Piecing Together the Network-Centric Puzzle: Using Operational Functions to Analyze Potential Coalition Partners
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Network Centric Warfare NCW proposes to radically enhance the United States future war fighting abilities by shifting from a platform-centric to network-centric military. However, it tends to minimize the challenges involved with seamlessly integrating future coalition partners into the network. Proponents of NCW theory argue that it can enhance the speed of operations, but applying it in a multilateral environment generates friction. This friction results from two conditions, the political desire or necessity to increase the number of coalition partners, and the military requirement to efficiently and effectively integrate these nations into the multinational force. Although the expense of technology, inability to create an integrated command and control structure, need for compatible equipment, integration of differing cultures, inability to share information, and lack of doctrine and training inevitably present challenges to operational efficiency and effectiveness, this does not mean that network-centric operations cannot work in a multinational environment. To overcome these challenges, we must identify those countries capable of being full-fledged partners and those that will have difficulty keeping up. By focusing on their capabilities through the lens of operational functions, joint staffs will have a foundation for the operational planning process. Then, where required, Combatant Commanders will be able to identify shortfalls and help develop these countries through Theater Security Cooperation Plans. Finally, these forces can be incorporated where they will have the least negative impact upon the system. In this paper, historical examples focused on three operational functions - protection, intelligence and logistics - are used to suggest where countries could fit into the NCW environment.
- Command, Control and Communications Systems