever seen. Given the outcome of these conflicts, IW is the “new queen of battle” and the commanders of the future are those that believe it?
The US is attempting to counter the threats of tomorrow. Recognising that networks are the battlefields of the future, the Pentagon has revolutionised its research and development efforts. The result is extensive training exercises with Appliqué (a wireless intranet for the battlefield in which information is transmitted to the war fighter via radio), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Arsenal Ships, and Micro, Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS); all of which are based on “Standoff” which means putting money into machinery that can deliver maximum punch for minimum risk to human life.
The information age has changed the nature of war. One may disagree that the next war will be fought by computer hackers, cyberknights and that dominance of the battle space is created not by bullets but by bits and bytes, however, it is difficult to dispute that the “infosphere” exists and that it will play, in some capacity, a very real part in the nation's next war.
The Internet, the fax machine, and associated computer software and hardware are the communications tools of choice for many citizens, not excluding terrorist and liberation groups across the globe. Cyberterrorism, telecommunications lawlessness, new-wave cryptosystems and economic espionage may be the preferred methods of attack on nations in the future. Technology that makes the job easier “does not alter the fundamental premise that any future war will still require large numbers of machines and men and women to fight and die to achieve that end.”
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