Worldwide Information Warfare

DEFENSE POLICY Worldwide Information Warfare: 

The Search for the Information Warrior in the United States, England, Norway, and j apan ‘

MICHAELWHITE,Ph.D., LT.COL.,USAF ANDMICHAELFRAZIERP,h.D.

During a 1996 Pentagon briefing on the”Future of Airpower,” Elliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University stated that, in the past, Air Force General Officers did extensive permission planning and then were forced to wait for the outcome of a battle to unfold. According to Cohen, tomorrow’s war fighting engagements will see our Generals constantly involved in every phase of an operation due to the huge volume and constant flow of information available to them. Battlefield commanders at the highest levels will have to depend on a  select cadre of information warriors whocan process a large amount of diverse information quickly and efficiently (Cohen, 1996).

The significant impact of both the end of the Cold War and dramatic advances in technology have prompted the world-wide military establishment to reevaluate time-tested war fighting techniques. Many present-day military doctrinalists call these new war fighting strategies information warfare or information operations. According to the latest military publications, Information Warfare is defined as, “Those actions taken to achieve information superiority in support of national strategy by affecting adversary information and information systems, while leveraging and protect- ing our own information and information systems”. General Ronald Fogleman, the USAF Chief of Staff, often addresses this “Fifth Dimension” of warfare. He states that, ” … dominating this information spectrum is going to be critical to military success in the future” (Fogleman, 1995). Our national intent, there- fore, must be to deny the enemy’s use of critical information systems, protect ours, and leverage the differential (Kuehl, 1995). The most obvious problem for strategists is determining just how to achieve this goal. Sun Tzu, our oldest and perhaps most distinguished military theorist, was concerned with the accurate processing of information and intelligence as early as 500 B. C. He states that, “…if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles” (Cleary, 1991).

RESEARCH QUESTIONS 

The first question we must ask ourselves, therefore, is, “Who are we?” What cognitive abilities/differences do the Air Force information warriors of today possess? Sun Tzu also believed that commanders must attempt to defeat their enemies before reaching the battle- field. Modern information operations may be fought on a “virtual battlespace” which will be very difficult to define. Aspects which commanders once concentrated on, such as geography and weather, may soon be irrelevant. The Cognitive Functions of the modern information warrior are illustrated in the above I, illustration. With the use of the latest computer technology, it may be possible to engage and defeat an enemy from thousands of miles away, without firing a single shot. This new battles pace will place even more emphasis on dynamic information processing.decision making, and problem- solving. The immense volume of in- formation may be problematic. The 21st century information warrior will, therefore, experience “information overload.” Battlefield commanders will be asked to function in a highly unstructured, fast paced, information rich, virtual battlespace. Timing and tempo and the quick and efficient processing of information will be an important key to victory. The obvious question we must ask ourselves then, is whether we possess the war fighting personnel who can face these new challenges. How will the officers of tomorrow process information; what types of problem solving and analytical techniques do they possess; and will they be able to function in a highly technical computer-enhanced war fighting world?

 

An investigation of the individual cognitive styles of our future war fighters can answer some, if not all, of these questions. Cognitive learning styles, as defined by Messick (1976), ” … help explain how an individual responds to a wide range of intellectual and perceptual stimuli. Each person’s style is determined by the way he takes note of his total surroundings, how he seeks meaning, how he becomes in- formed”. In other words, cognitive styles explain how individuals make decisions, interpret data, respond to information, and deal with their intellectual and perceptual environment. The potential impact of cognitive psy- chology on information operations is vast. The US Air Force is currently researching meth- ods, procedures, and their associated implica- tions in this new realm of Information War- fare. InApril, 1995 the Air Intelligence Agency, in cooperation with the Institute for National Security Studies, requested that research be conducted to determine the relationship be- tween cognitive styles and Information War- fare.

PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH

In 1996, Howard University conducted a joint research project with the Pentagon Air

Staff, Air University, and the USAF Academy. The purpose of this study was to identify a multi-dimensional construct of the cognitive styles of international Air Force officers. Knowledge of individual cognitive styles can potentially impact world-wide education and training, international relations, and the success or failure of future information operations. This research also sought to develop a “cognitive map” of the “ideal” information warrior. Identifying these 21st century warriors can have a dramatic impact on how we structure our forces in the future. General Officers must surround them- selves with highly effective and efficient information warfare cadres in order to survive 21st century conflicts. The figure above illustrates the cognitive functions of the information war- nor.

 

MethodOLOGY: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS 

 

To determine a world-wide cognitive profile, 314 cadets were tested in four countries- the United States, England, Norway, and Japan. Researchers have identified approximately twelve different cognitive styles. This study investigated the cognitive styles that dealt specifically with information processing. Each cadet was administered three highly reliable cognitive style tests. The first test, the Group Embedded Figures Test, determines whether an individual is field independent or field de- pendent. Field independence and field dependence indicates the degree to which an individual can discern details in complex visual environments and explains an individual’s problem solving and information processing thought processes. This test also measures motivation, personality, and analytical skills. These skills will be critical to information warriors in the future. The second test, the Ge-

 

 

 

The USAF has made several significant changes in its Professional Military Education program, based on the feedback from these tests. Changes include an aggressive cooperative learning program and changes in the implementation of wargaming and course evaluations.

Findings also revealed that, although statistics showed differences among Caucasians and African-Americans, both groups were highly analytical.

stalt Completion Test,

flexibility. Cognitive

individual’s ability to

order to focus on relevant information. An individual who is cognitively flexible can sort through vast amounts of complex information, is analytical, and has highly developed information processing skills. Finally, the Kolb

Learning Style Inventory deter

individual’s predisposition to any

perceptual, or information-processing tion. It also indicates how individuals learn, perceive their environment, and how they pro- cess information. Statistical comparisons were

3). The biggest differences in the scores of the international cadets tested were found in Japan. Japanese cadets are very homogeneous (i.e., no single cognitive style stood out over the rest). This finding is consistent with Japanese values, harmony, consensus and how the individual identity is submerged in the group.

4). Results also indicated that English cadets tend to be “thinking oriented,” Norwegian cadets tend to be “doing oriented,” and Japanese cadets tend to be “feeling oriented.”

5). Finally, this research found that a large number of cadets in each group tested would make “ideal” information warriors–highly analytical, cognitively flexible, and field in- dependent.

Although more research in this area is needed, these preliminary findings can have a significant impact on a wide-range of personnel issues including, how we recruit/select individuals for certain career fields (e.g., computer technology, war gaming developers, intelligence processors, air traffic controllers, etc.). This knowledge can also impact education and training issues such as how we structure curricula, the amount and forms of technology used, how we test and evaluate trainees, and how we develop wargaming and other training scenarios. Finally, this knowledge base can impact us internationally. This re- search has implications on how we conduct multi-national operations and how we con- duct combined training. We can also gain a greater understanding of foreign nationals and enhance international relations.

made according to commissioning ethnic groups, and nationalities.

 

RESULTS

situa-

sources,

determines cognitive flexibility measures an ignore distractions in

The following results were determined by the research:

1). The cognitive styles of USAF Academy and ROTC cadets were significantly different. Over 90 percent of USAF cadets were field independent (highly analytical) and almost 100 percent of this group was cognitively flexible. Only 60 percent of the ROTC cadets were field independent and 80 per- cent of this group was cognitively flexible.

 

The USAF has made several significant changes in its Professional Military Educa- tion program, based on the feedback from these tests. Changes include an aggressive cooperative learning program and changes in the implementation of wargaming and course evaluations.

Findings also revealed that, although statistics showed differences among Caucasians and African-Americans, both groups were highly analytical.

stalt Completion Test,

flexibility. Cognitive

individual’s ability to

order to focus on relevant information. An individual who is cognitively flexible can sort through vast amounts of complex information, is analytical, and has highly developed information processing skills. Finally, the Kolb

Learning Style Inventory deter individual’s predisposition to any perceptual, or information-processing tion. It also indicates how individuals learn, perceive their environment, and how they process information. Statistical comparisons were

3). The biggest differences in the scores of the international cadets tested were found in Japan. Japanese cadets are very homogeneous (i.e., no single cognitive style stood out over the rest). This finding is consistent with Japanese values, harmony, consensus and how the individual identity is submerged in the group.

4). Results also indicated that English cadets tend to be “thinking oriented,” Norwegian cadets tend to be “doing oriented,” and

Japanese cadets tend to be “feeling oriented.”

5). Finally, this research found that a large number of cadets in each group tested would make “ideal” information warriors–highly analytical, cognitively flexible, and field in- dependent.

Although more research in this area is needed, these preliminary findings can have a significant impact on a wide-range of personnel issues including, how we recruit/select individuals for certain career fields (e.g., computer technology, war gaming developers, intelligence processors, air traffic controllers, etc.). This knowledge can also impact education and training issues such as how we structure curricula, the amount and forms of technology used, how we test and evaluate trainees, and how we develop wargaming and other training scenarios. Finally, this knowledge base can impact us internationally. This re- search has implications on how we conduct multi-national operations and how we con- duct combined training. We can also gain a greater understanding of foreign nationals and enhance international relations.

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

Cohen, E. (january, 1996). Speech, “The Future of Airpower,” to the USAF National Defense Fellows, Pentagon, Washington, DC.

Fogleman, R. R., General, USAF (April, 1995). Speech, “The Fifth Dimension of Warfare,” to the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association, Washington, D.C.

Kuehl, D. T. (1995). Presentation, “Information War- fare: Environment for Conflict, Strategy for the Future,” given at the Institute for National Strategic Studies Informa- tion Warfare Conference, Washington, D.C.

Cleary, T. (1991). Sun Tzu, The Art of War. London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Messick, S. (1984). The Nature of Cognitive Styles: Problems and Promise in Educational Practice. Educational Psychologist, .ill(2), 59-74.

Lt. Colonel Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D. was the US Air Force National Defense Fellow and Visiting Professor at Howard University in 1995-96. He is currently the Commander, AFROTC Detachment 27, Northern Ari- zona University.

Michael Frazier, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, Depart- ment of Political Science, Howard University and is the Editor-in-Chief, Government and Politics.

1 The complete article appeared in the Fall 1997 issue of the Aerospace Education Foundation publication©.

 

 

 

 

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