Net warfare is 'not just tech'

If you think network-centric warfare is just about technology, one member of the Joint Staff has a message for you: "You are wrong."

Network-centric warfare seeks to make data available as quickly as possible to those who need it across the organization or on the battlefield, and "it's not just technology," said Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr., director of command, control, communications and computer systems for the Joint Staff.

Speaking today at a network centric warfare conference in Arlington, Va., Kellogg said network-centric warfare is composed of three equal parts: technology, organization and culture. "Unless there is harmony in all three, you won't have success," he said.

The Defense Department must be organized for speed in a network-centric environment, and that requires a single commander, or champion, of the cause, Kellogg said. Joint Forces Command, which leads the development of joint service concepts and experimentation, is the place where that is happening and its commander, Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., is pushing the issue, Kellogg said.

On the cultural side, DOD needs to take risks but must make sure failures occur only in a test environment and not on the battlefield, where lives could be lost, he said.

Technology is the enabler in the equation, but it must be easy to use and interoperable, or commanders cannot and will not rely on it, Kellogg said, adding a message for industry on that point: "If the stuff is not interoperable, it ain't gonna be bought. It's that simple."

The ongoing war on terrorism and possible war in Iraq have illustrated some great military successes in the realm of network-centric warfare but also brought many shortcomings to light.

For example, Kellogg said that U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan and Kuwait are using collaboration tools to communicate with their troops and do battle planning, which is good. The problem is that the collaboration tools being used in the different countries are not interoperable, and that means the true vision of network-centric warfare is not being realized, he said.

To help bring the three necessary components together, DOD is using its ongoing joint task force structure as a launching point. The goal is for Giambaistiani to establish standing Joint Forces headquarters in the field for regional combatant commanders by 2005, Kellogg said. The first test organziations with network-centric warfare capabilities will start in 2004.

Standardizing the headquarters, training and technologies that work together will benefit DOD's combat units, and that all relates to joint command and control, for which Joint Forces Command recently received greater oversight, Kellogg said.

"With network-centric warfare, we're starting small with the joint task forces, keep it simple, and we'll go from there," Kellogg said.

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