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Can Network-Centric Warfare Save Undersea Warfare?

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Final rept.

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Proponents of Network-Centric Warfare NCW claim we are in the midst of a revolution in military affairs RNA that will prove to be the most important in the past 200 years. The promise of powerful sensor grids combined with high-performance information grids to provide shared battlespace awareness and enable massing of effects vice massing of forces is seductive and is clearly the wave of the future for many warfare areas. The movement towards NCW follows a long trend of doing more with fewer, more technologically advanced assets. Our ability to conduct Undersea Warfare USW, however, is in danger of missing out on the bulk of the benefits to be derived from NCW and constitutes a key vulnerability to the operational commanders ability to provide operational protection, security, surprise, and ultimately to fight and win. As our investment in information technology has increased exponentially in recent years, our USW capabilities have suffered from concurrent trends in decreasing U.S. force structure and an increasingly more capable threat. Recent years have seen the elimination of some USW platforms and the reduction of others, increased demands on existing platforms to perform more missions at higher operational tempos, and decreased training levels. At the same time, the threat has become more prolific, stealthy, and deadly. Our current USW sensor grid is incapable of providing the information relevance, accuracy, and timeliness required to realize the promises of NCW. Barring significant advances in USW sensor and communications technology, the promise of shared battlespace awareness will instead be the reality of shared lack of awareness and the submarine will remain a threat the commander cannot effectively counter.

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  • Naval Surface Warfare

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