Information has been recognized as a strategic resource which must be effectively managed to maintain a competitive and evolutionary advantage. Because of its critical role in reducing uncertainty, structuring complexity, and generating greater situational awareness, any action taken in the information domain can leverage tremendous effects in the physical domains of resources such as material, personnel and finance as well as more abstract domains such as belief systems. It also extend the range of new options for a planner or decision maker. As information is becoming more and more available in a digital format, ever increasingly powerful computational processes permits completely new forms of military endeavors that will require new organizations, activities, skills and mandates.
This essay introduces the concept of Information Warfare. It describes events in the development of computer technology which has lead to the development of the concept, describes and proposes a conceptual analysis framework to assist in the elopement of military new capabilities which will be required to respond to possible emerging vulnerabilities and opportunities.
The concept of Information Warfare (IW) may be considered as an overarching view of how modern warfare must be approached. It is a conceptual framework which assists in the development of not just military plans, projects, and capabilities, but how all government agencies involved in crisis management and conflict resolution. It also helps in the design, development and implementation of Command and Control Information Systems (C2IS).
With any new integrative concept, the notion of the paradigm arises. If the concept is sufficiently broad, then the new paradigm reveals both the flaws in the old way of thinking and offers at the same time new levels of efficiency and effectiveness enabled by new types of integrative processes. Information Warfare has been brought about by the Information Technology revolution, advances in Information Management (IM) and the emerging concerns for Knowledge Management. The Senior Technology Advisor to the Assistant Deputy Minister proposal on Information Management Core Capability Areas describes Information Warfare as one of the four central pillars supporting the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Forces vision of how to achieve Information Superiority in military affairs.
These for core capabilities are seen in fig 1 and are comprise of Joint Surveillance Systems, Information Technology, Knowledge Management for Decision Support and Information Warfare.
Figure 1 Core Capabilities
As will be shown in much more detail later Information Warfare includes military functions such as Information Collection Management, Assessment, Risk Assessment and Command and Control Warfare. But IW integrates these activities in a different and novel way through the use of modern information technologies. In many respect this is still uncharted territory for the military. Because of increased efficiency and effectiveness, Information Warfare has also some new inherent and totally distinct capabilities that emerge from this integration and the new “Domain” in which it occurs. Some call this “Domain”: Cyberspace, others the National Information Infrastructure. Its name is less important than the fact that this new soci-technical space permits qualitatively superior levels of military and governmental action.
A note of prudence. In writing this document none of the functions were viewed with organizational structure in mind however in trying to describe some of the activities, references to present organizational structures are made. This is because sometimes new realities can only be described in terms of what is know and because of this analogical vice of discourse, some ambiguity and confusion remains. The development of a conceptual framework will help highlight what activities are truly new and what military activities are simply a recasting of know activities within this new Information Warfare framework.
More and more, the ability of the military to participate in employment that ranges across the full spectrum of conflict is dependent upon it's information processing capabilities, knowledge management and information system infrastructure. The ability to develop synergy and maintain network operations in the face of opposing disruptions is becoming the fundamental key to successful military action.
It is important to acknowledge that there is a wide and growing debate about what is Information Warfare. Several military structures are attempting to describe, agree and leverage the concept of Information Warfare. Some of these efforts are done without the benefit of having a consensus and agreement of what is Information Warfare. Some nations military have set up several Information Warfare units. In the US the Army, Navy and Air Force are trying to develop Information Warfare capabilities. The same debate is seen taking place in the UK and Australia. Canada has just joined the Information Warfare discussions but has, at present, no organization that deals formally with the Information Warfare issues and concerns. One of the secondary objectives of this essay is to act as a means to raise the awareness on Information Warfare issues and help in planning any implementation.