Published Aerospace Power Journal - Fall 2001
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Maj Louis E. McNamara Jr., USAF*
Joint Vision 2010 (JV 2010) is the doctrinal framework inside which US forces will take advantage of new technologies to enhance their capabilities and develop new organizational structures. Centered on achieving battlefield dominance across the spectrum of military operations, the four primary themes of JV 2010dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protectionpoint the services in the same direction in terms of developing new capabilities. "The basis for this framework is found in the improved command, control, and intelligence which can be assured by information superiority."1
Information superiority allows military operations to be executed inside the enemys decision cycle, effectively diminishing significant enemy resistance. Information superiority means we will have better knowledge of friendly and enemy forces and intentions than the opposition. Information superiority is at the core of future military innovation and modernization. If one achieves information superiority, JV 2010 postulates that it will provide dramatic advantages in command and control (C2) capabilities over our enemies.
However, the United States is in danger of not being able to realize the JV 2010 goal of developing a military force capable of being successful in unexpected circumstances across the full spectrum of military operations. The United States does not place a high enough priority on the development and procurement of C2 assets. Specifically, the United States must accelerate the fielding of the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) and develop a C2 system able to support dissemination of information between American and allied forces in order to have them in place by 2010.
This article addresses the potential benefits of C2 in the information revolution and considers how to best ride this "information tiger." It defines C2 and explains the "revolution in military affairs" (RMA) and its implications for future C2. Lastly, the article considers the rewards and risks of the C2 system postulated by JV 2010.
For the purposes of this article, the definition of C2 given in Joint Publication (Joint Pub) 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operation, will be used: "Command and control is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of a mission."2 Command is the authorized directing of people to accomplish the mission. Control is intrinsic to commandthe process which "regulates forces and functions to execute the commanders intent."3 C2 is the process commanders employ to plan, direct, assess, coordinate, and control forces to accomplish the mission. The time frame for gathering information and acting on it is called the decision cycle. The decision cycle has three common partsobserving, deciding, and acting. The C2 process focuses on the "deciding" portion within the decision cycle.
JV 2010 sets the stage for one of the most influential events shaping current military needsthe RMA. Today many believe a RMA caused by significant advances in information technology is in progress.4 However, for a true revolution in military affairs to occur, the military needs not only to incorporate the technology but change its operational structure too. Technological advances occurring today will impact the way future war is conducted, and the ideas presented in JV 2010 are designed to be the foundation for the militarys efforts to take advantage of this technology.
The greatest military changes resulting from the technological revolution in military affairs should be organizational and doctrinal, as the networking of forces permits dispersed integrated operations. Our ability to globally link command, control, and communications (C3) systems with surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence assets will become the governing factor in determining US war-fighting capability. Smaller dispersed and synchronous forces operating with better situational awareness than their adversarys forces are the militarys vision. For example, during Operation Desert Fox (1998 air attacks on Iraq by US and British forcesmain weapons used were Tomahawks, B-52s, and Tornados) information technology enabled the Air Force and Navy to coordinate operations through an interoperable C2 structure. This allowed the services to coordinate a strike package that executed near-simultaneous missile attacks against over 50 targets in Iraq.
Despite the tremendous potential of the current RMA, there are associated issues that need to be explored. The first of two issues considered is the diffusion of key RMA technologies such as space systems, computer architecture, telecommunication systems, and global-information distribution networks.5 Specifically, how fast and to what extent will the technological advantages be diffused to other nations? This is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine, but some deductions can be made based on available information: (1) many RMA technologies are products of the civilian market, making some degree of diffusion a probability; (2) since the military is becoming increasingly rooted in dual-use technologies, the rate of diffusion could potentially be rapid; and (3) if a key technology is diffused, it may not yield much in the way of a comparative advantage during war.
The second issue to be considered is asymmetric strategies. Even though many world economies are growing, the ability or desire of some nations to spend the money for research and development or acquisition of key RMA technologies has declined. Therefore, countries that are unable or unwilling to invest in key technologies, such as Iraq, North Korea, or various countries in the Balkans, will likely consider asymmetric strategies such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, information warfare, and others. During the recent Kosovo operation then-president Slobodan Milosevic adopted an asymmetric approach. President Milosevic was hoping to create a humanitarian crisis, ending the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operation by cleansing Kosovo of ethnic Albanians and fracturing alliance cohesion. The effectiveness of asymmetric strategies in countering new technologies is still uncertain, but anticipating asymmetric challenges in future conflicts is a must.
Therefore, the JV 2010 view that improved C2 can be "assured" by information superiority should be expanded. More consideration should be given to the possibility that technology diffusion and asymmetric strategies of the future could prevent the United States from achieving an unimpaired stream of high-quality information necessary for decision making. Expansion could include training exercises that incorporate an "enemy" capable of conducting information warfare against us. The scenario could incorporate a "denial of service" attack on a base server, saturating it with requests for information similar to what happened to Yahoo in February 2000. These types of scenarios would allow decision makers to train in a hostile and realistic environment.
The current information-technology revolution provides the opportunity to build a C2 system for the twenty-first century that will provide high-quality, relevant information to commanders significantly faster than their opponents will be able to acquire it. A net advantage in decision cycle time would allow the United States to achieve economy of force, mass, and maneuver that are superior to that of its enemies. For example, during Desert Storm, a joint surveillance, target attack radar system (JSTARS) aircraft was able to track Iraqs vehicle and troop movements over the entire battlefield. JSTARS provided the timely, accurate information on Iraqi force positions essential to our quick defeat of Iraqs forces at Al-Khafji.
To determine future C2 needs, we need to consider challenges in our strategic environment and deduce the corresponding military implications influencing future C2 systems. According to the 1997 US National Military Strategy, the principal threats to American security are "regional dangers, asymmetric challenges, transnational dangers, and wild cards."6 These challenges paint a picture of future warfare characterized by terrorism and indeterminable warning times. Conflicts will be fought in uncertain environments against countless and diverse adversaries, using weapons of mass destruction as leverage against the United States.7
This environment will require the military to respond rapidly by projecting power overseas, conducting joint/coalition operations, and simultaneously operating across the full spectrum of the theater. Our experiences during Operation Allied Force illustrated the need for each of these requirements. Additionally, it is important to recognize that even though America provided the preponderance of the military forces for Allied Force, our NATO allies provided people, planes, ships, submarines, logistics, infrastructure, overflight permission, and political support. NATO allies were partners in this operations success, and future operations will again require their support.
In the future, the military will be required to achieve victories with a smaller force structure because it is unlikely that current budget levels will keep up with force-structure and modernization requirements. Therefore, in order to continue to project power globally and shape the international environment with a potentially smaller force, the services will have to convert into an even more efficient combined force. JV 2010s emphasis on information superiority will impact all aspects of how the services fight their battles, with the largest impact likely in the C2 area. This major impact is necessary because C2 and technological innovation will enable dominant maneuver, precision engagement, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection.
JV 2010 articulates the need to "collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information." To achieve this, we will require a C2 process that is near real time, fully integrated, and adaptable. Each of these attributes will be discussed, beginning with the need for a near-real-time C2. The goal is to field a C2 system that supports near-real-time planning, execution, and assessment because decision makers need high-quality information available where and whenever necessary. Therefore, it is essential to collect, disseminate, fuse, and display pertinent information (targeting, threat, and intelligence) in near real time. This permits friendly forces to operate in a near-real-time decision cycle. It also allows the decision maker to operate inside the enemys decision cycle while contributing to economy of force by making it possible to employ forces more efficiently. Near-real-time C2 also contributes to unity of effort by helping to synchronize joint and coalition forces in time and space. These benefits are possible because of the availability of high-quality information coupled with increased decision-cycle speed, providing more time to coordinate joint and coalition force movements.
Next, the capabilities an integrated C2 system will provide to decision makers will be considered. For a C2 system to be fully integrated, it needs to be resident on a global grid (an Internet-like system that securely and redundantly links the observing, deciding, and acting elements) of the decision cycle. Consider the advantages of having the observing, deciding, and acting elements linked together through a global grid. This type of integration would make possible a common operating picture of the entire theater and allow simultaneous planning by different organizations across air, land, and sea domains. Regardless of their location in space or time, the global grid allows for total integration. Additional advantages of the global-grid concept include continuously updated plans based on near-real-time integrated results and thorough evaluations of alternate courses of action conducted collaboratively across and within domains.
The United States was given a preview of the potential and current need for an integrated C2 system during Allied Force. For example, our information technologies enabled the use of video teleconferencing and collaborative planning at the joint force air component commander level and higher. The lack of C2 system integration did not enable a high degree of synchronization between all NATO war fighters, resulting in geographically separated package commanders not being able to use teleconferencing to brief other allied pilots. Due to this limitation, it was not uncommon for Navy and Air Force strike assets to share the same piece of sky without knowing each others plans. The ability to teleconference would have enhanced planning and mission synchronization across and within domains.
Additionally, as technology improves, the potential of information systems will continue to grow. During Allied Force, there was a limited ability to pass high-fidelity data necessary for strikes against time-sensitive targets to all necessary locations. Consider the potential of having a data-link capability, such as JTIDS, across all strike and C2 platforms. In addition to facilitating data exchanges and the targeting process, it would establish a common operational picture that would enhance battle management significantly.
Finally, the requirement for the C2 system to be adaptable across the full spectrum of operations will be explored. The information grid must be able to provide tailored information to users, based on their needs and functions. Examples include providing requested logistics, intelligence, operational fire, planning, or other functional information where and when needed. This tailored information management will permit decision makers to make rapid, informed decisions using high-quality information tailored to their needs. Military staffs or private contractors stationed virtually anywhere inside or outside the theater of operations could coordinate planning, intelligence, logistics, and other types of decision making as long as they were connected to the global grid.
However, a C2 system already heavily dependent on information technology and becoming even more so has its shortcomings. First, reduced decision cycles are still subject to the fog of war. For example, the downing of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes and the downing of two United Nations Blackhawk helicopters by Air Force F-15s occurred despite the presence of information that could have prevented the mishaps. The Vincennes crew may have confused the Airbus with F-14s that had taken off from Iran. Airborne warning and control system aircraft crew members did not challenge the F-15 pilots misidentification of the helicopters even though it had information suggesting the presence of friendly helicopters in Northern Iraq, resulting in the loss of lives and aircraft.8 Most recently, the unintended bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo operation was the result of a failure in the process of validating targets. None of the military or intelligence databases used to validate targets contained the correct location of the embassy. These examples illustrate the confusion inherent in tense, time-compressed military operations that will be present regardless of how much high-quality information is available. However, it must be remembered that the goal of an improved C2 system is not to totally eliminate the fog of war but to ensure that the US military operates with less uncertainty than its enemies.
Second, continuously improving technology could lead to the pursuit of faster response times as a goal in and of itself. Herein is a potential shortcomingresulting from a hurried decisionwhere a mind-set that places a premium on speed could cause accidental conflict escalation. The objective of a faster response time is to reach a speedier decision than the opponent. The danger that needs to be avoided is hurrying to the acting element without adequately considering the observing and deciding elements. The time advantage the C2 process provides inside the enemys decision cycle should be used to make sound decisions quicker than the enemy does, not necessarily as quickly as possible.
Critical to success is the necessity for C2 systems to be able to integrate and share information across the battlefield among multinational partners. As stated in JV 2010, "We expect to work in concert with allied and coalition forces in nearly all of our future operations, and increasingly, our procedures, programs, and planning must recognize this reality." This is a key point because the technology envisioned by JV 2010 in the area of C2 will likely outpace our partners ability to acquire it. Equipment that is not interoperable will slow down decision cycles, reduce the quality and amount of information available, and increase risk. Therefore, the services need to place more emphasis on purchasing equipment that is interoperable with our multinational partners instead of expecting them to keep pace with us. In these times of shrinking defense budgets, it is becoming increasingly difficult for our military partners to modernize at the pace that our military is able to purchase and incorporate new technology.
This point was illustrated during Allied Force in which disparities between our capabilities and that of our allies came to light, most noticeably in C3 capabilities. These disparities impacted our ability to operate at optimal effectiveness with our NATO allies. Specifically, existing data networks were not sufficient to support the flow of data among key nodes of the NATO information grid, and this problem was compounded by the lack of interoperability between US and NATO databases. The problem continued throughout the operation and, unfortunately, a single data network to support coalition operations was never established.
A final shortcoming is that US information technology is vulnerable to information attack, either physical or electronic. For example, an enemy could attack hardware, software, power grids, or cable connections, causing a potential system or nodal failure. Couple this with the fact that the military information structure is entangled with the civilian infrastructure, and the military has little to no control over this situation, making security a legitimate concern.9 Admittedly, given the complicated interdependencies between information infrastructures, there is no way to make them impervious to attack. However, there are things the military can do to reduce the risk: Educate military personnel in information warfare, include information warfare in exercises, design systems to reduce their vulnerability, and use encryption.
Although the interoperability of C2 hardware is important for successful joint and coalition operations, it is not the only element necessary for success. The full potential of information technology cannot be achieved without supporting doctrinal and organizational changes. C2 is often based on the tenets of centralized control and decentralized execution. This is consistent with C2s current hierarchical organizational approach. However, exploiting new technology may require a decentralization of command authority so opportunities are not missed.10
Examples of poor interoperability illustrating this point can be found in the Leyte Gulf Operation conducted during World War II. Adm Thomas C. Kinkaid and Adm William F. Halsey Jr. lost an opportunity to destroy the Japanese Central and Northern Forces because of the hierarchical C2 structure they were working in. Kinkaid assumed Halsey was guarding San Bernardino Strait, protecting amphibious shipping; however, Halsey had taken his forces north in pursuit of the Japanese Northern Forces because he viewed his primary mission as offensive, not defensive. The result was that elements of the Japanese Central and Northern Forces were able to escape. If Halsey and Kinkaid had been better able to "self-synchronize" their efforts by using a globally netted, flatter C2 system, the results may have been different.
Flatter organizational structures that delegate authority and utilize the tenets of centralized control and decentralized execution would create a more dynamic organization able to quickly respond to change. For example "the flight deck of an aircraft carrier provides an excellent, although small-scale, representation of a decentralized flexible organization."11 It has a well-trained crew; it is a responsive, flat organization; and relevant, necessary information is widely distributed. "The flight deck operates on the basis of simple decision rules, with authority for action placed at the action levels, dependent upon position, skill, and information."12 For example, the joint force commander could organize his/her C2 structure in a similar manner by employing a well-trained smaller staff, guided by commanders intent, working in an environment where relevant information is widely distributeda decentralized, flexible C2 structure.
Additionally, the commanders intent becomes critical when one decentralizes execution. If a subordinate knows what the commander intends to do, the appropriate decision can be made in the commanders absenceor in the absence of further guidance from the commander. The increases in the availability of high-quality information achieved through information superiority should help subordinates make these decisions. The Navy is an example of a task-oriented organization utilizing commanders intent to imply "command by negation." Command by negation is based on a common understanding of the objective to be achieved. It has the advantage of shorter reaction times because subordinates do not have to constantly ask for permission to act. If the decision is not overruled, it is approved. During World War II, the Germans used the concept of Auftragstaktik, which provided a great deal of freedom of action to subordinate commanders. The German system told subordinate commanders what they were supposed to do and relied on their initiative to accomplish it. The point being illustrated by these examples is that "speed of action can only be achieved through a process that decentralizes decision making and delegates authority."13
There are some shortcomings associated with a more decentralized C2 structure that need to be recognized. First, increased information will create an environment where senior leaders will be tempted to get more involved in the execution of operations. This may occur because the C2 system of the future will likely provide the senior commander with what he or she believes is the most complete picture of the battle space.14 Additionally, in a decentralized C2 environment, a decision by a subordinate can cause an unwanted escalation of the situation. Further, decentralized execution makes horizontal coordination across domains much more critical. If horizontal coordination does not occur, the operational commander risks losing control of the operation.15
Another shortcoming associated with a decentralized C2 structure based on information superiority is the lack of common doctrine in multinational operations. It seems unlikely that every ally or coalition partner will adopt our view of the future of war as articulated in JV 2010. Previous attempts to convince our partners in Europe and Korea to accept AirLand Battle were met with resistance because the doctrine was technology dependent.16 The absence of common doctrine could affect our ability to integrate and synchronize activities with our allies and coalition partners. Since doctrine consists of common terminology used to communicate commanders intent, command relationships, and control measures, among other things, it will be very difficult to prosecute a war with multinational partners without common doctrine.
Dominant C2 in future wars depends on the services taking full advantage of the opportunities made possible by advances in information technology. Future battlefields will be characterized by highly integrated coordination requiring multilevel security and simultaneous actions, with US forces striving to achieve rapid defeatsinstead of fighting wars of attrition. The US military will be required to achieve rapid success with a much smaller force than in past wars. Moreover, it will not be enough to be joint in future operations; it will be necessary to integrate and improve interoperability with our multinational partners.
It is likely that future enemies will recognize how valuable information superiority is to us, and the relative vulnerability of our information systems will make future attacks on them a high probability. This, combined with other asymmetric strategies and the potential diffusion of technology, will make it difficult to "assure" information superiority.
Even though there are issues to be "worked through" and risks to be considered, these issues and risks are not reasons for rethinking investments in technology. The services must continue to improve the C2 process by taking advantage of new technologies to maintain a comparative C2 advantage over our enemies. However, process improvements alone will not be enough to ensure dominant C2; organizational and doctrinal changes also must occur. Flatter, decentralized organizations staffed with people who understand C2s value will be required to effectively field a C2 system that can employ our nations power to its maximum potential across the full spectrum of operations. Moreover, doctrine needs to be developed that defines command relationships, terminology, and control measures in multinational operations.
Taking advantage of the current revolution in military affairs by effectively integrating C2 with precision engagement, dominant maneuver, focused logistics, and full-dimensional protection should enable the United States to continue to project power globally and shape the international environment in the twenty-first century. This strategy recognizes the necessity of having forces that are able to quickly respond to contingencies across the full spectrum of war. Therefore, improved information technology has to be pursued to preclude future technological advances from knocking us off the "technological tiger" primarily responsible for our success. The "tiger" is running, and if the concepts articulated in JV 2010 are to be realized by 2010, C2 assets need to be given a higher priority by all the services and our coalition partners now.
The following recommendations are provided for force planners to consider as they try to achieve the concepts articulated in JV 2010. First, accelerate the fielding of JTIDS. A secure, tactical data link is needed immediately across US and NATO strike and C2 platforms to provide the timely exchange of high-fidelity data between sensors and shooters. JTIDS would establish a common operating picture, which would reduce the decision-cycle time and ensure that a higher quality of information is available on which to base decisions. This is a lesson not learned in Desert Storm; it was equally applicable to Allied Force but not applied. Our ability to link C2 systems with surveillance and strike assets is a governing factor in achieving the goals set forth in JV 2010.
Second, develop a C2 system able to support dissemination of information between US and NATO forces. The problem of how to disseminate information (infrastructure) and how to disseminate it securely (classification levels) was a problem during Desert Storm and Allied Force. This shortfall reduces reaction times, limits the ability to engage time-sensitive targets, and increases the potential for error. If not addressed now, it will hinder our efforts to achieve JV 2010 concepts.
1. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCSC), Joint Vision 2010 (Washington, D. C.: 1995), 19.
2. Joint Pub 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations (Washington, D. C.: 7 February 1996), II-16.
3. Ibid., II-17.
4. See for example, Graham R. N. Ramsey, The Revolution in Military Affairs: A Primer for the Uninitiated, Strategic Research Report no. 9-96 (Newport, R.I.: US Naval War College, 1996), 8; and Arthur K. Cebrowski, and John L. Garataka, "Network Centric Warfare: Its Origins and Future," US Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1998, 29.
5. James R. Fitzsimonds and Jan M. Van Tol, "Revolution in Military Affairs," Joint Forces Quarterly, Spring 1994, 2431.
6. JCSC, National Military Strategy (Washington, D.C.: September 1997), 819.
7. Ibid., 1.
8. Brian C. Nickerson and Dario E. Teicher, "Factors That Affect Shipboard Operational Decision Making" (thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif.), 59.
9. Department of Defense Science Board Task Force on Information Warfare Defense (IWD) (Washington D.C.: Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, 1996), ES-2.
10. David Alberts, "The Future of Command and Control with DBK," Institute for National Strategic Studies, 8, on-line, Internet, October 1995, available from http://www.ndu.edu/ndu/inss/books/dbk/dbkch05.html.
11. Paul J. Reason with David G. Fregmann, Sailing New Seas, Newport Papers no. 13 (Newport, R.I.: Naval War College Press, 1998), 11.
12. Milan Vego, "Operational Command and Control", in "Operational Art" 3d draft (Newport, R.I.: Naval War College Press, 1998), 180.
13. Capt James R. FitzSimonds, "The Cultural Challenge of Information Technology," Naval War College Review 51, no. 3 (Summer 1998): 16.
15. Robert W. Rissacassi, "Principles of Coalition Warfare," Joint Forces Quarterly, Summer 1993, 60.
16. JCSC 3-0, VI-2.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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