This traditional level of theory and practice remains important in the information age. Kinship ties, be they of blood or brotherhood, are a fundamental aspect of many terrorist, criminal, and gang organizations. For example, news about Osama bin Laden and his network, al-Qaeda "the Base" , continue to reveal his, and its, dependence on personal relationships he formed over the years with "Afghan Arabs" from Egypt and elsewhere who were committed to anti-U.
In what is tantamount to a classic pattern of clan-like behavior, his son married the daughter of his longtime aide and likely successor, Abu Hoffs al-Masri, in January [ 52 ]. Social activists have also noted that personal friendships and bonding experiences may lie behind the successful formation and functioning of solidarity and affinity groups.
And once again, the case of the ICBL speaks to the significance of this level, when organizer Jody Williams treats trust as the social bedrock of the campaign:. The tendency in some circles to view networks as amounting to configurations of social capital and trust is helpful for analyzing this level. But there are other important concepts as well, notably about people forming "communities of practice" Brown and Duguid, , and "epistemic communities" Haas, In a sense, all these concepts reflect the ancient, vital necessity of belonging to a family, clan, or tribe and associating one's identity with it.
Meanwhile, the traditions of social network analysis and economic transaction analysis warn against the risks of having participants who are "free riders" or lack a personal commitment to teamwork. This is one of the key weaknesses of the network form - one that may affect counternetwar designs as well. It extends partly from the fact that networks are often thought to lack a "center of gravity" as an organization.
Netwar actors that are strong at all five levels are, and will be, very strong indeed. Netwar works - and it is working for all types: good guys and bad guys, civil and uncivil actors. So far, all have done quite well, generally, in their various confrontations with nation states. A significant question, then, is whether one or the other type could predominate in the future? Will NGOs proselytizing for human rights and high ethical standards reshape the world and its statecraft? Or will violent terrorists, criminals, and ethnonationalists have greater impact - in a dark way?
Or will all types move ahead in tandem? Practice has been outrunning theory in one area after another where netwar is taking hold. Most commentaries and case studies about organizational networks and networked organizations have concerned competitive developments in the business world.
However, the year brought an advance in U.
Networks, netwars and the fight for the future | Ronfeldt | First Monday
Government- and military-related research institutes paid the most attention e. The first landmark was the annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism: , released by the U. It provided the strongest statement yet about networking trends:. By December , observation of this trend - and of the links growing between crime and terrorism - became even more pronounced in the report of a U. While noting that most criminal organizations remain hierarchical - they still have leaders and subordinates - the International Crime Threat Assessment found that:.
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Also in December , a forecasting report with a year outlook - Global Trends - was produced by the National Intelligence Council, based largely on conferences sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency for consulting nongovernment experts [ 57 ]. The report often uses the word "network" and observes that the world and many of its actors, activities, and infrastructures are ever more networked.
Nonetheless, network dynamics appear more in a background than a foreground role - the report does not do much to illuminate network dynamics. Moreover, where this future outlook highlights the growing power and presence of networked nonstate actors of all varieties, it mostly plays up the perils of terrorists, criminals, and other possible adversaries, along with the challenges that activist NGOs may pose for states. The report has little to say about the promising opportunities for a world in which civil-society actors continue to gain strength through networking and where states may learn to communicate, coordinate, and act conjointly with them to address legitimate matters of mutual concern, from democracy to security.
Our own work dating from Arquilla and Ronfeldt, , leads to four policy-oriented propositions about the information revolution and its implications for netwar and counternetwar [ 58 ]:. Hierarchies have a difficult time fighting networks. There are examples of this across the conflict spectrum. Some of the best are found in the failings of many governments to defeat transnational criminal cartels engaged in drug smuggling, as in Colombia. The persistence of religious revivalist movements, as in Algeria, in the face of unremitting state opposition, shows both the defensive and offensive robustness of the network form.
The Zapatista movement in Mexico, with its legions of supporters and sympathizers among local and transnational NGOs, shows that social netwar can put a democratizing autocracy on the defensive and pressure it to continue adopting reforms. It takes networks to fight networks. Governments that want to defend against netwar may have to adopt organizational designs and strategies like those of their adversaries.
This does not mean mirroring the adversary, but rather learning to draw on the same design principles that he has already learned about the rise of network forms in the information age. These principles depend to some extent on technological innovation, but mainly on a willingness to innovate organizationally and doctrinally, including by building new mechanisms for interagency and multi-jurisdictional cooperation. Whoever masters the network form first and best will gain major advantages.
In these early decades of the information age, adversaries who are advanced at networking be they criminals, terrorists, or militant social anarchists and activists , are enjoying an increase in their power relative to state agencies. While networking once allowed them simply to keep from being suppressed, it now allows them to compete on more nearly equal terms with states and other hierarchically oriented actors.
Where appropriate, counternetwar may thus require very effective interagency approaches, which by their nature involve networked structures. It is not necessary, desirable, or even possible to replace all hierarchies with networks in governments. Rather, the challenge will be to blend these two forms skillfully, while retaining enough core authority to encourage and enforce adherence to networked processes. By creating effective hybrids, governments may become better prepared to confront the new threats and challenges emerging in the information age, whether generated by terrorists, ethnonationalists, militias, criminals, or other actors.
For elaboration, see Arquilla and Ronfeldt, , Ch. However, governments tend to be so constrained by hierarchical habits and institutional interests that it may take some sharp reverses - such as were just suffered in the terrorist attacks in the United States - before a willingness to experiment more seriously with networking emerges. The costs and risks associated with failing to engage in institutional redesign are likely to be high - and may grow ever higher over time.
In the most difficult areas - crime and terrorism - steps to improve intra- and international networking are moving in the right direction. But far more remains to be done, as criminal and terrorist networks continuously remake themselves into ever more difficult targets.
Much more can and should be done to shift to a strategy of both cultivating and cooperating with NGOs. Since U. But the cost of inattention to this issue is already substantial e. Learning not only to live but also to work with NGOs to create new governance schemes for addressing social problems is becoming the cutting edge of policy and strategy [ 59 ]. It would seem advisable for the United States to take the lead at this - possibly in connection with newly emerging concepts about "information engagement.
Sweden, a good friend to nonstate actors, has not been in a shooting war for years. So perhaps the nurturing strategies toward nonstate actors that we prefer will have to diffuse from the periphery of the world political system to its core actors, slowly and over time, if the greater powers cannot advance the process themselves. This concluding discussion could no doubt be made more thorough and nuanced. But, brief and selective as it is, it serves to underscore what we think is the important point: The rise of netwar and its many early successes imply the need for statecraft to adjust to - perhaps be transformed by - these civil and uncivil manifestations of the information revolution.
Most central concepts about national security are over half a century old now. Containment, mutual deterrence, coercive diplomacy, all seem ever less relevant to the types of challenges confronting nation states. Netwar - with its emphasis on empowering dispersed small groups, its reliance on the power of the story, and its suitability to leaderless networks adept at swarming - should call forth a strategic renaissance among those who would either employ it or oppose it.
This conceptual rebirth, if allowed to thrive, will undoubtedly take us all far from the old paradigms. Deterrence and coercion will not disappear entirely as tools of statecraft; but, more and more often, suasion will have to be tried, as our understanding of the limited usefulness of force grows ever clearer.
As we were putting the finishing touches on this paper, terrorists struck in New York and Washington. If Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is the principal adversary - as seems increasingly likely - then it may prove useful to view it through the perspective offered by the netwar concept and the five levels of analysis that we have elucidated. For the United States and its friends and allies, one challenge will be to learn to network better with each other. Some of this is already going on, in terms of intelligence sharing, but much more must be done to build a globally operational counterterror network.
A particular challenge for the cumbersome American bureaucracy will be to encourage deep, all-channel networking among the military, law enforcement, and intelligence elements whose collaboration is crucial for achieving successes. For al-Qaeda, the organizational challenge seems to lie in making sure that their network is not simply a single hub designed around bin Laden - as his death or capture would signal their defeat. The more a terrorist network takes the form of a multi-hub "spider's web" design, with multiple centers and peripheries, the more redundant and resilient it will be - and the harder to defeat.
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Second, at the narrative level, there is a broad contention between Western liberal ideas about the spread of free markets, free peoples, and open societies, versus Muslim convictions about the exploitive, invasive, demeaning nature of Western incursions into the Islamic world. To use Samuel Huntington's phrase, this conflict involves a "clash of civilizations. Thus we should not think of bin Laden as being clinically "insane" but rather as culturally and temporally perverse.
To this basic imagery, the United States has made a point of adding that the attacks were "acts of war" against not only America but also "the civilized world," and American public opinion has been quickly galvanized by the revival of the Pearl Harbor metaphor. Indeed, the disproportionate nature of the terrorists' use of force - including the mass murder of civilians - can only reinforce feelings of righteous indignation.
Against this, the perpetrators are likely to exalt their own "holy war" imagery, which they will have trouble exploiting beyond the Islamic world - and cannot do even that well as long as they remain concealed behind a veil of anonymity.
But while the United States may have the edge in the "battle of the story" in much of the world, it will have to think deeply about how to keep that edge if U. Third, in terms of doctrine, the al-Qaeda network seems to have a grasp of the nonlinear nature of the battlespace, and of the value of attack from multiple directions by dispersed small units. If this is indeed a war being waged by al-Qaeda, its first campaign was no doubt the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in , followed by a sharp shift to Africa with the embassy bombings of In between, and since, there have been a number of other skirmishes in far-flung locales, with some smaller attacks succeeding, and others apparently having been prevented by good intelligence.
Thus, bin Laden and his cohorts appear to have developed a swarm-like doctrine that features a campaign of episodic, pulsing attacks by various nodes of his network - at locations sprawled across global time and space where he has advantages for seizing the initiative, stealthily. Against this doctrine, the United States has seemingly little to pose, as yet. Some defensive efforts to increase "force protection" have been pursued, and missile strikes in Afghanistan and the Sudan in suggest that the offensive part of U.
Needless to say, if our ideas about netwar, swarming, and the future of conflict are on the mark, the former is not likely to be a winning approach; a whole new doctrine based on swarming concepts should be developed. It is possible that the notion of "counterleadership targeting" will continue to be featured - this was tried against Moammar Qaddhafi in , Saddam Hussein in , Mohamed Aidid in , and against bin Laden in Every effort to date has failed, [ 60 ] but that may not keep the United States from trying yet again, as this seems a part of its doctrinal paradigm.
Besides, if bin Laden is the only hub of the al-Qaeda network, his death or capture might turn the tide. Next, at the technological level, the United States possesses a vast array of very advanced systems, while al-Qaeda has relatively fewer - and has great and increasing reluctance to use advanced telecommunications because of the risks of detection and tracking.
But this category cannot be analyzed quite so simply. The United States, for example, has extensive "national technical means" for gathering intelligence and targeting information - but perhaps only a small portion of these means have utility against dispersed, networked terrorists. Orbital assets - now the linchpins of American intelligence - may prove of little moment against bin Laden.
At the same time, al-Qaeda has access to commercial off-the-shelf technologies that may prove a boon to their operations. Finally, at the social level, this network features tight religious and kinship bonds among the terrorists, who share a tribalized, clannish view of "us" versus "them.
Against this, the United States faces a profound defensive challenge at the social level. How will the American people, despite the arousal of nationalism, react to the potential need to become a less open society in order to become more secure? If the Pearl Harbor metaphor - key to the American narrative dimension - holds up, and if U. But something of a social divide may emerge between the United States and Europe over whether the response to the attack on America should be guided by a "war" or a "law enforcement" paradigm. In summary, a netwar perspective on the various dimensions of the struggle with al-Qaeda - again, if this is indeed the adversary, or one of the them - renders some interesting insights into both the context and conduct of this first major conflict of the millennium.
Al-Qaeda seems to hold advantages at the social and doctrinal levels, and apparently in the organizational domain as well. The United States and its allies probably hold only marginal advantages at the narrative and technological levels. In terms of strategy, there appears to be less room for al-Qaeda to improve. However, its sound doctrinal and solid social underpinnings might be further enhanced - and a vulnerability removed - if it moved further away from being a hub network revolving around bin Laden.
Indeed, this may be an optimal strategy for al-Qaeda, as it is delimited from trying to fight an open "battle of the story" at the narrative level, its one other apparent strategic option. For the United States and its allies, there is much room for improvement - most of all at the organizational and doctrinal levels. Simply put, the West must start to build its own networks and must learn to swarm the enemy, in order to keep it on the run or pinned down until it can be destroyed.
The United States and its allies must also seize the initiative - including by applying pressure on any states that harbor terrorists. To be sure, the edge at the narrative level in the world at large must be maintained, but this can be achieved with an economy of effort.
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The real work needs to be done in developing an innovative concept of operations and building the right kinds of networks to carry off a swarming campaign against networked terrorists. For, at its heart, netwar is far more about organization and doctrine than it is about technology. The outcomes of current and future netwars are bound to confirm this. E-mail: ronfeldt rand.
E-mail: arquilla rand. In addition to the sources in the bibliography, this paper reflects insights from some of the case-study chapters that appear in our forthcoming book, Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy RAND, The literatures on each of these concepts is, by now, quite large, except for "network-centric warfare," whose main source is Cebrowski and Garstka Some writers e. See Kelly and Lipnack and Stamps on "the network age," Castells and Kumon on "the network society," and Dertouzos on "networks as nations. See Held and McGrew , esp.
Tarrow provides a cautioning literature review. The Harvard Business Review is a fine source of business-oriented references, e. For background and further elaboration, see Arquilla and Ronfeldt , ; Ronfeldt et al. This is just a short exemplary statement. Many other examples could be noted. Other writers who have turned to our netwar concept include Castells and Gray Toffler and Toffler engage similar themes. The success of Otpor "Resistance" in overthrowing the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia is an example of a combined insider-outsider strategy Cohen, Stephen Borgatti and Peter Monge deserve special words of thanks for informal review comments and significant criticisms they provided regarding this section.
The references are, respectively to books by Nohria and Eccles ; Wellman and Berkowitz ; and Wasserman and Faust More complicated designs may be laid out, depending on how many nodes and variations in ties are taken into account. While we appreciate the simplicity of the three designs mentioned here, a more complex depiction of networks composed of three to five persons appears in Shaw , which uses the term "comcon" instead of "all-channel.
Term from Burt The "structural hole" concept is quite prominent in the literature about social network analysis. Meanwhile, a somewhat similar, equally interesting concept is the "small world network" being developed separately by mathematicians. See note Granovetter is the classic reference about strong versus weak ties; see Perrow about tightly versus loosely coupled systems.
For a fascinating discussion of the history of visualization techniques, see Freeman The discussion here, like the one in the prior subsection, is selective and pointed. For broader, thorough discussions of the various literatures on organizational forms and organizational network analysis, see Monge and Contractor and Monge and Fulk For example, Miles and Snow discuss why network organizations in the business world may fail rather than succeed; and Kumar and Dissel discuss interorganizational business systems whose topologies correspond to chain, hub, or all-channel networks.
Also see references in note 4. In that volume, Perrow sounds a new note when he concludes that the large, fully integrated firms so characteristic of American life may have eroding effects on civil society - and the growth of small firm networks may have revitalizing effects. M1, M2, provides an overview and relates how this pattern may reflect a mathematical "power law" that is of interest to complexity theorists.
Some of the text in this section is from our earlier books see Arquilla and Ronfeldt, , What is analytically new here is the addition of the "narrative level" to the scope of analysis. This assumes that there are enough actors and resources to organize a network in the first place. Otherwise we would have to specify a recruitment and resource level as part of what makes a network strong and effective.
See Burt , and his Web site on "structural holes" and "bridges," and Watts and Strogatz on "small world networks. From Craig S. We have previously discussed the need for attention to hybrids of hierarchies and networks, most recently with regard to military swarming Arquilla and Ronfeldt, Yet, the idea that such hybrids are a normal feature of social life has figured in a substream of academic writings for decades. In an exemplary volume from the s La Porte, , the authors maintain that few social activities have structures that look like a "tree" hierarchy or a "full matrix" an all-channel network.
Most have "semilattice" structures - they resemble a set of oddly interconnected hierarchies and networks. Because we want to encourage a new turn of mind, we discuss this as the narrative level, in keeping with our sense that "whose story wins" is a vital aspect of netwars of all types. This has been a strong theme of American radical activist organizers, from early pre-netwar ones like Saul Alinsky to contemporary strategists like Gene Sharp.
This, of course, is true for earlier modes of conflict too. Modern guerrilla wars placed very strong emphasis on winning by convincing an opponent that an implacable insurgent movement can never be decisively defeated. In counterinsurgency, similar efforts are made to win the "hearts and minds" of indigenous peoples. According to a classic of organization theory Schein, , p. C1, C5, on Ferren's design of a new command center for a Navy command ship. Rothkopf , among others, warns about the advent of "the disinformation age," although his examples are not from netwars.
The concept of "soft power" comes from Nye and Nye and Owens Standard sources on neorealism include a range of writings by Kenneth Waltz and John Mearshimer in particular. The literature on constructivism is much more recent and less settled but revolves mainly around writings by Emanuel Adler, Peter Katzenstein, Terrence Hopf, and Alexander Wendt, among others. An interesting effort to split the difference, by focusing on how people argue their stories, is Risse Our own interest in the narrative level stems in part from our work on the concept of "noopolitik" Arquilla and Ronfeldt, , and Ronfeldt and Arquilla, Commonly recognized downsides are the possibilities that no decision is made, that unaccountable ones are made, or that a network will lack a "center of gravity.
According to Paul de Armond, many far rightists may now regard leaderless resistance as a backward step, since it means that they should not, indeed cannot, organize a mass party and be very public about their leaders and aims. See Barkun for further discussion of leaderless resistance. At more analytical levels, see Kelly on "swarm networks," Bonabeau, Dorigo and Theraulaz on "swarm intelligence," and Johnson on "swarm logic.
It is the source of the observations and quotations in the paragraph. One role in an affinity group might be police liaison, but it carries the risk that this person would be perceived as a group leader, when in fact the group does not have a leader per se, making all decisions through consensus. He observes that peer-to-peer computing can enable its users to prevent censorship of documents, provide anonymity for users, remove any single point of failure or control, efficiently store and distribute documents, and provide plausible deniability for node operators.
See Oram Rutherford , with original text corrected via e-mail correspondence. Also see Williams and Goose , esp. MacLeod notes that recent commercial practices increased Britain's vulnerability to this social netwar: Many tanker drivers were freelancers, with no contractual obligations to the oil companies; and many gas stations operated under a "just-in-time" delivery system, keeping few reserves in place. Schweizer details the CIA's sending of advanced communications devices to Solidarity, and notes p. A1, AA From U. Also see Berger for additional observations about such propositions.
A growing literature has begun to identify lessons and options for states and NGOs to work together. Recent sources we consulted include Metzl , Florini , Reinicke , Gerlach, Palmer, and Stringer , and Simmons ; Fukuyama and Wagner for a RAND research perspective; Chayes, Chayes, and Raach on conflict management situations; Metzl and Tuijl on human rights issues; and Kapstein , Carothers and Clark, Friedman, and Hochstetler for cautionary observations about expecting too much from global civil society.
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