New college president to lead IT charge

Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, the incoming president of the Naval War College, said last week that he would enhance the school's role in supporting experimentation with cutting-edge information technology for the battlefield.

At the TechNet '98 conference, which was sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Cebrowski said he plans to expand the school's charter to include support for joint warfighting experimentation. The new approach would require the development of new methods of using IT in operations that involve two or more of the military services, he said.

"It is going to be a new and different war college than it has been," said Cebrowski, who currently serves as the Navy's director of space, information warfare, command and control. His previous assignments include a stint as director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Established in 1884 in Newport, R.I., the Naval War College provides senior-level professional military education to officers from the Navy, the Marine Corps and other services in the tactics, techniques and procedures of modern warfare.

As part of this initiative to expand its charter, the school will support the Atlantic Command in its new role as the Defense Department's Executive Agent for Joint Warfighting Experimentation, Cebrowski said.

He wants the school to become a central point of contact for experimentation along with the Atlantic Command, and he hopes to create "traction" between the school and the fleet, thereby enabling a greater sharing of ideas.

Cebrowski's plan calls for the expanded use of simulation and war-gaming that later can be applied to major military exercises and eventually integrated into formal military doctrine.

Cebrowski also said he plans to use the college's Center for Naval Warfare Studies, with its history of conducting advanced studies and war games, to help plan and coordinate experimental military concepts that can be tested in the field by troops during major exercises.

Pending Senate approval, Cebrowski will become the 47th president of the Naval War College, replacing Rear Adm. James R. Stark.

"This is probably the most significant personnel shift that anyone can put their finger on since Stansfield Turner," said Jerome Smith, dean of the Information Resources Management College of the National Defense University. In the 1980s, Turner took over the presidency of the college and turned it around from a country club atmosphere to a professional educational institution, Smith said.

Despite Cebrowski's intentions to expand the school's role to include experimentation with cutting-edge IT, he said the school would remain a place where officers come primarily to get a traditional military education.

Smith said all the war colleges are working to integrate the new concepts and procedures resulting from advances in IT. But he said Cebrowski's ability to think strategically and in the terms of modern information operations, as well as his willingness to "encourage a two-way flow" of ideas between the college and the operating forces, make his appointment significant.

"I don't believe in a stand-alone experimentation force," Cebrowski said. "We want to transform the entire force into an experimentation force."

Although Cebrowski's plans for the college have yet to be worked out with the Atlantic Command, Smith said there is no question Cebrowski will get his way. "He's been given the helm of the Navy's crown jewel," Smith said. "This will make it possible for him to bring his vision to the highest level of naval service."

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