Information Age Proxy Warfare

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Published on 8/1/2019
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Australian infantry officer Major Andrew Maher explores the utility of employing proxies to achieve strategic ends--utility that has increased with the arrival of the information Age. Akin to the “classic” nuclear deterrence theory of the Cold War era, the costs of major conventional warfare (to all parties) have encouraged the use of virtually-supported proxy forces to limit the likelihood and costs of escalation in future conflicts. Conversely, the opportunities inherent in information age access, reach, and penetration to proxy forces overcome certain conventional force deterrence effects. The author describes these outcomes as being achieved through weapons of mass mobilization, subversion, instruction, and surveillance. This occasional paper explains why such proxy options appeal to government, and how proxy warfare considerations might influence Western military strategy.