The Strategic Value of Information

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Security Challenges

The Strategic Value of Information in Effects-Based Operations Gary Waters

Introduction
The attraction of effects-based operations (EBO) is the prospect of improved efficiency in the planning and conduct of operations. Put simply, EBO can be seen as a coordinated set of actions that are directed at shaping the 1 behaviour of friends, foes and neutrals in peace, crisis and war. In shaping nation states, we would focus on politics, which drives the various dimensions of national power. In shaping the behaviour of non-state actors, the focus would be on ideology. But what brought us to this culminating point that presents EBO as an attractive option? Ed Smith has suggested that the combination of three technology revolutions – sensor, information and weapons – combined with the promise of network-centric thinking within an effects-based approach 2 herald enormous promise for improved efficiency as well as effectiveness. Sensor technology, which essentially provides situational awareness, offers the promise of comprehensive, near-real-time surveillance over vast areas and facilitates the move toward smaller, cheaper, more numerous sensors that can be networked to detect, locate, identify, and track targets. It’s not the sensor technology itself that is important to EBO; rather, it’s the information that the sensors provide. Information technology, which essentially provides the network backbone, offers the potential to expand the capability of the sensors both by better integrating the data collected and by allowing the sensors to interactively build on one another’s efforts. Furthermore, the scope and scale of the data provided by the sensor revolution is likely to be of such a quantity that it would be unmanageable if it were not for an information revolution that will bring the geometric increase in computing power necessary to process, collate, and analyse the resulting quantity of sensor data. Again, it’s not the

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