Future Fighting Using Swarms

Primitive military history shows the primary conflict tactic was unfocused and chaotic melee where each individual fighter operated on their own and engaged other individuals adjacent to them, and when that one on one engagement was completed, sought out another adjacent enemy to engage. Little or no command and control functions existed. There was often no battle strategy. The outcome was usually determined by overwhelming numbers of forces or more rarely, by some new advanced weapons technology that provided an edge.

The next generation of conflict tactic involved massing into structured formations. The phalanx is an early example of this, where the formation is designed to cover weak points and focus strengths for maximum impact. In small units, vocal command and control was used to modify the formation to adapt to battlefield conditions and circumstances. Massing of infantry, mounted troops, naval vessels, and aircraft were all developed and used over time.

Shortly after formation tactics evolved, the concept of maneuver tactics became the next step forward. Synchronized formations could be used to penetrate, to flank, to feint, and to focus maximum strength against points of weakness.

Now, another evolutionary step in conflict tactics is in the process of development. It is called “swarming”. Swarming involves a combination of all the previous forms and the ability to rapidly morph from one form to another. This requires advanced and rapid communications networking and entirely new concepts of strategy. The ability to present or infiltrate as a chaotic melee-like crowd, then gather into a rigid formation, maneuver the formation to strike an enemy, then disperse to reduce the effectiveness of counter-strikes, become possible with swarming. Pulsing and dispersion are early keynotes of swarming tactics, but the ability to disrupt command and control and destroy cohesion in enemy units also play a major role. Asymmetric warfare and guerrilla warfare have depended on this tactics and developed them.

An apt model of swarming tactics is provided by substances considered to be colloids. Colloids are suspensions of particles in a medium, usually involving electromagnetic fields. Examples of colloids include: blood plasma, fog, milk, gelatin, and aerogel. Bullets pass through a fog without harming it, but the fog persists and reforms behind the bullet. Imagine an intelligent colloid that can morph from one form to another according to need. Swarm tactics involve similar actions and may eventually involve similar substances.

Swarming and the Future of Conflict – [rand.org]

This documented briefing continues the elaboration of our ideas about how the information revolution is affecting the whole spectrum of conflict. Our notion of cyberwar (1993) focused on the military domain, while our study on netwar (1996) examined irregular modes of conflict, including terror, crime, and militant social activism. Here we advance the idea that swarming may emerge as a definitive doctrine that will encompass and enliven both cyberwar and netwar. This doctrinal proposal relates to our efforts to
flesh out a four-part vision of how to prepare for information-age conflict (see Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 1997, Ch. 19).

SEE ALSO:
Microbot Swarms
Colloidal Camouflage
Smart Nano-colloidal Metamaterials
Smart Dust Has Arrived
Swarm Intelligence
Utility Fog

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