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January 18, 2006

Global Guerrillas And Open-Source Warfare Future  Iraq  War and Peace

The article cited in the previous post, illustrating the adaptability of the Iraqi insurgents, is also linked to by John Robb of Global Guerrillas. Robb, counter-terrorism veteran and software entrepreneur, has lots of interesting things to say about the future of warfare. See his blog, here.

Central to Robb's thinking is the idea that insurgencies around the world are increasingly decentralized, loosely-coupled, networked affairs created by "global guerrillas" who employ rapidly evolving tactics, often based on systems disruption swarms. A hallmark of the global guerrilla is open-source warfare, where the analogy is to open-source software development. Global guerrillas innovate, and their innovations are rapidly disseminated in a decentralized, viral fashion facilitated by global communications and the Internet. They learn from one another in real-time. Robb writes:

[T]he insurgency isn't a fragile hierarchical organization but rather a resilient network made up of small, autonomous groups. This means that the insurgency is virtually immune to attrition and decapitation. It will combine and recombine to form a viable network despite high rates of attrition. Body counts — and the military should already know this — aren't a good predictor of success.

...[O]ut-innovating the insurgency will most likely prove unsuccessful. The insurgency uses an open-source community approach (similar to the decentralized development process now prevalent in the software industry) to warfare that is extremely quick and innovative. New technologies and tactics move rapidly from one end of the insurgency to the other, aided by Iraq's relatively advanced communications and transportation grid — demonstrated by the rapid increases in the sophistication of the insurgents' homemade bombs. This implies that the insurgency's innovation cycles are faster than the American military's slower bureaucratic processes (for example: its inability to deliver sufficient body and vehicle armor to our troops in Iraq).

The Pentagon is big, clunky, hierarchical Microsoft; the insurgency is Linux and the Internet: rapidly mutating, highly networked, decentralized, loosely-coupled, constantly learning. The Pentagon can't keep up. In the long run (or maybe not so very long), it doesn't stand a chance.

Global communications and the Internet are changing the world at an exponential pace. It was inevitable that they would change warfare, too.

Posted by Jonathan at January 18, 2006 10:03 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


American military's slower bureaucratic processes (for example: its inability to deliver sufficient body and vehicle armor to our troops in Iraq).

Inability to deliver? The soldiers for the truth have this article

"The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action."

Others have taken private money, purchased products and are being told 'no'. It doesn't sound like a buecratic issue.,...but something else.

Posted by: eric blair at January 19, 2006 06:16 AM

"purchased products and are being told 'no'"

Policy makers making useless or detrimental rules in the isolation of their washington office which can't be changed but by going in washington.

if thats not bureaucraty I dont know what is.

Posted by: at January 19, 2006 07:53 AM