Executive Summary

Title: Understanding Information Power and Organizing for Victory in Joint Warfighting

Author: Fred W. Gortler, III, Major, United States Air Force

Research Problem: To develop a framework for understanding information power so the United States armed forces can organize for victory in joint information warfighting.

31 May 1995

Discussion: We live in the Information Age, a time when information power is transforming the world. In the US, advanced civil sector technologies passed to the military offer quick, off-the-shelf combat applications. Some see this as a Revolution in Military Affairs; others say the US armed forces have not begun to understand information power and its impact on modern warfare. Meanwhile, as the US defense community debates the role of information in warfare, new information-age threats and enemies are emerging. States, even individuals, without traditional sources of military power, can threaten US global military leadership. To confront this new potential, the US armed forces must understand information power and how to organize for victory in joint warfighting. Perspective must shift from the Cold War to threats and enemies of a new era.

These are vexing challenges. How should the US define its role in an info-world where military and civilian issues blur, where enemies become amorphic, and where old structures can't keep up with new technologies? How must the US organize for victory in information warfare? This paper explores information power in relation to US joint warfighting. It seeks to advance the understanding of information power and proposes theater-level organization for joint information warfighting: specifically, that responsibility for existing tools of information power--command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence--should be functionally assigned to a single combatant commander.

Conclusion: Information power is changing the American way of war. The United States armed forces must develop a better understanding of the relationship between information power and modern warfare. The United States can organize for victory in joint information warfighting by assigning functional responsibility for information warfare to a single combatant commander. US Space Command is the combatant command most suited for this assignment.



Table of Contents




4 The Gutenberg Analogy 5

Section I

7 Defining Information Warfare

A New Paradox 9

Thinking About New Threats and Enemies 11

Military Application 13

Building on Experience 16

Section II

19 The Electronic Umbrella

The New Migration 20

Technological Revolution in the US Military 21

Integrating New Ideas 23

Obstacles to Integration 24

Section III

27 Making the Most of Information Power

The Mandate to Pursue Information Power 27

The Road Most Travelled 29

Redefining Presence 30

Section IV

33 Leveraging Information Power in the Post-Cold War Era

The Crossroads 33

Contrasting Nuclear and Information Power 34

Meeting New Challenges 35

Section V

36 Recommendations and Conclusions

Innovating Organizationally 37

Innovating Operationally 40

Innovating Doctrinally 44

A Concluding Parable 46

48 Bibliography

53 Abbreviations

54 Endnotes

Understanding Information Power


Organizing for Victory in Joint Warfighting

We live in an age that is driven by information. It's an age which Alvin Toffler has called the Third Wave. The ability to acquire and communicate huge volumes of information in real time, the computing power to analyze this information quickly, and the control systems to pass this analysis to multiple users simultaneously--these are the technological breakthroughs that are changing the face of war and how we prepare for war.

William Perry

Secretary of Defense


Information power is changing the American way of war. Secretary Perry spoke of information's impact on how America fights, of how the Persian Gulf War demonstrated that "information operations can determine a mission's success." The Pentagon's vision of future battlespace is built on a cornerstone of information power: soldiers "able to draw intelligence about their adversaries quickly and directly from continually updated electronic displays, then fire weapons from over the horizon without ever having to get close to targets." Other visions are more aggressive, expanding "traditional conceptions of military presence to include not only the 'physical merits' of air, land, and sea forces, but also the 'virtual' advantage obtained with space forces and information-based capabilities."

How must America think of information power to organize for victory in joint warfighting? This is a thorny issue. While most military discussions reflect consensus that information warfare is important militarily, little agreement exists on precisely what it constitutes. "[E]ach of the services has its own definition; none are exactly alike; and all are similar...." A coherent information warfighting strategy is thus unlikely to emerge. "US leaders need a roadmap--an azimuth enabling all concerned to march toward a common objective." At the national level, the President of the United States is considering a Presidential Decision Directive. But more is needed. Since the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, combatant command, or warfighting authority, was assigned to the unified commands; military services organize, train, and equip the forces. The Joint Staff's Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF), JCS Pub-02, establishes these principles for the armed forces. Therefore, the US needs a theater-level commander to plan and execute joint information warfighting.

This paper explores aspects of information power in order to foster a more precise understanding of its relation to modern, joint warfare. The paper proposes that functional responsibility for existing tools of information power--command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I)--be assigned to a single combatant commander so this power can truly revolutionize the US armed forces. Section I, Defining Information Warfare, begins to make this case. It defines information warfare by presenting the best definitions offered by Department of Defense (DoD) organizations at the unclassified level, and introduces the reader to new threats and enemies spawned by information power.

Information power is transforming modern societies. Why is this important to the US Military? Section II, The Electronic Umbrella, describes the effects of information power on the civil sector which are, in turn, migrating to the military. It explores the concept of a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), and seeks perspective for changes the US military is now undergoing.

The Global Information Infrastructure (GII), the systems of commercial grids and telecommunications sub-infrastructures that comprise the information superhighway, gives life to the RMA. Section III, Making the Most of Information Power, characterizes the GII and opportunities it presents for US warfighting. Equally important, this section explains why information warfare is larger than the DoD, more than just a military issue.

Information power poses unique, organizational challenges for the US military. Section IV, Organizing for Success in Information Warfare, transitions the reader from understanding information power to addressing how the US must organize at the theater level to succeed in joint information warfighting. To add perspective, this section contrasts information and nuclear power, and draws lessons from the US military's past. It also raises concerns about the fitness of our current military organization to deal with threats posed by hostile use of information power.

Section V argues that the US armed forces are at the dawn of opportunity for information power. Revolutionizing military affairs through information power is the sine qua non to global military leadership. Before it can revolutionize, the US armed forces must modify its military organization, as well as its operational and doctrinal approaches. This section concludes with a parable underscoring the challenge of changing one's perspective in order to consider new constructs. Only in this way will the US armed forces be able to understand information power and organize for victory in joint warfighting.


Information warfare has been a hotly debated topic since the Persian Gulf War. Leaders from the highest levels of our government and military, private industry, and academia have called for the President of the United States to articulate a national policy on information warfare. Yet four years after the war, when many glimpsed the potential of information warfare for the first time, its relevance to how America fights or her role as an international leader remains unclear. As a result, the concept of information warfare is hazy, and even leadership of the US military services offer divergent views.

Information warfare--applying information-age technologies militarily--is generally accepted to mean the competition between friendly and hostile information-based systems. The information revolution is transforming warfare as it has nearly every aspect of modern society. Secretary of Defense William Perry calls it "the ability to acquire and communicate huge volumes of information in real time, the computing power to analyze this information quickly, and the control systems to pass this analysis to multiple users simultaneously--these are the technological breakthroughs that are changing the face of war and how we prepare for war." Yet little consensus exists on the significance of these breakthroughs on warfighting. Those who would diminish their value argue the US military has long engaged in information warfare activities, though they were known by different names. For example, Allied planners in World War II relied on deception to adversely affect Hitler's information processes in an action that also provided protection for Operational OVERLORD's landing. But the US must be careful not to underestimate information power's significance. Information-age technologies hold the promise of revolutionizing our weaponry and the very character of war itself--but only if military organizations retool to assimilate information power. Viewed from this perspective, information warfare is not just a new name for the traditional military activities it encompasses; it is the recognition of an Information Age, a new era for both American society and its military, the impact of which can now only remotely be perceived and understood. This is why the debate on information warfare has raged without bringing critical issues into focus.

The Gutenberg Analogy

As we explore the information revolution and its significance to modern warfare, it is helpful to consider other breakthroughs that have profoundly influenced whole societies. By leveraging the mechanical power of a simple wine press, Johannes Gutenberg launched the first information revolution. His mechanized printing press spread the power of the written word--previously the domain of the privileged--to ordinary people. The result: mass education and literacy, first for Europe and soon the New World. Today Gutenberg's influence reaches nearly every corner of modern life. Electronic publishing takes Gutenberg's revolution to the next level, with paperless operation as the ultimate goal. Some doubt a paperless world is likely. Yet explosive popularity of the Internet, computer on-line services, and even the computerized grocery check-out signal the contrary. In a parallel sense, the Information Age offers America's military new opportunities to leverage the mechanics of warfare to revolutionary proportions.

The advent of the airplane is another breakthrough that ultimately redefined modern warfare. When closely scrutinized, aerospace power and information power share key characteristics. Indeed, information warfare appears to be aerospace power raised to an exponential level. Offensively, information power, like air power, can strike at targets across the globe. Travelling through the medium called cyberspace, information power is unencumbered by events occurring on the surface. As aerospace power is projected rapidly and flexibly, information power is projected through cyberspace's computers and telecommunications systems, connecting the world's communities through the GII. Immediate and relatively boundless, these are the key characteristics of information power.

If the armed forces successfully revolutionize information power for military ends, perhaps information power alone can create effect, the kind of effect we have traditionally produced with fire and steel on target. In this way information warfare promises to leapfrog mechanical processes through system-to-system interface. Warfare as we know it is raised to the next level. Applying the Gutenberg analogy, aerospace power can be thought of as the mechanical level of information power, just as the printing press was the springboard to electronic publishing.

If aerospace and information power share characteristics, then aerospace doctrine, refined through a century of aerospace warfare, may likewise apply to information power. Aerospace axioms gleaned from early battles of World War I, retried in World War II, and validated over the jungles of Vietnam and the sands of the Persian Gulf may offer insight into how the US should organize its armed forces to integrate new ideas about information power into military operations.

Section I:

Defining Information Warfare

Before US armed forces leadership can understand information power and organize for victory in information warfare, they must be able to define it. Yet, defining information warfare has not been an easy task for policy makers, perhaps because it mixes elements as old as warfare itself, like deception and psychological operations, with new technologies and applications. Or perhaps the very nature of information warfare is partly to blame. Since information warfare requires intensive peacetime intelligence operations, the US government is understandably circumspect in deciding exactly how federal agencies will weigh intelligence needs with the citizens' right to privacy. As a result, the term means a variety of things to different organizations.

The military services have each forged their own vision of information warfare and are aggressively seeking programmatic support within the DoD. At the same time, the military services and federal agencies, especially within the DoD, have embraced information warfare, and academic and scientific circles have eagerly contributed to the discussion. Even so, forging a joint definition or vision of information warfare has proved complex. Adding to the confusion, "other terms, such as command and control warfare, are used in related contexts, but they are also interpreted in varying ways."

Meanwhile, the pace of information technology continues to outstrip information warfare policy making. Here are some indications. The Joint Staff's Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, revised in March 1994, does not contain an unclassified definition for information warfare. In the CJCS' Joint Doctrine for Command and Control Warfare (C2W) Operations, Part II--Terms and Definitions, a definition for information warfare is deferred: "information warfare: To be provided by Joint Staff." The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), which has been steadfast in its efforts to build consensus on information warfare among the services, is obviously confronted by similar obstacles. More than two years since OSD's Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD/C3I) issued a classified definition of information warfare, only a "working unclassified definition" is offered: "Actions taken to achieve information superiority in support of national military strategy by affecting adversary information and information systems while leveraging and protecting our information and information systems."

Will all of this discussion ever meld into an information warfighting strategy for the combatant commander? Without consensus on a single definition, it seems unlikely that the military services will be able to fulfill ASD/C3I's intent. Even less certain is the prospect for information warfighting success at the US combatant command level. Yet while the US defense community may be hamstrung, advances in civilian information technology continue to migrate to potential adversaries, yielding quantum changes in both the character and focus of warfare. The Persian Gulf War has heightened expectations of the US military and the public for military operations that are accomplished rapidly, surgically, and with minimum casualties. For success in information warfighting, OSD envisions "the exploitation and disruption of hostile information systems, while protecting the integrity of one's own information systems and architecture. The objective of information warfare is to gain an information advantage--measured in time and space--to enable our forces to quickly overwhelm the enemy force." Like ours, the enemy's observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loops are bounded by factors of time and space (Figure 1). "When the US effort can increase the friction, it extends the time the adversary needs to observe, orient, decide, and act. If this effort simultaneously reduces friction and time for the United States, the military effectively will outperform an adversary in combat and will prevail in an engagement, crisis, or conflict." Failure of the US defense community to organize for joint information warfighting may place the US military in the same vulnerable position that OSD envisions the enemy will occupy.

A New Paradox

This is not about war by conventional means. This is about war by other means, and those other means do not wear a uniform, salute, pull a trigger, or even appear for muster.... Everything we ever learned about warfare, and especially about the difference between war and peace, between allies and enemies, between combat arms and supporting services, between CONUS and OCONUS, is out the window.

Robert D. Steele

President, Open Source Solutions

Historian and Congressman Newt Gingrich agrees with Steele. In a presentation to senior Pentagon leadership in Summer 1994, Gingrich offered that in the 200-plus years since the American Revolution, such incredible changes in military operations have occurred that Washington and Schwarzkopf would find little common ground. If Steele and Gingrich are correct, the US military may require an equally dramatic shift in emphasis.

Combat in the Information Age mandates that the US warfighting commander contemplate issues never before associated with warfare; information power poses so many new opportunities and threats for the US military commander. Unfortunately the warfighting organization built for the Cold War and adapted for success in Southwest Asia is not equipped for these new threats. Information power presents the US military with a new paradox that must be considered if we are to organize for new, relevant strategies: As the US armed forces become more reliant upon information-based systems, its information infrastructure becomes more vulnerable than ever before.

Information-age technologies shrink the dimensions of time and space, conversely expanding the US commander's battlespace to global dimensions. Offensively, this provides opportunities to strike global targets as if they were nearby. Defensively, it adds risk. The enemy is no longer confined to a battlespace for which control is completely within the purview of the warfighting commander. That many warriors do not readily accept this notion does not diminish its significance. The warfighter, the troops with GPS receivers, even our smart weapons share a reliance on a high volume of precise information. US forces in the Persian Gulf minimized the fog of war for themselves while maximizing it for the Iraqis. Should the US fail to grasp the wartime implications of the Information Age, it may find itself in the same position as the Iraqis in the next conflict.

Frederick Cohen warns: "When the fog of war hits the information infrastructure, the warfighter better be able to restore clarity in short order." What does this mean for the US commander? Absent a full range of concrete data, telecommunications experts provide estimates of the threat new enemies portend. Consider that 95 percent of US military communications transit commercial systems, and that teenagers regularly take control of these systems. Simple viruses have taken down computer networks for extended periods, and most military systems have the same vulnerabilities. US commanders must address the information warfare capability of the opposing force and also of "'information assassins' [who] are bringing a new level of sophistication to deliberate attacks. The FBI reports 57 countries are targeting Silicone Valley alone." "The threat is not the rag-tag teenage hacker, but rather well-organized and financed groups with clear objectives detrimental to national security...."

Cohen provides alarming estimates of US vulnerability to foreign information warfare attacks. He estimates that ten people with $100,000 to target the US Defense Information Infrastructure could disrupt it for a period of weeks. Twice the number of information warriors and $1,000,000 could bring the US to its knees for two to four weeks. With 100 warriors and $30,000,000, Cohen estimates the disruption to the total US information infrastructure would require a recovery period of several years. Since anyone armed with a modem is a potential combatant, the joint warfighting commander loses control of weapons in a battlespace with a new cyber-dimension.

The Information Age brandishes a two-edge sword. The US armed forces must define the threat, then organize for the opportunity.

Thinking About New Threats and Enemies

A popular cartoon hangs in several classrooms at the US Marine Corps University. A sketch shows the giant Goliath laying flat on the ground, while the much smaller David looks on, slingshot in hand. Inscribed are the words "He who thinks...wins."

The US must muster all with a stake in information power, military and non-military, to harness the collective thought capability if it hopes to win the information war. So many factors critical to victory in information warfare are beyond the commander's traditional forces and capabilities. When faced with new challenges, organizations, like the people that comprise them, are often tempted to turn to comfortable solutions. The services continue to think in terms of a battlespace defined by dimensions of time, space, and height. Yet, as Steele asserts for information warfare, "it is counter-productive to limit our discussion to arcane issues of 'space and electronic warfare' or 'offensive command and control.' The enemy is not just inside the gate, there is no gate, there are no perimeters, nothing is sacrosanct."

The US armed forces traditionally operate best when the threat is defined and structured. Threat drives acquisition, training, force build, nearly everything. Yet a vision of a defined threat--or even clear sight of the enemy--is growing increasingly elusive. With information power, the threat is less defined, less organized, and consequently, far more dangerous. The critical question then is whether the US armed forces are organizing, training, and equipping to support new, amorphic enemies. And while the Information Age has spawned new threats and enemies, it has not eradicated the old threats; North Korea is perhaps the best example. Battle in the Information Age will potentially pit the joint warfighting commander against formal and informal enemies whose activities may or may not be synchronized or even coordinated. Steele succinctly describes four warrior classes that have emerged:

The high-tech brute, with expensive armor and aircraft which require huge logistic trains to support, is the traditional enemy. While this enemy will be with us for decades to come, this is also the least likely opponent. The other three warrior classes require differing levels of investment which we have not undertaken: the low-tech brute, meaning the transitional criminal, the narco-terrorist, these represent the very difficult 'low slow singleton' problem for intelligence, and are especially difficult for the military to address because of their tight kinship and ethnic foundations and their unconventional aspects. The low-tech seer, represented by major cultural and religious movements, and including for convenience's sake massive groups of refugees spawned by internal disorder as well as environmental disaster, is another challenge which the military will have to deal with and for which it is not ready.... But it is the last class, the high-tech seer that is of concern to us here today; I count in this group both those who conduct information-based economic warfare and those who use information warfare for personal, financial, or political motives. The balance of power has shifted from organized forces supported by taxation and conscription, to autonomous electronic agents spawned at no cost in cyberspace, and targeted by single individuals against complex systems which are at this time impossible to defend.[Emphasis added.]

Like Steele, a recent report by DoD's Undersecretary for Acquisition and Technology forecasts dramatic changes for the US armed forces. "The world is fraught with destabilizing factors that make the threat to US interests ambiguous and hard to define." The DoD foresees operations other than war (OOTW), including combat and non-combat, as the predominant type of military operations in the future. Also like Steele, the report expresses concern for outlaw groups in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and associated technology that "pose the most complex and serious challenges that the US is likely to face short of war." Figure 2 illustrates the "continuum of potential military operations between peace and regional contingencies."

Before proceeding, it is important to define the boundaries of this discussion. Since information technologies have affected nearly every aspect of how America lives and fights, it is reasonable to assume that every major governmental and industrial player involved in these aspects may also have a stake in information warfare. Clearly, information warfare is bigger than just the armed forces. With information as the common denominator, the distinction between the civil and military communities in information warfare continues to blur. America's society and her armed forces now rely on the same base of information technologies. Warfare, traditionally the domain of combatants, may be a misnomer for the Information Age. Therefore, while accounting for the important non-defense agencies involved in information warfare, this discussion is limited to the impact of information power on the US armed forces. And for the US armed forces, information warfare is command and control warfare (C2W).

Military Application

Here's how to wage a revolution in the Information Age: two weeks ago Mexican government troops lunged into the rain forest of Chiapas state in renewed pursuit of the Zapatista rebels.... [T]he guerrillas melted into the jungle, leaving behind a few trucks but taking with them their most valuable equipment--fax machines and laptop computers. In retreat, the Zapatistas faxed out a communiqué claiming that the army was 'killing children, beating and raping women...and bombing us.' ...[T]he government...stopped the offensive and allowed reporters into the area. They found no signs of atrocities or bombing. But the government attack had been thwarted, and the rebels were free to fight on, with words as their best weapons.

A picture of a Samburu warrior from a remote, desolate region of northern Kenya was featured in a recent Newsweek article on the power of information. The warrior, dressed in traditional garb, held a spear in one hand and a cellular phone in the other. Around the globe, not just in the United States and the West, information power is revolutionizing military operations. In the US, DoD is grappling with the difficult issues of how it will leverage information power. Some consensus has been achieved.

Recognizing information warfare is bigger than the military, the Joint Staff has redefined C2W as the military application of information warfare. Effective C2W, according to the Joint Staff, combines the denial and influence of information, deception, disruption, and destruction to counter adversary C2 while simultaneously protecting friendly C2. From this definition, the military's charter for information warfare includes the two broad categories of offense and defense. A third category addresses the integration of information-age technologies with weapons systems, essentially making them smart. Butler et al... refer to these as information-attack, information-protect, and information-enhance.

With information-attack, the warfighter "achieve[s] the same precision kill as he presently accomplishes with precision guided munitions;" however, the target is the information system controlling an adversary's weapons and platforms. Many think of information-attack as non-lethal, or less than lethal, but this is only one dimension. Attack encompasses military deception, psychological operations, electronic warfare, and physical destruction.

Information-protect is designed to defend friendly forces and information sources. It includes operations security, communications security, computer security, and physical security. Since DoD continues to field information systems vulnerable to outside attack, protect may represent the US' Achilles' heel, a tantalizing soft target for virtually every class of warrior Steele describes.

Information-enhance seeks to provide the commander an accurate, comprehensive picture of the battlespace. "Information-[e]nhance attempts to clarify a friendly decision maker's understanding of the entire environment of the battlefield." The goal is to get the right information, to the right individual, in the right format, at the right time.

The US Army, Navy, and Air Force have each established information warfare centers to pursue these categories and their respective visions of how information power will revolutionize military operations. The services' intelligence organizations were among the first in DoD to become enamored with information warfare after the Gulf War and remain deeply committed. In fact, just as the USAF established its information warfare center in the new Air Intelligence Agency (formerly the Air Force Intelligence Command), each of the services have closely associated their new centers with their intelligence organizations. The Army's Land Warfare Center was activated at the Intelligence and Security Command while the Navy's was with the Naval Security Group. Each of these service intelligence organizations are Service Cryptologic Elements, linked to the National Security Agency which, by the National Security Act of 1947, was named the executive agent for US cryptologic activities. From these elements must emerge military applications of information power that will give the decisive edge to the US combatant commander in the Information Age.

Building On Experience

The successes of the air campaign in the gulf rested almost as much on organizational innovations as on technology. To speak of a revolution in warfare as a purely technological affair is to miss half the significance of the war.... The centralized control of air power made for a much more coherent campaign than would otherwise have occurred.

Eliot Cohen in Foreign Affairs

Like Cohen, air power advocates have argued since flight was adapted for military use that centralized control is the most effective way to employ air power. This, along with other tested air power doctrine, may be relevant to information power because it may provide insight to the best way for the US armed forces to organize for success in information warfighting. Why? Because as introduced earlier in this paper, air and information power share striking similarities. Also because advances in information technology are blurring the distinction between air, space, and cyberspace. Perhaps the emphasis on joint command of air assets is equally compelling when power in the fourth dimension, information, is considered. To demonstrate this, air and information power are examined on the basis of (1) characteristics (2) capabilities, and (3) targetting.

(1) Air and information power share characteristics that do not exist with land or sea power. As the USAF Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) Primer states, "The air covers everything and is one substance in which movement takes place irrespective of what is under the flying machine, whether land or water." Air power, like information power, can be applied rapidly, in a manner far less constrained by time and space than land and sea operations. Information power traverses cyberspace and can potentially attack global targets on a near instantaneous basis, in a manner even less constrained than air by time and space. Until information power, elevation was the unique quality distinguishing aerospace forces from surface forces. USAF Aerospace Doctrine identifies the vantage point of air as its distinguishing factor. "From their elevated positions, aerospace platforms have a broader perspective and, with freedom from surface constraints, they can travel faster, go farther, and move through a broader variety of motions than surface forces." But when one considers information power, the nature of aerospace power is no longer unique. Information power raises the characteristics of air power--speed, range, and flexibility--to exponentially higher levels. To be sure, information power stretches the limits of the vertical third dimension. Information power holds the potential for warfighting capabilities that diminish, perhaps eliminate, traditional battlespace boundaries of time, space, and height.

(2) Air and information power also share capabilities. Like air power, information power can "quickly maneuver over and past the front line forces to strike critical targets anywhere in the enemy rear area [and] can often contribute even more to the success of all the components and to theater warfare." Neither air nor information power are dependent upon geography. Not so for surface forces, which must divide the overall campaign or operation into geographic areas of control. Air and information power can be applied by "mission, campaign phase, and result."

(3) Similarities in character and capabilities suggest air power targeting is applicable for information power. Like air power, information power will be necessary to interdict lines of communication (LOC), the definition of which has undergone draconian evolution since the original concept. Consider that "the concept for lines of communication was developed in a time when communications and information traveled along the same land or sea routes as supplies, trade, and military forces." Information, however, is no longer bound to these routes. Information LOCs are served by modern telecommunications systems, whose computers automatically route information services over terrestrial and spaceborne links. The optimal LOC for information may be longer in distance, but shorter in time and expense. As the USAF JFACC Primer reminds, "the root to the center(s) of gravity may not be a straight line." "Instead of only opposing ground, sea, and air forces, we must now consider the opportunity to interdict information systems."

Section II:

The Electronic Umbrella

"...the world is united under this kind of overarching umbrella of almost instantaneous electronic communication: satellites and satellite dishes, CNN and all this stuff. But what's happening to the map--everything is Balkanizing itself as quickly as possible.... Everything is breaking down into smaller and smaller cohesive units under the electronic umbrella...."

Laurence B. Chollet

The United States and the world's modern nations are united and covered by Chollet's electronic umbrella. Construction of the umbrella began in the 1970s and has continued unabated, spurring technological advances so numerous and rapid they begin to appear routine. In the early 1990s, the Persian Gulf War was the proving ground for computer-based, smart weapons that delivered stunning kill rates and surgical strikes. The Gulf War was immediately recognized as the watershed event for the Information Age--a demonstration of information-age technology weaponized through reliance on computer-based information systems that drive strategy, planning, and operations. After the war, new vocabulary emerged. Information warfare and information dominance sought to explain the importance of information in modern combat. Pentagon planners were left enticed by information power and excited by its possibilities. Section I addressed how US policy makers must define information warfare before they can organize to use it. Section II takes these definitions and explores them within the context of the information revolution, provides specific examples of how this revolution has migrated from civilian to military sectors, and how, once recognized, the opportunities offered by this revolution can be integrated and leveraged for successful military application.

The New Migration

Information-age technologies have changed the way Americans live. Use of personal computers, facsimile machines, and even home banking and shopping services are widespread. Figure 3 illustrates the skyrocketing growth of computers on Internet, the backbone the of information superhighway. Nearly 30 million households use personal computers today, most of them "three generations more sophisticated than the computer that supported putting a man on the moon." Available telecommunications bandwidth doubles every 18 to 24 months, and computer processing power doubles every 24 months. Why are advances in civilian technology relevant to military operations? Simply because many of the same information technologies that make these modern conveniences possible in the civilian sector are changing how America goes to war.

Just a few decades ago, mention of civilian information technologies in a military warfare paper would have seemed irrelevant, if not ludicrous. Not so now, for several reasons. First, American society has traditionally benefited from spin-off technologies which migrated from military research and development activities. Now however, the American military is the benefactor, able to apply technologies migrating from the civil sector to military operations. In the Information Age technological advances are outpacing our ability to assimilate them. This is especially true in our defense organization, which requires time-consuming coordination for joint warfighting initiatives. Second, "until recently technological innovation was largely limited to combat and logistics; that is, to moving troops to the battlefield and sustaining them." Now however, modern militaries rely upon information technology to employ nearly every weapons systems in their arsenal--the same kinds of information technology upon which civilian societies also rely. As a result, civilian and military sectors often use like technologies to manage and perform quite different activities.

Applications for information technology in combat portend such change for the American way of war that the outcome may be impossible to predict at this time. In ancient Rome, the Emperor connected far-flung provinces through an elaborate wheel of roads, all spokes joined at the hub of Rome. Across the globe today, the information superhighway unites the world under Chollet's electronic umbrella in a way analogous to Rome's system of roads. In both examples the effects of time, distance, and even geography are diminished. The Roman Empire prospered as a result of the roads, but were ultimately defeated because the same roads lead back to Rome, offering avenues of attack to hostile armies. The view from the threshold of the Information Age is an exciting one, but as we organize to apply information technologies, we must realize that a world made smaller can bring our enemies closer to home.

Technological Revolution in the US Military

The form of any war--and it is the form which is of primary interest to men and war--depends upon the technical means of war available.

Guilio Douhet, 1921


What we set in motion is an entirely new era in warfare.... What is changing is the very nature of modern battle.

Gen John M. Shalikashvili

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Is the US military ready to leverage information power? In The Washington Post, Bradley Graham reported that "With growing emphasis, the [Defense] Department's top civilian and military officials are championing the notion that the United States is in one of those rare historical periods when revolutions happen in how wars are fought and how branches of the military are organized." The impact of information-age technology on military operations has been alternately referred to as the RMA or the Military Technological Revolution. The character of this revolution is evident in US military weaponry and doctrine. For example, the ability of combat forces to maneuver was once constrained by the limits of the human eye. Now, technological electronic eyes enable US commanders to plan and coordinate over-the-horizon operations. In the following excerpt, Alan Campen of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association illustrates how relatively inexpensive information technology provided leverage to US combat forces in the Gulf War:

Using a hand-held [Global Positioning System] receiver, a ground soldier could locate his position. Using a laser range finder he was able to obtain the range and bearing of the target for relay to an air control officer to provide precise target information for ground support aircraft. These, in turn, using their own GPS equipment, were able to offset their bombing instruments and attack with devastating surprise and lethal precision. Thus the effectiveness and safety of an $18 million aircraft could be enormously enhanced with a $3,000 hand-held instrument.

Many US officials and military strategists, including Secretary of Defense William Perry, cite the Gulf War as proof that a revolution has already begun. Others provide compelling arguments to the contrary. Andrew Krepinevich points out that "the Gulf War [provided] a glimpse of the revolutionary potential of emerging technologies and military systems", but argues the revolution has not yet occurred. As proof, he notes the war was essentially fought with forces trained and organized to fight the Soviets in Europe. "Neither dramatic doctrinal changes nor major new force structures or organizational innovations were demonstrated." Historical perspectives underscore Krepinevich's views.

Integrating New Ideas

The WWI Battle of Cambrai on the western front, 1917, offers similarities to both WWII blitzkrieg and the allies' unexpectedly rapid victory in the Gulf War. Using wireless communications to coordinate air and land maneuver elements, the British "overcame the quagmire of trench warfare and broke through the German lines on a 12-kilometer front within hours." The idea to integrate the enabling technologies of aircraft, tanks, and radio resulted in a mini-RMA of sorts, and undoubtedly influenced German development of strategies and tactics after WWI, which later became blitzkrieg in WWII. Regrettably, the British Army "squandered" the advantage offered by their "cutting-edge technologies," failing to exploit them with equally brilliant innovative concepts necessary to create their own blitzkrieg capability."

Though the term RMA was only recently coined, German blitzkrieg provides a striking example of what it embodies. Blitzkrieg would certainly not have been possible without its enabling technologies--the internal combustion engines, aircraft, tanks, and radios. Each of these technologies were available in WWI, and all major military powers had access to them. "...[O]nly the Germans used them to initiate new operational concepts and innovate organizationally." Therefore, the crucial ingredient in blitzkrieg was the idea to integrate them, to combine and apply these technologies to coordinate close air support and maneuver units.

Ideas were similarly at the root of the most dramatic military-technological applications in the Gulf War. By interoperating US Space Command's (USSPACECOM) spaceborne information sensors with the US Army's PATRIOT system, US forces minimized the effects, physical and psychological, of the Iraqi SCUD missile system. The Global Positioning System (GPS) enhanced operations on land, sea, and in the air. But clearly, US and coalition strategy against Iraq was not built on a conscious recognition of how information power could be applied. In fact, US political and military leadership were surprised by the lopsidedness and short duration of the war. "Their surprise was due, in part, to the fact that they had greatly underestimated the military potential of these new tools of war" made possible with information power. Likewise, the equally surprising clumsiness and missteps of Iraqi forces was due less to their lack of military power and more to their inability to access or even think in terms of information power.

This hindsight perspective of blitzkrieg is useful in determining the current state of the RMA. The Information Age has provided the US military with enabling technologies of GPS, stealth, and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), just as the Germans developing blitzkrieg doctrine relied on crucial enabling technologies. Yet the ideas to integrate these technologies came later or not at all, as did our ability to detect and kill Iraq's mobile SCUD missile systems. An information revolution has indeed begun. Like the British in WWI, the US has developed a dazzling array of technological wonders to be shared by the civil and military sectors. But also like the British, the US has not developed the new organization needed to truly revolutionize information power--really fuel the RMA. Many Pentagon staff officers contend that information warfare is merely a new name for military activities performed for quite some time. Perhaps some on the German General Staff felt the same way about the enabling technologies of blitzkrieg.

Obstacles to Integration

The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military is to get an old one out.

Basil Henry Liddell Hart

If ideas or the way we think is critical to revolutionizing the military, then the US armed forces may be facing a formidable challenge. Given Liddell Hart's observation about the tendency for status quo in the military, this factor can only add to a number of others that work against widespread acceptance of information warfare at a most crucial time. First, military service chiefs are already trying to adjust to smaller budgets, fewer personnel, and an increased operations tempo around the globe. Operations in Bosnia-Herzogovina, Iraq, and Haiti have highlighted shortcomings in force structure and combat service support. Recall the national debate on whether the US could respond to Iraq's redeployment to the Kuwaiti border in late 1994 while simultaneously engaged in Haiti. As Graham of The Washington Post points out, "While the service chiefs have expressed interest in studying the implications of the new technologies, they have sounded cautious about the pace and prospects for change and often argue for not losing sight of more immediate demands, such as coping with decidedly low-tech players in Haiti and Bosnia."

A second factor operating against harnessing the RMA is an attitude questioning the prudence of tinkering with a military that is currently considered second-to-none. Gen Richard D. Hearney, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, expresses concern about the Pentagon's emphasis on high-technology warfare. "Sometimes we get so wrapped up in this RMA technology discussion that we forget the basics like leadership development." Many at the senior level share this opinion, remaining skeptical that new technologies offer a silver bullet for likely threat scenarios facing US armed forces. In combat, warriors' lives depend on the capability of their weapons systems. So it is not surprising that most warriors probably have difficulty seeing how information power, in its embryonic stage, can contribute to combat success. A conversation with a US Marine Corps major, an infantry officer and combat veteran, illustrates:

There's not an extra pound on a ground infantryman's load to spare for this new gear. People who talk about hanging hi-tech things on an infantryman's helmet have just never operated as an infantryman on the ground. A sustainment and combat load already constitute minimum requirements, and you can't take away from that. In fact, we really need a reduction in load weight. Technology hasn't lightened our load. When I see a picture of the infantryman of the future...great concept but its got a long way to go. A lightly equipped combat soldier...face in the mud and gun barrel smoking...that's what makes a difference for me. My marines must be concerned with the sector in front of me. I don't see how information power as it is today will help me.

Though compelling, these arguments cannot slow the information revolution transforming societies and their militaries. Since the United States is arguably the most reliant on information technology for all aspects our society, we have the most to lose if we fail to harness the RMA. Electing to ignore the RMA is dangerous on two counts. First, other nations are pursuing their own versions of the RMA. The US armed forces, currently second to none, would have to step back in the line. Secondly, the nature of information-age technology places substantial power in the hands of individuals with the right skills and access to threaten our national security by interfering with both defense and non-defense information-based systems.

Krepinevich counts as many as ten military revolutions since the fourteenth century. Each of these holds historical lessons for nations who elect to ignore the impact of technology on warfare. Consider how many national powers clung to the cavalry long after it was evident that new, rapid-fire weapons had made the horse a terrifyingly susceptible target. Yet despite the impact of technology, most of what Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz wrote is still valid today. As Brig Gen Robert Stewart emphasizes, "It is the task of the commander to apply the principles in the face of technologies so advanced that Sun Tzu would have considered them magic." The dictum is clear. Information-age technologies will allow us to revolutionize warfare, but only if we are able to revolutionize our thinking. The nature of information warfare, overlapping the military and civilian spheres, at once provides the US with potential for powerful new weapons and significant vulnerabilities (Figure 4).

Section III:

Making the Most of Information Power

We should have an Information Warfare Summit.... Question: Who is doing what in Info War?

Merill A. McPeak

USAF Chief of Staff

18 April 1994

Many senior Pentagon officials voiced surprise when Gen McPeak, former chief of staff, USAF, established the first Service Information Warfare Center in September 1993. His question, "Who is doing what in Info War?," was penned to Air Staff seniors in April 1994 and resulted in a USAF Summit that outlined his service's information warfare strategy. Posed nearly eight months after the USAF Information Warfare Center was established, the general's seemingly vague question is symptomatic of the difficulties in retooling a large, complex organization. His question echoes throughout DoD as the debate on information power narrows to make the most of existing technologies for information warfare.

The Mandate to Pursue Information Warfare

C2W is the military strategy that implements information warfare....

DoD Directive 3600.1 (Cited in CJCS MOP 30)


[Command and Control Warfare is] the integrated use of operations security (OPSEC), military deception, psychological operations (PSYOP), electronic warfare (EW) and physical destruction, mutually supported by intelligence, to deny information to, influence, degrade or destroy adversary C2 capabilities, while protecting friendly C2 capabilities against such actions....[apply] across the operational continuum and all levels of conflict. (See Figure 5)


Information warfare is arguably larger than DoD, more than a military issue. A national review currently underway is preparing a Presidential Review Document for the Clinton Administration, underscoring that nearly all participants in the information warfare debate agree on this point. The lack of a national policy on information warfare has not suppressed the Pentagon's appetite. In December 1992, the OSD directed services to develop information warfare capabilities in a regulation entitled DoD 3600.1. Three months later, the Joint Staff's Memorandum of Policy No. 30 (MOP 30) provided policy and guidance for integrating information warfare into military strategy, planning, and operations. A new Joint Staff directive now being coordinated, JCS Pub 3-13 (Draft), provides guidelines to integrate C2W into joint operations and exercises. To the military services, these documents were like a starter's gun signaling the beginning of the information warfare race. Encouraged by the lopsided victory of US and coalition forces, the services seek to capitalize on Gulf "lessons learned." It is natural, even laudable, that the military services would so aggressively pursue combat initiatives that had proven successful. So it should not be surprising that each service views information warfare somewhat differently and has structured budgetary programs that reflect their distinctive cultures.

Unique service visions, lacking consensus of basic issues like joint terminology, does not bode well for the combatant commander, the ultimate benefactor of information warfare systems produced for military forces. As a term, information warfare is new: a new focus and new adaptation of warfighting doctrines and technologies. As already noted, the current DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, 1994, does not contain a definition of information warfare. The differences among the services "are great enough to seriously impair development of policy strategy, tactics, and program plans." Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 gives combatant command, defined as authority for warfighting, to the unified commands. The services in turn organize, train, and equip the forces for combat. As further codified by the UNAAF, JCS Pub. 0-2, the commanders-in-chief (CINCs) of the unified commands will be the ultimate benefactors of the services information warfare activities. At stake then is whether CINCs will be able to forge a coherent information warfare strategy from the individual service visions. It is useful to categorize information warfare by its major components in order to examine this aspect of military preparedness.

The Road Most Travelled

The GII is the information superhighway, the vast system supported by the world's commercial grids and telecommunications infrastructure. It comprises the web of electronic thoroughfares over which more than 95 percent of military communications travel (Figure 6). Tens of thousands of computers are connected to other computers, offering appealing opportunities and frightening vulnerabilities (Figure 7). GII is as vital to US military operations as it is to nearly every aspect of modern life in America including finance, mass media, communications, even power systems. The Internet, which has grown in popularity since the Pentagon built it in 1969, is a major information throughway. Interestingly, the Internet was designed not by high-technology visionaries, but by Cold Warriors concerned about communications redundancy in a thermo-nuclear environment. With the Internet as a foundation, the Clinton Administration is building the national information infrastructure, the network of tomorrow. As Business Week reports, "phone lines, cable systems, and high-speed data networks...would link CEOs and couch potatoes alike to one another." Now add the joint warfighting commander to this cyber-chain. Enormous implications become apparent.

The crucial communications zone or reachback, the umbilical cord that nourishes America's force projection capability, is recognized immediately as a lucrative target by the information-age warriors described by Steele. What was once the rear area becomes suddenly and globally exposed. As Steele describes, "The battlefield has flipped--the traditional front line is now a sideshow, and the rear area knowledge terrain has become both the Achilles' heel and the center of gravity for what Alvin and Heidi Toffler call 'war and anti-war'." As the strength of any chain is limited by its weakest link, so will the protection of the joint warfighting commander's rear area be limited by others linked to the GII. Now every major government and private organization occupies the role that major subordinate components (MSCs) have traditionally occupied. Only these MSCs are not operationally subordinate to the warfighter.

Lack of a national policy on information warfare inhibits US ability to harness the information revolution for military success. This means the disparate group of US players that should be cooperating on information warfare--the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the intelligence agencies; and now private industry--are not working together. Despite this major shortcoming, the military services are aggressively pursuing their respective visions of information warfighting.

Redefining Presence

Information power impacts the traditional concept of US military presence in the post-Cold War. During the Bottom-Up Review, the Navy argued that it needed two additional aircraft carriers to maintain a deterrent US military peacetime presence, convincing a President whose agenda included a reduction in the carrier force. More recently, the US Air Force offered up its aircraft, satellites, and other reconnaissance capabilities as a way of "providing both real and 'virtual' presence." Many warfighters, like Admiral Jeremy Boorda, chief of the Navy, scoff at this idea. "I don't know what that means.... I guess we're never going to have a 'virtual Navy.'" At first glance, the admiral's side appears most defensible and adds virtual to the list of techno-babble despised by many warriors. Clearly a battle carrier task force deployed to a potential adversary's coast constitutes serious presence. But the admiral's position illustrates the over-reliance by the entire US military on sunset systems and a reluctance to allocate dwindling resources to sunrise systems that confront non-traditional Information Age enemies.

Today the US armed forces must prepare for an exhaustive list of all-the-world adversaries. A careful mix of actual and virtual presence may offer the only route to maintaining cognizance of global US interests given the downward trend of the US defense budget. Further, putting all of our eggs in the actual presence basket does not address the information-age trend toward new classes of enemies and threats. Just as the US developed maneuver warfare to triumph over a numerically superior Soviet enemy during the Cold War, so could nations lacking traditional military and power projection instruments use information power and the GII to maneuver around US military concentrations and strike at the US homeland. When the Information Age was ushered in, conventional military power did not leave. So while we cannot discard elements of traditional US military power, we must harness information power and virtual presence if we are to remain the single global military power.

Information power is redefining presence. The US Navy (USN) recently unveiled a new system called Cooperative Engagement Capability, which links airborne and shipborne radar and sensing assets of a carrier task force. The system permits every ship's commander to see instantly what every other ship and plane can see. In its first test in Summer 1994, "the system enabled the Marine amphibious assault ship USS Wasp to shoot down an 'enemy' cruise missile skimming toward it across the water long before the ship's own radar could spot it." Of course existing technology already offers link-up with sensors that include the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), JSTARS, RC-135 RIVET JOINT, and even national systems, all far from the carrier force's location. We have already come to rely on virtual presence to conduct modern warfare. Clearly our vision of presence, actual or virtual, is still at the mechanical level, as discussed in the Gutenberg analogy. As Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, Director of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) at the Pentagon, says, "these are things you must do if you're going to get smaller." But the Information Age offers more: the opportunity to project power to distant points without physically moving instruments of warfare. The only remaining obstacle may be our reluctance to change the way we think about warfare.

Section IV:

Leveraging Information Power in the Post-Cold War Era

The Crossroads

As the predominant global military power, the United States is at a crossroads. Two revolutions--one caused by dramatic geo-political events in the post-Cold War era, and the second by awesome advances in information technology--form the junction. The two conspire to fundamentally challenge the American way of war. Recent American military experiences illustrate.

Twice since 1990, the US, with overwhelming military superiority and cooperative international relations, forced the legitimate government of Iraq to recapitulate. The US was not similarly successful in Somalia and is continually daunted by events in Bosnia. In the latter cases, Balkanization, a visible trend in international politics, complicated US efforts. The US did not have the luxury of dealing with a single legitimate government or power broker; instead, power was diffused among rival clans and ethnic groups. Now consider the synergy that occurs at the crossroads of geo-political trends and information power. Open access to information, traditionally protected within the confines of governments, is now available to anyone with access, regardless of societal position. The Internet does not recognize position or borders. As Balkanization diffuses political power, information technology can simultaneously place a volume of destructive power--previously controlled only by legitimate states--into the hands of potential enemies. The US armed forces must understand how information power conspires with political events and organize appropriately for information-age threats.

Contrasting Nuclear and Information Power

The United States exploits modern information technology more than any other nation. Information technology, translated into military power during the Gulf War, possesses unique characteristics that challenge the traditional concept of balance of power between states. The US can draw lessons by exploring how new sources of military power were assimilated in the past. Comparing air and information power in Section 1 offered insight into how the US armed forces can understand new technologies. Contrasting information and nuclear power underscores the responsibility of the US to re-think its military organization in this new age (Figure 8).

"IW technologies and capabilities are largely being developed in an open commercial market and are outside of direct Government control." This means new players can buy into the latest technology without incurring the tremendous research and development costs. Unlike nuclear weapons, which were developed in relative government secrecy, information power is out in the open. Indeed information technologies are being developed in the civil sector and are more likely to migrate to the military. As a result, information power can be developed rapidly and discreetly, and does not require rare assets which, when a nation seeks to procure them on the international market, offers insight into their capability and intent. Thus, even a developing state that lacks credible, traditional military power could have information power capable of inflicting damage on the information-dependent United States.

Distinguishing between civilian uses of nuclear power--like power generation--from military applications has traditionally vexed the US in countering proliferation of nuclear weapons. When we consider the co-mingled nature of civilian-military information technologies, this distinction becomes exponentially difficult. An ever-blurring distinction greatly magnifies the difficulty of identifying and tracking the intent of states to build information warfare capabilities. Information-age technologies challenge traditional military concepts and raise important questions. It is easy to envision US military response to a nation that fires a missile at Wall Street. In contrast, try to imagine US response to a trans-national actor who targets the New York Stock Exchange with an information bomb through the GII. This is more difficult perhaps because the US armed forces are not organized to respond to information-age warriors like Steele describes.

Meeting New Organizational Challenges

The US is challenged to react to new demands of a post-Cold War world while substantially modifying the way the armed forces is conditioned to do business. In the latest National Security Strategy, President Clinton described the nature of the threat. "Worldwide, there is a resurgence of militant nationalism as well as ethnic and religious conflict." Thus far, this paper is consistent with the President's theme, echoing concerns by Chollet, Steele, and others. In considering the post-Cold War world and information power, OSD underscores the major challenge facing the US armed forces. During the Cold War, the US sought to avoid global conflict, particularly nuclear war. The information customer was the National Command Authority, and information flowed from top to bottom in order to minimize risk of inappropriate military action. While our defensive posture must still address nuclear war, the likelihood we will employ these weapons is minimal. Our new focus is conventional operations oriented on regional scales, as highlighted in the National Security Strategy. The new information customer is the CINC/JTF commander. And the information needs in this case are radically different (Figure 9). In the regional scenario, the CINC/JTF commander "controls and directs events, carrying out the NCA mandate, with the implied understanding that no nuclear operations are envisioned and these remain the purview of the NCA."

Section V:

Recommendations and Conclusions

It is clear...that neither the US military as a whole, nor its allies, have established even the most rudimentary agreement with respect to concepts, doctrine, training, equipping, and organizing for information warfare.

Robert D. Steele

President, Open Source Solutions


Those who will employ our forces will plan for and execute deployment of our forces.

General Al Gray

Former Commandant, USMC

Growing evidence suggests that new military organizations and far more capable means and methods of warfare will supersede the military systems, operations, organizations, and force structures that dominated the Cold War. To maintain its lead in the Information Age, the US must truly revolutionize its military affairs. Piecemeal infusion of information-age technologies is insufficient. Such infusions certainly provided an overwhelming edge to the US during the Gulf War, but now the genie is out of the bottle. Others, nations and individuals, are pursuing information power. To revolutionize military operations, the US must radically change its organizational, operational, and doctrinal approaches. If the US military does this methodically, it will emerge from the revolution prepared to confront the formidable information-age threats posed by an expanded battlespace and non-traditional classes of warriors.

Innovating Organizationally

Information power presents attractive opportunities to US joint warfighting. The nature of information power is to gather, process, and disseminate data for informed decision making and execution--the role that rigid organizational hierarchies have traditionally performed. Just as information power is flattening business organizations, it can consolidate the staggering number of players required for the US to succeed in information warfare. To start, the nature of information power means its role in national defense is bigger than just DoD. This discussion recognizes that national defense in the Information Age includes nearly every major player in US government, business, and science. Moreover, the pervasive nature of information technology, demonstrated by the GII, includes players that have not traditionally been associated with defense. The focus here, however, must be limited to revolutionizing US military affairs. So while the import of other participants is recognized, this paper examines changes necessary for the US to succeed in joint warfighting. To integrate and synchronize information power with joint warfighting, the US must innovate organizationally at the theater level by (1) establishing a combatant commander with responsibility for information warfare, and (2) establishing the process for joint wartime employment of information warfare.

(1) Since the Gulf War, the Pentagon has substantially advanced its vision for information warfare. The debate on information warfare has centered within the Capital Beltway, predominantly in the Joint Staff, OSD, and service headquarters. Though sometimes acrimonious, each of these participants understands that information warfare must be planned and executed jointly. Meanwhile, to carry out their respective charters for organizing, training, and equipping forces for joint warfare, the services have aggressively pursued individual information warfare centers and visions for employment of information power.

The nature of organizations to resist change is well documented. For this reason, it is fortunate that the seeds of information warfare have been nurtured at the highest levels of the DoD. Now DoD's concept of information warfare has matured sufficiently and must be consolidated at the combatant command level. The US must assign responsibility for cyberspace to a combatant commander with singular, functional responsibility for command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) to revolutionize joint warfighting around information power. This is consistent with the Goldwater-Nichols Act and the UNAAF, which govern how the US will fight and capitalize on the nation's military experience that joint application of military power delivers the most lethal combat punch.

While the current fiscal and political environment seeks to reduce the numbers of commanders and staffs at the unified level, organizational changes to the existing USSPACECOM, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, makes sense for numerous reasons. Foremost, it assigns responsibility for information power--a fourth dimension--to the appropriate warfighting command, thereby permitting DoD and the Joint Staff to focus on policy making, and the senior service headquarters on organizing, training, and equipping forces for the combatant commander. This places the combatant commander in a position to establish requirements for information warfighting and to influence service acquisition programs, oversight of which now occurs by those with primarily policy making functions. Further, this organizational change responds to the impact of information technology on military operations. As its name implies, USSPACECOM focuses only on space. Though important, space is only one element of cyberspace. Like other sources of military power, information power is diminished when compartmented and penny-packeted. The combatant commander charged with C4I will be the focal point for critical interaction between US warfighters and non-defense organizations and will drive service acquisition processes through the integrated priority list as the combatant commander currently does with other warfighting programs.

In the meantime, CJCS' latest MOP 30 provides definitive guidance for DoD to proceed with C2W, the military application of information warfare. MOP 30 would appear to be the best work-around for revolutionizing information power, given the absence of a combatant commander tasked with the cyberspace mission. Yet several shortcomings are immediately evident in these MOP 30 excerpts:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is responsible to the NCA for providing recommendations concerning the joint and combined employment of C2W....


The Combatant Commanders will designate a single staff component to be responsible for C2W, designate specific points of contact for counter C-2 and C-2 protection where feasible, and ensure that subordinate commands assign responsibilities for C2W as necessary.

By compartmenting the information warfare mission within the Pentagon, MOP 30 ignores this nation's military experience that joint application of combined arms--and information power must be included--provides the most lethal combat punch. Further, diffusing responsibility for information power in this manner poses obstacles for the combatant commander in planning, exercising, and executing combined arms employment. As a result, the combatant commander is challenged to design operational art and orchestrate a truly combined arms campaign.

(2) To revolutionize military affairs in the Information Age, information power must be completely integrated and synchronized with traditional combat power. The rationale to elevate C4I to the combatant commander's level also mandates a joint organization to command and control information power during wartime. Similarities between air and information power have already been discussed. Information, like air power, offers unique capability, inherent flexibility, and support to multi-service operations. The JFACC concept, proven during the Gulf War, provides an existing organizational model for wartime employment of information power.

Innovating Operationally

The past had its inventions and when they coincided with a man who staked his shirt on them the face of the world changed. Scythes fixed to the axles of the war chariots; the moving towers which overthrew Babylon; Greek fire; the short bow, the cross-bow, the Welsh long bow and the ballista; plate armour; the Prussian needle gun; the Merrimac and Ericsson's marvelous coincidental reply. The future is pregnant with inventions....

General Sir Ian Hamilton, Soul and Body of an Army, 1921

The Information Age brings an abundance of inventions, the likes of which Sir Ian Hamilton wrote. However, the entirety of the US military services must invest in them if the US hopes to revolutionize military affairs around information power. Though each possess distinctive traditions and warfighting doctrine, the services contribute to some operational approaches which merely impede progress. Before information technology can be the fuel for a revolution in military operations, the services must transform operational approaches that would otherwise contaminate the mixture. Specifically, the military services must recognize (1) cyberspace as a fourth dimension of battlespace, (2) the primacy of intelligence in information warfare, (3) information power as applicable at the operational level of war, and (4) the criticality of a streamlined operations-acquisition interface.

(1) Blitzkrieg best illustrates that operational advantage in warfare goes to the nation that can use new technology. Faced with a new menu of non-traditional missions, evolving classes of elusive warriors, and a reduced operating budget, the US military must seek new operational approaches. Information power can help. An example is the use of USN cooperative multi-mode sensors to provide dispersed warfighting elements with a comprehensive battlespace picture. With certainty of Commander's Intent, these elements can contribute more to achieving the theater goal, thereby compensating for reduced forces. But far more is possible. Information power must be synchronized with traditional military power--air, land, and sea--to strike adversary strategic and operational centers-of-gravity at the onset of hostilities, achieving the maximum, combined arms effect. To achieve this, the US military must recognize the importance of battlespace's information dimension. Most warriors readily agree on the importance of space in military operations, especially in force projection. However, they are often reticent to recognize the larger domain, cyberspace, of which space is merely a segment. Instead of being dismissed as techno-babble, cyberspace must be viewed as an operational rear area, a soft-spot upon which modern US military power relies for information-based systems, but which conversely becomes a lucrative target for hostile actions.

The services must also recognize the inherent and appealing operational flexibility of information power to deliver a moderated blow or knock-out punch. Information power holds the same potential for the joint warfighting commander as non-lethal technologies used by the US joint task force commander who presided over the final withdrawal of United Nations forces from Somalia in March 1995. Information power also offers operational flexibility that reaches beyond traditional kill weapons for use in the non-traditional missions that are becoming more prevalent. This discussion has repeatedly focused on the non-traditional enemy, the trans-national actor or individual with the skill and access to hurt US military capability. As information power proliferates, the US must be able to project discriminate power against such an enemy, whose operations base may be in a nation like Iran or Korea, and which is unlikely to cooperate with the US. How would the US respond to an information attack by a trans-national actor against the New York Stock Exchange? We must prepare for such eventualities now.

(2) US military services must recognize the primacy of intelligence in information warfare, of effectively melding operations and intelligence. Information is the fuel of information-based systems, and modern warfare requires a higher volume of precise intelligence than conventional weaponry. During the last few decades the US Intelligence Community allocated the bulk of its resources to the monolithic Soviet Union. Now, the enemy has shrunk in size and capability, but has become more numerous and dispersed. The US Intelligence Community must be prepared to provide intelligence on virtually any nation, group, and even individuals. The potential target list is exploding while the budget to conduct intelligence operations is imploding. "The top targets...include countries such as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; subjects such as weapons of mass destruction and counterterrorism; and 'trans-national' issues such as Muslim fundamentalism and 'over-the-horizon' problems that might arise in the future." The trans-national actor, perhaps even an individual whose ideology is contrary to that of the US, could use information power to inflict great damage against a US military operation. Perhaps the implications are most pressing for the joint warfighter, whose battlespace, particularly reachback or communications zone, has been expanded.

Several countervailing events interact to challenge the intelligence community at a time when the services are looking for higher volumes of more precise intelligence to compensate for force reductions and decreases in service O&M. First, the complexity and breadth of the intelligence mission has expanded greatly. The old Soviet focus is replaced with what intelligence professionals call all-the-world. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, when the opportunity in Somalia seemed tailored for the new US role, military planners were dismayed with the paucity of information available. This, too, was the case in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. But information warfare places even greater demands on the intelligence community, demanding a high volume of precise intelligence which the community is currently ill-suited to provide. Consider the type of intelligence required by modern weaponry. During the Vietnam era, precise geo-coordinates would get fire and steel on target. In the expanded battlespace of the Information Age, this task is exponentially more difficult. If the US is to win an information war, the intelligence community must provide traditional intelligence, like an enemy's force disposition and doctrine. Additionally, information warfare must probe more deeply into an enemy's C4I infrastructure and the systems that support it. Probing the information infrastructure of potential adversaries--their hardware, software, and firmware--for offensive and defense ends brings new meaning to traditional reconnaissance missions.

Now more than ever, a high premium must be placed on all-source intelligence to succeed in information warfare. Von Clausewitz believed war was man's most complex endeavor. His thoughts are particularly prescient given information-age weaponry. Just as traditional combat systems require logistics support, information weapons systems need substantial information support. Information power requires a volume of precise technical intelligence that the US Intelligence Community is not currently postured to provide well.

(3) Similarities between aerospace power and information power previously discussed suggest that successful aerospace employment schemes may also be appropriate for information warfare. Joint and service information warfighting doctrine is only now being crafted and will surely undergo much evolution as it matures. Joint warfighting doctrine recognizes that once air superiority is achieved, aerospace power supports theater-level, operational objectives. "Air operations seek to gain control of the air and then to allow all friendly forces to exploit this control for military and non-military purposes." The desired end-state is one in which naval and land component commanders prosecute the Joint Force Commander's battle plan unimpeded by enemy air activities. While the maritime and land components deliver distinct contributions for joint warfighting, the nature of the aerospace component--capable of combat elevated from surface-level activities--marks it as unique. "Land forces can, for example, seize and secure air bases and sea ports to facilitate air and maritime component operations in theater." But control of a surface area is different. In war, aerospace superiority is a necessity. "Since the German attack on Poland in 1939, no country has won a war in the face of enemy air superiority, no major offensive has succeeded against an opponent who controlled the air, and no defense has sustained itself against an enemy who had superiority. Conversely, no state has lost a war while it maintained air superiority...."

Like aerospace power, information power may be most appropriately applied at the operational level. Finally, Chollet's description of the electronic umbrella should raise serious concerns about fratricide in information warfare. Orchestrating information warfare at the combatant command level should reduce the risk of friendly fire.

(4) A streamlined operations-acquisition interface that will keep pace with critical military technologies is required. We cannot hope to maneuver within the decision-making cycle (OODA loop) of our adversaries when we cannot maneuver within our own acquisition cycle. This point is already widely recognized, though broadly based solutions have not been forthcoming. During the last year, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition introduced Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs), which if successful, will serve as a model for the acquisition process at large. ACTDs seek to shorten the acquisition time between designing a weapon in the laboratory and delivering it to the warfighter, especially important to the complex nature of information warfare, and the security classification systems required to protect sensitive offensive and defensive capabilities. Additionally, information warfare capabilities should tend to be unlike those of traditional weapons systems. In both offensive and defensive systems, software munitions, once developed, can be copied without the expense of producing additional copies of, say, an aircraft.

Innovating Doctrinally

In itself, the danger of a doctrine is that it is apt to ossify into a dogma, and to be seized upon by mental emasculates who lack virility of judgment, and who are only too grateful to rest assured that their actions, however inept, find justification in a book, which, if they think at all, is in their opinion, written in order to exonerate them from doing so. In the past many armies have been destroyed by internal discord, and some have been destroyed by the weapons of their antagonists, but the majority have perished through adhering to dogmas springing from their past successes--that is, self-destruction or suicide through inertia of mind.

Major General J.C.F. Fuller, The Reformation of War, 1923

Doctrine is the set of fundamental principles guiding military actions in support of objectives. Outmoded doctrine typically yields disaster. Military history provides tragic illustrations: the French at the Maginot Line, the British at Gallipoli. Technology is setting the pace, and US military doctrine must keep up. Personal experiences at the USMC Command and Staff College are germane. One need look no further than this intermediate service school for evidence the US military needs to do more to support understanding of information power. The fact that few officers have been exposed to RMA discussions was illustrated when a naval officer in the audience requested that a guest lecturer, a general officer, explain the acronym RMA which appeared on the visual aid. The general, unprepared for the query, responded he knew little of the topic. Krepinevich is right. It is hard to conceive that RMA has occurred if our leadership, current and future, cannot recognize it.

All of our nation's fighting forces need information. Streamlined, organized, and smart economics mandate information warfare be a joint game. But again, the characteristics of the GII intervene to strengthen the case. Employment of information power must be considered in light of potential fratricidal effects. Remember, in the GII if you are connected to any node, you are connected to all of them. This holds important implications for both offensive and defensive information warfare, and the key to crafting appropriate doctrine. Service doctrine must consider all potential participants, defense and non-defense. Information power presents vulnerabilities that the battlefield commander did not have to consider previously. Greater emphasis on doctrine will help burn through the inevitable fog and lessen the friction.

A Concluding Parable

History may well record this time as the dawn of opportunity for the US armed forces. A time when US military leaders chose to take brave new steps to prepare for a new era of warfare. The mandate is clear. The US military must develop a better understanding of information power and organize for joint information warfighting at the combatant command level. We must shift our perspective on warfare, focusing on a new threats and enemies. In Proceedings, Frank Koch offers a parable that shows how events forced an unsuspecting naval captain to shift his perspective.

Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping a eye on all activities.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."

"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.

Lookout replied, "Steady, captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called the signalman, "Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees."

Back came a signal, "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees."

The captain said, "Send, I'm a captain, change course 20 degrees."

"I'm a seaman second class," came the reply. "You had better change course 20 degrees."

By that time, the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send, I'm a battleship. Change course 20 degrees."

Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."

We changed course.

The captain and reader are struck at once by an understanding that makes all the difference. So it should be as we contemplate information power. In an information war, the fog will be thick, the stakes will be high, and the chances of collision, great. By understanding information power and organizing for joint information warfighting at the combatant command level, the US can prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the Information Age.


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ACTD Advanced Concept Technical Demonstration

ASD/C3I Assistant Secretary of Defense/Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence

AWACS E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System

C2 Command and Control

C2W Command and Control Warfare

C4I Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence

CINC Commander-in-Chief

DoD Department of Defense

GII Global Information Infrastructure

GPS Global Positioning System

JFACC Joint Forces Air Component Commander

JFC Joint Forces Commander

JSTARS Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System

MSC Major Subordinate Component

OODA Observe-Orient-Decide-Act

OOTW Operations Other Than War

OSD Office of the Secretary of Defense

RIVET JOINT RC-135, USAF Airborne Reconnaissance Platform

RMA Revolution in Military Affairs

UNAAF Unified Action Armed Forces

USAF United States Air Force

WMD Weapons of Mass Destruction