“The vulnerability to information warfare is universal.” — Colonel Richard Szafranski, USAF

The above quote is from an article published in Airpower Journal in 1995. It’s must-read, partly because it is salient information at a basic level. Think about where we were then compared to now. You might assume the info is dated and obsolete; you’d be surprised.

Back in ’95 I was running an HP 5030, with a 75MHz processor and a fat 8MB of RAM, that only got online successfully about 40% of the time. An article talking about information warfare would have gone over most people’s heads then. When Netscape came out as a “browser,” I couldn’t wrap my head around being “on the internet” and somehow not needing AOL or Prodigy as a wrapper for the connection. As the old Virginia Slims ads used to say, you’ve come a long way, baby.

The info warfare article was written mostly from the standpoint of tech and the opening Digital Age, but it bears discussing in terms of a more human-based terrain, and the operations that we engage in–or at least the operations we should be engaging in.

What’s interesting is that the article’s subtitle is Preparing for 2020. Well, folks, we’re here, standing on the threshold of that very milestone. So what did Col. Szafranski predict?

The United States should expect that its information systems are vulnerable to attack. It should further expect that attacks, when they come, may come in advance of any formal declaration of hostile intent by an adversary state. When they come, the attacks will be prosecuted against both knowledge systems and belief systems, aimed at influencing leadership choices. The knowledge and beliefs of leaders will be attacked both directly and indirectly. Noncombatants, those upon whom leaders depend for support and action, will be targets. This is what we have to look forward to in 2020 or sooner.

Knowledge and belief systems. Not only are we currently seeing attacks on our belief systems, we’re seeing attacks on knowledge–and why is that? Because belief systems often stem from real or perceived knowledge. In order to force a belief system change, first they must attack what we know to be real and true; that knowledge is the underpinning of our belief systems. In order to shift your belief system, they must discredit the knowledge you have by superseding it with “new studies” or “scientists who have found” the information they wish for you to believe instead.

One of the fantastic parts of The Woodpile Report is in the sidebar. It’s called Regime-Speak, and it’s a list of phrases and words that you’ll see very often. They show up in commercials (new and improved!), news reports (emerging consensus), and pretty much anywhere else you look. You might already instinctively notice some of them (diversity, inclusive, inappropriate), but the list is a fantastic reminder–or primer…and I digress.

Note the last part of the quote above. Noncombatants…will be targets.

In a pre-9/11 world, who would he have been referring to?

Read the whole article, but think of it in terms of 2020. What now?