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Swarming and the Future of Conflict Paperback – December 19, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Rand Corporation (December 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0833028855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0833028853
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,883,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This documented briefing continues the elaboration of our ideas about how the information revolution is affecting the whole spectrum of conflict. Our notion of cyberwar (1993) focused on the military domain, while our study on netwar (1996) examined irregular modes of conflict, including terror, crime, and militant social activism. Here we advance the idea that swarming may emerge as a definitive doctrine that will encompassand enliven both cyberwar and netwar. This doctrinal proposal relates to our efforts to flesh out a four-part vision of how to prepare for information-age conflict (see Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 1997, Ch. 19).We have argued, first of all, for adopting a broad concept of "information" so that it is defined as something that refers not only to communications media and the messages transmitted, but also to the increasingly material "information content" of all things, including weapons and other sorts of systems. The next part of our vision focused on the organizational dimension, emphasizing that the information revolution empowers thenetwork form-undermining most hierarchies. Moving on to the third part, we then exposited our ideas about developing an American grand strategy based on "guarded openness"-a principle that, for example, encourages reaching out widely with ideas about freedom and progress, while still being circumspect about diffusion of advanced information processes and technologies.In this document, we complete our four-part vision by articulating a doctrine we call "swarming," and which we believe may eventually apply across the entire spectrum of conflict-from low to high intensity, and from civic-oriented actions to military combat operations on land, at sea, and in the air.Primarily of interest to U.S. policymakers and strategists, this documented briefing will also interest those in academia and research institutes concerned with how the information revolution is altering the nature of conflict.This study was prepared for a project on "Swarming and Information Operations." The project was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence), OASD/C3I, and was conducted within theInternational Security and Defense Policy Center of RAND's National Defense ResearchInstitute (NDRI). NDRI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.Readers should also see a companion study by Sean Edwards, Swarming on the Battlefield: Past, Present, and Future (RAND, 2000). It provides additional historical background and analysis.Comments are invited. We are available via email, arquilla@rand.org andronfeldt@rand.org.

About the Author

JOHN ARQUILLA (Ph.D., Political Science, Stanford University) is a RAND consultant and a professor of foreign policy at the United States Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

DAVID F. RONFELDT (Ph.D., Political Science, Stanford University) is a Senior Social Scientist at RAND whose research focus includes information revolution, netwar, cyberocracy, strategic swarming and the rise of transnational networks of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. N. Mohlman VINE VOICE on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First off, it should be stated that this is by no means a full book. Rather, it is more of a fleshed out briefing paper. That said, the authors have done a superb job of positing a new theory of combat and have gone to some lengths to establish it in the context of military history, and to consider some of the potential strengths and weaknesses of this nascent doctrine.
Swarming, or "BattleSwarm", as the authors refer to it, might be considered the logical endgame of maneuver warfare theory: small, highly mobile, highly lethal, and most importantly, largely autonomous units that converge on a point (either with force or fire) from all directions, and then disperse until called upon again. This mode of attack has the advantage of maximizing the application of fire when needed, while minimizing the exposure of friendly units to PGM's and massed enemy formations when not. To a degree, this is what we have seen American forces do in Afghanistan, but that was a result of ad hoc planning born of necessity. What the authors propose here, however, is a complete rethinking of the military (primarily the Army) to effectively engage in this new kind of fighting.
As one might expect, of paramount importance to the success of BattleSwarm is the development of networking technologies that can allow widely dispersed units to communicate with each other and command elements in an effective fashion. Moreover, the authors point out the need for a new command doctrine that will limit micromanaging of the battlespace, on the one hand, and insufficient coordination of assets on the other.
Ultimately, this study is just a first step, albeit a critical one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nichomachus on November 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
An interesting start into a functional aspect of evolving information-based warfare. Going beyond just having "information dominance," this work explores the application of such knowledge with an explication of "BattleSwarm" doctrine. Returning to the controlled chaos of Mongol hoards, this study sees our capacities for information for integrated attack from all sides and from all dimensions. With a broad, historical outline that helps one's imagination, this study is a good start at the pros and cons this doctrine for the future.
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