The Future of War is Now

John Robb of Global Guerillas has a chapter excerpt of his new book, Brave New War up online. An excerpt:

The conflict in Iraq has foreshadowed the future of global security in much the same way that the Spanish civil war prefigured World War II: it’s become a testing ground, a dry run for something much larger. Unlike previous insurgencies, the one in Iraq comprises seventy-five to one hundred small, diverse, and autonomous groups of zealots, patriots, and criminals alike. These groups, of course, have access to many of the same tools we do—from satellite phones to engineering degrees—and they use them every bit as effectively.

But their single most important asset is their organizational structure, an open-source community network—one that seems to me quite similar to what we see in the software industry. That’s how they’re able to continually stay one step ahead of us. It is an extremely innovative structure, sadly, and it results in decision-making cycles much shorter than those of the U.S. military. Indeed, because the insurgents in Iraq lack a recognizable center of gravity—a leadership structure or an ideology—they are nearly immune to the application of conventional military force. Like Microsoft, the software superpower, the United States hasn’t found its match in a Goliath competitor similar to itself, but in a loose, self-tuning network.

Read the full chapter excerpt here

John's blog is one of the most insightful I have seen recently on global security. He probably overstates the uniqueness of current insurgencies (e.g. Algeria, Vietnam and Afghanistan also benefited from dispersion, small cells and distributed decision-making), but his long-term view that small groups are becoming more capable is spot on.

I have already ordered the book. I will update when I have read it!

Posted on April 20, 2007 and filed under Global Economy.