Distinctions are also being lost between commanders and subordinates. Since new information distribution and processing technologies will permit (and strategies will require) commanders to perform their monitoring, planning, decision-making, and controlling functions through interaction with common computer-based systems, they will have to be proficient in the technical skills required to interact with and understand the capabilities and limitations of those systems. That is, command tasks will require more technical skills and knowledge. The same strategy and technologies will permit and require subordinate soldiers to operate at a distance from the commander and to assume more responsibility and authority for tactical actions based on immediate situational feedback and awareness. Osborne observes (1997:14): "The evolution of smart computer terminals has unleashed the potential of the individual to control information flows. The armed forces have already made great use of this process by empowering individual soldiers to make decisions on the battlefield. The new [organizational] structures often require supervisory and nonsupervisory personnel, trained to function in diverse capacities, to cross the lines of conventional job descriptions. That is, a subordinate's tasks will often require some command skills and knowledge." However, as noted earlier in this chapter, rules regarding recruitment, compensation, and status difference remain throughout the enlisted and officer ranks.
In the civilian sector, the conventional management hierarchical pyramid is being flattened to provide faster information flow horizontally and from the top down and from the bottom up (Osborne, 1997). Reducing the number of organizational levels promotes teamwork, speeds product development, and allows flexible, rapid response to market changes. Although the military's new strategic emphasis on speed and flexibility of response has implications for a wider distribution of information and work responsibilities, there is little serious consideration being given to flatter, nonhierarchical organizational structures. The Force XXI Operations document (1994) suggests that, in the future, physically dispersed Army organizations are likely to be electronically