There has been a great deal of speculation recently concerning the likely impact of the ‘Information Age‘ on warfare. In this vein, much of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) literature subscribes to the idea that the Information Age will witness a transformation in the very nature of war. In this book, David Lonsdale puts that notion to the test.
Using a range of contexts, the book sets out to look at whether the classical Clausewitzian theory of the nature of war will retain its validity in this new age. The analysis covers the character of the future battlespace, the function of command, and the much-hyped concept of Strategic Information Warfare. Finally, the book broadens its perspective to examine the nature of ‘Information Power’ and its implications for geopolitics. Through an assessment of both historical and contemporary case studies (including the events following September 11 and the recent war in Iraq), the author concludes that although the future will see many changes to the conduct of warfare, the nature of war, as given theoretical form by Clausewitz, will remain essentially unchanged.
Throughout the centuries much debate has been made over the practice of War, the procedures that create the circumstances which lead to its employment, and the questioning of its inevitability in the contemporary world. Traditional warfighting has changed in the 1990s due to the rapid development of ICTs, leading into a whole new generation of warfare. The military must adapt or fail. Exponential increases in the availability of information are leading to an era of cheap information available to anyone, anywhere and the emergence of Network Centric Operations. This will vastly change the nature of the battlespaces and the nature of war itself. This whole procedure goes under the name of “Force Transformation” and has as an utter goal the Dominance over the Full Spectrum of Operations. So, the question to ponder is “Can Transformation be managed and if yes, how?”
With the end of the Cold War, U.S. national security perceptions concerning “Who is the threat?” have been thrown into free fall along with those governmental and military institutions meant to contend with it. Resulting from the spreading chaos and ambiguity in the nation-state system, which stem from the simultaneous processes of fragmentation and regionalization, a new question now needs to be asked—“What is the threat?” Increasingly, national security experts have argued that gray area phenomena,“. . . where control has shifted from legitimate governments to new half political, half-criminal powers,” will become the dominant threat.1 Such entities flourish in the growing failed-state operational environment where a condition of “not war–not crime” prevails and nation-state forces operating within it find themselves facing a severe capability gap.2 These entities disregard Western based “laws of war” and “rules of engagement” and are not concerned about such conventions as “legitimacy” or “public opinion.” Of further significance is the recognition that we are beginning the transition from the modern to the postmodern epoch in Western civilization. Past periods of transition such as this have historically witnessed the two collinear trends of the blurring of crime and war, along with shifts in social classes, economic modes, and motive sources which ultimately result in the fall of one civilization and its replacement by another more advanced one. 3 During the earlier shift from the medieval to the modern epoch, three new forms of social and political organization developed dynastic- (proto nation-) states, city-states, and city-leagues—as competitors to the then dominant feudal structure,4 in tandem with the domination of the battlefield by the non state soldier. Ultimately the early nation-state form and its mercenary armies won out over both these competitors and the preexisting civilization based upon Church, empire, and fief. As the shift to the post-modern epoch becomes more pronounced, we can expect similar competitors to the nation-state form and our modern civilization to emerge along with the accompanying non-state soldier. One such projected warmaking entity, “Black,” and its advanced means of waging war will be discussed in this paper. It is based upon an organizational structure far different than the classical hierarchy to which we are accustomed. Rather, it is nonlinear in function, composed of informational paths analogous to webs and nets, and basic units characterized as nodes and free floating cells.5 Such an organizational structure allows for the greater exploitation of postmechanical energy sources, advanced technologies, and new warfighting concepts which will come to dominate what we will term “war” in the decades to come.