Operational Deception in the Information Age
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Deception is as old as warfare. It can magnify strength for both attackers and defenders. It is among the least expensive military activities in terms of forces and assets. Yet for all its proven value, it generates little enthusiasm in the U.S. military. No operational deception plan was prepared for the Kosovo conflict of 1999, nor has one been evident for operations in Afghanistan. A popular view in todays information era is that deception is outdated a stronger force need not deceive an enemy to win while a weaker party cannot deceive a sophisticated enemy that has information superiority. Yet new information technologies offer both sides more, not fewer, opportunities for deception. The lack of peacetime interest is hard to remedy once war begins. Deception skills must then be learned by trial and error and at great cost. Yet they can facilitate the element of surprise, which multiplies chances for a quick and conclusive success while minimizing personnel and material losses. Deception can cause an enemy to waste assets defending unimportant areas, disperse its forces, or reduce its readiness. Any strength, no matter how overwhelming, risks stagnation or decline if it is not accompanied by stratagems and deceptions. Even the strongest military should systematically undertake them.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics