Technology-Centric Warfare supported by Information-centricity [Strategy]

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I was a 3rd Class Midshipman at Maine Maritime Academy when Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski and John J. Garstka put together this Proceedings article.  I had walked on to an NROTC program, buckled down on my academics and earned a scholarship.    I remember reading it and thinking that it was a bit of a “flashback” vice forward looking.  But that was mostly because I had grown up with these items.  I’d had the Atari, the Commodore 64, and even a suitcase 286 loaned to me to “play” with.  But having experienced much of what is talked about in the paper I encourage another review of the document.  I’ve put together a few of the items that I find most important to where the Navy has come with the Information Dominance Corps, where it has fallen short, and where it can work to overtake it’s missteps.

Admiral Jay Johnson said it is “a fundamental shift from what we call platform-centric warfare to something we call network-centric warfare.” This was operationally shifted effectively, however the man, train, and equip entity remained focused on providing platform-centric leaders (Aviation, Surface, Submarines).  I would argue that since the start of this decade, warfare we exercise has always been technology-centric but from the days of recognizing network as an enabler for Naval missions it has shifted from the network-centric that Cebrowski described to  information-centricty and this centricity is only becoming more prominent and identifiable.

Vice Admiral (ret.) Arthur K. Cebrowski

Cebrowski’s three main themes still hold true with information-centricity:

  • The shift in focus from the platform to the network
  • The shift from viewing actors as independent to viewing them as part of a continuously adapting ecosystem
  • The importance of making strategic choices to adapt or even survive in such changing ecosystems
We’ve started to network everything (not well in some cases) but the information has become dominant.  The legacy platforms we still man-train-equip are becoming simple sensory platforms for the information-centricity in the global battlespace.
Intellectual Capital – Information-based processes are the dominant value-adding processes in both the commercial world and the military. Yet the military fails to reward competence in these areas. “Operator” status frequently is denied to personnel with these critical talents, but the value of traditional operators with limited acumen in these processes is falling, and ultimately they will be marginalized, especially at mid-grade and senior levels. The war fighter who does not understand the true source of his combat power in such things as CEC, Global Command and Control System, and Link-16 simply is worth less than those who do. The services must both mainstream and merge those with technical skills and those with operational experience in these areas. These are the new operators.”
I don’t think I could come up with a better summation for why there is a push for:
  • the Information Dominance Corps to become a URL (right or wrong for the long term good of the Navy);
  • better implementation of these systems to ensure the Human Computer Interaction (and understanding by the human) is so important;
  • the development of a significant core of technologists within the U.S. Navy;
  • the increase of this core in personnel number and improvement in ability.

Financial Capital – although the Navy made an effective transition into the network-centric era it has now allowed those networks to wane.  The sensors available to the U.S. Military are unable to reach the forces afloat as it would flood and exceed the capabilities of the supporting infrastructure.  While the corporate Navy looks for IT inefficiencies reduce costs the afloat forces require significant resources to bring them into the current generation of technology (again Big Navy and the U.S. Navy have always been technology-centric) in order to move the supporting information-centric element.

Transformation Process- The ponderous acquisition process remains; technology speed of advance has only increased.  I’ve heard more than 50 FO/GO and their equivalent civilian counterparts state this problem over the last 7 years and yet it continues to remain.  We own these rules – the U.S. Government and the Department of Defense.  Call it a Grand Challenge – we’ve seen the model that has worked for USSOCOM; make it the model for everything and move on.  We’ll find the issues with this new model and another, better model one will develop.

I want to ensure I’m not opposing an adversary in the future while worrying about a National Deficit in the $15 trillion realm.  I want this reduced, eliminated and operate at a surplus.

Let’s become the lender; Let’s return to be the global leader!

[via Proceedings]

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