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The Military Perspective

Module 8

The Lesson

Go back to intro. Go back to module 7. Go to module 9.

The module learning objective:

The Military Perspective - War Fighting in the Information Age

Carl von Clausewitz reasoned that commitment to war merges from the confluence of three characteristics or tendencies: the people, the military, and the government. He suggested that when these three components unify around a common purpose to be achieved by force of arms, an interactive trinity emerges that produces the national will to fight.

This suggests the following formulation:

National Will = Will of the People + Will of the Military + Will of the Government

This proposition has been supported in the emerging information age. For examples look at Somalia and Haiti. Information had the power to break the will of the people.

The Military - Planning For Future Conflict

Our military must assume that future conflicts will be viewed real-time in the homes of every American. War must be quick, decisive, and limit civilian casualties to few or none.

Furthermore, because of our system, the military and political leadership cannot lie or deny access to the American press.

Does the Information Age offer any positive advances to the military?


These include: immediate battlefield awareness, precision weapons, and most importantly, new non-lethal weaponry. However, we must understand America's potential adversaries may have the same capabilities. Therefore, many believe future conflicts will be waged on the information plane.

Why Will the Military Choose Information Warfare?

Consider infrastructure as a target; power plants, communications facilities, factories, petroleum pipelines, transportation systems (air, sea, rail). All are either currently or will soon be operated and managed by computers. Computers that receive critical sensing and requirement changes via the net. Therefore, by attacking or taking control of the net an adversary controls the infrastructure.

A nation's air force may take out an air defense system using a computer virus in lieu of an iron bomb. It's cheaper, quieter, and safer. And it is psychologically more effective!


A nation's infrastructure can be exploited, disrupted, or destroyed by infiltrating the computer networks that control such. Many ask will an army still be required to occupy a nation to impose its will? In total war, most likely; however, in the emerging age of economic warfare occupation can be achieved by precipitation a condition conducive to a leveraged buy-out, i.e., foreign corporations with the assistance of their government will simply procure critical portions of an enemy's infrastructure. As a result, ultimate control can be achieved through the corporate board room.

Remember, the trinity concept offered by Clausewitz: a nation's will is a combination of the people's, military's, and government's will. The people will as always desire a non-military solution to challenges of national interest. The information age offers many non-military options for exerting national will.

IW offers a new peace time application of warfare. A new type of infrastructure attack focused against a nation's political, economic, and social infrastructure.

Economic Warfare - Taking Away a Nation's Ability to Produce and Trade for Needed Commodities

An old quote:

The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters. Genghis Khan

Today, translated by America's competitors:

The greatest happiness is to crush your American competitor, to chase them before you, to rob them of their market share, to clasp to your income statement their former sales revenues, and to hear the lamentations of their stockholders. Asian Strategy

The Military Perspectives of Information Warfare

You can examine each service's perspective on IW:

Return to Information Warfare Tutorial Intro/Contents

Go back to intro. Go back to module 7. Go to module 9.