Accession Number:

ADA463074

Title:

Transforming the Structure of the Military: Combat Decisions -- Rank, Responsibility, or Frontline Position?

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:

NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2007-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

16.0

Abstract:

This case study raises the questions of whether, in this day of advanced information networks, field grade military officers should be present at the scene of complex tactical battles, and whether net-centric operations allow commanders to operate effectively from the front lines. Many have assumed that new information technologies lift the fog of war and therefore allow commanders to operate with clear vision from rear positions. This study examines the opposite postulate -- that net-centric capabilities allow a commander to control operations and his own rear-based command staff from a forward-based position that enables him to watch the battle unfold firsthand. In this case a battalion commander Lt. Colonel was on-scene when a suicide bomber smashed into a convoy. After the action, the staff in the combat operations center were convinced his presence had made a critical difference in the outcome. Is that an anomaly, or is it time to take a critical look at the relationship between rank and responsibilities on the 21st-century battlefield The case is intended to facilitate discussion about the role of net-centric operations in combat and the impact that they might have on rank structure and associated responsibilities. The services differ markedly in what they expect officers of the same rank to do and where they should place themselves in battle. For instance, battalion commanders are expected to remain a good distance behind their companies when engaged. Squadron commanders of the same rank, however, lead their aircraft formations, while Navy commanders fight on their ships, making the most up-to-the minute decisions during combat. This case study focuses on an example from the infantry, but the underlying problem of structural rigidity applies throughout the military. Although the IT revolution has flattened the command structures of corporations, the military has persisted with a pyramidal structure designed by Napoleon.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Radio Communications
  • Command, Control and Communications Systems

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE