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Network Science 3 Networks and the Military As the Army, in fact all of the services, the Joint Staff, and the Department of Defense (DOD) look to the future, a new vocabulary dominates the planning as well as the strategic and tactical direction of the entire military process: Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership/Education, Personnel, and Facilities. “Information dominance and superiority,” “net-centricity,” “network-centric warfare,” and “network-centric operations” are frequently used terms that have become part of the lexicon associated with transformation to a future military force. NETWORKS AND THE ARMY From its earliest days, the Army has moved through doctrine, training, and equipping the forces relying on some form of networked communications. For the most part this was an Army Signal Corps function satisfied by switches, radios, satellites, and cable. Army leadership wanted to be sure it could talk to whomever it needed and left decisions about the network to technically competent “communicators.” This paradigm has shifted dramatically. Leaders of all military services and DOD have become aware that a successful doctrine for warfare in the Information Age demands that they engage network issues at many different levels. Force transformation is seen to depend on the development of a coherent system of interacting networks using rapidly evolving enabling technologies. The ability of joint and coalition units to integrate and maintain “connection” has been essential to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joint Network Nodes (JNN) allow for direct connectivity between warfighters of different services and the Global Information Grid (GIG), thus enabling Army brigade and battalion units to stay connected to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in support of their mission. Blue Force Tracker (BFT), which allows warfighters on the ground to answer the questions Where am I? Where are my buddies? was a great success in Iraq. JNN and BFT were rapidly followed to the Afghanistan and Iraq battlefields by Joint Combat Identification (JCI) systems, improvised explosive device (IED) countermeasure systems, artillery locating systems, persistent surveillance and dissemination systems, mine detection systems, and long-range scout surveillance capabilities (day/night and all-weather), all coming together to provide what the Army calls “battle command on the move.” One only has to examine the key suite of technologies for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems—C4ISR systems—to realize that none of the systems can be effective standing alone. To win the battles of the future, the integration and networking of C4ISR systems is essential, from concept development to combat in the field. At the same time as these C4ISR technologies and systems provide a manifold improvement in combat capabilities they provide a manifold problem of complexity. None of the systems stands alone on the battlefield. Most C4ISR systems were developed in separate “stovepipe” programs by hard-working, imaginative, and productive engineering teams; yet all must interoperate to varying degrees. Further complicating the issue will be adapting the highly centralized and hierarchical command structures of the Army (and other service forces) and accommodating both old and new generations of technology. Particularly vexing, for example, will be requirements to network unmanned vehicles, including remote sensors and weaponry, while keeping responsible and accountable human beings in the loop. NETWORK-CENTRIC WARFARE AND NETWORK-CENTRIC OPERATIONS The leadership of DOD has believed for some time that global communications technology, epitomized by the Internet and the World Wide Web, will fundamentally transform the conduct of war in the 21st century just as airpower transformed it between World Wars I and II. This belief is embedded in two strategic assumptions of profound signifi-
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Network Science cance to the Army. First, that better situational awareness and communication in combat situations will result in higher combat effectiveness. This implies facile and high-bandwidth communications between elements of all the services in combat operations as well as shared information in a common format. Second, it is assumed that better situational awareness will make forces more mobile by virtue of allowing heavy armor to be replaced by agility. These assumptions underlie the notion of a transformation of U.S. military forces by bringing them from the Industrial Age into the Information Age. They are captured in the strategic concept of network-centric warfare (NCW), which has four main tenets (Garstka and Alberts, 2004): A robustly networked force improves information sharing and collaboration. Such sharing and collaboration enhance the quality of information and shared situational awareness. This enhancement, in turn, enables further self-synchronization and improves the sustainability and speed of command. The combination dramatically increases mission effectiveness. In DOD today, the network is seen as perhaps the most potent aspect of this change. It captures the essence of the ongoing transformation and is a central element in improving combat effectiveness. According to LTG Steve Boutelle, U.S. Army Chief Information Officer, the Secretary of Defense has said that the single most transforming thing in our force will not be a weapons system, but a set of interconnections (Military Information Technology, 2003). Thus, early in its deliberations the committee developed Finding 3-1. DOD and all the military services have a vision of the future in which networks play a fundamental role. Definition and implementation of the concept of NCW is the goal of the DOD Office of Force Transformation (OFT). Information about the initiative may be found on the OFT Web site,1 where the concept is described as “an emerging theory of war in the Information Age” that “broadly describes the combination of strategies, emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures, and organizations that a networked force can employ to create a decisive war fighting advantage.” It is said to have “applicability for the three levels of warfare—strategic, operational, and tactical—and across the full range of military operations from major combat operations to stability and peacekeeping operations.” But the devil is in the details. Defining and implementing the concept has proven to be a huge challenge. As DOD has worked to come to grips with the definition of NCW, the concept has evolved into a more encompassing notion, “network-centric operations” (NCO). The latter is also described on the OFT Web site.2 NCO is based on revised tenets that are designed so that the hypotheses underlying them can be tested experimentally based on field data acquired in case studies. Relative to the tenets of NCW, the tenets of NCO emphasize the use of shared information by social networks. This evolution is documented in Network Centric Operations Conceptual Framework Version 2.0 (Garstka and Alberts, 2004) posted on the Web site, which contains the most current definitions of both NCW and NCO. NCW encompasses three domains of activity: physical, information, and cognitive. NCO adds a fourth, the social domain, and in addition emphasizes policies and procedures in the cognitive and social domains that lead to effective use of the information provided by the physical and information domains (Garstka and Alberts, 2004). Finding 3-2. DOD has recognized the value of cognitive and social domains in NCO. “The physical domain is where strike, protect and maneuver take place across the environments of sea, air and space. It is where the physical infrastructure that supports force elements exists. The key elements of the physical domain are (1) the network and (2) net-ready nodes” (Garstka and Alberts, 2004, p. 49). “The information domain is where information is created, manipulated, value-added and shared. It can be considered the ‘cyberspace’ of military operations. The key elements of the information domain are (1) data and (2) information” (Garstka and Alberts, 2004, p. 49). “The cognitive domain is where the perceptions, awareness, understanding, decisions, beliefs, and values of the participants are located” (Garstka and Alberts, 2004, p. 23). A key process in this domain is “sensemaking,” which requires the participants to construct effective mental models of a situation in which they find themselves. The military has formulated a model of how sensemaking occurs and how it can be influenced by information technology (Gartska and Alberts, 2004, pp. 29–37). Finally, “the social domain is where people, organizations, practices and cultures intersect” (Garstka and Alberts, 2004, p. 26). Conceptual Framework Version 2.0 identifies the attributes of networked structures and cultures, of network-centric people, and of how they collaborate, heavily emphasizing the dependence of combat effectiveness on performance in the cognitive and social domains. Finding 3-3. Current DOD investments in network research include no activity in the cognitive and social dimensions of NCO, specifically in the vital area of decision making in an information-rich environment. 1 At http://www.oft.osd.mil. Accessed September 1, 2005. 2 At http://www.oft.osd.mil/initiatives/ncw/ncw.cfm. Accessed September 1, 2005.
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Network Science The value of NCW is said to be greatest at the intersection of the four domains. Analysis of recent military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests, however, that only the information domain is represented (OFT, 2005). Box 3-1 contains observations from an analysis of two of a number of case studies commissioned by OFT to evaluate the value of NCO. What seems clear from battlefield reports and analyses is that the present systems used by the Army and other services need to be improved and integrated into a solution encompassing the physical, cognitive, and social domains, BOX 3-1 Case Studies in Net-centric Operations The Office of Force Transformation commissioned a series of case studies to evaluate the value of network-centric operations. In one study—U.S./ U.K. Coalition Combat Operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom—an attempt was made to judge the value-added for the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FCBC2)/Blue Force Tracker (BFT) system used in conjunction with existing C4 capabilities. The final analysis of the case study noted the following four points: FBCB2/BFT improved coalition operations, although in a somewhat limited way, by giving coalition units situational awareness of one another. The limited deployment, training, usage, and operation of FBCB2/BFT with the U.K. units constrained its contribution to overall situational awareness. The perception that U.S. forces did not use FBCB2/BFT in interfacing with U.K. forces discouraged subsequent use of the system between coalition forces. Anecdotally, the greater benefits appeared to be at the operational and strategic levels of command, where blue force feeds from multiple sources were aggregated to provide a coalition common operational picture (COP). Specific combat actions extracted from the case study provide a clear view of the conclusions of the analysis:1 At one objective when the U.S. forces were attempting to secure a bridge on the River Euphrates, 1 Brigade Combat Team (BCT) was to secure the bridgehead to allow 2 BCT to be the breakout force. When forward elements of 1 BCT were reaching the objective the plan was that lead elements of 2 BCT should be four hours behind them. It should be noted that the formations were out of radio contact. In fact, elements of 2 BCT were up to eighteen hours behind according to the time and space calculations made by units of 1 BCT based on the situational awareness afforded by FBCB2/BFT. Hence, the assault on the objective became a hasty defense until such time as the operation could be conducted. This demonstrates the utility of FBCB2/BFT to allow a unit to synchronize its actions with the operational context and conform to the collective scheme of maneuver. Furthermore it demonstrates how the 1 BCT commander was provided time to consider new courses of action. Interviews with personnel from 1 (UK) Armored Division highlighted that planning that had been undertaken prior to crossing the line of departure regarding the use of FBCB2/BFT had not resulted in the system being used as agreed between unit commanders…. Apparently, when the U.S. forces were engaged by Iraqi forces south-west of Baghdad, the system was disregarded and the relief in place conducted through the more familiar use of liaison officers on the ground. In both of these extracted vignettes we see that the focus is solely on the relay of information. Thus, the network is nothing more than a network of linked communications devices. Granted that provides a commander with increased situational awareness; but, despite that increased situational awareness, the commander does not derive a new approach to warfare. For example, the 1 BCT commander conducted a hasty defense, which is exactly what he would have done when faced with the delay of 2 BCT. While it could be argued that increased use and familiarity with the FBCB2/BFT system would have resulted in greater reliance on the system, it is noteworthy that the forces portrayed in the second vignette resort to direct human contact with liaison officers. The fourth point of the analysis—that the system’s greatest benefit may be at operational and strategic levels—is particularly revealing. It suggests a return to a more traditional perspective, when an overall commander could assume an overview of the battlefield from a nearby hillside. (This implies that the scope of the battle may be more geographically distributed in modern warfare, but there are no new elements to the mission of defeating the opposing force.) A similar case study was conducted in which U.S. Air Force war games were evaluated to examine the difference in the kill ratios of fighter planes equipped with voice-only communications and those with link-16 data communication capabilities. The study demonstrated that aircraft sharing the greater amount of information—link 16—had kill ratios more than twice those of aircraft that were equipped voice only. The significance of this finding is that the metric used is not something derived from a new theory of warfare; kill ratios are as old as warfare itself. SOURCE: Adapted from Garstka and Alberts (2004). 1 Garstka and Alberts, 2004, p. 5-5.
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Network Science as well as the information domain. This is an elusive objective that involves both near- and far-term efforts in network research, and includes efforts that go beyond research per se. Finding 3-4. Current DOD investments in network science and technology are almost exclusively in the information domain of NCO. CHALLENGES Upon assuming his post, the Secretary of the Army focused on issues of immediate concern to the Army: “A network-centric capable force is one that is robustly networked [and] fully interoperable and shares information and collaborates by means of a communications and information infrastructure that is global, secure, real time, reliable, Internet-based, and user-driven.”3 This vision of NCO cannot be delivered with the knowledge or technology available today. Challenges associated with present-day military information networks can be found at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels (Garstka and Alberts, 2004). They include the following: Lack of overall integrating architectures and systems engineering for enterprise networks; Inadequately trained, educated, and certified personnel and network users; Network management and lack of joint network configuration management; Network security and information assurance; Requirements to model, simulate, and test large networks before deployment; Fusion of multiple sensors and sensor types across the network for real-time decision making; Design of individual service networks and synthesis with the DOD GIG; Understanding the relationship between network structure and complexity and its impact on organizational design and individual and unit behaviors; and Energy-efficient electronics to reduce soldier loads and simplify logistics support. These challenges cannot be met with current technology alone. While significant resources have been expended to develop network-centric capabilities, most of the improvements are based on existing technology rather than on new results from network research. Even today, given all the resources that have been devoted to creating a networked force, there are no scientifically based guidelines for either the specification of the infrastructure needed or its design. Bandwidth availability is often cited as the central issue. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, only the strategic level was truly bandwidth-enabled. It is possible that network research would lead not merely to advances in bandwidth utilization but also to efficient applications that would better support the networked force at the operational and tactical (warfighter) levels of combat. DOD is projected to spend $30 billion to $50 billion over a relatively short time frame to transform and develop a network-centric force. It is possible that benefits could be realized faster and at lower cost with appropriate research in key areas. Planning and experimentation for NCO focuses on relatively narrow scenarios taken from past war experience and fails to reflect the reality of determined 21st century adversaries. Present-day information technologies on which military networks depend are extremely vulnerable to attack and manipulation. More importantly, by limiting the focus of NCO to the physical, information, cognitive, and social domains, technologies based on networks in non-C4ISR domains likely to be of importance in the future are being overlooked. Finding 3-5. Although no specific biological domain is identified for emphasis in NCO, the Army is responsible for critical defense operations in this domain that involve multiple interacting networks. A military operation consists of a myriad of activities occurring in sequence and parallel, with each activity associated with one or more networks that bear on the outcome. A biological attack on the United States, perhaps the “mother of all nightmares,” is an extreme but excellent example. The multiplicity of networks involved in such a real-world contingency illustrates the Army’s central role, as well as the wide applicability of benefits likely to ensue from investments in network research. Box 3-2 describes how Army units, not necessarily girded for combat, would be required to lead the nation in reacting to a biological attack. Such an attack would provide a true test of the effectiveness of net-centric operational principles. OPTIMIZING WARFIGHTING ORGANIZATIONS A number of times in history, the deployment of new weapons (from cannons to armored tanks to nuclear bombs) has conferred a decisive military advantage. But at other times, the most important military advantages have come not from new weapons but from new ways of organizing fighting forces. The Greek phalanx, the armored cavalry squadron, and a unit of action such as the modular brigade are all examples of military organizations that, when they were first used, conferred decisive military advantages. Today, the dramatically reduced costs of communication allowed by new information technologies are making it possible to organize military forces in very different ways. This 3 S.W. Boutelle, chief information officer, Department of the Army, “Remarks by the Honorable Francis J. Harvey, Secretary of the Army, December, 2004, as quoted in Slide 5: The Way Ahead,” briefing to the committee February 2005.
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Network Science BOX 3-2 Dependence of Army Operations on Networks: An Example Whereas the Future Combat System emphasizes physical networks, future Army operations will actually depend on many other types of networks. Figure 3-2-1 shows a highly simplified version of specific networks that might be involved in the response to a biological attack against the United States. The national response quickly diverges into civilian and military chains. On the civilian side, the first task is to identify the causative agent—a procedure involving biological networks. The public health response then relies on various types of social networks to track the disease and control its spread, as well as prepare for a potential follow-on attack. On the military side, the response is shown across the staff areas used by the military. (The “J”—for Joint—numbers are standard military designators for the respective staff areas of responsibility shown.) The schematic illustrates how in future Army operations all the network types described in Table 2-1—physical, social, and biological—would be involved. For this simplified schematic, only two network types per staff area are shown. Clearly, as with the civilian response discussed above, each task would be supported by many subtasks, most relying on various additional network types. To illustrate the potential power of networks in combat operations, Figure 3-2-1 draws on some futuristic concepts. For example, under J-3 Operations, note the use of “community networks,” derived from biology. This example is drawn from theoretical work currently being pursued by numerous researchers on the adaptation of animal behavior algorithms to support autonomous swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Using algorithms from flocking/swarming behavior and ant path determination, a flock of UAVs could be launched on a mission. If some of them were destroyed en route, the flock could self-organize and re-form to continue the mission. In the case of J-5 Strategic Plans and Policy, there is the suggested use of “ecological networks,” also derived from biology. In this instance, one could envision the use of information taken from our understanding of ecology to develop plans and policy for warfighting in areas where we have little specific knowledge of the terrain or environment. Knowledge about how networks influence the terrain or environment could improve war planning. Similarly, knowledge about group-forming networks could speed the establishment of coalitions needed for coalition campaigns. It is evident that while not necessarily even realizing it, the military draws on networks and network theories that have been developed in various fields. A fuller understanding of these underlying fields thus holds considerable potential. FIGURE 3-2-1 Representative activities and networks involved in responses to a bioterrorist attack.
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Network Science possibility already has been realized in the concept of “netwar” (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001). Twenty-first century communications technology makes it possible for every battlefield element to be connected with every other battlefield element, including individual warfighters, sensors and weapons, and vehicles and aircraft, manned and unmanned. Such connectivity has been shown to enable real-time situational awareness and a common operational picture of the battlefield. These and other connections to such things as remote artillery or an aerial weapons platform, greatly extend the capabilities of the individual warfighter. But increased situational awareness alone is likely to be of limited value if nothing else changes in the military command and control structure. For instance, soldiers who are aware of their situation but unable to make decisions using that information are unlikely to be much more effective than soldiers without such situational awareness. On the other hand, the vastly increased amount of battlefield information that is now potentially shareable makes possible radically new forms of organization such as loose networks of highly autonomous soldiers who swarm over promising targets without any centralized authority telling them to do so (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001). Finding 3-6. With the increasing importance of terrorist networks, information warfare, and other unconventional means of combat, the decisive advantages in 21st century wars may arise not from superior weapons but from superior ways of organizing warfighters. Developing such new organizational concepts, however, requires more than incremental improvements to existing military doctrine. It demands substantial creativity and invention, applied in this case not to creating new physical devices but rather to new organizational forms. And this invention is greatly helped by a rigorous understanding of organizational possibilities in other kinds of systems—for example, businesses, social networks, and biological systems (Malone et al., 2003; Malone, 2004; Olson et al., 2001). NETWORK RESEARCH OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO THE MILITARY Table 3-1 summarizes major challenges identified by both the Army and the committee during the course of its study. It lists research areas and objectives in all categories of military operations and highlights the broad potential of network research to support C4ISR and other advances and develop- TABLE 3-1 Network Research Areas Research Area Key Objective Time Frame Commercial Interest Priority for Army Investment Modeling, simulating, testing, and prototyping very large networks Practical deployment tool sets Mid term High High Command and control of joint/combined networked forces Networked properties of connected heterogeneous systems Mid term Medium High Impact of network structure on organizational behavior Dynamics of networked organizational behavior Mid term Medium High Security and information assurance of networks Properties of networks that enhance survival Near term High High Relationship of network structure to scalability and reliability Characteristics of robust or dominant networks Mid term Medium Medium Managing network complexity Properties of networks that promote simplicity and connectivity Near term High High Improving shared situational awareness of networked elements Self-synchronization of networks Mid term Medium High Enhanced network-centric mission effectiveness Individual and organizational training designs Far term Medium Medium Advanced network-based sensor fusion Impact of control systems theory Mid term High Medium Hunter-prey relationships Algorithms and models for adversary behaviors Mid term Low High Swarming behavior Self-organizing UAV/UGV; self-healing Mid term Low Medium Metabolic and gene expression networks Soldier performance enhancement Near term Medium Medium
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Network Science ments of interest to the Army and DOD. The time frame for realization, the likely degree of commercial interest, and the value to the Army (priority) of the challenges reflect the knowledge and estimates of the committee at the time of the study. The time frames are for the basic research activities in network science necessary to produce actionable technology investment options and are not for completion of technological implementations. Finding 3-7. There are many challenges associated with implementing NCO in the Army that can be identified, classified, and prioritized to create an investment strategy for network science. The transformation of the Army and other services into an effective network-centric force requires disciplined study and research in practically all areas involving networks. Today, there is no coherent discipline for the study of networks. A well-defined science of networks would provide a much more efficient path to a fully capable network-centric force. Finding 3-8. To exploit the full potential of networks, a viable science of networks is required. REFERENCES Arquilla, J., and D. Ronfeldt. 2001. Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND. Garstka, J., and D. Alberts. 2004. Network Centric Operations Conceptual Framework Version 2.0. Vienna, Va.: Evidence Based Research, Inc.. Malone, T.W. 2004. Network the Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press. Malone, T.W., R.J. Laubacher, and M.S. Morton, eds. 2003. Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Military Information Technology Online Edition. 2003. Interview with Major General Steven W. Boutelle. Available at http://www.military-information-technology.com/article.cfm?DocID=33. Accessed June 21, 2005. Office of Force Transformation (OFT). 2005. The Implementation of Network Centric Warfare. Document 387. Available at http://www.oft.osd.mil/initiatives/ncw/ncw.cfm. Accessed June 21, 2005. Olson, G.M., T.W. Malone, and J.B. Smith, eds. 2001. Coordination Theory and Collaboration Technology. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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