FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Iraq's Insurgency: An Open Source Business Process

Global Guerrillas, a blog by terrorism expert John Robb that focuses on political disruption and "the emerging bazaar of violence," visualizes the Iraq insurgency not as a traditional military operation, but as a decentralized business process that operates on basic economic and technological principles.

The insurgents use the Internet to recruit new foot soldiers and "support staff" (skilled bomb makers), negotiate for and purchase supplies, and to regroup when a leader of a cell is captured. They videotape their attacks for future study, the way a football team reviews its last game, and know how to leverage the Arab media. In a post last year, the blog compares the Iraq insurgency to a bazaar that leverages rapid prototyping and swarming principles.

The good news is that the US military appears to be learning these lessons and is approaching the insurgency in a different light. The bad news is that this model of "open source warfare" can easily spread elsewhere, and may already be appearing in India.

Global Guerrillas is required reading for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of global terrorism. Don't read it at night, though. It's sure to keep you awake.