Saturday, March 10, 2007

War 2.0

This is one of the best summaries of the new kind of war we face that I have seen.

"Inventions can cast a seductive spell. Promising communication technologies in particular may mesmerize even serious men: “Space will be, to all practical purposes of information, completely annihilated,” enthused a House Commerce Committee report published on April 6, 1838. Its authors were enthralled by Samuel Morse’s recent invention, the telegraph.


War’s true transformation has a face very different from the one originally envisioned by the Pentagon’s civil and military leadership, in which the force with the more expensive cutting-edge equipment would prevail. Yet let there be no misguided enthusiasm: new means of communication neither “annihilate space” nor disperse the fog of war; on the contrary, the web makes warfare even more chaotic, messy, and deadly. Just as the telegraph once did."

If you've been out of the loop for say, the past 10 years (as it appears many of the senior leadership in the U.S. Military have been), then this is a must-read. It manages to tie together Web 2.0, standard COIN doctrine, old media, new media, learning organizations, the concept of the "strategic corporal," military/NGO relations, and of course, the internets. Really an amazing document. I'm sure I'll be coming back to it in the coming weeks.
"The web’s emerging organizational patterns have not diminished the significance of old, traditional businesses and their products. But management, communication, supply-chains, R&D, production, administration, marketing, customer relations, and competition itself are subject to fundamental changes — changes that come with both great risks and great opportunities. The same applies to the management of violence."

Apropros of nothing, check this story out as well. We need to be combating this:
" WASHINGTON, March 5, 2007 – The Internet is the most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth, the head of intelligence at U.S. Central Command, said in an interview aired yesterday.

Army Brig. Gen. John Custer and other experts described the effects of terrorists’ online recruiting and networking methods during a 60 Minutes interview with correspondent Scott Pelley.

“I see 16-, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield,” Custer said. “We capture them; we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan.”

Stephen Ulph, a researcher and writer on militant Islam, is a consultant at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where cadets are learning to recognize the Web’s power as a new weapon. Ulph told 60 Minutes that Jihadist recruiters online are waging a massive battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims.

“They throw a bomb into (a recruit’s) mental universe … and shatter it,” he said. “And, then (they) say, ‘Here’s how we’re going to reassemble these fragments.’”

Recruiters use the Internet to deconstruct moderate interpretations of Islam and then repaint the scripture in a more radical version, he said

“If your parents aren’t proper Muslims, if the sheik of a mosque isn't a proper Muslim, what are you doing obeying them?" he said. “Once they’ve softened (the recruit) up and he’s now in freefall, they say, ‘This is your identity. We're going to put the “j” back into Islam. It’s jihad.’”

Jihadist Web sites exploded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and an estimated 5,000 terrorist sites exist online, 60 Minutes reported. One Jihadi site they investigated had 17,869 members.

Custer described how Web sites are set up to entice possible recruits.

"You start off with a site that looks like current news in Iraq; with a single click, you're at an active jihad attack site,” Custer said. “You can see Humvees blown up. You can see American bodies drug through the street. You can see small-arms attacks.

“Next link will take you to a motivational site, where martyr operatives, suicide bombers, are pictured in heaven; you can you see their farewell speeches,” he said. “Another click and you're at a site where you can download scripted talking points that validate … religious justification for mass murder."

Two avenues spring to mind. First, the most important is to support organizations that are getting the moderate message out there. We need to put the "p" back in Islam. It needs to be an internet based thing, as well. Old style VoA broadcasts and such are nice, but they aren't going to cut it here. Second, we don't need to be afraid about making it known that jihadists who fight suffer an inglorious fate. Perhaps launch attacks on jihadist websites, replacing images and videos with our own choices.

h/t: D-Ring for both links.