Academic journal article Military Review

Achieving Information Superiority

Academic journal article Military Review

Achieving Information Superiority

Article excerpt

MUCH LIKE the printing press in the 17th century, computers have become the catalyst for economic, cultural and political change on a glo bal scale. The global information environment (GIE) is characterized by the exponential growth of the microchip`s computing power, the availability and affordability of high-speed information technologies and global computer network proliferation. The US military has been integrating advanced information technology (IT) into its operations and now it is almost totally dependent upon computers, computer networks and high-speed digital communications.

Despite governmentwide consensus that the information revolution is having a profound impact on our society, the Department of Defense (DOD) has not fully articulated this impact in a way that provides clear guidance for military planners. Terms such as information warfare, information operations (I0) and information superiority have been used in DOD directives to address the operational and strategic importance of information systems (INFOSYS), both human and technological. However, confusion persists over how these concepts will advance our national security interests and, most important for the military, what operational, technical and institutional requirements they necessitate.

This article posits that the global availability of sophisticated IT will lead to a condition of sufficient equivalence with respect to US and adversary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), command and control (C2) and force application capabilities. It further suggests that the United States will attempt to resist the use of lethal force by applying techniques to affect the enemy's INFOSYS to achieve a political-military advantage. This strategy may change the way we use, or even preclude the use of, traditional force elements by shifting the central focus of military strategy from force attrition to GIE competition for superiority in the military information environment (MIE) that enables the accomplishment of national security objectives.

Further, this article discusses how the information revolution is likely to affect our military power relative to future adversaries, and offers a basic construct for thinking about how IO will allow the military to gain and sustain an information advantage vis-a-vis future adversaries. The goal is to attain greater understanding of IO's potential military utility and how information superiority can change US defense operations and strategy.

The Information Revolution: National Security Implications

How will the US military protect its political and economic interests in a world that is being transformed by the information revolution? As other societies assimilate advanced IT into their commercial affairs, they will also integrate these technologies into their military forces and planning. Unconstrained availability-and ever-decreasing cost of highly sophisticated sensor and imaging technologies and advanced communications and computers-will make it possible for motivated adversaries to essentially "catch up" with the United States' ability to "see" the battlespace and command, control, communications and computer (C4) ISR connectivity of command. Future effectiveness in warfare will be increasingly dependent on the relative capabilities of opponents to use advanced INFOSYS and efficient decision processes to effectively integrate the following political-military functions:

* Observe-collect relevant information and intelligence (RII).

* C2-use collected information to make good situational/battlespace decisions and communicate those decisions to their forces.

* Execute-conduct missions in support of national/organizational objectives.

* Support-meet manpower, equipment and logistic mission needs.

More important, potential adversaries will develop asymmetric strategies to corrupt US INFOSYS in an attempt to circumvent our advantage in conventional force application. …

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