Asymmetrical Adversarialism in National Defense Policy, The Marketplace and Personal Privacy

ABSTRACT

“Our most likely future opponents will be us"
Col. Charles Dunlap, USAF

Asymmetry and National Security

I once calculated, on the back of a napkin thoroughly drenched in Outback steak juice, that it takes a whole lot of paper to wage a war. I mean, a terrific amount of paper: something like 3,412.7 pieces of papers for every combatant and support soldier in the chain of command. If the war or Operation Other Than War (OOW) or a peace keeping mission carries on for more than six weeks, the paperwork jungle doubles and as the war continues into months, the paperwork increases, but at a lesser rate of bureaucratic indulgence

All of this war-fighting paper means there has to be a whole lot of paper pushers to push the paper needed to fight the war. To support the paper pushers, you have to have people to buy the paper and the pens at the right price; a price that the government would be proud to pay as long as they’re fighting a war. And of course, you have to have bean counters to count how much paper the paper pushers are pushing which is what really makes the whole war business worth doing in the first place. You see, war is a lot about paper.

But it’s also about filing. Pentagon-sized buildings full of filing clerks are an absolute requirement to fight a US-style war. I’m only guessing, but another Outback-stained napkin calculation shows that an average filing cabinet holds 50,000 pages of paper of government approved thickness. Yeah, that’s about right. Maybe 60,000 but not much more than that. So that’s 20 or so well managed soldiers from the paper perspective.

From what I gleam in narrow hallway chatter in super-classified facilities (chatter that probably should not be taking place at all), the average American weapon-system development generates something like five to ten million pieces of paper not including the paper on the people who build it. And then you have things like the M-1 tank and the B-2 bomber and the Advanced Tactical Fighter, ATF, which take twenty years to get from concept to the battlefield and they generate over 200 millions pieces of paper – each.
Let’s not forget the overseers who oversee how much paper is generated for each military requirement and the right paper indeed has been created, stamped and filed according to the proscribed paper etiquette of war fighting.

Phew. That’s how we fight a war. With paper.


AUTHORS

Photo of Winn Schwartau

Security Consultant and Writer

Winn Schwartau is a leading expert on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy and if often referred to as “the civilian architect of information warfare”. He coined the term “Electronic Pearl Harbour” and was the Project Lead of the Manhattan Cyber Project Information Warfare and Electronic Civil Defence Team. His books include: Information Warfare, Timebased Security, and Cybershock. He balanced his time between writing, lecturing, building corporate and national security awareness programs and consulting.

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