Arquilla, John 1954–

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Arquilla, John 1954–


Born September 5, 1954, in Oak Park, IL. Education: Rosary College, B.A., 1975; Stanford University, M.A., 1989, Ph.D., 1991. Politics: "Progressive." Hobbies and other interests: Chess.


Office—589 Dyer Rd., Code DA, Rm. 200a, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943.


RAND Corp., Santa Monica, CA, consulting analyst, 1990—. U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, professor of defense analysis, 1993—. Military service: U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, 1981-87.


Deterring or Coercing Opponents in Crisis: Lessons from the War with Saddam Hussein, Rand (Santa Monica, CA), 1991.

Thinking about Opponent Behavior in Crisis and Conflict: A Generic Model for Analysis and Group Discussion, Rand (Santa Monica, CA), 1991.

Extended Deterrence, Compellence, and the "Old World Order," Rand (Santa Monica, CA), 1992.

Dubious Battles, Crane Russak, 1992.

A Decision Modeling Perspective on U.S.-Cuba Relations, Rand (Santa Monica, CA), 1993.

(With David Ronfeldt) Cyberwar Is Coming!, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1993.

Modeling Decisionmaking of Potential Proliferators as Part of Developing Counterproliferation Strategies, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1994.

(With David Ronfeldt) The Advent of Netwar, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1996.

From Troy to Entebbe, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1996.

(Editor, with David Ronfeldt) In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1997.

The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1999.

Predicting Military Innovation, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 1999.

Swarming & the Future of Conflict, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 2000.

(With David Ronfeldt) Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, RAND (Santa Monica, CA), 2001.

The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2006.

Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including Christian Science Monitor and San Francisco Chronicle.


Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla is best known as an advocate of preparation for what he calls "cyber war" and "net war"—the concepts of targeting computerized communications systems in warfare to disrupt a country's capacity to use force, and a pattern of resistance fighting in individual "cells" rather than a single centralized command. "Arquilla first shook up the military establishment with Cyberwar Is Coming!, a 1993 RAND think-tank study cowritten with David Ronfeldt," explained Spencer E. Ante in Business Week Online. "Since then, he has further articulated a vision for the future of warfare with two more radical treatises, also cowritten with Ronfeldt, The Advent of Netwar, published in 1996, and Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, published in 2001."

These two concepts are already in use in the modern world. The idea of cyber war, Arquilla said in a Frontline Web site interview, had its origins in the Gulf War of the early 1990s. Advanced weapons targeting systems helped bring about a quick, massive victory Allied victory over the Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein. But, Arquilla stated, the same advanced computerized capacity that made these weapon systems work were also very vulnerable to attack from rogue programmers called hackers. "The crippling of information systems could have profound disruptive effects," he said. "What made that thought even more chilling was the notion that this power existed in the hands of a few hackers. The disruptive power of this small group was growing by leaps and bounds. This was something that we were vaguely aware of through the 1980s, but really came into its own in the 1990s."

Net war, he suggests, is also already in place, seen through the actions of international terrorist groups like al-Qaida and in the Iraqi militant groups who strike against national governmental forces and the US military alike. "A network doesn't have a command structure like a regular army, where orders issue from the general on high down to the private soldier," he told Michele Norris of "All Things Considered," on the National Public Radio (NPR) Web site. "Networks are made up of tiny, distributed cells that basically follow a general goal, but have a great deal of discretion as to what they're going to do, when they're going to attack. Like al-Qaida cells, who will attack in Madrid one day, months later in a Bali or a Bombay or a London, and the same is true of Hezbollah in Lebanon."

Arquilla is also the author of the study The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror. In the book, Arquilla argues that Ronald Reagan's great accomplishment (engineering the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring Communist leaders into a prohibitively expensive arms race) is in danger of being lost because of misunderstandings of Reagan's overarching strategic concepts among the military establishment. "Arquilla," wrote Mark Williams in Technology Review, "is among a corps of defense thinkers who, following [Pentagon think tank director Andrew] Marshall's lead, have promoted the concept of U.S. military ‘transformation.’" "Arquilla's ability to consider Reagan in a dispassion- ate, scholarly manner," stated William W. Newmann in White House Studies, "makes [The Reagan Imprint] stand head and shoulders above the volumes of popular and semi-scholarly works that dominate bookstores and libraries." "Lucid in style and challenging in content," concluded Library Journal contributor Stephen K. Shaw, "this work should engender debate about Reagan's legacy and American foreign policy today."

Arquilla told CA: "I have always seen the world a bit differently from others, and so have felt impelled to share my alternative perspectives—especially in the areas of foreign affairs, conflict, and national security.

"The writer in my area whose work has most influenced me is Ivan Bloch. He wrote some fifteen years before World War I, arguing against all the prevailing views of what a major war would look like, and correctly predicted the catastrophe of attritional warfare on the western front. Bloch was a banker, not a professional soldier, so his views were dismissed. But he was right. And I look to his example whenever I'm filled with self-doubt.

"As to the process of writing, I still begin with pen and pad, completely hand writing all shorter pieces, but shifting to the computer after several thousand words of longer manuscripts.

"The most pleasant surprise about writing was learning about the importance of downtime. I write daily, but not for long periods. And it is during breaks—either for other work activities or just walking—that the subconscious mind works out issues and generates new ideas.

"My favorite book is The Reagan Imprint, because in it I anticipated the new wave of Reagan scholarship that has begun to see him as a much more complex and important figure in world affairs. It's another case of my seeing things very differently from others—but in this instance my views seem to have taken good hold.

"My fondest hope is to help shape—perhaps reshape—the national and international understanding of society and security in the information age."



Choice, May, 2002, E. Lewis, review of Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, p. 1661.

International Affairs, July, 1998, Andrew Rathmell, review of In Athena's Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age, p. 39.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Stephen K. Shaw, review of The Reagan Imprint, p. 85.

Library Quarterly, January, 2000, Howard Besser, review of In Athena's Camp, p. 133.

Perspectives on Political Science, winter, 1999, Dennis Pirages, review of In Athena's Camp, p. 44.

SAIS Review, summer-fall, 1998, Belkis Leong-Hong, review of In Athena's Camp, p. 232.

Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, July-September, 1999, Philip L. Ritcheson, review of In Athena's Camp, p. 273.

Technology Review, May-June, 2006, Mark Williams, review of The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror, p. 76.

White House Studies, fall, 2006, William W. Newmann, review of The Reagan Imprint, p. 437.


Britannica Blog, (December 7, 2007), "John Arquilla."

Business Week Online, (April 2, 2003) Spencer E. Ante, reviews of Cyberwar is Coming!, The Advent of Netwar, and Networks and Netwars; (December 7, 2007), author biography.

Center on Terrorism & Irregular Warfare, (December 7, 2007), "John Arquilla."

Fighter Tactics Academy,˜fta/index.htm/ (December 7, 2007), "Swarming—The Next New Major Warfighting Doctrine?"

Frontline, (December 7, 2007), "Cyber War!"

International Relations in the Information Age, (December 7, 2007), Harry Kreisler, "Conversation with John Arquilla."

National Public Radio, (December 7, 2007), Michele Norris, "The Shape of Modern Combat: ‘Net Warfare.’"

Naval Postgraduate School—Professor John Arquilla, (December 7, 2007), "John Arquilla."

RAND Corporation, (December 7, 2007), "John Arquilla."