In Athena’s Camp

Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age

Edited by John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt


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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.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Acknowledgments

  • Foreword: The New Intangibles

  • Chapter One

    A New Epoch — and Spectrum — of Conflict

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Part I

    The Revolution in Military Affairs

  • Chapter Two

    Cyberwar Is Coming!

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Chapter Three

    Preparing for the Next War: Reflections on the Revolution in Military Affairs

    Stephen J. Blank

  • Chapter Four

    An Information-Based Revolution in Military Affairs

    Norman C. Davis

  • Chapter Five

    Another View of the Revolution in Military Affairs

    Jeffrey R. Cooper

  • Chapter Six

    Information, Power, and Grand Strategy: In Athena’s Camp — Section 1

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Part II

    Information Warfare

  • Chapter Seven

    Warfare in the Information Age

    Bruce D. Berkowitz

  • Chapter Eight

    The Small and the Many

    Martin C. Libicki

  • Chapter Nine

    Information Warfare: Time for Some Constructive Skepticism?

    John Rothrock

  • Chapter Ten

    Emerging Challenge: Security and Safety in Cyberspace

    Richard O. Hundley and Robert H. Anderson

  • Chapter Eleven

    An Exploration of Cyberspace Security R&D Investment Strategies for DARPA

    Robert H. Anderson and Anthony C. Hearn

  • Part III

    Societal Perspectives

  • Chapter Twelve

    The Advent of Netwar

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Chapter Thirteen

    Societal Implications

    Brian Nichiporuk and Carl H. Builder

  • Chapter Fourteen

    Transnational Criminal Organisations and International Security

    Phil Williams

  • Chapter Fifteen

    Responding to Terrorism Across the Technological Spectrum(Electronic copy not available from RAND.)

    Bruce Hoffman

  • Chapter Sixteen

    A Comment on the Zapatista “Netwar”

    David Ronfeldt and Armando Martinez

  • Part IV

    Emerging Paradigms

  • Chapter Seventeen

    Neocortical Warfare? The Acme of Skill

    Richard Szafranski

  • Chapter Eighteen

    Information, Power, and Grand Strategy: In Athena’s Camp — Section 2

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Chapter Nineteen

    Looking Ahead: Preparing for Information-Age Conflict

    John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

  • Contributors

"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

About the cover: Athena wearing her war helmet, detail from a 5th-century B.C. statue now in the Louvre.

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