Network warfare making progress

Pentagon report on network-centric warfare

Network-centric warfare promises to revolutionize U.S. military operations on the battlefield, but the capability is not yet fully developed, according to a Pentagon report on the subject.

Network-centric warfare "should not be misconstrued as a fully developed and deployable warfighting capability. It is not," the report states. "Far more needs to be done to develop, test and refine network-centric concepts of operation and co-evolve them with doctrine, organization, command approach, systems, and other components of a mission capability package."

The report was delivered to Congress in July and publicized on the Internet early this week. It sheds light on the military's network-centric warfare capabilities—and shortfalls—just as the United States gears up for military action in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11.

Information technologies—especially those in the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance domain—are expected to play an important role as the military tries to hunt down an elusive enemy.

The report adds that "considerable effort will also be required to develop network-centric capabilities that can effectively be employed in allied and coalition operations" and noted that the capability holds promise.

"The experiences with early efforts to explore network-centric capabilities have been characterized by only a limited capability to network the force and by applications of limited scope and scale," the report states. "Despite this limitation, these efforts yielded promising results. Deployment of a more fully mature network-centric capability will transform the way in which wars are fought. The resulting impact on the effectiveness of U.S. forces will justify the term 'revolutionary.'"

The tenets of network-centric warfare are as follows:

* A robustly networked force improves information sharing.

* Information sharing enhances quality of information and shared situational awareness.

* Shared situational awareness enables collaboration and self-synchronization, and enhances sustainability and speed of command.

* These, in turn, dramatically increase mission effectiveness.

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