Transforming the Navy and Marine Corps into a Network-Centric Force
Long before naval leaders began articulating network-centric warfare,1 the U.S. Navy integrated weapons and sensors at diverse locations to perform its missions. In the earliest days of naval combat, flag signals were used to place ships into formations that permitted the concentration of their firepower. In the mid-20th century, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations depended on long-range but limited-accuracy sensors cueing an air platform to a point where it could deploy shorter-range but more-accurate sensors that could yield a targeting solution.
The timescales of these ASW operations permitted the use of voice and teletype person-to-person communications. The more time-compressed challenge of coordinated air defense against kamikaze aircraft motivated the development of the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS), which used first-generation computers to exchange radar pictures from multiple ships to create a common picture for the air defense controller. The accelerating pace of computational capability has led to the vision of network-centric operations, which have been defined as
…military operations that exploit state-of-the-art information and networking technology to integrate widely dispersed human decision makers, situational and targeting sensors, and forces and weapons into a highly adaptive, comprehensive system to achieve unprecedented mission effectiveness.2
However, the full realization of network-centric operations presents technical, operational, and management challenges for which little historical guidance is available. The linkage of today’s systems into network-centric forces will be an exceptionally large, complex undertaking; its technical aspects might be termed “complex system” engineering. The transformation it will bring to operations is so profound that the impacts cannot yet be fathomed.
The implementation of network-centric operations is unfolding in an uncertain environment. Navy and Marine Corps missions are in flux as the entire Department of Defense (DOD) undergoes a significant transformation. Perhaps more important, the pace of technological change has now increased so much that technology changes far faster than new naval systems can be designed and brought to the field. In the old days, the Navy could repeatedly field state-of-the-art devices and systems; today’s systems are often obsolete before being fielded.
The operational challenge is to devise concepts of operation that exploit these technical capabilities as the United States moves from stovepiped, industrial age naval forces to a geographically dispersed, information age force that exploits all available information and seamlessly engages adversaries at the time and place of its choosing. The management challenge is to create mechanisms to coordinate the responses to the technical and operational challenges. Both the operational and the management challenge must be tackled before the Navy and Marine Corps can achieve the full promise of network-centric operations.
1.1 THE PROMISE OF NETWORK-CENTRIC OPERATIONS (A SCENARIO)
FORCEnet has broad applicability and promises to enable a wide variety of missions to be carried out with greater speed and effectiveness. This study committee—the Committee on the FORCEnet Implementation Strategy—decided that a vision of how FORCEnet could play out in the future in a specific, complex, joint scenario might illustrate the range of capabilities and the effectiveness that FORCEnet would enable: shared awareness, collaboration, responsive tasking, automated analysis and data synthesis, information composability, tactical decision support, collaboration and tasking of joint assets, force self-synchronization, rapid force composability, automatic incorporation of new sensors to form a new common picture, real-time composability of allied force response, and overall speed and decisiveness of command. The following is a scenario that mentions fictitious names and is set in the future; the shaded blocks highlight the capability illustrated.
1.2 KEY CHARACTERISTICS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE THE PROMISE OF NETWORK-CENTRIC OPERATIONS
As illustrated in the preceding scenario, a fully networked force could potentially increase naval combat capabilities enormously. Network-centric operations will increase blue force tracking ability and decrease uncertainties and confusion, often termed the “fog of war,” in turn increasing flexibility and options, accelerating decision making, and decreasing vulnerabilities. However, the force’s information infrastructure will need a set of essential characteristics to make this possible:
Assurance and trustworthiness,
Coherence—avoidance of “Tower of Babel” problems,
“Plug-and-play” composability of networked forces, and
Adequate capacity and timeliness.
Each characteristic will be very challenging and indeed some are beyond the current state of the art. The following subsections briefly discuss these issues.
1.2.1 Robust Availability
Most fundamentally, it is imperative to recognize that a network-centric force is a network-dependent force. This reality imposes three requirements on the network, but also on the operations that employ it:
The network must be extremely robust, with sufficient redundancy to adapt to losses of component portions. In the past, large-scale distributed systems, such as networks and electrical systems, have often proved to be surprisingly fragile. Specific processes must be put in place for adapting to each potential loss.
Since the loss of a portion of the network is likely to reduce the network’s capacity and capability, operations must quickly adjust to reductions in communications, and training must include operating at each level of reduced capability.
Since there is a significant likelihood that some platforms (e.g., ships or aircraft) will lose connectivity totally, they must possess sufficient local capability to allow effective operation in such circumstances.
1.2.2 Assurance and Trustworthiness
Military forces must be able to rely on the network and its information without constant concern that the information that they are using has been “poisoned” by deliberate acts of an adversary, or that an adversary is “inside” the network, or that the entire network might suddenly collapse under enemy attack.
Traditional military communications have emphasized security levels and cryptography to protect information. These forms of protection are still essential, but as the network grows ever larger, it is almost inevitable that some portion of it (e.g., sensor nodes or overrun ground vehicles) will at some point be controlled by an adversary. An adversary that can observe the common operational picture (COP) will have an advantage, and one that can “poison” data used by U.S. forces may cause long-term damage that is hard to find and undo.
Even worse, when the entire force is networked, adversaries could cause devastating, widespread effects within a single operation. One worm could take down communications in an entire theater, or even disable the communications of the worldwide assembly of U.S. forces, and it might take days to fully recover. This is a new level of threat for U.S. forces. It is deeply sobering but very true that the ongoing transformation to deeply network-centric operation opens the door to far more serious vulnerabilities for naval forces than they have faced historically.
1.2.3 Coherence—Avoidance of “Tower of Babel” Problems
One clear benefit of network-centric operation is a common operational picture through which operators can see at a glance their own current locations, the positions of nearby friendly forces, and current estimates of enemy locations. Unfortunately, experience has shown that such “common” pictures are anything but common. The committee heard first-person anecdotes of compelling graphic displays that were completely wrong, with many of their icons showing incorrect or outdated position information, thus making the entire picture worse than useless. Another anecdote told of 21 unrelated “common” operational pictures.
In addition to having an accurate common operational picture, it is equally desirable to share sets of radar tracks (e.g., for aircraft over a theater) to which a number of different sensors each contributes. However, experiments at the exercises of the All Services Combat Identification Evaluation Team have shown for many years that the DOD is nowhere near being able to properly correlate tracks contributed from different sensor systems. Instead, a single physical object may be represented as many different tracks at different locations because of the inherent inaccuracies of the individual sensors.
Three important challenges underlie the ability to avoid this kind of confusion: the creation of interoperable data definitions, the development of open systems for information dissemination, and the formulation of information services that enable mathematically consistent processing of data and information. Each is a hard problem, combining both technical and cross-organizational programmatic difficulties.
1.2.4 “Plug-and-Play” Composability of Networked Forces
Today’s system engineering builds a reliable system by bounding the problem and decomposing the larger system into a set of smaller subsystems with
their own derived requirements. These subsystems can then be assembled into the overall system with good assurance that the result will meet its goals for reliability, timeliness, accuracy, and so on.
This successful technique cannot readily be applied to systems that are assembled “on the fly,” however. It is one thing to engineer a Cooperative Engagement Capability system, which is a complex and highly successful distributed system. It is quite another thing to plug together a previously unrelated set of sensor systems and weapons in the field and expect such an arrangement to work. Thus, tension currently exists between the desires of commanders for the “plug-and-play” interoperability of forces and their information systems, and the ability of system designers to produce systems that will work reliably when lashed together.
1.2.5 Adequate Capacity and Timeliness
Finally, at the most basic levels, the network infrastructure must provide adequate bandwidth, and it must deliver information in a sufficiently timely manner that it is still useful when it arrives. This will likely prove challenging for the Navy and Marine Corps even when new satellite systems and peer-to-peer radio networks are in place, since connectivity to mobile platforms is by its nature slower and less reliable than that to fixed sites. The Marines have a harder problem in this respect than the Navy has, since closing a radio link to a small terrestrial vehicle or to a dismounted Marine is very challenging.
As a concrete example of where the Navy stands today, the great majority of ships have only 32 kilobits per second (kb/s) of bandwidth for network connectivity. Thus a fighting ship often receives far less bandwidth than a home personal computer does. Furthermore, this connectivity may only be available 70 percent of the time. These capabilities are hardly compatible with a “fully networked fighting force.”
Timeliness is also a key issue. In recent years, tactical communications have been roughly divided into messages with time requirements measured in hours or minutes (e.g., the formulation of a ground attack plan and issuance of the execution order), in seconds (battle management), and in hundreds of milliseconds (fire control). General-purpose networks, based on Internet technology, already convey the first type of messages, and they could convey the second with a modest system engineering effort. However, it may still be too early to tackle the hard, real-time, weapons-control control loop in a general-purpose network.
1.3 “ENGINEERING THE VISION”
Although it may not be immediately apparent, the information infrastructure needed to support the network-centric operational vision is in fundamental ways unique to the military. Analogies with the Internet may be illuminating, but the
infrastructure needed by the military cannot be achieved by simply purchasing and plugging together commercial systems. Its development will be a very large scale, long-term, and highly technical undertaking marked by the following characteristics:
Unprecedented scope. The military requires a worldwide, always-available system that provides high-quality, protected connectivity anywhere in the world on little or no notice. This connectivity must be provided everywhere, from the depths of the ocean to the centers of foreign cities. On the face of it, this is as large an undertaking as any tackled by companies such as Verizon or AT&T, which each devotes hundreds of thousands of employees and tens of billions of dollars per year to maintain and operate its networks.
Unprecedented need for robustness. The military’s information infrastructure must also be designed to withstand various levels of attack—not just the annoyances created, for example, by teenage hackers, but the heavy attacks launched by determined nations with significant budgets and top-notch technical expertise. Potential attacks range from the old-fashioned jamming of satellite links, to the use of electromagnetic pulses to disable commercial computers, to the deliberate “poisoning” of significant information within U.S. military databases, to the launching of network viruses and worms. No commercial systems are designed to withstand this range of threats.
Significant difficulties in execution. Finally, this system must be procured and constructed within DOD’s legal and organizational frameworks. Such a large system necessarily cuts across tens or hundreds of procurement programs, bringing a high likelihood of uncoordinated and incompatible development. Systems engineering of a very high order will be required, but at present the Department of the Navy (DON), and indeed the DOD as a whole, possesses no great depth of engineering talent. While there are excellent software and systems engineers in the enterprise, there are too few of them.
Given these observations, one might ask whether DON should even try to proceed with a transformation to network-centric operations. In the committee’s view, the answer is a resounding and unanimous “Yes.” In fact, this transformation is already well underway and is very highly desirable. The question, then, is not whether to proceed in the face of such significant challenges, but rather how.
As discussed in this report, the committee believes that the best strategy going forward is to tackle the problem little by little, with an emphasis on near-term warfighting capability. It would be fruitless to try to draw up a detailed plan when tackling such a large problem. Instead, the Navy and the Marine Corps should perform a rapid, focused, spiral evolution of technology and operational concepts, working out the easiest problems first and deferring the hardest ones. The one exception is information assurance, which is very difficult but so critically important that it must be addressed immediately and continuously. A few
early successes will help maintain the proper momentum and fuel the process by which operations and technology can coevolve.
In short, the Navy and the Marine Corps would be well advised to treat this problem of “engineering the vision” as one of the largest undertakings in their history and to deal with it appropriately. It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the scope of the effort that will be required.
1.4 WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
The Navy and Marine Corps are already partway down the path toward network-centric operations, as indeed are the joint forces as a whole. In fact, in some areas the Navy has been performing network-centric operations for decades. One striking example is ASW, by which a set of platform sensors with very limited range can, when efficiently coordinated, find difficult targets in large areas. But in a broader context, many of today’s missions now exploit network connectivity. It goes without saying that these operations almost always involve deeply joint efforts.
This section briefly discusses how network-centric the recent Navy and Marine combat activities have been and which programs, already underway, are starting to build out the first major network-centric capabilities for use in future naval operations.
1.4.1 Recent Navy Operations
Perhaps the most striking aspect of recent Navy operations has been the dramatically shortened Air Tasking Order (ATO) cycle and the changing relationship between targeting and the ATO. The ATO cycle has decreased from 72 to 24 hours, and during the conflict in Afghanistan, 80 percent of the targets destroyed were passed to pilots after they had left the carrier deck. A key element in this success has been digital links between forward air controllers and aircraft.
Logistics has also greatly improved. With maritime prepositioning, transporting equipment by ship, and using C-17s, the Navy delivered four times the tonnage of goods and equipment for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) that it delivered for the earlier Desert Storm, and in 4 months instead of 7. It is also apparent that the traditional two-carriers-at-sea rotation did not hold up, as seven carriers supported OIF.
Navy assets for OIF were bandwidth-limited, even with a remarkable surge in commercial satellite augmentation, for a variety of reasons. Some were purely technical—for example, small ships had no choice but International Marine/ Maritime Satellite (INMARSAT) connectivity, which resulted in very low bandwidth (32 kb/s maximum) with very poor availability (about 70 percent). Other reasons were more operational—for example, the ground forces were allocated a
higher fraction of available military bandwidth for what was, after all, primarily a ground fight.
1.4.2 Recent Marine Corps Operations
During OIF, communications requirements of the Marines relied primarily on legacy systems that have been used for a number of years. Line-of-sight Single-Channel Ground-Air Radio System radios, squad handheld radios, and some high-frequency and ultrahigh-frequency satellite terminals were the principal items used. Communications down to the battalion level were fairly reliable, though imperfect below that level. As the attack progressed, radio communications between adjacent units enabled small-unit leaders to coordinate actions and speed up the advance. Blue force tracking, for most units, continued to be accomplished through unit boundaries.
As for battlefield visualization, some division and regimental units had a rudimentary tactical operational picture (TOP). The information displayed by the TOP was not viewed with confidence by the commanders or staffs. Information currency and service connectivity were the most frequent concerns. The equipment and the operators were not able to adjust to the rapid advance and tracking of so many units for such distances over such a large area. The division commander, MajGen James N. Mattis, USMC, related to the committee that the COP did not really contribute to the battle synchronization.3 He indicated that a reliable, accurate COP would be helpful at major headquarters, but that current systems do not provide the connectivity or reliability required by small units constantly on the move.
1.4.3 Basic Infrastructure—A Common Information Technology Infrastructure Across the Force
In recent years, the Navy and Marine Corps have installed a solid, almost ubiquitous information technology (IT) infrastructure built from standardized commercial computers and networks. The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) provides standardized IT services in the United States, while the Navy IT program Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT-21) to improve shipboard communications and computing capability and the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) provide similar services to deployed forces of the Navy and Marine Corps, respectively. These programs have provided an essential first step toward network-centric operation.
NMCI provides the required homogeneity to the transport layer of operations to support information sharing and reach-back to Navy and Marine Corps shore-based infrastructure, and IT-21 and MCEN provide the same to the Navy and Marine Corps fighting units. None of these initiatives directly addressed applications interoperability except for that involving basic office functionality; however, their existence is essential to achieving data and applications interoperability. The interoperability of legacy applications with enterprise-level security policy is the biggest problem that the NMCI has faced. The same issue will be a challenge for all network-centric systems going forward.
1.4.4 Basic Infrastructure—The Global Information Grid
Even more recently than the installation of the NMCI, an energetic effort has been launched to design and build the key technological capabilities required to link all tactical and strategic forces into a unified GIG. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD(NII)) of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has led this effort. In this committee’s view, this OSD-led effort has been focused and extremely well conducted to date.
Basic connectivity will be implemented by a set of related programs. The GIG-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) program will bring high-speed fiber connectivity to bases worldwide. The Transformational Communications Architecture (TCA) will provide robust, high-capacity satellite connectivity to forces in the field. The networking aspects of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) will extend tactical connectivity with mobile, ad hoc networks. The High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor (HAIPE) program is introducing modern, high-speed cryptographic services. All of these programs share a common technical architecture based on next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) technology, IP version 6 (IPv6). These programs are exceptionally important for the Navy and Marine Corps, as they will provide the basic network connectivity for military forces.
Newer ASD(NII) programs aim to provide network services beyond bare connectivity. Among them is the Network-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) program, which is planned to provide a standardized layer of network services that can be employed by all military-specific applications programs across the DOD. It is still too early to say if these programs will be as coherent and promising as the connectivity programs.
1.5 ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES
As exemplified above, the Navy and Marine Corps are already on a path toward networked operations. However, as previously noted, the full-scale transformation to network-centric operations will be a large and difficult undertaking with many impediments. This report considers each major impediment and makes specific recommendations for addressing each of them. This section briefly out-
lines these challenges and indicates the chapter in which each is discussed at length.
In addressing these impediments, the report is quite broad and general in scope. It is necessary to make clear what is not within this scope, given the particular charge in the terms of reference (see Chapter 8). The report does not consider the specifics of individual missions, be they traditional combat missions, such as strike and antiair warfare, or the “less regular” missions, such as combating terrorism and conducting stability operations. The perspective of the study is that a FORCEnet implementation strategy will lead to a set of capabilities applicable across all missions.
The terms of reference do not raise issues of coalition operations (although they do include joint operations), nor do they single out specific functional areas (e.g., training, logistics). Hence, these topics are not explicitly treated in the report in any great detail. Lastly, the report does not consider the cost implications of realizing FORCEnet capabilities. All of these are clearly important factors that would have to be considered in more detailed FORCEnet planning.
1.5.1 Unprecedented Scope and the Need for Common Understanding (Chapter 2)
Today, many communities are working on various components of the technical infrastructure needed for network-centric operations, but without much direct communication and interaction. Achieving the full technical and operational vision of network-centric operations will require some form of common, high-level coordination to ensure success. Warfare systems are still circumscribed, and their connection to the large, networked infrastructure remains unclear. A common understanding of both individual and shared objectives is paramount to making progress toward the vision.
1.5.2 An Evolving Joint Community (Chapter 3)
There is no doubt that nearly all network-centric operations, together with the information infrastructure that supports them, will be fully joint. Thus, the naval aspects of these operations and of this infrastructure can be considered only within the larger, joint context. However, this context is in a remarkable state of flux, with no end in sight. Major changes in the operational spheres, such as the creation of the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and their subsequent assumption of major duties in joint evolution, have been balanced by a thoroughgoing renovation in the area of joint programmatics. Whatever one might think about “transformation” as a warfighting concept, it is most strikingly a reality when it comes to DOD organizational structures and processes.
Two aspects of joint development deserve special comment. First, naval aspects of the network-centric infrastructure will be strongly shaped by the GIG and by programs emerging from OSD. It is inconceivable that naval information systems will not form part of this rapidly evolving, overall joint information infrastructure, in order to share information freely with the other Services and with national agencies. Second, experimentation will be a critically important tool for the evolution of network-centric operations and their supporting information infrastructure, and naval network-centric experimentation will take place within the broader context of joint experimentation, which in turn is rapidly evolving.
1.5.3 Coevolution of FORCEnet Operational Concepts and Materiel (Chapter 4)
To make FORCEnet a reality, a comprehensive approach requires more than exploiting current and emerging technologies in order to build and operate a network for warfighting. Because the introduction of FORCEnet capability will produce a major transformation in the conduct of naval operations, discovering nonmateriel solutions for meeting capability needs is as important as finding materiel solutions. Achieving this transformational capability depends on establishing processes that create interactions between the fielding of new technology and the development of new operating concepts.
New operational concepts are developed or evolve as a matter of necessity either from the introduction of new, improved capability created by new technology or as a change in the operational environment occurs. FORCEnet will require an iterative process of discovery in order to foster the development of operational concepts to take advantage of new technologies, or to highlight shortfalls in needed capability to stimulate and inform further technology development. The required coevolution is more than the spiral development of materiel to achieve a fixed performance goal. What is needed is an organized, integrated, dual-spiral process by which advancing technologies inspire new concepts and advancing concepts drive new technology investments in a mutually reinforcing way.
In the network-centric vision, large numbers of different systems, interconnected by the network infrastructure, are operating in a unified manner as a system of systems. In order for this to happen, the individual systems cannot be acquired independently, but must be designed, developed, tested, and fielded in a coordinated manner across the enterprise. Today, systems are acquired independently of one another; program managers are responsible for meeting their requirements independently of the success or failure of other programs. The unprecedented scope of network-centric systems—including sensors, networks, command and control, platforms, and weapons—demands a new management approach to system acquisition that subordinates the individual programs to an overall capability.
The current acquisition process has primarily been developed for and applied to the procurement of hardware and services, most often with the desired product and outcome specified in detail. This arrangement has permitted the establishment of in-process metrics to measure progress in performance and to minimize risks. The acquisition of network capabilities, whether through the integration of disparate existing systems, new capabilities, or other combinations, will require vastly different expectations. It will differ considerably from the traditional sequence of research and development (R&D), engineering development, limited production, and finally, production. Speed to capability may be an uncomfortable concept initially, since its implementation imposes a degree of process concurrency and risk taking that is currently minimized.
1.5.4 Engineering the Complex System (Chapter 5)
The network-centric Navy and Marine Corps that FORCEnet strives to create has all the attributes of a complex system.4 Such systems are not only large and complicated, but are characterized by complex interactions among heterogeneous building blocks that adapt or are replaced over time as a consequence of environmental changes, leading to emergent behavior of the overall system. Even the FORCEnet Information Infrastructure (FnII) qualifies as a complex system.
Complex systems cannot be engineered by the traditional reductionist approach of partitioning fixed requirements among subsystems, each of which has a fixed and known behavior. This is clear with regard to network-centric operations because there is no fixed requirement for the network-centric Naval Services and because the components will be evolving. Instead, highly experienced engineers of large systems will be required, together with new approaches and tools. It will be essential that there be system engineering of portions of the materiel parts of the complex system, in the context of well-designed boundaries, and the use of an extension of the distributed engineering plant for multiple purposes from concept formulation through risk assessment and capability verification.
1.5.5 Technological Shortfalls (Chapter 6)
Some technical capabilities that will be needed for achieving the long-range vision of network-centric operations simply are not available today and may well not be developed in the commercial markets because they are too closely related to military needs. A brief catalog of these technical shortfalls makes the scope of this issue clear.
Basic connectivity for platforms afloat generally relies on one satellite link or a small set of links per platform. Access to these links may be easy to deny in the future, and there is no immediately available alternative. Peer-to-peer, ad hoc networks between ships and aircraft might help solve the problem, but such technologies are currently immature. This problem is even more pronounced for platforms such as submarines and for almost all Marines and special operations forces.
Information assurance is of the highest importance, and yet the current state of the art is not adequate to guarantee the requisite levels of assurance. Since information assurance is critical to network-centric operations, this area will require significant and sustained effort over the coming years, both within the Navy and in concert with related activities elsewhere in the Services and in the U.S. government.
Information management and dissemination are still poorly understood, particularly when forces are composed as situations evolve. Well-defined methods for composing large software systems “on the fly” are currently not well understood, nor is there any good way to predict the behavior of the systems thus assembled.
Large-scale modeling and simulation will likely be essential for the proper understanding and analysis of tomorrow’s networked forces, but current technologies will probably not scale adequately. With current simulators, an exploration of network behavior alone can take weeks of real time for a moderately sized mobile network.
Automated situational awareness with information fusion and user-defined visualization will be essential to distill needed information for specific users from the large volume of data traversing the network.
1.5.6 Navy and Marine Corps Cultural Issues (Overarching)
Three cultural issues may delay the transition to fully network-centric operations. The first involves the fact that the transition will require significant investments in information infrastructure, investments that will inevitably compete with those in weapons and weapons-delivery platforms. In a warrior culture, weapons, platforms, and their users command more respect than do computers, radios, and their users. A senior officer once remarked that “the volume entitled Famous Naval Communicators is thin indeed.”
The second issue arises from the maritime tradition that the captain of a ship is “Master under God.” Until radios were invented, a naval expeditionary force sailed with orders but was free to interpret them in accordance with the tactical situation. Network technology will give tactical commanders the situational awareness to self-synchronize without the feared and hated “rudder orders from above.” However, some may fear that their seniors will second-guess their decisions or waste time with demands for explanations.
The third issue arises because a commander trusts most those forces under his or her command. Being responsible for the mission outcome and troops’ welfare, every commander will try to plan for all contingencies. In most instances, the better the commander can control the situation, the better his or her chances of success. Dependency on capabilities that are provided by others adds uncertainty, risk, and worry. Yet network-centricity implies reliance on others who may be far away and belong to different communities.
This chapter presents the committee’s broad findings and observations on the problems of transitioning to network-centric operations without specific recommendations. Subsequent chapters investigate these issues in detail and provide concrete recommendations on specific actions that naval leadership can take. The broad findings and observations are as follows:
Building the technical infrastructure for network-centric operations is an exceptionally large, complex undertaking in a very uncertain environment. A systems engineering perspective must be adopted up-front, with consideration given to issues of interoperability, security, reliability, availability, and the impact of network-centric operations on and from legacy systems.
Rapid spiral evolution (that is, aiming for speed to capability) is generally more effective than drawing up a grand plan, and efforts should be directed toward clearly visible, near-term gains that are useful across many scenarios.
Systems analysis and systems engineering will be essential to avoid chaos, dead ends, and parts that do not mesh into a whole.
Even with great care to keep this from happening, network-centric operations will introduce large, new vulnerabilities to the Navy and the Marine Corps. This area should be a key focus for systems analysis and systems engineering.