The New Limited War
Also called Infowar , Infocentric War , Cyber War
A quick summary is given first . See the end for Mongol references .
In the last 15 years , the cutting edge of the world’s armed forces have been radically transformed . It is not only new technology , but mainly the way that the consequences of that technology enforces new tactics , strategies and logistics .
“Quantity has a quality of its own “ – Josef Stalin
The four principles below seem to be only a quantitive change , but together they spell a qualitative change that any armed force that wants to survive or win will have to adapt to .
The Four basic principles should be seen in synergistic combination :
1 Information technology : The first shot kills . Smart munitions and rapid-fire weapons means that the only safe places are stealthed or deeply fortified . Besides being a force-multiplier , this means that the baddies can be individually targeted . (Theorist : Rona) .
2 Interconnected secure digital communication .
Unfortified military forces have to be stealthed . A good way is interspersed in the enemy and organized via stealthed communications . By this , efficient , secret , interconnected digital communication is usually meant. They have to be stealthed , as anybody who gets identified gets zapped or swarmed (See para 1 above) . (Theorists : Arquilla and Ronfeldt) .
3 Asymmetric threat :
Attackers and Defenders have totally different profiles . A small aggressive , mobile (ie stealthed by uncertainty of position) army can force the defender into a totally different configuration . Cf Guerilla wars , Mongols , Boer war , Wolves and Moose , etc . The classical case is the West’s freedom of info systems (ie computers , Xeroxes , etc) vs the USSR control of all information dissemination . The USSR could not defend itself against the asymmetric threat without losing itself . (Theorists : Marshall and Wohlstetter) .
4 The Decision Cycle . (The Granddaddy of them all)
(Theorist : Boyd) .
The decision cycle or loop is summarized by the acronym OODA
Observation , Orientation , Decision , Action .
It is applicable in any competitive endeavour . If you complete the cycle(s) before your opponent , you win . Baseball , rugby , battles , you name it .
Freedom (democratic) systems historically have been at an initial disadvantage , as the are counter-punchers . (ie Napoleon , Kaizer , Hitler , USSR) . They managed to weather the first punch and gain the upper hand in the decision loop by virtue of their superior internal competitiveness . But note that as technology progresses , the first punch grows stronger . Germany nearly won WWII . The USSR lost the Information War and does not exist any more . But it nearly , nearly won . If it aggressively used its armed forces in the late 1970’s , most of the remains of Europe would be speaking Russian now .
The logic forces aggression upon the USA . It has to close the decision-loop before any enemy . And since the enemies are all hidden and stealthed , it has to go on the worst-case scenario .
The enemies like Al Qaida are not really free-based : their support are drawn from very specific areas and population groups . The West has the nasty habit of drawing things out once it knows it will win . (This is because of vested interests in armaments , politics , etc ) . Eg the West can win easily and cheaply now by nuking all Muslim nations with neutron bombs and interning all suspicious nationals indefinitely .
Boom-bam over . Neither Russia or China will really risk annihilation in protest , since they also perceive these elements as risks to themselves .
The USA is at the present moment willing to expend lives and treasure in a sub-optimum tactic to secure strategic advantages . But it is still the 800 lb gorilla . If the terrorist groups are too successful , it will sit where it wants .
Since neither adversary seems willing to push the other over the edge , a de facto rule of engagement has emerged . The US wants cheap oil , not the territory or the people . The Muslims want the territory and people , as well as a fair price for the oil . Essentially , it is about the price of oil . Osama bin Laden quoted a bazaar price of $160 a barrel . Total denial will definitely cause genocide . A settlement of about $100 - $120 a barrel seems to be barreling down at us , with various guarantees . US troops will wthdraw to bases in Iraq , mainly as a buffer against Iranian adventurism .
This is the most optimistic scenario .
Random fluctuations: Birdflu
A pandemic with death-rates of about 30% planetwide seems very likely (80% probability during northern winter of 2005 .) Muslim populations will be hit very hard (70%-100% mortality) because of their custom of social eating out of communal dishes . Flu is mainly spread by hand-to-mouth/nose transmission . All Muslim communities are overpopulated and depend on external food imports for survival . Primary flu effects will be the flu . Secondary effects will be starvation due to quarantines .Planes , cars and communal dishes will be a lethal combination .
1 “The New Face of War” by Bruce Berkowitz.
Clear and simple by CIA and RAND insider . Worrying because of the hubris leaking around the edges .
2 A very interesting article at the site below:
“Social Science at 190 MPH on NASCAR's Biggest Superspeedways” by David Ronfeldt
First Monday, volume 5, number 2 (February 2000),
An interesting correlation is sonons in superconductivity .
Even Nascar racers should be able to use repeated draft-bumps to speed up the pair to arbitrarily close to in-vacuo speeds .
3 The Castles-Knights defense evolved against exactly this kind of threat . Ie it has happened before .
Whatever happened to William what’s-his-name?
“The only serious challenge would have been from the Mongols .
The Western response to centuries of light-cavalry attacks was numerous fortifications with a few heavy cavalry in each . Light-cavalry (like the Mongols) usually win by getting inside the decision-loop of their enemies . This presupposes that their enemy obligingly masses . A few big fortified cities counts as massing .
The key is the advantage of fortified defense over offense . (In the siege of Malta about 8 000 knights held out against about 70 000 elite Ottoman troops .)
A successful ratio is about 1 defender for every 10 attackers .
What is the Western defense to enemies who do not stand still but can sting ? :
It is Independent defensive positions with a heavy smallish offensive punch which are NOT co-ordinated on a large scale.
Ie Numerous small Castles with a few knights and each having an independent ruler .
They will sit tight , but a few neighbours might combine to hit a tempting target .
If 300 000 Mongols attacked say 1 000 independent neighbouring castles , each with about 20 heavy cavalry , the Mongols will lose .
If they try to reduce each castle in detail , they will be nibbled to death by heavy-cavalry attacks from neighbouring supporting castles . Siege machinery would make the Mongols vulnerable to fixed-point attacks . There are not enough Mongols to attack on a broad front .
There are always more agriculturists than pastoralists .
It is a numbers game as long as the castles do not try to unify . If the castles do not unify , their attacks are random and the Mongols cannot get inside their decision-loop , because there isn’t one . “