Swarming and the Future of Conflict
John Arquilla, David F. Ronfeldt, United States. Dept. of Defense, Rand Corporation, National Defense Research Institute (U. S.)
RAND, Sep 1, 2000 - History - 98 pages
Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to perform military strikes from all directions. It employs a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire that is directed from both close-in and stand-off positions. It will work best - perhaps it will only work - if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units.
This calls for an organizational redesign - involving the creation of platoon-like "pods" joined in company-like "clusters" - that would keep but retool the most basic military unit structures. It is similar to the corporate redesign principle of "flattening," which often removes or redesigns middle layers of management. This has proven successful in the ongoing revolution in business affairs and may prove equally useful in the military realm.
From command and control of line units to logistics, profound shifts will have to occur to nurture this new "way of war." This study examines the benefits - and also the costs and risks - of engaging in such serious doctrinal change. The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approaches to battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming.
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20th century able activists actors adversary aircraft AirLand Battle airpower all-channel network American approach armored Army Arquilla and Ronfeldt Battle of France battlespace BattleSwarm blitzkrieg British campaign capabilities Chechen Chechnya close-in communications concept coordinated cyberwar defeat defense disruption effective emerge enable enemy engage fighting fire form of organization formations function German guerrilla Gulf hierarchies information flows information operations information revolution internetted kamikaze light strike vehicles logistical maneuver units maneuver warfare mass and maneuver melee military doctrine military swarming mobile Mongols move naval Navy network form network-centric warfare NGOs nodes notion nuclear offensive organizational overall pods and clusters potential precision-guided munitions Russian shift small units social spectrum of conflict stand-off strategic strike structures sustainable pulsing swarmers swarming doctrine swarming force swarming in force tactical tanks target technologies tions topsight U-boats U.S. Army U.S. forces U.S. military units of maneuver Vietnam weapons World Zapatista Zulus