It is completely clear that the state which is first to
create such weapons will achieve incomparable superiority."
-- Major I. Chernishev, Russian army
From PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly -
Spring 1998, pp. 84-92.
The human body, much like a
computer, contains myriad data processors. They include, but are not limited
to, the chemical-electrical activity of the brain, heart, and peripheral
nervous system, the signals sent from the cortex region of the brain to other
parts of our body, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that process auditory
signals, and the light-sensitive retina and cornea of the eye that process
visual activity. We are on the threshold of an era in which these data
processors of the human body may be manipulated or debilitated. Examples of
unplanned attacks on the body's data-processing capability are
well-documented. Strobe lights have been known to cause epileptic seizures.
Not long ago in Japan, children watching television cartoons were subjected to
pulsating lights that caused seizures in some and made others very sick.
Defending friendly and targeting adversary data-processing
capabilities of the body appears to be an area of weakness in the US approach
to information warfare theory, a theory oriented heavily toward systems
data-processing and designed to attain information dominance on the
battlefield. Or so it would appear from information in the open, unclassified
press. This US shortcoming may be a serious one, since the capabilities to
alter the data-processing systems of the body already exist. A recent edition
of U.S. News and World Report highlighted several of these "wonderweapons"
(acoustics, microwaves, lasers) and noted that scientists are "searching the
electromagnetic and sonic spectrums for wavelengths that can affect human
behavior." A recent Russian military article offered a slightly different
slant to the problem, declaring that "humanity stands on the brink of a
psychotronic war" with the mind and body as the focus. That article discussed
Russian and international attempts to control the psycho-physical condition of
man and his decisionmaking processes by the use of VHF-generators, "noiseless
cassettes," and other technologies.
An entirely new arsenal of weapons, based on devices
designed to introduce subliminal messages or to alter the body's psychological
and data-processing capabilities, might be used to incapacitate individuals.
These weapons aim to control or alter the psyche, or to attack the various
sensory and data-processing systems of the human organism. In both cases, the
goal is to confuse or destroy the signals that normally keep the body in
This article examines energy-based weapons, psychotronic
weapons, and other developments designed to alter the ability of the human
body to process stimuli. One consequence of this assessment is that the way we
commonly use the term "information warfare" falls short when the individual
soldier, not his equipment, becomes the target of attack.
Information Warfare Theory and the Data-Processing
Element of Humans
In the United States the common conception of information
warfare focuses primarily on the capabilities of hardware systems such as
computers, satellites, and military equipment which process data in its
various forms. According to Department of Defense Directive S-3600.1 of 9
December 1996, information warfare is defined as "an information operation
conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific
objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries." An information operation
is defined in the same directive as "actions taken to affect adversary
information and information systems while defending one's own information and
information systems." These "information systems" lie at the heart of the
modernization effort of the US armed forces and other countries, and manifest
themselves as hardware, software, communications capabilities, and highly
trained individuals. Recently, the US Army conducted a mock battle that tested
these systems under simulated combat conditions.
US Army Field Manual 101-5-1, Operational Terms and
Graphics (released 30 September 1997), defines information warfare as
"actions taken to achieve information superiority by affecting a hostile's
information, information based-processes, and information systems, while
defending one's own information, information processes, and information
systems." The same manual defines information operations as "continuous
military operation within the military information environment that enables,
enhances, and protects friendly forces' ability to collect, process, and act
on information to achieve an advantage across the full range of military
operations. [Information operations include] interacting with the Global
Information Environment . . . and exploiting or denying an adversary's
information and decision capabilities."
This "systems" approach to the study of information warfare
emphasizes the use of data, referred to as information, to penetrate an
adversary's physical defenses that protect data (information) in order to
obtain operational or strategic advantage. It has tended to ignore the role of
the human body as an information- or data-processor in this quest for
dominance except in those cases where an individual's logic or rational
thought may be upset via disinformation or deception. As a consequence little
attention is directed toward protecting the mind and body with a firewall as
we have done with hardware systems. Nor have any techniques for doing so been
prescribed. Yet the body is capable not only of being deceived, manipulated,
or misinformed but also shut down or destroyed--just as any other
data-processing system. The "data" the body receives from external
sources--such as electromagnetic, vortex, or acoustic energy waves--or creates
through its own electrical or chemical stimuli can be manipulated or changed
just as the data (information) in any hardware system can be altered.
The only body-related information warfare element
considered by the United States is psychological operations (PSYOP). In Joint
Publication 3-13.1, for example, PSYOP is listed as one of the elements of
command and control warfare. The publication notes that "the ultimate target
of [information warfare] is the information dependent process, whether human
or automated . . . . Command and control warfare (C2W) is an application of
information warfare in military operations. . . . C2W is the integrated use of
PSYOP, military deception, operations security, electronic warfare and
One source defines information as a "nonaccidental signal
used as an input to a computer or communications system." The human body is
a complex communication system constantly receiving nonaccidental and
accidental signal inputs, both external and internal. If the ultimate target
of information warfare is the information-dependent process, "whether human or
automated," then the definition in the joint publication implies that human
data-processing of internal and external signals can clearly be considered an
aspect of information warfare. Foreign researchers have noted the link between
humans as data processors and the conduct of information warfare. While some
study only the PSYOP link, others go beyond it. As an example of the former,
one recent Russian article described offensive information warfare as designed
to "use the Internet channels for the purpose of organizing PSYOP as well as
for `early political warning' of threats to American interests." The
author's assertion was based on the fact that "all mass media are used for
PSYOP . . . [and] today this must include the Internet." The author asserted
that the Pentagon wanted to use the Internet to "reinforce psychological
influences" during special operations conducted outside of US borders to
enlist sympathizers, who would accomplish many of the tasks previously
entrusted to special units of the US armed forces.
Others, however, look beyond simple PSYOP ties to consider
other aspects of the body's data-processing capability. One of the principal
open source researchers on the relationship of information warfare to the
body's data-processing capability is Russian Dr. Victor Solntsev of the
Baumann Technical Institute in Moscow. Solntsev is a young, well-intentioned
researcher striving to point out to the world the potential dangers of the
computer operator interface. Supported by a network of institutes and
academies, Solntsev has produced some interesting concepts. He insists that
man must be viewed as an open system instead of simply as an organism or
closed system. As an open system, man communicates with his environment
through information flows and communications media. One's physical
environment, whether through electromagnetic, gravitational, acoustic, or
other effects, can cause a change in the psycho-physiological condition of an
organism, in Solntsev's opinion. Change of this sort could directly affect the
mental state and consciousness of a computer operator. This would not be
electronic war or information warfare in the traditional sense, but rather in
a nontraditional and non-US sense. It might encompass, for example, a computer
modified to become a weapon by using its energy output to emit acoustics that
debilitate the operator. It also might encompass, as indicated below,
futuristic weapons aimed against man's "open system."
Solntsev also examined the problem of "information noise,"
which creates a dense shield between a person and external reality. This noise
may manifest itself in the form of signals, messages, images, or other items
of information. The main target of this noise would be the consciousness of a
person or a group of people. Behavior modification could be one objective of
information noise; another could be to upset an individual's mental capacity
to such an extent as to prevent reaction to any stimulus. Solntsev concludes
that all levels of a person's psyche (subconscious, conscious, and "superconscious")
are potential targets for destabilization.
According to Solntsev, one computer virus capable of
affecting a person's psyche is Russian Virus 666. It manifests itself in every
25th frame of a visual display, where it produces a combination of colors that
allegedly put computer operators into a trance. The subconscious perception of
the new pattern eventually results in arrhythmia of the heart. Other Russian
computer specialists, not just Solntsev, talk openly about this "25th frame
effect" and its ability to subtly manage a computer user's perceptions. The
purpose of this technique is to inject a thought into the viewer's
subconscious. It may remind some of the subliminal advertising controversy in
the United States in the late 1950s.
US Views on "Wonder Weapons": Altering the
Data-Processing Ability of the Body
What technologies have been examined by the United States
that possess the potential to disrupt the data-processing capabilities of the
human organism? The 7 July 1997 issue of U.S. News and World Report
described several of them designed, among other things, to vibrate the insides
of humans, stun or nauseate them, put them to sleep, heat them up, or knock
them down with a shock wave. The technologies include dazzling lasers that
can force the pupils to close; acoustic or sonic frequencies that cause the
hair cells in the inner ear to vibrate and cause motion sickness, vertigo, and
nausea, or frequencies that resonate the internal organs causing pain and
spasms; and shock waves with the potential to knock down humans or airplanes
and which can be mixed with pepper spray or chemicals.
With modification, these technological applications can
have many uses. Acoustic weapons, for example, could be adapted for use as
acoustic rifles or as acoustic fields that, once established, might protect
facilities, assist in hostage rescues, control riots, or clear paths for
convoys. These waves, which can penetrate buildings, offer a host of
opportunities for military and law enforcement officials. Microwave weapons,
by stimulating the peripheral nervous system, can heat up the body, induce
epileptic-like seizures, or cause cardiac arrest. Low-frequency radiation
affects the electrical activity of the brain and can cause flu-like symptoms
and nausea. Other projects sought to induce or prevent sleep, or to affect the
signal from the motor cortex portion of the brain, overriding voluntary muscle
movements. The latter are referred to as pulse wave weapons, and the Russian
government has reportedly bought over 100,000 copies of the Black Widow
version of them.
However, this view of "wonder weapons" was contested by
someone who should understand them. Brigadier General Larry Dodgen, Deputy
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, wrote a letter
to the editor about the "numerous inaccuracies" in the U.S. News and World
Report article that "misrepresent the Department of Defense's views."
Dodgen's primary complaint seemed to have been that the magazine
misrepresented the use of these technologies and their value to the armed
forces. He also underscored the US intent to work within the scope of any
international treaty concerning their application, as well as plans to abandon
(or at least redesign) any weapon for which countermeasures are known. One is
left with the feeling, however, that research in this area isintense. A
concern not mentioned by Dodgen is that other countries or non-state actors
may not be bound by the same constraints. It is hard to imagine someone with a
greater desire than terrorists to get their hands on these technologies.
"Psycho-terrorism" could be the next buzzword.
Russian Views on "Psychotronic War"
The term "psycho-terrorism" was coined by Russian writer N.
Anisimov of the Moscow Anti-Psychotronic Center. According to Anisimov,
psychotronic weapons are those that act to "take away a part of the
information which is stored in a man's brain. It is sent to a computer, which
reworks it to the level needed for those who need to controlthe man, and the
modified information is then reinserted into the brain." These weapons are
used against the mind to induce hallucinations, sickness, mutations in human
cells, "zombification," or even death. Included in the arsenal are VHF
generators, X-rays, ultrasound, and radio waves. Russian army Major I.
Chernishev, writing in the military journal Orienteer in February 1997,
asserted that "psy" weapons are under development all over the globe. Specific
types of weapons noted by Chernishev (not all of which have prototypes) were:
A psychotronic generator, which produces a powerful
electromagnetic emanation capable of being sent through telephone lines, TV,
radio networks, supply pipes, and incandescent lamps.
An autonomous generator, a device that operates in the
10-150 Hertz band, which at the 10-20 Hertz band forms an infrasonic
oscillation that is destructive to all living creatures.
A nervous system generator, designed to paralyze the
central nervous systems of insects, which could have the same applicability
Ultrasound emanations, which one institute claims to have
developed. Devices using ultrasound emanations are supposedly capable of
carrying out bloodless internal operations without leaving a mark on the
skin. They can also, according to Chernishev, be used to kill.
Noiseless cassettes. Chernishev claims that the Japanese
have developed the ability to place infra-low frequency voice patterns over
music, patterns that are detected by the subconscious. Russians claim to be
using similar "bombardments" with computer programming to treat alcoholism
The 25th-frame effect, alluded to above, a technique
wherein each 25th frame of a movie reel or film footage contains a message
that is picked up by the subconscious. This technique, if it works, could
possibly be used to curb smoking and alcoholism, but it has wider, more
sinister applications if used on a TV audience or a computer operator.
Psychotropics, defined as medical preparations used to
induce a trance, euphoria, or depression. Referred to as "slow-acting
mines," they could be slipped into the food of a politician or into the
water supply of an entire city. Symptoms include headaches, noises, voices
or commands in the brain, dizziness, pain in the abdominal cavities, cardiac
arrhythmia, or even the destruction of the cardiovascular system.
There is confirmation from US researchers that this type of
study is going on. Dr. Janet Morris, coauthor of The Warrior's Edge,
reportedly went to the Moscow Institute of Psychocorrelations in 1991. There
she was shown a technique pioneered by the Russian Department of
Psycho-Correction at Moscow Medical Academy in which researchers
electronically analyze the human
mind in order to
influence it. They input subliminal command messages, using key words
transmitted in "white noise" or music. Using an infra-sound, very low
frequency transmission, the acoustic psycho-correction message is transmitted
via bone conduction.
In summary, Chernishev noted that some of the militarily
significant aspects of the "psy" weaponry deserve closer research,
includingthe following nontraditional methods for disrupting the psyche of an
ESP research: determining the properties and condition of
objects without ever making contact with them and "reading" peoples'
Clairvoyance research: observing objects that are located
just beyond the world of the visible--used for intelligence purposes
Telepathy research: transmitting thoughts over a
distance--used for covert operations
Telekinesis research: actions involving the manipulation
of physical objects using thought power, causing them to move or break
apart--used against command and
control systems, or
to disrupt the functioning of weapons of mass destruction
Psychokinesis research: interfering with the thoughts of
individuals, on either the strategic or tactical level
While many US scientists undoubtedly question this
research, it receives strong support in Moscow. The point to underscore is
that individuals in Russia (and other countries as well) believe these means
can be used to attack or steal from the data-processing unit of the human
Solntsev's research, mentioned above, differs slightly from
that of Chernishev. For example, Solntsev is more interested in hardware
capabilities, specifically the study of the information-energy source
associated with the computer-operator interface. He stresses that if these
energy sources can be captured and integrated into the modern computer, the
result will be a network worth more than "a simple sum of its components."
Other researchers are studying high-frequency generators (those designed to
stun the psyche with high frequency waves such as electromagnetic, acoustic,
and gravitational); the manipulation or reconstruction of someone's thinking
through planned measures such as reflexive
control processes; the
use of psychotronics, parapsychology, bioenergy, bio fields, and psychoenergy;
and unspecified "special operations" or anti-ESP training.
The last item is of particular interest. According to a
Russian TV broadcast, the strategic rocket forces have begun anti-ESP training
to ensure that no outside force can take over command and
control functions of
the force. That is, they are trying to construct a firewall around the heads
of the operators.
At the end of July 1997, planners for Joint Warrior
Interoperability Demonstration '97 "focused on technologies that enhance
real-time collaborative planning in a multinational task force of the type
used in Bosnia and in Operation Desert Storm. The JWID '97 network, called the
Coalition Wide-Area Network (CWAN), is the first military network that allows
allied nations to participate as full and equal partners." The
demonstration in effect was a trade fair for private companies to demonstrate
their goods; defense ministries got to decide where and how to spend their
money wiser, in many cases without incurring the cost of prototypes. It is a
good example of doing business better with less. Technologies demonstrated
Soldiers using laptop computers to drag cross-hairs over
maps to call in airstrikes
Soldiers carrying beepers and mobile phones rather than
Generals tracking movements of every unit, counting the
precise number of shells fired around the globe, and inspecting real-time
damage inflicted on an enemy, all with multicolored graphics
Every account of this exercise emphasized the ability of
systems to process data and provide information feedback via the power
invested in their microprocessors. The ability to affect or defend the
data-processing capability of the human operators of these systems was never
mentioned during the exercise; it has received only slight attention during
countless exercises over the past several years. The time has come to ask why
we appear to be ignoring the operators of our systems. Clearly the information
operator, exposed before a vast array of potentially immobilizing weapons, is
the weak spot in any nation's military assets. There are few international
agreements protecting the individual soldier, and these rely on the good will
of the combatants. Some nations, and terrorists of every stripe, don't care
about such agreements.
This article has used the term data-processing to
demonstrate its importance to ascertaining what so-called information warfare
and information operations are all about. Data-processing is the action this
nation and others need to protect. Information is nothing more than the output
of this activity. As a result, the emphasis on information-related warfare
terminology ("information dominance," "information carousel") that has
proliferated for a decade does not seem to fit the situation before us. In
some cases the battle to affect or protect data-processing elements pits one
mechanical system against another. In other cases, mechanical systems may be
confronted by the human organism, or vice versa, since humans can usually shut
down any mechanical system with the flip of a switch. In reality, the game is
about protecting or affecting signals, waves, and impulses that can influence
the data-processing elements of systems, computers, or people. We are
potentially the biggest victims of information warfare, because we have
neglected to protect ourselves.
Our obsession with a "system of systems," "information
dominance," and other such terminology is most likely a leading cause of our
neglect of the human factor in our theories of information warfare. It is time
to change our terminology and our conceptual paradigm. Our terminology is
confusing us and sending us in directions that deal primarily with the
hardware, software, and communications components of the data-processing
spectrum. We need to spend more time researching how to protect the humans in
our data management structures. Nothing in those structures can be sustained
if our operators have been debilitated by potential adversaries or terrorists
who--right now--may be designing the means to disrupt the human component of
our carefully constructed notion of a system of systems.
1. I. Chernishev, "Can Rulers Make `Zombies' and
Control the World? "Orienteer,
February 1997, pp. 58-62.
2. Douglas Pasternak, "Wonder Weapons," U.S. News and
World Report, 7 July 1997, pp. 38-46.
3. Ibid., p. 38.
4. FM 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics, 30
September 1997, p. 1-82.
5. Joint Pub 3-13.1, Joint Doctrine for Command and
Control Warfare (C2W),
7 February 1996, p. v.
6. The American Heritage Dictionary (2d College Ed.;
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), p. 660, definition 4.
7. Denis Snezhnyy, "Cybernetic Battlefield & National
Security," Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, No. 10, 15-21 March 1997,
8. Victor I. Solntsev, "Information War and Some Aspects of
a Computer Operator's Defense," talk given at an Infowar Conference in
Washington, D.C., September 1996, sponsored by the National Computer Security
Association. Information in this section is based on notes from Dr. Solntsev's
9. Pasternak, p. 40.
10. Ibid., pp. 40-46.
12. Larry Dodgen, "Nonlethal Weapons," U.S. News and
World Report, 4 August 1997, p. 5.
13. "Background on the Aviary," Nexus Magazine, downloaded
from the Internet on 13 July 1997 from www.execpc.com/vjentpr/nexusavi.html,
14. Aleksandr Cherkasov, "The Front Where Shots Aren't
Fired," Orienteer, May 1995, p. 45. This article was based on
information in the foreign and Russian press, according to the author, making
it impossible to pinpoint what his source was for this reference.
15. Bob Brewin, "DOD looks for IT `golden nuggets,'"
Federal Computer Week, 28 July 1997, p. 31, as taken from the Earlybird
Supplement, 4 August 1997, p. B 17.
16. Oliver August, "Zap! Hard day at the office for NATO's
laptop warriors," The Times, 28 July 1997, as taken from the Earlybird
Supplement, 4 August 1997, p. B 16.
Lieutenant Colonel Timothy L. Thomas (USA Ret.) is an
analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Recently he has written extensively on the Russian view of information
operations and on current Russian military-political issues. During his
military career he served in the 82d Airborne Division and was the Department
Head of Soviet Military-Political Affairs at the US Army's Russian Institute
in Garmisch, Germany.
Notice: David Icke, www.davidicke.com, David
Icke E~Magazine, and/or the donor of this material may or may not agree with
all the data or conclusions of this data. It is presented here 'as is' for
your benefit and research.