accomplish more, with greater knowledge, precision, and control, as the technology advances. Technology is fundamental to naval force capability.
The technology on which the future naval forces will be based is changing rapidly and expanding explosively in many directions. This study's Panel on Technology identified nine major technology clusters that are transforming all of modern economic and social life, and that will affect naval force capability profoundly. These technology areas are listed in Table 6.1 , together with examples of the component technologies within each major cluster. The technologies are described and discussed in detail in Volume 2: Technology in this study series.
It is extraordinarily difficult to select from this huge array a few key technologies that may drive naval force development. In addition, technologies may emerge in the next 40 years that are not even conceived of today. As is described below, all of the technologies contribute in some way, in different combinations in various cases, to major force capabilities that could not be developed otherwise. Selection of a few technologies that would have a major impact would perhaps include computing, sensing, and materials technologies that contribute to micro- and nano-technology, including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and to the enterprise process technologies. Micro- and nano-technology can be used to form “societies of sensors on a chip” that act like “meta-sensors” and actuators. They will come to underlie all sensitive and accurate information-gathering and system controls, with a broad variety of applications ranging from ASW signal reception and processing to “smart” aircraft skins capable of boundary layer control to enhance lift and reduce drag. The enterprise process technologies enable the economical creation and management of large-scale enterprises and the design, assembly, functional integration, and operation of major systems and “systems of systems.” But nearly all the other technologies contribute in various ways to what these few enable, and they contribute to other technical advances, none of which in isolation can generate the naval force capabilities that all of them in synergy can make possible.
The technologies listed in Table 6.1 are useful to or will affect the naval forces only to the extent of the capabilities they make available. Many of the applications, especially if several related ones are taken together, can lead to breakthroughs in naval force capability. A list of such capabilities would include the following, several of which are elaborated with examples in Table 6.2 ; the table also shows which of the above technologies contribute, in the main, to the capabilities:
Information-based conduct of warfare and command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR);
More efficient and effective use of naval force personnel: fewer people with more and better technical capabilities at their disposal;