Here's some open source warfare goodness for you.
Sean Gourley, one of the authors of "Common Ecology Defines Human Insurgency" (Nature magazine's recent cover story!!), has a very succinct list of characteristics that define open source warfare. I don't disagree with any of them. One caveat though: I would have explicitly listed stigmergy as a factor, particularly since stigmergic communication via the media was a central theme of the paper published in Nature.
Here's the list, many thanks to Sean for putting it together:
- Many body: There are many more autonomous insurgent groups operating within conflicts than we had previously thought. For example there are 100+ autonomous groups operating in Iraq (as of 2006).
- Fluidity: The insurgents are loosely grouped together to form fluid networks with short half-lives. This is very different from the rigid hierarchical networks that have been proposed for insurgent groups.
- Redundancy: If we remove the strongest group from the system another group will rise to replace the previous strongest group
- Splinter: When a group is broken it does not generally split in half but instead shatters into multiple pieces
- Redistribute: When a group is broken the components are redistributed amongst the other groups in the system. The redistribution is biased towards the most successful remaining groups.
- Snowball: The strongest groups grow fastest
- Tall poppy: The strongest groups are the predominant targets for opposition forces Internal competition: There is direct competition amongst insurgent groups for both resources and media exposure. They are competing with each other in addition to fighting the stronger counterinsurgent forces.
- Independent co-ordination: Autonomous groups act in a coordinated fashion as a result of the competition that exists between them.
- Emergent structure: Attacks in both Iraq and Colombia become 'less random' and more coordinated over time
- Evolution: The strategies employed by the groups evolve over time where successful groups/strategies survive and unsuccessful strategies/groups are replaced.
- High dimensional: Connection occurs over high dimensions (i.e. Internet, cell phone etc) and is not dominated by geographic connections.
- Non-linear: It is approximately 316* times harder to kill 100 people in an attack than it is to kill 10 people. (*Results for a conflict with alpha=2.5).
- Independent clones: the fundamental structure and dynamics of insurgent groups is largely independent of religious, political, ideological or geographic differences.