Netcentric Warfare

"Netcentric warfare" has been all the rage for over half a decade now. 

Basically, it means that everybody is interconnected and that everybody from the Theater Commander back in the States to the lowest buck private in the field have the same "situational awareness."

This universal awareness is accomplished by being having everyone and everything from the individual soldier on the battlefield to the person back in a supply depot in the United States  electronically connected.  This means that the supply people are aware of the rates of consumption of fuel, food, and ammunition.  They would immediately become aware of any unusual supply problems and be able to call up resources to bear on the problem.

The field commanders would have near real time satellite images of the battle field and could pin point enemy movements and move their forces accordingly.

It’s all kind of like a giant world-wide video game.

Netcentric warfare is considered to be a “force multiplier.”  This means that you can go to war and be victorious with fewer troops because you have complete situational awareness over your opponent and can almost instantly bring force to bear anywhere in the “battle space” because everybody is interconnected.

This is a ridiculous proposition.  Each service has it’s own networks, it’s own protocols, and even at the most basic level, most of these systems are not compatible with each other.  Does anybody recall when the DOD tried to make ADA the DOD-wide programing language?

And there is some real time evidence as what happens when things go wrong.  All of this high technology is really just fancy communications gear.  The data that goes into these systems is still subject to being disrupted by weather, and the simple expedient of the enemy hiding in the bushes and civilian houses so that the drones and satellites can’t see them.  That’s what happened in Iraq.

It is important to understand this because it was one factor that lead to the debacle in Iraq.  The DOD “deciders” apparently bought into this nonsense and I believe it is one reason they thought they could do with fewer troops on the ground.

They bought into the netcentric warfare force multiplier falderal.

In reality, netcentric warfare is a marketing buzzword that has sold the military establishment on a concept that generates a six to nine billion dollar a year market for what is essentially fancy wi-fi and internet gear, that will immediately fail in a hostile battlefield environment.  Does anybody recall the computer systems that were sold to government agencies in the 1970’s with promises that were way beyond the capabilities of the technology?

To be fair, there have been some successes, such as the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2, but this is a slow evolution, rather than a revolution, as some like think.

Hizbullah and the insurgents in Iraq are netcentric, but without the fancy gadgets.  They use cell phones, runners, and shout a lot to maintain situational awareness and control the battle space.

Our expensive, fancy electronic gadgets will are not going to win this one for us.

One Response to “Netcentric Warfare”

  1. FHazzard Says:

    In my opinion, the crux of the issue is a reluctance to change culture and procedures to facilitate collaboration rather than an inability to make it happen technologically. We have to find a way to integrate intel and ops. Is anyone here going to the DCGS conference sponsored by JFCOM in April in Norfolk? DCGS is the SECDEF’s poster child for REAL collaboration. http://www.ncsi.com

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