Building Castles on Sand: Underestimating the Tide of Information Operations
AIR AND SPACE POWER JOURNAL MAXWELL AFB AL
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Our national security policies and Department of Defense DOD doctrines--the castles--are based on an Industrial Age mind-set they apply cold war mentality to a battlefield of the Information Age. Today, Air Force policy focuses on concepts such as full-spectrum dominance, dominant battle-space awareness, and the ability to find, fix, track or target anything that moves on the surface of the earth. Joint Vision 2010 also sets lofty operational strategies, including dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection. In a speech at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association convention of 1997, Adm William A. Owens, US Navy, Retired, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, envisioned all-encompassing sensors enabling the United States to view adversary movements in detail in any theater of battle. Further, Air Force Doctrine Document AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, notes that recognizing improvements in technology and information systems,... full spectrum dominance allows joint forces to prevail across the range of national military strategy from peacetime engagement to deterrence and conflict prevention, to fighting and winning in combat. Because of our all-seeing sensors, the enemy presumably would acknowledge his fallibility and voluntarily acquiesce to US desires. The accompanying US strategy seems to entail intimidation by information. In addition to recklessly assuming inviolability of our reconnaissance and surveillance technology, this approach seriously underestimates the adversarys religious or revolutionary fervor. Admiral Owens demonstrates the failure of US war fighters to think like the enemy and the proclivity to expect the enemy to respond as would US commanders. Although we have found flaws in this strategy, it remains a lesson that US war fighters seem unable to learn.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics