Revisiting a strategic assessment of the Internet

Charles Swett


The political process is moving onto the Internet. Both within the United States and internationally, individuals, interest groups, and even nations are using the Internet to find each other, discuss the issues, and further their political goals. The Internet has also played an important role in recent conflicts. As a result, overseas segments of the Internet can be a useful tool for U. S. Department of Defense, both for gathering and for disseminating information. By monitoring public message traffic and alternative news sources from around the world, early warning of impending significant developments could be developed, in advance of more traditional means of indications and warning. Commentary placed on the Internet by observers on the scene of low-intensity conflicts overseas could be useful to U. S. policy making. During larger scale conflicts, when other conventional channels are disrupted, the Internet can be the only available means of communication into and out of the affected areas. Internet messages originating within regions under authoritarian control could provide other useful intelligence. Public messages conveying information about the intent of overseas groups prone to disrupting U. S. military operations can provide important counterintelligence. The Internet could also be used offensively as an additional medium in psychological operations campaigns and to help achieve unconventional warfare objectives. Used creatively as an integral asset, the Internet can facilitate many U. S. Department of Defense operations and activities.

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