USAWC STRATEGY RESEARCH PROJECT
NETWORK CENTRIC WARFARE –
TRANSFORMING THE U.S. ARMY
Lieutenant Colonel Carl D. Porter
United States Army
Mr. Bill Waddell
This SRP is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Strategic Studies Degree. The views expressed in this student academic research paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
U.S. Army War College
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013
AUTHOR: Lieutenant Colonel Carl D. Porter
TITLE: NETWORK CENTRIC WARFARE – TRANSFORMING THE U.S. ARMY
FORMAT: Strategy Research Project
DATE: 19 March 2004 PAGES: 42 CLASSIFICATION: Unclassified
The old paradigms of U.S. military operations in the industrial age are dead. Military relevance in the information dominated 21st Century no longer comes from the industrial age concept of massing forces or attrition warfare. Rather, it comes from a new information age paradigm where access to information enables the rapid employment of the right force at the right place and time to achieve strategic objectives, while preventing any adversary from doing the same. To achieve this position of dominance, the Department of Defense has embraced the concepts of Network Centric Warfare (NCW) as a way to transform the force and achieve Joint Vision 2020 objectives. This information age concept provides a systems view of the battle space that can radically compress the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war and dramatically increase combat power through shared awareness and self-synchronization. The concept will not take hold in the U.S. Army, however, without a substantial effort to overcome impediments and a corresponding co-evolution of processes, organizations and technology infrastructure. This research paper provides a summary of network centric warfare concepts and highlights some of the challenges to applying it throughout a transformed Army force.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of illustrations vii
List of Tables ix
Network Centric WARFARE – Transforming the U.S. Army 1
The Concept of Network Centric Warfare – An Executive Summary 2
Potential Power of Networking 2
Tenets of Network Centric Warfare and the Domains of War 3
From Platform Centric to Network Centric – Applying the NCW Concept 6
NCW - Impediments and Implications for Army Transformation 11
Impediments to Achieving the Benefits of NCW 11
Implications for Army Transformation 13
List of illustrations
Figure 1: Relationship Between NCW and the Domains of Warfare 5
Figure 2: Logical Model of NCW relationships 9
List of Tables
Table 1: Tenets of Network Centric Warfare 3
Table 2: Changing Rule Set in the Information Age 6
Table 3: Comparison of Platform and Network Centric Operations 7
Table 4: Comparison of Decision Making Requirements 15
Network Centric WARFARE – Transforming the U.S. Army
We need to make the leap into the information age, which is critical to the foundation of our transformation efforts, the ability of forces to communicate and operate seamlessly on the battlefield will be critical to our success.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Jan 20021
The old paradigms of U.S. military operations in the industrial age are dead. Military relevance in the information dominated 21st Century no longer comes from the industrial age concept of massing forces or attrition warfare. Rather, it comes from a new information age paradigm where access to information enables the rapid employment of the right force at the right place and time to achieve strategic objectives, while preventing any adversary from doing the same. To achieve this position of dominance envisioned by Joint Vision 2020, the U.S. Army must transform through the adoption of a new concept of operations and infusion of the right technologies to maintain relevance in the complex and dynamic global environment.
The predominant information age concept to facilitate Army transformation is Network Centric Warfare (NCW). In a 2001 report to Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD) stated that this concept is “no less than the embodiment of information age transformation.”2 Admiral Jay Johnson, former Chief of Naval Operations calls it a “fundamental shift from what we call platform-centric warfare.”3 Similarly Vice Admiral (Retired) Arthur Cebrowski, Director of the DoD Office of Force Transformation (OFT) declares that NCW is not just a “new concept of operations” 4 but a paradigm shift to a “new American way of war”5 that will prove to be the most significant Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) in 200 years.6 These comments indicate many strategic leaders’ beliefs that NCW will provide the ways to achieve Joint Vision 2020 objectives and revolutionize how the Army operates in a joint, capability-based environment.
Although these statements suggest a growing enthusiasm and commitment to applying this concept to force transformation, many are not as optimistic over its potential impact on military effectiveness. Marine General Paul Viper argues that most DoD personnel “have no clue what NCW is.”7 Still other defense analysts contend that NCW concepts will do little to fundamentally change the nature of warfare or support the achievement of strategic objectives.8
So what exactly is Network Centric Warfare and how will its application transform the Army? What are the impediments to achieving it, and what are the implications of NCW on the Army’s transformation strategy? To address these questions, this research paper begins with an overview of NCW concepts and tenets. Next, it describes the transformational nature of NCW through a comparison of platform-centric and network-centric operational constructs. Finally, this document details some of the technical and fiscal impediments to applying this information age concept and offers some implications this concept may have on transforming the Army into a dominate, information superior force.