CogniSens has been pushing its NeuroTracker technology toward the sporting arena with some success. But if the goal is to ultimately handle, track, identify, and even target more items accurately, then it clearly seems that there are Cyber Special Operations Force applications. The introduction video is fairly straight forward. Work to progress on monitoring multiple targets continuously for a certain period of time. This will allow you the ability over time to sharpen your skills. But what if the items you’re tracking are both physical and virtual? Would this training technology help?
I believe something like this could significantly improve the ability of a Battle Watch Captain (BWC) or Tactical Action Officer (TAO) for a unit or force in a command center to not only be able to handle more items effectively but to significantly improve the ability to mitigate and prevent “wash over,” when there simply is too much for the individual to process, and possibly improve the OODA loop process for our favor. Obviously this could improve the response time in a physical realm but I’d be very interested in metrics toward tracking and improvement in the virtual or cyber realm. We’re trying to build the best right? The Cyber Warriors that can handle anything - the Cyber Special Operations Forces (CSOF) as it were via some Cognitive Warfare.
We’ve all seen an individual that is able to track and handle 10x to 20x more than the average individual… why not train to be able to track and handle 50x to 100x of the average individual? I think this is a very untapped area of gains the U.S. Military can make. It simply needs to arrive in an affordable package that doesn’t have a massive administrative or cost tail associated.
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The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, starts out a recent Mission Command White Paper that focuses on development of the 2020 Joint Force with:
“Mission command is the conduct of military operations through decentralized execution based upon mission-type orders. Successful mission command demands that subordinate leaders at all echelons exercise disciplined initiative and act aggressively and independently to accomplish the mission.” - Joint Publication 3-0 “Joint Operations” 11 AUG 2011
Immediately delving into the root of what Mission Command, commander’s intent, command by negation (used by the U.S. Navy and may come with some cockiness), centralized planning, decentralized execution the Chairman looks to move the “empowerment bar” back a bit more toward the tactical level. Sounds much like I described in Developing Naval Leaders: A Gamer’s Method. This will be critical as our Military forces must remain empowered to execute operations against an adversary in their tactical specific realm. He goes further to note that these models of command must be complimented by adept and adaptable leaders at every level.
“The relevance of space and cyberspace to national security will grow exponentially in magnitude of importance. Our reliance on technological superiority is a potential vulnerability that our adversaries will seek to exploit, often in covert or indirect ways.”
I wrote about Technology-Centric Warfare supported by Information-Centricity and one of its main points was the technological superiority aspect that the U.S. Military has always relied upon. The Chairman also notes that the “pace of change” and the “speed of operations” will only increase. This brief statement has a very large and monolithic challenge hidden within. The human element, for the most part, has been relatively constant with its ability to learn & understand. This then translates to a fairly constant speed at which we’re able to change and adapt both individually and organizationally.
“Smaller, lighter forces operating in an environment of increased uncertainty, complexity and competitiveness will require freedom of action to develop the situation and rapidly exploit opportunities. Decentralization will occur beyond current comfort levels and habits of practice.”
This conceptual statement dies rapidly at the staffing level, within the Navy, if not assured by the Commander’s authority and responsibility. But is in the “spirit” of John Boyd’s Observe-orient-decide-act or “OODA Loop” cycle.
Much of this cyclical process is based on the empowered Commander’s ability to understand and ensure trust both up and down the echelon scale. These abilities will then foster the capability to provide “superior speed in competitive cycles of decision making;” a significant necessity I’ve seen numerous leaders state requirements for yet goes without being addressed. To instill this ability should we be supplementing the education our leaders receive with something like Carnegie Mellon’s Decision Sciences or Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Technological Change?
What I do know is that while we routinely enjoy being in communication with subordinate units, the next higher echelon, and the planet the Military and Navy are not ready to execute without that tether. A far cry from our history.
“Any commander who fails to exceed his authority is not of much use to his subordinates.” - Admiral Arleigh Burke
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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.
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
- 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!