In Part II, Owen takes a close look at what exactly is meant by the term Information Warfare.
On Information Warfare
I have often characterized the conflict we are fighting as unprecedented, and indeed it is; so much so that we cannot even adequately name it. We fight this conflict on a global scale, on multiple levels, in various ways. Our enemy is comprised of hostile governments and transnational organizations supported by both international and local groups, many of which reside in nominally friendly governments. Politically, there are governments and groups that are allies, some that are enemies, and a number that are trying to have it both ways. We are not fighting a conventional war, or a counter-insurgency, or a counter-terrorism campaign, but all of these all at once. And all are asymmetric. No wonder we don’t know what to call it. No wonder people are confused about it, or even fail to believe in it.
To go into all the dimensions of this multidimensional, global, asymmetric war is outside the scope of my discussion here; an apt topic for a future book perhaps, to be written by someone else. Here I will restrict my comments to one of the factors that makes this conflict unprecedented: the central role information plays in it. This is, I think, the first conflict that is more than anything else an information war. Given its centrality, some discussion of information warfare is appropriate.
Information warfare has meant different things to different people at different times. When I starting working on IW in about 1991, it was just out of the pet theory stage and many foolish things were said. Fairly quickly, a consensus view developed along with a consensus definition — which I now forget. I made no great attempt to remember it because it did not adequately capture the essence of IW, which is to manipulate the enemy’s decision-making process in our favor while maintaining the integrity of our own. To use this as a definition probably assigns IW an unacceptably wide ambit; it certainly does from the organizational, operational, and bureaucratic point of view.