Information Warfare: August 4, 2001


One of the military applications of Information Warfare has been right in our own backyard. The Pentagon has been the scene of a furious publicity battle as the air force, navy and marines strive to present themselves as the combat force of the future. The fight is over who can fight America's future wars most efficiently. This has come down to doing it with the most technology and the least number of casualties.So far, the air force is winning. Sexy looking jet fighters and stealth bombers, using flashy electronics and smart bombs generate crowd pleasing images. The army has responded with new brigades using armored cars, and new uniform ideas. The navy has not come up with anything in the way of exciting visuals or compelling pitches. Everyone is basically fighting over a larger piece of the defense budget, as well as a bigger say in how future wars are fought. What's bizarre about all this is that the more successful you get in this Pentagon info war, the farther away from reality you have to be. The air force is pushing the same line it has for the past sixty years; we can do it from the air. This has not worked time and again since World War II, but with all those spiffy warplanes and associated technology, the air force has been able to convince the public that it will definitely work the next time. It won't, and when the underfunded army and marine troops go in to "mop up" (as the air force likes to put it), the guys on the ground are going take a beating. Meanwhile, the army is putting a lot of money and effort into its new armored cars. Wheels are the way to go, even though the fifty year old M-113 tracked armored vehicle (which is still being made) appears more and more to be a superior vehicle for the job. The M-113 is lighter, cheaper and just as reliable than the new armored cars. But the M-113 is not sexy. It's yesterday. The generals wish it would just go away. The navy's curse is that they are best equipped to do what has to be done overseas. The fleet can muster more firepower, more quickly, at a distant hot spot than even the air force. The navy does it all the time, for whenever Americans are threatened by unrest somewhere, the navy is off shore rather quickly, ready to protect the embassy, evacuate U.S. citizens or do whatever has to be done. The back side of this is that everyone takes it for granted. In the PR business, reliability and consistency are good deeds that do not go unpunished. The glory goes to the glitz, not the most effective. Information War is all about deception. And when you begin to believe your own press releases, you are in big trouble. 


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