Subject: IW Mailing List iw/960112
From: "Marcus J. Ranum" 
Subject: mjr's challenge
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 21:51:37 -0500 (EST)

	I've posted several times in this list, taking a fairly negative
stance towards "Information Warfare" as an "intellectual fad" and
"hype." I'd like to explain why I think "Information Warfare" is not
anything new or noteworthy, and I'd like to invite some of its
proponents to convince me I'm wrong. 

Briefly, my claims about IW are as follows:
	1) It's nothing new.
	2) It's just a cute name for a subset of tactical operations.

	It's just a load of hype.

with a corollary that:
	When someone is hyping something that is neither new, unique,
	or earthshaking, it's usually because there's $$ involved.

	Let me elaborate slightly.

Claim #1: It's nothing new.

	Many of the "important revelations" of IW are that an enemy can
be crippled strategically or tactically by removing, destroying, or
tampering with their technological toys and command/control systems.  In
a modern IW environment this includes logistics, command/control,
civilian systems that feed into the war effort, and sometimes "civilian
strategic targets." Without using those terms, soldiers on opposing
sides have been using these as tools of war since the dawn of historic
times.  Sun Tzu wrote, in about 200BC, several paragraphs of his classic
"The Art of War" devoted to espionage and counter espionage.  He
specifically refers to spies, counterspies, and moles ("inside agents"). 
He also specifically refers to feeding double agents false information,
to pass on to the enemy.  Obviously, in Sun Tzu's time, computers and
networks were not invented, but command and control clearly had been. 
Military communications in Sun Tzu's time were also low-tech.  But he
specifically refers to using drums to send signals, and the fact that
units need to be careful in arraying their battle flags for proper
identification, and that at night, different battlefield communications
rules apply - use torches and drum codes.  I have no doubt that a wily
and dangerous commander like master Sun also understood that messing up
an opponents drum signals yielded a tactical advantage.  Master Sun

	"The line between disorder and order lies in logistics."
	"Select our elite mounted troops and send them on ahead into
	enemy territory under a cloak of silence to seize cattle,
	horses, and livestock."

	To paraphrase: protect your supply lines, demolish the enemy's. 
Obviously, in ~200BC the supplies didn't move by computer but that is
merely an uninteresting implementation detail of modern warfare. 

	During the seige of Krak des Chevaliers during the end of the
crusades, Saladin brought falconers with him, to intercept the Templars'
carrier pigeons.  A pure and simple denial of service attack against
their communication channels.  Obviously, in ~300AD, the Templars
weren't communicating over the Internet, but denial of service is denial
of service, and the technological implementation details of modern
warfare are nothing more than an uninteresting extension of a very old

	So - I submit to you that if there is such a thing as
"Information Warfare" that it is not a new concept.  Either that, or
it's just a new buzzword for a very, very, very old concept.  I don't
see any references to "Information Warfare" in Sun Tzu but perhaps that
is a translator's artifact. 

Claim #2: If there is an IW, it's a subset of tactical operations.

	One of the other frustrating things about proponents of IW is
that they appear to insist that IW is the most significant invention in
military thinking, ever, and that it subsumes the notion of tactics and
strategy under its all-embracing wings.  Well, never mind that in such a
case we should just call Information Warfare "the art of warfare" and
have done with it, I think that this cripples the language. 

	Historically, counter-intelligence, counter-command/control,
counter-logistic, and counter-morale(terrorism, I call it) operations
are nothing new either.  In most military thinkers terms, going back
even to Napoleon Bonaparte, these are tactical operations.  What's
important is that tactical operations and strategic operations are a

	- Strategic operations are deciding what your goals are,
		and the main tools you will use to achieve them.
	- Tactical operations are the implementation details of
		deploying the tools.

	Often the tools are intelligence or are based on intelligence. 
Intelligence's input to the strategic process cannot be discounted
(consider the ULTRA intercepts in WWII and the Zimmermann Telegram) but
they do not *DEFINE* strategic operations. 

	A recent poster to this list attempted to argue that strategy is
a subset of Information Warfare.  I find that an amazing claim, unless
one is simply redefining all warfare to be information based -- which is
what Master Sun pointed out in ~200BC.  So we've come a full circle. 

	What *IS* Information Warfare that is new, different, or
substantially innovative above and beyond WU (Warfare as Usual) as we've
practiced it since the dawn of history? As far as I can tell, the only
thing new about IW is that instead of using falcons, we're using rogue
packets.  Instead of using different torches and gong signals, we're
using HERF guns.  Instead of using semaphores, we're using encryption. 

	It seems to me that a lot of hype is centered around something
that is neither new, innovative, or intellectually earthshaking. 

	Please show me I'm wrong. 
From: (Fred Cohen)
Subject: mailing list 960111
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 06:31:41 -0500 (EST)

> From: "Marcus J. Ranum" 
> ...
> 	What I'm asking is for one of the proponents of "Information
> Warfare" to make a coherent argument that it is something new rather
> than something very old applied to new technology.

I am not a "proponent" of information warfare per-se (I'm not generally
a proponent of any kind of warfare except to the extent that it helps my
side win armed conflicts and helps preserve freedom and justice for all)
but I will try to address mjr's points. 

I don't know of anyone who claims that the general concepts of IW (other
than those exploiting new technology) are new.  The most cogent view I
have been able to come up with (along with numerous other people) is the
one published in "Protection and Security on the Information
Superhighway" and "Defensive Information Warfare - Information
Assurance".  In essesnce, the thing that has changed recently is our
dependency on information technology.  Along with that change have come
many other changes including a change in US (and other) military
doctrine.  This change is the result of the success of IT in a military
context.  At this time, we don't fully understand the impact of IT on
warfighting, so we need to study it in order to move in to remain
successful in warfare as we move into the information age. 

>  My argument is that
> if it is, indeed, something old, then we should retain the name and shut
> down the hype.  And that if it is something new, there should be
> elements of ground-breaking military thinking that have not appeared
> elsewhere. 

Unfortunately, we are unable to move this quickly.  The doctrine of IW
is certainly new to the US military.  I, for one, don't see any more
"hype" surrounding IW than anything else dealing with the changes
related to new technology.  What I did see a few years ago was a
military operation that, based on initial use of the forrunner of this
new doctrine, managed to soundly defeat Iraq in the Gulf War to the tune
of losing only 100 people while Iraq lost perhaps 50,000.  That means
that American lives may be saved with this new doctrine while giving my
country (the US) a substantial military advantage.  I am also unaware of
many military victories on such a scale that had a 500 to 1 casualty
ratio.  Sounds worthwhile to me - and any time something gives more than
2 orders of magnitude in advantage, I'll be happy to see it get a new

As far as ground-breaking military thinking, there are very substantial
changes in military thinking under the IW doctrine, but most of the
really deep philosophical results simply aren't here yet.  It will take
some time before we understand things well enough to develop really deep
philosophical understanding.

> 	I am asking you to make a case that IW is actually
> something new, or substatively different, from tactical intelligence and
> counter-intelligence operations. 

The change in operational tempo, while resulting in part from tactical
intelligence, is certainly a very major difference.  The change in the
way decisions are distributed is another very substantial difference. 
The direct intervention of C2 is not just a matter of intelligence and
counter-intelligence.  The use of soft kill and dramatic reduction in
collateral damage is certainly a breakthrough.  The availability of
high-quality and timely information to the individual soldier is only
partially achieved today, but it is certain to have (and already has
had) a dramtic impact on the way tactical operations are carried out. 
The availability of dramatically improved sensors has fundamentally
altered the nature of deception in warfare.  This small list of examples
certainly shows that IW (if you consider these part of IW as the DoD
does) is more than tactical intelligence and counter-intelligence

At some level, it can always be said that what is new stands on the
shoulders of what came before.  Einsteins relativity theory can be
derived from the field equations - but nobody did it before Einstein. 
Turing's undecidability result is a direct result of boolean logic - but
nobody did it before Turing.  Should we abandon the words relativity and
undecidability in favor of "an derivative of the field equations dealing
with the conversion between mass and energy" and "a subbranch of
mathematics dealing with circularity and logical consistency"? If we do
this, we will eventually get back to the use of grunting sounds for

People use language as a means of communication.  The term "Information
Warfare" is a new one and one that has many different interpretations.
In this forum, I have seen scores of definitions - and even coughed up
a few of them myself.  I hope to see many more.
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 09:57:57 -0500
From: (Tom Goodden)
Subject: Re: IW Mailing List iw/960110