works consist of layers, each of which performs a special function regarded as a “service” by the layers above. It is useful to distinguish among the lower (physical and transport) layers of this architecture, the higher (applications) layers that are built on top of them to offer services to people, and the cognitive and social networks that are built higher still, on top of the services-to-humans layers.
Research on the lower layers of the network architecture is relatively mature. Improving these levels is more of an engineering problem than one requiring basic research. The most immediate payoffs from network science are likely to result from research associated with the upper levels of the network architecture and the social networks that are built at an even higher level. This is where the committee thinks that Army investments are most likely to create the greatest value.
An area of particular promise that has little or no current investment is the social implications of NCO for the organizational structure and command and control. Basic research could provide valuable insight into how military personnel use advanced information exchange capabilities to improve combat effectiveness. For example, one might study how troops in combat could use these capabilities to make better decisions. Additional basic research in the core content of network science might help to determine how the Army can most productively utilize the capabilities of its advanced information infrastructure.
Recommendation 3. The Army should fund a basic research program to explore the interaction between information networks and the social networks that utilize them.
The Army can implement Recommendations 2 and 3 within the confines of its present policies and procedures. They require neither substantial replanning nor the orchestration of joint Army/university/industry research projects. They create significant value and are actionable immediately.
The committee’s Recommendations 1, 1a through 1d, 2, and 3 give the Army an actionable menu of options that span the opportunity space available. By selecting and implementing appropriate items from this menu, the Army can develop a robust network science to “enable progress toward achieving Network Centric Warfare capabilities,” as requested in the statement of task.