It is not possible to talk about Information Warfare without a brief discussion of the conditions which brought about its emergence. These conditions arise from the change in computer technology with its resulting impact on organization and decision making processes. The economics of computer production account for the lowering of cost and increased power account for the rapid spread of computer technology. In no other technical area is the cost of the required basic building block decreasing while at the same time increasing in performance in such a dramatic way. Many of the advances are being driven by the commercial needs of world wide market competition. The results of these developments can be brought to bear on Defense and Governmental efforts and activities as they pertain to conflict resolution, crisis management and military activities.
Some aspects of military information technology, however, will not be feasible without some DND R&D support and participation. Specifically long range communication, operation in harsh and hostile environments, identification of friend from foe, global positioning, imagery and visualization, network security, data and information fusion, and unique decision support tools and systems. These areas need to be further developed by DND if we want to be able to maintain world wide near real time awareness and participation in the full range of conflict resolution activities.
The computer has been in existence for more than 40 years. It has gone through four major architectural transformations. The type of control that they exercise upon processes have taken several forms. Each being more complex that the other. There has been a diffusion of control as the system have evolved. From a unique centrally control monolithic approach to a more democratic “peer to peer” collegiate type of control. Computers architecture have gone through the "Batch Processing" architecture, the "Time Sharing", the "The Desk Top" and now finally to the "Network" phase. This latest model will dominate and subsume all the others as the most efficient structure for controlling information processing. Naturally there will be further innovations as networks become pervasive and ubiquitous but the network model will be the one that will dominate the computing paradigm for years to come. Changes will have more to do with quantitative improvements rather than in the development of a radically new type of control structure. Intelligent and cooperative information systems using software agents are seen as the way to resolve the present problems of localized data dictionary and information model incompatibility. These harmonization efforts are focused on achieving "semantic interoperability". But this issue has more to do with ensuring common interpretation of the data - the “meaning” problem- that the structural one on which network control is firmly established. The spread of the networks is an indication of its success.
The development of the network also results in significantly different structure and pattern of problem solving work. Computer information networks break down strict hierarchies structures and organizational boundaries. It helps create virtual and distributed organizations focused more on the design and delivery of value added products and services. Mostly because “process” activities are taken care of by the computer information infrastructure and the network itself. Virtual workgroups concentrate their effort on the earlier phases of planning and problem solving The work they do may or may not be part of the vision, mission, or mandate of the host organizations in which these individual work but come together because of the importance of the problems at hand for example a crisis, environmental issues, human rights, conflicts, etc.). These temporary organizations can mobilize a great quantity of resources and synchronize activities very successfully as they are more focused on the problem than the maintenance over time of a permanent organizational structure.
At present, military organizations spend a major portion of their resources developing these coordinating capabilities. The present emphasis on Joint and Combined capabilities is long overdue, however, in wanting to achieve this coordination and synchronization, the present main focus of effort has been on trying to centralize control more than trying to put in place a new integration and coordination mechanisms. The present approach to Command and Control Information System interoperability through common standards indicates that the thought process and the push is still strictly aimed at a technology driven solution. As important that this is, there is still need for a command structure reengineering effort that permits faster decision cycles and a better integration of all the military information production elements such as Ops, Plans, Intelligence and Logistic Support. This coordination activity must includes central organizational elements such as Personnel, and Finance as well as the counterpart capabilities components of each of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The concomitant change that comes for accepting the Information Warfare framework is the requirement for a Command and Control Process Reengineering effort.
The military operating in an advanced computing environment would have the following essential elements:
Information is a strategic asset, however information is only one level of structure in an representational epistemological hierarchy. Information is organized data and data bases are prime repositories of data. They are structured in accordance with a ontological model called the data dictionary that enables a user to derive meaning from its contents. Not wanting to create an academic debate on the subject, suffice it to say that "knowledge is information organized for a particular purpose". [Nagao] It is the way information relates to other information that is of consequence to the discussion at hand. Furthermore, this knowledge may be returned into information databases becoming data for other information structuring processes. It is important to realize that Information Warfare is in part an issue of Knowledge Management. In itself information has no real value, it is the meta management issues that derive its worth to the problem at hand these meta- management issues can be regrouped under the heading of Knowledge Management.
As network technology matures differentiation and specialization of its components occur. Data-warehousing and massive archiving are now the problems of the day. Large organizations are starting to focus on the problems of storing and retrieving vast amounts of information. These massive data sets are being called different names such as Corporate Memories, Tactical Databases and Military Datasets. At the rate information is being produced and stored new data and information storage capabilities are now seen as the weak point in the modern networked information systems architecture. This problem encompass full life cycle issues such as the cost of capturing storing retrieving and distributing data and information.
Information manifests the "What is happening", knowledge personalizes "what does it mean" from the strict point of view of a single observer with his or her specific interests and needs. The same information means different things to different people depending on the context. It is the creation of this context that is the central point of knowledge management. Knowledge Management addresses the problem of “relevance” or “pertinence” quality that information might or might not have with regard to other information. The same piece of information such as personnel status, depending on the context, could be of organizational, tactical, operational, or strategic importance. To make sense of vast amounts of information, to create the context by with this information becomes pertinent, that it means something to the user, it is necessary to use a schematization or a model that help highlight the nature of the relationships between this piece of information and another piece of information. These models, for example a series of tactical decision aids, also need to be managed as a unique critical component of the overall information system. Therefore there is now a clear requirement for Knowledge Management.
Knowledge Management presupposes that there is a sufficient level of modularity in the system so that data the models and schema ( knowledge structuring processes) can be managed independently from the data. Data repositories would be separated from the query and search processes. It gives us the possibility to develop very sophisticated "intelligent assistants" such as an Anti Submarine Warfare Officer or a Navigation Officer. It must be understood that managing these models (expert paragon) would help truly confer to the system its effectiveness, whereas managing information confers only efficiencies.
Knowledge Management is still in its infancy refers to the problems associated with the creation, transformation, storage, usage, and replacement of highly complex models and computational structures that create meaning in an organizationally formalized way . Knowledge Management is arising as the focus of the next generation of software tools. At present this is yet to be fully structured but the figure illustrates the present supporting technologies.
Figure 2 Knowledge Management Supporting Technologies
Having access to lots of information does not guarantee success. In all military estimates, the most important question is “What Does It Mean"?. The knowledge workers - the problem domain experts - are required to "make sense" of all that information. It is their insight into the problems that will permit effective action. Knowledge is power only if it is acted upon. Domain specialists are the people in the field, but their capabilities are limited and their skills uneven.
Some people make good decisions are good while others are low on the learning curve. These decision making skills can be enhanced by systematic Knowledge Management. Three main functions need to be accomplished to enable any organization to pass from the level of simple artisans to having knowledge enabled workers as shown in figure 3. These are, Knowledge Formalization, Knowledge Abstraction and Knowledge Diffusion.
Figure 3 Knowledge Enable Organization
Capturing and replicating the best models and processes will help to increase the quality of the decision making processes. Case Base Reasoning Systems have proven invaluable in the area of Crisis Management. By capturing past cases and making them available to other users in support of decisions increases the number of options available to all decision makers and improves overall organizational performance. This even if the actual crisis has only some general similarities to past crises. This type of approach automates the "lessons learned" and makes them available to a user when similar conditions occur. Years of experience as well as the most recent policies and guidelines are made available based on the similarities between past cases and actual cases.
The origin of global networks can be debated. Some authors might say that it is international banking that was the first true global network. Some international companies have developed very extensive communication and transaction systems. World markets are seen as the reason for this globalization. However, in looking at the these examples of global networks they pale in comparison to the rise of the Internet. There is no system that reflects the democratization of information the way the Internet does. It is also known historically that communication transforms humanity. The use of computers for international communication will further enhance and expand how humans connect, communicate and create communities. This bring with it new dimensions in world affairs.
Some thirty years ago, the RAND Corporation, a think-tank, faced the question on how the US authorities would communicate after a nuclear war. How would the network itself be commanded and controlled as any central authority would be a target for an enemy missile.
The RAND proposal, made public in 1964, proposed a network with no central control and which would be designed to operate even with nodes destroyed. The proposal was to create a network built with unreliable elements but still could ensure that the total system would be reliable. All the nodes would communicate in a peer to peer fashion, each having the right to originate, pass, and receive messages. The messages themselves would be divided into packets and each packet would be separately addressed. Each packet would begin at some specified source node, and end at some other specified destination node without any requirement to specify the route to get there. Each packet would wind its way through the network on an individual basis with the total message being reconstructed at the end of the trip. If a node failed the packets would simply find another route to their destination. This structure became the foundation of the present system, Arpanet, which over time became the Internet.
It is strange to say but nobody really knows the full extent of the Internet. There are estimates as to its size and growth. At present, April 1995, there are approximately 8 million host computers and between 10 and 50 million users connected to them. It's growth is truly an exponential curve. It's nodes doubled in the last year. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the total data that passed through the Internet Web service in 1992 was 500 MB. By comparison, the total data that was transmitted over the Web from January to March of 1993 was about 5 GB. The Total amount of data sent over the Web in a six hour period in September 1994 was 13 GB.
At present some say that the Internet population grows presently by 10 to 15 percent every month and doubles every 53 days; other say that by 2000 there will be as many as 100 million servers connect to the Net. The latest figures indicate that the Internet market (software, hardware and services) is worth approximately $4.2 billion US.
Figure 4 Growth of Global Networks
With the availability "Internet Ready" operating systems and free Internet browsing software, there is a situation that is so dynamic that predictions on the growth of the Internet and the resulting social effects are difficult to make. Furthermore, with new services such as video conferencing, digital cash, public key encryption, cybermalls, and virtual libraries being available throughout the system, there is difficulty in grasping fully the true extent of what an information based society is becoming. With simple access to global network organizations are shifting their focus away from the technology towards its social consequences. Its impact is now seen in the realignment of economic and social dynamics. All commercial organizations are forced to enter a truly global market place and with it the requirement to think and act both at a global level as well as a local level.
There is a large discussion on the question of the true nature of communities that exists solely on the basis of the Internet. Non withstanding the debate, the ability to share common interests is sufficient for the Internet to bring together like minded individuals and organizations in such a fashion that forces us to review our concept of community.
The traditional interpretation of community includes a geographical aspect. But the Internet has no limitation that comes from geography nor national borders. A new type of communities are emerging that have the characteristic of being part of a global society - more accurate would be to talk about global societies. This further accelerated the growth of the Internet. At present no one would think of participating in any computer activity without being part of the Internet. Furthermore, not only for discussion of technical subjects these global societies, are also exemplified by a number of Non Governmental Organization (NGO) movements, interest groups, environmental organizations etc that find their leitmotif in social advocacy. In fact they are now a force in international relations, particularly with regard to crisis management, political concerns, and social issues such as human rights, and the environment simply because of their internet enabled organization and structure. Finally the Internet itself is an proposal for universal value and an open society
Discussion groups, or newsgroups, reflect focused discussions that occur within different communities. This is a world of news, debate and argument. It is generally known as the USENET. USENET is, in point of fact, quite different from the Web. USENET is rather like communities streams of consciousness reflecting on the subjects of the moment. USENET is not so much a physical network as a set of social meetings. At the moment there are some 3,500 separate newsgroups on USENET, and their discussions generate about 7 million words of typed commentary every day. Naturally there is a vast amount of talk about technology but the variety of subjects discussed is enormous and growing larger all the time. USENET also distributes various free scientific, social, and cultural electronic journals and publications.
As a consequence, global networks can enable the sharing of collective goals, aims and ideals, and permit the exchange relevant information amongst members. It also favors collective decision making by means of consensus and reciprocal relationships to meet the social, economic, cultural and world- wide problems of living in a what has become the Information Age. This positive scenario must be tempered with the fact that counter-forces will also come into play. A rise of organizations that favor dogmatism will also try to take advantage of global networks to further their specific aims and objectives. Already there are clear indications that tensions between opposing groups have resulted in benign forms of “netwar” such as the disrupting of phone, Fax and computer services. Furthermore they are passing from an individual to individual level to group to group level. This trend will continue with in some cases devastating consequences when some groups will use the power of the network to impose their control over other groups. They can use the network and its ability to leverage knowledge and power to restrict, control, manipulate and destroy other communities. Especially is these communities are dependent on the Internet as part of their infrastructure.
To balance out this perspective it is also important to acknowledge that the increased communication flows between individuals of differing communities, in addition to the official and sanctioned communication flows between governments, is seen as another way to reduce tensions between opposing groups. There is even a suggestion that putting in place rapidly an information infrastructure that is accessible by all, (not jut official or governmental decision makers) will reduce tension as more and more people communicate and resolve contentious issues1.
For many the sheer existence of the Internet is still a paradox. Why permit the give-away of so much information? It is seen as a gesture that would defeat the underlying competitive motivation that has been the motor of western civilization. Clearly the breaking down of organizational boundaries and the emergence of new types of loyalty and allegiances relationships between individuals and organizations introduces new modes of behavior. More and more individuals share their affiliation and loyalty between a number of organizations, some of which have diverging agendas (for example we may all deal with environmental organizations, political parties, private corporations and government). However, in large economic markets an overall cooperative stance and strategy are more rational and leverage additional benefits than conflictual situation (as illustrated by recent game theory studies)2. Also, at the present, time there is very little cost in respect of the benefits of being part of a network such as the Internet.
Since each node is independent, handle its own financing and technical requirements, connecting to the Internet costs little or nothing if the organization you belong to is part of a network. Like the phone network, the computer network becomes steadily more valuable as it embraces larger and larger territories of people and resources. The more it grows the more it attracts and forces other users and networks to become part of it. The Internet was a novelty for a while, but networking is now an essential component of all social activities in all developed societies. Furthermore it is now a prerequisite to growth and development as well as maintenance of a quality of life.
Raw resources such as capital are becoming less and less a limiting factor in the production of goods and services as better processes improve our ability to substitute one component for another. Every day we witness whole sectors of the economy realign themselves to this constraint as automation leverages more and more economic output and displaces traditional production structures. We are now at a point where we can substitute information and knowledge for capital. The old adage "knowledge is power" is still true. Data, information or knowledge become readily available in a digital society. Open sources of intelligence as well as the emergence of the commercially driven Competitive Intelligence activities make data and information accessible to all. However it is the application of that information and knowledge that makes the real difference.
So it is not acquisition of knowledge for its own sake which is the goal, rather it is its innovative use that permits the creation of new capabilities. The military must understand that knowledge management is intended to support and spread innovation. What “one knows” rather than what “one owns” becomes the basis for social, political and economic action. And this power can be leveraged several times by embedding this information and knowledge into smart technology.
One new dimension of technology and the network in particular is to act as a multiplier or an amplifier. As Electrical and mechanical systems amplify force, now network amplifies information. For the individual this means that in the network he can have the same capacity as larger organizations in the accomplishment of functions such as acquisition of information, distribution, storage etc. This can be done by an individual with using the network with a scope and expertise that rival what only governments and large corporations use to be able to do.
In many respects, this single capability to access and process vast amounts of information changes how public policy is developed. Access to statistical and demographic information has always a factor in how public policy has been determined. But now this same capability is being used by individual, and organizations to challenge government.
As information technology becomes more and more powerful, available and generic, the historical separation between organizational computer information systems and military computer information system will no longer be possible. The traditional classification of information systems based on specific intentions, and unique functionality can no more be applied. The traditional Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and Management Information Systems (MIS) on one hand, and operational and embedded mission systems on the other, will be subsumed an morphed into strategic information systems under the pressures and demands for information integration and system interoperability. Both outside and in DND there are important and powerful "tendances lourdes" - technical and functional trends that will condition and ultimately determine the nature of the evolution of our information systems. We will observe and experience several types of convergence:
In a few years there will be little difference between information systems in the field and the ones in the office. Apart for differences in packaging, the hardware, the processor, and the communication interfaces will be similar if not the same. Systems can no longer be differentiated by hardware. Furthermore, most Office Automation (OA) software suites will be universal and will all have the same generic functions. The networks themselves, by virtue of their ability to interconnect will carry both organizational and operational information. In fact these networks will also support Other Government Departments (OGD) traffic.
Already there is a convergence towards unique military structure that will permit information to flow to and fro between the headquarters blending systems that had their initial purpose only by a geographical scope. As there will be in both cases to possibility to "see" the same data. The information systems will be both capable of global and local views. The possibility to "zoom in and out" or drilling into and out of areas of interest will continue to make the present notion of tactical and strategic systems somewhat ambiguous especially when coupled to remote sensors and effectors.
All environmental command and control information systems will have common subsystems, software applications and components. All will have a geographical information subsystem (GIS), message handling subsystem (MHS), Office Automation functions, voice and teleconferencing capabilities, etc. Here again there will be a requirement to rationalize their support at a national level. The timing requirements of real time vs. near real time will continue to be the sole differentiating factor between strategic information systems and weapon systems. But real time and near real time data will be blended and fused so that organic information to the platform is fused with non organic information. Third party targeting and dynamic multi dimensional engagement based on force wide threat evaluation and weapon assignments will further force this trend.
With the emphasis on joint and combined operations there is a requirement for command and control systems to support a unified representation as well as the traditional environmental warfare views. There will be a requirement for common symbol sets and representations of all aspects of battlefield activities, as well as any conflictual situation such as peacekeeping and crisis management.
The consequence of this "convergence" is that information can no longer be pre-defined in its nature as being solely strategic, tactical, operational or organizational. In the past the systems were clearly defined by the nature of their information content. The linking and networking of different information systems through the network abrogates the initial intention of these information systems, and now information that was once predetermined as being either organizational or operational are both simply managed as strategic. As information systems merge, information attribution is now more dependent on who and in what context it is used than where it is contained. Now it is better to focus on the decision making process as only will be able to assess the scope of consequence that will help qualify the military nature and context of the problem.
The discussion up to this point was to highlight and explain the unique initial conditions that have brought about the emergence of Information Warfare. The reason was to demonstrate the large number of qualitative discontinuities in the technical, social, and economic dimensions of information systems. Information Warfare is the result of these discontinuities. I would like to emphasize that Information Warfare is a new and unprecedented situation. Information Warfare is not a continuation of what was warfare. It is not just Command and Control Warfare nor is it Computer Warfare. These are manifestations of Information Warfare but as symptoms are not the consequence not the cause of a situation these initial denotations are simple and temporary interpretations of something much more complex, fundamental and revolutionary. Information Warfare is an emergent reality that comes from a self organization process that has never seen before. The problem is that we talk about it using terms that have well known connotations. And it is difficult to talk about something completely new using words that bring with them specific understanding and expectancies. The early period of the automobile faced a similar situation. At one time it was called a “horseless carriage” as this was the only way to define its essential quality. As the negation of the only understood means of propulsion - the horse. The car is more than a carriage without a horse. This is the dilemma we face when we discuss Information Warfare. Old words do not explain something new. and the danger is that the use of familiar words misrepresent and mask the true extend of the revolution that will have to take place if we are to be able to retain a military capacity in a new physical, social and cognitive space.