Academic journal article Strategic Forum

What Is Information Warfare?

Academic journal article Strategic Forum

What Is Information Warfare?

Article excerpt


Is Information War (IW) a nascent, perhaps embryonic art, or simply the newest version of a time-honored feature of warfare? Is it a new form of conflict that owes its existence to the burgeoning global information infrastructure, or an old one whose origin lies in the wetware of the human brain but has been given new life by the information age? Is it a unified field or opportunistic assemblage?

Since March 1993, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum of Policy Number 30 (MOP 30) has set forth definitions and relationships that have guided the joint community in its thinking about the related concepts of information warfare and command and control warfare. As these seminal ideas have evolved, their definitions and relationships have changed as well. MOP 30 is under revision, and both higher level policy documents for the Department of Defense and doctrinal publications of the Joint Staff and Services are either in draft form or under revision.

In light of the unformed state of these concepts, alternative definitions and taxonomies for twenty-first century warfare are proposed:

1. command-and-control warfare [C2W];

2. intelligence-based warfare [IBW];

3. electronic warfare [EW];

4. psychological operations [PSYOPS];

5. hackerwar software-based attacks on information systems;

6. information economic warfare [IEW] war via the control of information trade; and

7. cyberwar [combat in the virtual realm].

To appreciate each on its own merits, the centerfold figure defines each form, lists their subforms, and assesses their use as weapons of war.

What Is Information Warfare? (Graphic Illustration)

Certain aspects of IW are as old as history: striking at the enemy's head, deception of all sorts, and psychological operations in general. Others, notably electronic warfare, reached prominence in World War II. The more recent automation of the command center has created more vulnerable targets reachable via iron bombs, and, against penetrable systems, through malevolent software. …

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