Keys to DOD transformation outlined

Continuing to define and understand the concept of network-centric warfare is tantamount to modernizing the U.S. armed services, according to the director of the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski assumed the DOD transformation post in November 2001 and often is referred to as the father of network-centric warfare. Speaking Feb. 5 at a briefing in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Defense Week magazine, he said that the notion of network-centric warfare is the "developing theory of war for the Information Age...and must form the underpinnings of transformation."

Cebrowski said he is not the "transformation czar" but serves as an "advocate, focal point and catalyst for transformation" under the Secretary of Defense.

"It is not the objective of my office to achieve convergence [among the services] so everyone is going the 'one right way,' " he said. Rather, the goal is to try and find "synergy among the diversity of approaches," Cebrowski said.

He said the Information Age has caused the "de-massification of warfare," where "speed counts for a lot." As an example, he said that a weapon that weighs less but is twice as accurate as the previous version affects the entire logistics structure and causes the lines between logistics and operations to blur.

One key to transforming DOD and combating threats is by developing a new "corporate strategy," Cebrowski said — one that's not based on "how much is enough, but how much breadth should we have?"

As an example, Cebrowski said that the creation of the Global Positioning System was not only a great technological advancement, but the start of a new competitive space, and that should have been recognized sooner.

"We have to try and see some of these things before the fact, rather than congratulate ourselves afterward," he said, adding that only recognizing the transformational value of a product after the fact can hinder its advancement.

To make his point, Cebrowski used the example of a banker vs. a venture capitalist. A banker will only invest in something that has a proven market, but a venture capitalist will fund some things in an attempt to create a market.

"Right now, we all look like bankers," Cebrowski said. "We need to diversify the economy...with a more entrepreneurial, more creative approach. And that can be hard and discouraging."

Sensor technology is one area poised to receive significantly more funding, he said. "We are seeing the emergence of sensor-based warfare. The reality is, the world knows if we can sense it, we can kill it." That has led to our enemies cloaking themselves, their weapons and systems more effectively than in the past, he said.

"We can control our weapon reach...we could put one on Mars if we wanted to. But the enemy controls your sensor reach," Cebrowski said. That will require more advanced sensors in greater numbers with better connections to weapon systems in the future.

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