Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Chinese and American Network Warfare

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Chinese and American Network Warfare

Article excerpt

China published a fourth version of its white paper on national defense in December 2002. (1) The document received positive comments from U.S. analysts for its greater sophistication than previous versions and mild criticism for its continued lack of detail. Subjects addressed included China's security situation, defense policy, armed forces, international security cooperation, and arms control and disarmament. But there was a noticeable lack of attention to information warfare (IW) and information operations (IO), subjects to which the congressionally mandated DOD study, "The Military Power of the People's Republic of China," paid particular attention in 2002. (2) In addition, China's 2004 white paper failed to address IW but focused on the revolution in military affairs and the topic of informationalization, which was mentioned more than 20 times.

This 2002 white paper, however, did note that information technologies (IT) have helped stretch the battlefield into "multidimensional space, which includes the land, sea, air, outer space, and electron." The last term, in U.S. documents, usually refers to the information sphere. The form of war, the paper added, is becoming information oriented. High technology was listed as an acquisition priority, and 20,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable was laid in western China, while in October 2000 the General Staff organized a computer networking and electronic countermeasure exercise around Beijing. Finally, the paper noted that in 2001, many People's Liberation Army (PLA) studies and exercises explored the features and patterns of an integrated network-electronic warfare (INEW) concept. Thus, while not specifically highlighting IW or IO, information-related topics were mentioned.

INEW is worthy of further note. Earlier in 2002, in the journal China Military Science, Major General Dai Qingmin, head of the 4th Department of the General Staff, explained the concept, which he had first mentioned in the August 2000 issue of that journal. Parts of Dai's 2002 article contradicted the white paper. For example, he stated that the concept placed more emphasis on active offense, whereas the paper emphasized a traditional active defense focus. Dai equated INEW with IO, which the white paper did not, noting that it "serves as information operations theory with Chinese characteristics." It is strange that the 2002 Pentagon report on China did not mention this concept, a theory that appears to be a half cousin to the wildly popular Pentagon transformation concept of network-centric warfare (NCW).

This article compares General Dai's INEW concept with the U.S. network-centric warfare concept and highlights their strengths and weaknesses. Many issues arise. For example, both concepts evade the fog and friction of war, assuming perfect information and ignoring those problems at their own peril. Further, both are bathed in their own cultural environments. The United States used a business metaphor when discussing NCW. Dai, on the other hand, noted that INEW refers to an overall concept, method, and strategy for guiding IO, not a set of hardware and software or a single system, and puts "the wings of network warfare on traditional electronic warfare." Clearly, moving from kinetic to network-based warfare will be an interesting transformation as different nations look at new developments in their own ways.

Integrated Network-Electronic Warfare

Dai's 2002 article, "On Integrating Network Warfare and Electronic Warfare," noted several topics of interest:

* IO contradictions

* IO centers of gravity

* network weaknesses

* importance of IT training

* achieving information superiority

* definitions of information war and other terms, all with Chinese characteristics. (3)

Dai argues that information warfare is composed of six "forms": operational security, military deception, psychological war, electronic war (EW), computer network war, and physical destruction. …

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