Information Warfare: September 7, 2001


The British Royal Navy is putting together its largest force of warships since the 1982 Falklands war for exercises in the Persian Gulf. Forces will include an Aircraft carrier, two Destroyers, four frigates, two nuclear submarines, two amphibious ships, five 5 mine sweepers and 11 support ships. Aircraft embarked include 15 Harriers and 25 helicopters. Some 8,500 sailors are involved. What really makes this exercise different is extensive use of the internet. Each ship has its own intranet (can operate without access to anything outside the ship) as well as net connections between ships. Instead of using radio for communications, extensive use is made of private chat rooms. But unlike the usual free-for-all in public chat rooms, the navy is using the usual "net discipline" (which predates the internet by over half a century) so that important messages don't get lost in a lot of chatter. The internet is a valuable military communications technology because just about every recruit is already familiar with it, it's cheap, the security is pretty good (although most civilian users don't bother with this) and it's very flexible. 


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