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The new longbow

Transparency is the new military buzzword. If one side sees where the other side is all the time, or the inverse, blinds the other sides' command and communications structure, computer-guided munitions can wreak havoc.

NATO's air assault against Serbia laid bare the vulnerability of any nation unable to fight a networked war. The Internet is the mother of all networks. It may well prove the mother of all battlefields as well.

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Look to history. The English longbow plied by yeomen ended the military power and social reign of knights. "Shining" armor fell to a taut string, a cured piece of wood, and a tipped arrow. The military dynamic of the Middle Ages - knight, squire, and armorer - ceased.

Air power launched from carriers (knights of the sea) in World War II determined who ruled the waves. Today, low-flying missiles like the Exocet are the naval equivalent of the longbow for developing nations facing nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Rogue nations can run espionage/terrorist rings with a few individuals using laptop computers, (the hacker's longbow) bringing down entire networks. A networked war turns the Internet's ability to connect anyone to everyone, anywhere, on its head.

Tom Regan (see article right) looks at how information technology in the private sector shapes the new face of information warfare for Western democracies.

Rather than the blunt Armageddon of nuclear bombs, cyber-weapons linked to a network give defense planners precision tactics undreamed of before the World Wide Web just five years ago.

It is time we realized this is not the stuff of movies, but the stuff of national security advisers, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the military service academies.

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