Under many names and interpretations, information warfare has been practiced throughout human history.
In this class, we’ll survey some of that history and the methods involved. We will start with Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey and some more Greek mythology in the form of the goddess Athena, followed by a look at Byzantine emperors, the American Revolution, the Spanish-American War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Zimmermann Telegram of World War I, and Pearl Harbor at the beginning of US involvement in World War II.
Modalities of information warfare include, as they always have, the denial of information to an adversary, defense of one’s own information and information channels, influence of the decisionmaking capabilities of the target (such as distortion or destruction of sensors, and manipulation of perceptions), destruction or manipulation of knowledge bases, control of information sources and channels, corruption of information content, the need for speed and more.
History shows that the purposes of the modalities remain constant even as technology changes and advances. From this history we develop American information operations and information warfare as professional disciplines and doctrines.
* Homer, The Odyssey (800 BC), Book IX. An excellent ancient example, though fictitious, of asymmetrical warfare against a powerful enemy. Note the two forms of information warfare practiced against the cyclops Polyphemus (pictured above): destruction of the enemy’s main sensor and deception so the enemy cannot muster his allies.
* “Byzantium: Irene and Iconoclasm,” BBC, January 26, 2007. This short article is about Empress Irene of Byzantium and how she had the eyes of her son, Constantine V, gouged out so he could not rule. Gouging out of a deposed emperor’s eyes was a common practice in Byzantium. Other propaganda and counterpropaganda themes appear in this piece.
* “Battle of Tsushima,” Wikipedia. While I am skeptical of Wikipedia as a uniformly authoritative source, this item on the decisive 1905 naval battle of the Russo-Japanese War is particularly well presented. Many consider the battle to be the first to employ what we now call electronic warfare. Read this section and be prepared to comment on aspects of electronic warfare during the Battle of Tsushima, and its long-term effects.
Christopher Paul, Information Operations: Doctrine and Practice – A Reference Handbook (Praeger Security International, 2008), Chapter 1, “The History of Information Operations and the Broader ‘War of Ideas’ as Context,” pp. 1-21.
* John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, “Information, Power and Grand Strategy: In Athena’s Camp – Section I,” Chapter 6 in Arquilla and Ronfeldt, eds., In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age (RAND, 1997), pp. 141-171.
* L. H. Butterfield, “Psychological Warfare in 1776: The Jefferson-Franklin Plan to Cause Hessian Desertions,” in William E. Daugherty and Morris Janowitz, eds., A Psychological Warfare Casebook (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1958), pp. 73-79. (On reserve in library. I will make a pdf of this brief section.)
* Aaron Linderman, “Contractors Cut Cuba Cable,” Serviam, May-June 2008. A brief article about how the US military, lacking its own internal capacity, hired private contractors to help it cut Spain’s cables during the Spanish-American War and rapidly defeat the enemy.
* “Teaching with Documents: The Zimmermann Telegram,” National Archives, undated. The Zimmermann Telegram is a superior example of information warfare along several lines, which you should be prepared to discuss in class: cryptography, codebreaking, British information dominance, British use of decoded intelligence for war propaganda purposes, British protection of sources and methods through concealment and disinformation, American skepticism about the information message, German failure to coordinate diplomacy with information assurance failure and more. Also read the Zimmermann Telegram entry in Wikipedia, which as of this date (31 January 2011) is detailed and accurate.
* Gordon W. Prange, At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981), pp. 70-77, 148-156, 313-319. Download At Dawn We Slept
* John Yurechko, “How Can We Win the Cold War? Psychological Warfare and American Policy Planning, 1946-1951,” in Joseph S. Gordon, ed., Psychological Operations: The Soviet Challenge (Washington: Defense Intelligence College, 1988), pp. 124-144. Download Yurechko Ch 10
Alan D. Campen, “Iraqi Command and Control: The Information Differential,” The First Information War: The Story of Communications Computers and Intelligence Systems in the Persian Gulf War (AFCEA International Press), pp. 171-177.
Gregory J. Rattray, Strategic Warfare in Cyberspace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001), Chapter 5, pp. 309-392.
Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmermann Telegram (Ballantine, 1985).