[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[infowar.de] Fight Networks with Networks
Unter der Rubrik "Full Alert - An Arsenal of Ideas for the War Against
Terrorism" auf den Seiten dern RAND-Corp.
Fight Networks with Networks
By John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt
John Arquilla is associate professor of defense analysis at the Naval
Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and a consultant to RAND. David
Ronfeldt is a senior social scientist at RAND.
Assuming that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is our principal
adversary, then we must outperform his network at all five levels at
which information-age networks need to excel: the organizational,
narrative, doctrinal, technological, and social.
First, at the organizational level, a global confrontation is now raging
between hierarchical/state actors and networked/nonstate actors. The age
of hierarchies is giving way to an age of networks. It is not yet clear
whether the al-Qaeda network has a single hub revolving around bin Laden
or has multiple hubs. If it has a single hub, then bin Laden's death or
capture would signal the defeat of his network. However, the more a
network takes the form of a multi-hub "spider's web" design, with
multiple centers and peripheries, as may be the case with al-Qaeda, the
more redundant and resilient it will be ? and the harder to defeat.
Therefore, the United States, its allies, and friends must learn to
network better with each other. Some of this is already happening with
intelligence sharing, but much more must be done. It will be a major
challenge for the cumbersome American bureaucracy to achieve deep,
selective, all-channel networking among the military, law enforcement,
and intelligence elements whose collaboration is crucial for success.
U.S. counterterrorism agencies have been headed in this direction for
years, but interagency rivalries and distrust have too often slowed
Second, at the narrative level, Western ideas about the spread of free
markets, free peoples, and open societies contend with Muslim
convictions about the exploitative, invasive, and demeaning nature of
Western incursions into the Islamic world. The United States has
toughened its narrative by deeming the terrorist attacks "acts of war"
against "the civilized world," and American public opinion has been
galvanized by the revival of the Pearl Harbor metaphor.
The United States may hold the edge in the "battle of the story" in much
of the world, but it will have to think deeply about how to retain that
edge as U.S. forces take action in the Middle East. More than ever, we
must craft an "information strategy" complete with truth-seeking teams
of "special media forces" that could discover and disseminate accurate
information. And wherever we use military force, we must beware of
causing noncombatant casualties, so that we are not vulnerable to the
countercharge of being "state terrorists."
Third, in terms of doctrine (or strategy), the al-Qaeda network
apparently grasps the value of attacking from multiple directions by
dispersed small units. Bin Laden and his cohorts appear to follow a
swarm-like doctrine. Swarming entails a campaign of episodic, pulsing
attacks by various nodes of the network at locations sprawled across
global space and time. Against this doctrine, the United States has
seemingly little to pose, as yet. The offensive part of U.S. doctrine is
still based on aging notions of strategic bombardment, which is not
likely to be a winning approach. A whole new doctrine based on
small-unit swarming should be developed, emphasizing special forces and
limited air power. The air power would be used mostly to provide fire
support to our swarming teams on the ground.
Fourth, at the technological level, the United States possesses a vast
array of very advanced systems, while al-Qaeda has relatively few.
Nevertheless, perhaps only a small portion of our technological systems
has utility against dispersed, networked terrorists.
Fifth, at the social level, the al-Qaeda network features tight
religious and kinship bonds among people who share a tribal, clannish
view of "us" versus "them." In this regard, the United States faces a
profound challenge. If the Pearl Harbor metaphor holds up, and if U.S.
operations result in successful early counterstrikes, then there may be
unusual public solidarity to sustain the war on terrorism. But a
different social divide could also emerge between the United States and
Europe over whether the counterstrikes should follow a "war" or a "law
In summary, al-Qaeda seems to hold advantages at the organizational,
doctrinal, and social levels. The United States and its allies probably
hold only marginal advantages at the narrative and technological levels.
Yet there appears to be little room for al-Qaeda to improve. In
contrast, there is much room for the United States and its allies to
improve, mostly at the organizational and doctrinal levels. Simply put,
the West must build its own networks and learn to swarm the enemy
network until it can be destroyed. At its heart, netwar ? or
information-oriented conflict waged by networks ? is far more about
organization and doctrine than it is about technology. It's high time we
Mail an infowar -
- infopeace -
de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.