Subject: IW Mailing List iw/960113
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 19:39:27 -0500
From: (John W. Cobb)
Subject: Is IW a fad? - Cobb's random comments

Okay, I'll take a stab at adding some of my comments on this "IW is all
crap" debate in the hopes that some reader will care in the slightest. 
Let me couch my thoughts in response for Marcus Ranum's recent comments. 
Although others have made similar comments, his organization helps me
state my thoughts here. 

>	..I'd like to explain why I think "Information Warfare" is not
>anything new or noteworthy,...
>Briefly, my claims about IW are as follows:
>	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.
> ... [with several references to Sun Tzu]

The point I would like to make here is that even though some warfighting
concepts are not new, their application can become so powerful,
pervasive, and/or effective that there is, in essence, a qualitative
change in the nature of the conflict.  Such is the case with IW.  The
argument has been made that one of the key features of the Iraqi
operational defeat in the Gulf War was the concetrated allied effort on
command and control in such an effective manner.  Now this change may
not be so radically different, but there is a definite trend, and it is
not hard to imagine that as information components become more and more
networked that assaults on command and control can be effected in ways
that continue this trend of less physical destruction but greater
operational interference than the Gulf War.  What is changing is the
dependance of the projection of force upon information technology in its
many forms and the potential vulnerability of this technology to
corruption or interruption by the action of enemy forces.  Ulysses
defeated the Cyclops in just this fashion [Okay, I couldn't resist.  I
mean I had to try to come up with some IW example before Sun Tzu - no?]
Inferior physical can defeat superior physical force by disabling the
force's ability to fight. 

Now as this capability now collectively called IW develops what will it
entail? I do not believe that it is a persuasive argument to say that
because we can trace a continous evolution of IW from pre-history that
it is proof that IW is "no big deal".  That type of argument could also
be used to state most modern transformations of warfare are "no big
deal", armor, airpower, and nuclear weapons.  As has been pointed out
elsewhere the physical damage, human carnage, and the decision to target
civillian population centers at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are numerically
surprisingly similar to some of the fire-bombing campaigns in the
European and Asian thetres of WWII.  But I think that you would concur
that history has judged that the dawn of nuclear warfare marked a huge
change in the nature of warfare.  Why do you not allow that the same is
true for IW?

Let me offer a rationale for why I believe that it is true.  As I see
it, what marks radical changes in warfare is the introduction of new
technology, strategy, of tactics that change the then current calculus
of combat dramatically.  Let me cite three examples: English use of
longbow at Agincourt - German use of tanks (along with Blitzkrieg
tactics of overrun/breakout/exploitation) - U.S.  Use of Nuclear Weapons
against Japan.  I'll let others add other examples. 

What connects these revolutions is that they changed the normal
war-fighting calculus dramatically.  The French felt confident that
Henry V had no chance of victory.  They did not comprehend the effect of
the ability of bows to inflict casualties and blunt assaults while
maintaining force separation.  As a consequence their plans were
completely inaccurate and they were unprepared for the qualitative way
that war-fighting had changed. 

Now, Marcus might very correctly state that the use of the longbow was
not new at Agincourt.  In fact the Black PRince had used it successfully
against the French many years before, therefore it was not
revolutionary.  The French simply ignored prior history.  While theses
facts are true, attaching that interpretation would not be accurate, in
my opinion.  At some point there WAS a revolution in warfare caused by
the longbow.  It may not have been at Agincourt, but before, but it
occurred somewhare and it forever changed the nature of combat.  In the
same sense the increasing dependance of weapons upon information
technology and the emerging strategy/tactics to confuse and defeat those
mechanisms marks another watershed in the history of warfare, in my

Although as you note, there is a lot of hype coupled with what is
currently realizable.  Only the future will tell which predictions are
hype and which we should be concerned about. 

Finally let me add one other point that has been absent in this
discussion for much too long.  I think it is quite restrictive to limit
the definition of IW to only include actions directed against military
assets.  [I think] the term IW should apply also when the target is
non-military such as private individuals and private enterprise (that
may be totally uncconected with any military).  As an example, consider
an IW attack against Tony the Tiger to get Kellog's Frosted Flakes
Secret recipe (I didn't use Kentucky Fried chicken as the example here
because the Colonel was commissioned into the militia :>) Now the U.S. 
government has no interest, militarily in such mischief (although there
might be some interest on the part of police authority).  However,
Kellogg's would view this type of assualt in much the same way that the
U.S.  military would view an IW attack directed against military assets. 
My point is that ...  what makes information warfare information warfare
is not the target, but the means of attack. 
From: (A. Padgett Peterson, P.E. Information Security)
Subject: RE: IW Mailing List iw/960112

Marcus rites:
> 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. 

Well, I see a fundamental shift in thinking about war implicit in IW. 
In times past (and including Desert storm), war was simple: you gathered
all of the capability you had and you threw it at the adversary hoping
it was enough.  In the case of DS it turned out to be gross overkill but
on the 14th of January many were still wondering. 

IW differs from conventional espionage (though it has links to wooden
shoes) in that the thrust is not to increase your power but to decrease
the adversaries. 

Occasionally when playing bridge it is to your advantage to make a wild-
*ss*d bid since you will confuse both of your adversaries and only one
of your partners.  Does not work all of the time and will be guarded
afterwards but once... 

Similarly, I postulate that the purpose of IW is denial and not
enhancement.  This is what I was referring to when I said that "denial
of technology on the battlefield always favors the least technologically
advanced adversary." IW is about destability and denial.  Espionage is
nothing more than denial of security.  Just a different way of
considering the problem. 
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 20:43:37 -0800
From: Bruce Sterling 
Subject: Carrier Pigeon Warfare

    Research in the Dead Media Project occasionally turns up forgotten
forms of information warfare.  The latest example comes from our study
of the pigeon post. 
     Here's an extended quote from J.  D Hayhurst's THE PIGEON POST INTO
PARIS 1870-1871 that directly concerns nineteenth-century information
warfare -- the city of Paris struggling under siege and an information
blackout imposed by the Prussians.  Hot air balloons and
microphotography were the high-tech force multipliers for the ancient
technique of homing pigeons.  Hayhurst writes:
     "As had been expected, the normal channels of communication into
and out of Paris were interrupted during the four and a half months of
the siege, and, indeed, it was not until the middle of February 1871
that the Prussians relaxed their control of the postal and telegraph
services.  With the encirclement of the city on 18th September, the last
overhead telegraph wires were cut on the morning of 19th September, and
the secret telegraph cable in the bed of the Seine was located and cut
on 27th September.  Although a number of postmen suceeded in passing
through the Prussian lines in the earliest days of the seige, others
were captured and shot, and there is no proof of any post, certainly
after October, reaching Paris from the outside, apart from private
letters carried by unofficial individuals. 
	"Five sheep dogs experienced in driving cattle into Paris were
flown out by balloon with the intention of their returning carrying
mail; after release they were never again seen.  Equally a failure was
the use of zinc balls (the *boules de Moulins*) filled with letters and
floating down the Seine; not one of those balls was recovered during the
seige.  (...)"
(((The answer was found to be homing pigeons.  They were flown out of
Paris in hot-air balloons, along with mail from Paris.  The replies, and
many government decrees, were printed out on large boards, then
photographed onto experimental microfilm and attached to the pigeons,
who flew the data back to their Paris lofts.  The casualty rate among
pigeons was very high, about 80 percent, but 55 pigeons did get through
and carried such a torrent of information that over 95,000 messages were
received, including official orders and even postal money transfers.)))
       "The official despatches (...) were in a mixture of numerical
cypher and clear language (...) It is appropriate to mention two bogus
official despatches sent by the Prussians.  When the *Daguerre* (((a
French hot-air balloon))) fell within enemy lines on 12th November, 6
pigeons were saved from the Prussians and used to notify Paris of the
loss of the balloon.  The remaining pigeons were caught by the Prussians
who later released 6 of them with messages calculated to dismay Paris. 
One message was:
'Rouen 7 decembre.  A gouvernement Paris -- Rouen occupe par Prussians,
qui marchent sur Cherbourg.  Population rural les acclame; deliberez. 
Orleans repris par ces diables.  Bourges et Tours menaces.  Armee de la
Loure completement defaite.  Resistance n'offre plus plus aucune chance
de salut, A Lavertujon'
	"The pigeons reached Paris on 9th December going to the loft of
Nobecourt, whose father carried the message to Rampont.  The fraud was
apparent; it was known that Nobecourt had been captured and Lavertujon,
a French official, was actually in Paris.  Another message in similar
terms arrived addressed to the editor of *Figaro.* These messages were
tied to the pigeons with ordinary thread, whereas the French always used
wax thread; further evidence of the attempt at deception.  The
conclusion that the message had come from the enemy was, however, scant
consolation for the bitterness of learning almost immediately that they
were partly true: Rouen and Orleans were in Prussian hands."
    David Woods (((A history of tactical communications techniques, New
York, Arno Press, reprint 1974))) has also written on the subject of
pigeon-based avian information warfare, this time during World War I. 
	In 1918, the British Air Force had 380 pigeoneers handling an
armada of over 20,000 homing pigeons.  The system was organized by
Colonel A.  H.  Osman.  They came up with an ingenious technique for
retrieving intelligence from enemy-held territory.  Woods quotes Colonel
	"A small balloon was constructed with a metal [release-] band
worked by clockwork.  To this band was attached a small basket
containing a single pigeon with a message holder on its leg, and to each
basket was attached a small parachute.  The balloons were liberated in
favourable conditions of wind and at intervals automatically released
from the special ring a single basket with a bird.  These were dropped
into Belgian and French territory when occupied by the Germans, and in
French and Flemish a request was made to the finder to supply
intelligence information that was needed, at the same time giving the
finder hopefulness and cheer as to the ultimate success of the allies'
cause and promising reward for the information supplied. 
     "The Germans tried to stop this activity by replacing captured
pigeons with their own birds, and then arresting and shooting anyone
foolish enough to sign his name and address to the note."
      So much for the ol' clockwork pigeon hack. 
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 20:55:08 -0500
Subject: Re: IW Mailing List iw/960112

In short, I would agree that the principles of warfare have been around
since Cain and Abel.  However, the dimensions and elements of the
battlefield to include battle space, targets, and weapons have certainly
evolved.  Likewise, strategies, doctrine, and tactics have evolved.  IW
may perhaps be another dimension, albeit a subset of the total
battlefield, with a unique battle space, target sets and weapons, both
defensive and offensive.  Accordingly, modifications to strategy,
doctrine, and tactics are being developed.  Perhaps speaking of IW
should be addressed in "byte battle" terms and context.