Security official depicts future of warfare

When Geoffrey French, program manger at the Department of Homeland Security, was putting together a talk last month on trends in American warfare, he had no idea just how timely the subject would be.

Presenting his research at a speech Thursday, French spoke about the coming counterrevolution in military affairs. At the presentation, which was sponsored by the International Security Studies program, French said there would be a shift from traditional military action to warfare that is more focused on technology, public support and media coverage.

In speaking about the shift to non-traditional targets in warfare, French said there would be a great battle to win popular opinion. He discussed the need for better use of the media in times of war and the need for more media-savvy officers.

“We should reach out to journalists and better interact with them on college campuses,” he said.

French also spoke about information warfare, information technology and the implementation of that technology during wartime.

“When the United States chooses to intervene, the military and government have high standards about friendly fire, collateral damage and civilian casualties,” French said.

Because French prepared his talk before the United States began its war with Iraq, he primarily harkened back to Kosovo and Desert Storm. But he said Iraq was not an example of this counterrevolution because the war attempted to “exploit U.S. reluctancy with Iraq.”

French also spoke about the significant gap between the United States and the rest of the world when it comes to military might. He mentioned information-intensive operation, network-centric warfare and long-range precision missiles as the American military’s major advantages.

ISS fellow Jeffrey Engel, who coordinated the event, praised French for his expertise on the subject.

“[French] is such a prescient speaker,” Engel said. “He predicted everything that is now going on in Iraq weeks and weeks ago. When we made plans for [French] to come speak, we had no idea there would be a war going on.”

After his presentation, French fielded questions.

Aaron O’Connell GRD ’03, a member of the audience, said he enjoyed French’s talk for its candid nature.

“I found the talk interesting,” O’Connell said. “But it was not surprising. Terrorism produces changes in the mission of the military and the United States has yet to adapt and neither is it on the course to.”

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