In Athena’s Camp
Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age
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The information revolution — which is as much an organizational as a technological revolution — is transforming the nature of conflict across the spectrum: from open warfare, to terrorism, crime, and even radical social activism. The era of massed field armies is passing, because the new information and communications systems are increasing the lethality of quite small units that can call in deadly, precise missile fire almost anywhere, anytime. In social conflicts, the Internet and other media are greatly empowering individuals and small groups to influence the behavior of states. Whether in military or social conflicts, all protagonists will soon be developing new doctrines, strategies, and tactics for swarming their opponents — with weapons or words, as circumstances require. Preparing for conflict in such a world will require shifting to new forms of organization, particularly the versatile, hardy, all-channel network. This shift will prove difficult for states and professional militaries that remain bastions of hierarchy, bound to resist institutional redesign. They will make the shift as they realize that information and knowledge are becoming the key elements of power. This implies, among other things, that Mars, the old brute-force god of war, must give way to Athena, the well-armed goddess of wisdom. Accepting Athena as the patroness of this information age represents a first step not only for preparing for future conflicts, but also for preventing them.
"Although some of its passages will be of more interest to philosophers than to soldiers, In Athena's Camp is an interesting book. It should be read by anyone in the special-operations community who is interested in information operations, especially those in PSYOP, a field that is only beginning to better use technology to form network-hierarchy hybrids in order to act faster than our competitors."
- Special Warfare
"Typically thorough RAND fashion…the authors ponder, correctly, whether a rigid, military command structure can adapt to the decentralized organizational restructuring that Net war will demand…The book correctly points out the importance of creating new doctrines within which to place the new technological developments. After all, to be effective, information must be combined with a coherent strategy, consistent organization and proper management of resources."
"I enjoyed reading the book In Athena's Camp with its hard-hitting ideas and historical images of tactical warfare down the ages…a real eye-opener…I found the book to be thought provoking and an excellent reference guide on the use of information in warfare — past, present and possible future. Anyone interested in military history and cyberspace should read this book."
- Science and Technology Journal
"Arquilla and Ronfeldt's contributions provide the most interesting conceptual meat of the book…They propose that 'information is a bigger, deeper concept than traditionally presumed and should be treated as a basic, underlying, and overarching dynamic of all theory and practice about warfare in the information-age.' This view of information as having a 'transcendent, if not independent, role' leads them into fascinating discussions of the nature of information and knowledge."
- Information, Communication, Society
"This lively and highly readable survey of trends in information warfare provides an excellent overview of an expanding field in military science. The editors, John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School and David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation, are well versed in the complex theories of information warfare, and they render the subject highly approachable to those not fully engaged in the debate…it represents one-stop shopping for any serious military analyst seeking to understand the current language, trend lines, and tensions in the discussion of information warfare."
- Naval War College Review