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John Arquilla and the Information Operations Center of Excellence

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Information Operations Center of Excellence

Dr. John Arquilla 

 Dr. Arquilla’s work focuses primarily on the implications of the information revolution for military organization and doctrine. At the organizational level, his research identifies the network as the form most empowered by advances in information technology and explores the potential for redesigning hierarchies along more networked lines. 

The policy relevance of this work can be seen in the growing emphasis on “network-centric” operations over the past decade, and in the emergence of two NETWARCOM entities, one within the Navy, the other a part of STRATCOM. At the doctrinal level, Arquilla’s research has identified the possibility of moving from more traditional forms of frontal and/or flanking attacks to omnidirectional assaults — i. e., “swarming.” A network comprised of many small cells and nodes is seen as being ideally suited to this doctrine — thus the connection between doctrinal innovation along these lines and organizational redesign. 

Far from being limited to theory, swarming has been appearing in practice as a dominant doctrine in many conflicts over the past fifteen years — e.g., from the insurgent uses of swarms in the Russo-Chechen War of 1994-1996 to Iraq (especially in the 2004-2006 period), and in commando-style terrorist assaults like the one in Mumbai in the fall of 2008 and the more recent swarming attacks mounted in Kabul by Taliban teams. 

Needless to say, both networks and swarming tactics have emerged in the virtual world as well, being on particular display in Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008 — both cases apparently showcasing growing Russian expertise in cyberspace-based operations. In sum, Arquilla’s research invites and encourages careful reflection on the potential of“swarm networks” to become ever more salient in military and security affairs. 

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