NAS panel: Army needs unified net-centric center

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NRC Army NSTE study

A panel at the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that the Army create a single research center focused on developing the technologies and human-based skills needed for network-centric warfare.

The center, which would be based at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, would also be a primary support for all other military services and joint operations.

The Army asked the National Research Council’s Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) to define advanced operating models and architectures for future Army laboratories and centers, following a 2005 NRC report that defined the general parameters for network science studies.

That led the BAST, in its recently published "Strategy for an Army Center for Network Science, Technology and Experimentation (NSTE)," to recommend an “increased investment in the behavioral and social sciences research that would consider human performance in networks and add to understanding of the adversary.”

The new center would take advantage of moves initiated through recent base realignment and closure (BRAC) decisions, which will see the relocations of various key ARMY NSTE organizations.

Both the Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Md., and the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) at Fort Monmouth, N.J., are due to move to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds along with elements of various other organizations involved with NSTE.

Without a plan to combine and unify these NSTE activities, the BAST report said, the Army “will merely relocate and reconstruct CERDEC at APG in its present form and fail to capitalize on the synergies possible with network science research.”

Extraordinary leadership will be needed to coordinate and implement this new organization, and a director for all Army NSTE activities should be assigned immediately, the BAST said. It also called for the designation of at least two deputy directors of technology and human performance/adversary understanding.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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