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Strategic Appraisal: The Changing Role Of Information In Warfare

by Zalmay Khalilzad

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The ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu once wrote about the "acme of skill" allowing generals to win wars without fighting. Perhaps he was referring to the 21st century: technological advances have made recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans almost bloodless for the United States, if not its enemies. Yet many of the authors contributing chapters to The Changing Role of Information in Warfare are far from sanguine about technology forever insulating Americans from war. Technology, in fact, may become a kind of Achilles heel. "The United States may become increasingly vulnerable to disruption--perhaps catastrophically so--because of its heavy reliance on advanced information systems in both the civilian and military sectors," write editors Zalmay M. Khalilzad and John P. White in their introduction.
Adversaries are likely to rely on modern information operations, such as computer hacking or network attacks--in addition to traditional means, such as communication jamming and physical attacks--as an asymmetric strategy to compensate for their own weaknesses and for conventional U.S. military preeminence. They may value information attacks as a new type of guerilla warfare against U.S. conventional weaponry--but one with a very long reach.
There are other problems, too. In the past, for example, the Pentagon often initiated technological change; in the future, it will struggle to keep up with advances in the private sector. This probing book is written chiefly for policymakers, but its clean prose makes it accessible to anyone interested in the future of war. --John J. Miller

Foreign Affairs
The editors shrewdly chose the title of this work to be information in warfare, not information warfare. This volume in RANDs annual Strategic Appraisal series is one of the better efforts. . . . Francis Fukuyama and Abram Shulsky, for example, offer a trenchant and skeptical analysis of the lessons the military can and should learn from business organizations wrestling with the information revolution. . . . Taken together, the articles remind ussome by insight, others by their very lack of itof just how hard it is to figure out what the information revolution does to international security.

Reference & Research Book News
Brings together work by 20 experts in information technology and defense policy to tackle issues of U.S. vulnerability.

Reference & Research Book News
Brings together work by 20 experts in information technology and defense policy to tackle issues of the U.S. vulnerability due to its heavy reliance on advanced information systems. Examines vulnerability to information attacks on vital domestic systems such as transportation, communications, finance, and utilities, and shows how the same techniques that can be used to disrupt and manipulate civilian targets can be used to degrade performance of U.S. military forces.

Foreign Affairs
...Trenchant, skeptical analysis of the lessons the military can and should learn from business organizations wrestling with the information revolution.

Midwest Book Review
This seminal work of impressive scholarship is especially pertinent considering continued American involvement with armed conflicts around the globe.

Computing Reviews
...Highly recommended for...senior national security decision makers and information technology professionals interested in the fundamental changes to national defense realities.

Book Description
Advanced information technologies will have a profound effect on our national security. Driven by the need to understand this revolution and to take steps towards defending against information attack, the editors provided this thorough examination of information warfare, with implications for the U.S. and other countries.

From the Publisher
The effects of new information technologies are all around us.Change is abundant in everything from the computers on our desksto the cell phones in our pockets. For the most part, we welcomethese changes and the improvements they herald in our lives. Thesechanges have also affected the global balance of power in favor of theUnited States.But along with the blessings and opportunities come dangers.Information that is readily available is available to friend and foealike; a system that relies on communication can become useless ifits ability to communicate is interfered with or destroyed. Becausethis reliance is so general, attacks on the information infrastructurecan have widespread effects, both for the military and for society.And such attacks can come from a variety of sources, some difficultor impossible to identify. This book focuses on the opportunitiesand vulnerabilities inherent in the increasing reliance on informationtechnology, looking both at its usefulness to the warrior and theneed to protect its usefulness for everyone.While the work was carried out under the auspices of the Strategyand Doctrine program of RAND's Project AIR FORCE, which is sponsoredby the U.S. Air Force, this volume draws on the expertise of researchers from across RAND in a variety of related disciplines. The primary audience of this work consists of Air Force leaders and planners, but it should be of interest to others interested in national security issues and information technology.The Strategic Appraisal series is intended to review, for a broad audience,issues bearing on national security and defense planning.Strategic Appraisal 1997: Strategy and Defense Planning for the 21stCentury, dealt with the challenges the United States military faces inmeeting the changing demands made upon it in a changing world.Strategic Appraisal 1996 assessed challenges to U.S. interests aroundthe world, focusing on key nations and regions.PROJECT AIR FORCEProject AIR FORCE, a division of RAND, is the Air Force federallyfunded research and development center (FFRDC) for studies andanalyses. It provides the Air Force with independent analyses ofpolicy alternatives affecting the development, employment, combatreadiness, and support of current and future aerospace forces.Research is being performed in three programs: Strategy andDoctrine, Force Modernization and Employment, and ResourceManagement and System Acquisition.

About the Author
Zalmay Khalilzad (Ph.D., Political Science, University of Chicago) was formerly the leader of Project Air Force's Strategy and Doctrine Program at RAND. He was assistant undersecretary of defense for policy planning during the Bush administration. Khalilzad joined the White House staff on Monday, May 14, 2001, as special assistant to the president and senior director at the National Security Council.

John White, Senior Fellow at RAND, Washington, DC. Previous to rejoining RAND as a Senior Fellow, John White served as RAND's Senior Vice President for National Security Research Programs and as a member of the Board of Trustees. He is currently an Advisory Trustee.



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