John Arquilla, Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare (Cambridge and Medford: Polity Press, 2021), 212 pp., US$ 22.95, ISBN 978-1-5095-4363-2 (Paperback).

AuthorLokendra Sharma
Published date01 July 2022
Date01 July 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
International Studies
59(3) 276 –278, 2022
© 2022 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00208817221117700
Book Review
John Arquilla, Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare
(Cambridge and Medford: Polity Press, 2021), 212 pp., US$ 22.95,
ISBN 978-1-5095-4363-2 (Paperback).
John Arquilla’s Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare coalesces as well
as expands on the ideas and concepts relating to cyberwar and Bitskrieg that the
author—a cyber and defence expert—has been propounding for the last three
decades. In a book teeming with insights on issues such as cyberterrorism,
cybotage, cyber vulnerabilities of open societies, Arquilla makes three major
arguments: First, the World War II-era military doctrine of Blitzkrieg should be
replaced by Bitskrieg, a doctrine more suitable for the present Information Age.
Second, behaviour-based operational arms control initiatives would work in
cyberspace as opposed to structural ones. Third, there is a need to move beyond
firewalls and anti-virals to embrace ubiquitous encryption and Cloud computing
for ensuring greater cybersecurity.
Bitskrieg, a battle doctrine relating to the military aspect of cyberwar, according
to Arquilla, prioritizes information advantage over the enemy. He envisions a
future of cyberwar wherein smaller, widely dispersed and highly networked units
consisting of both troops and robots take advantage of their information edge and
employ swarming tactics to defeat the enemy. While the information edge is
enabled by greater usage, proper structuring and wider dissemination of the
information generated by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)
techniques, the swarming tactic involves engaging in ‘simultaneous, omni-
directional attack’ (p. 76). Arquilla contends that in the battlefield of tomorrow,
robots and human soldiers will coexist, and artificial intelligence will play an
important role in military strategy making.
As regards to the World War II-era military doctrine of Blitzkrieg—emerged
during the Industrial Age and had a central command and control structure, large
though fast-moving troop formations aided by ‘tank-plane coordination’ (p. xv)
and massive weapons systems—has persisted despite its eroding usefulness in the
Information Age. New military tools developed in the decades since World War II
‘have simply been folded into or grafted onto older practices’ (pp. xviii–xix).
Arquilla believes, therefore, that a shift from Blitzkrieg to its successor Bitskrieg
‘has not yet been made’ (p. xix).

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