Cebrowski makes call for bottom-up IT

The federal government needs to take a more decentralized, bottom-up approach to
information technology, according to Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski.


Government takes a wholly integrated, control-oriented approach—something which
many feel is generally inconsistent with the information age,” he said last month in
an acceptance speech at the GCN Awards Banquet in Washington.


The result is a complexity of interrelated systems and processes with a high level of
integration, centralization, top-down optimization and high levels of risk for decreasing
returns on investment,” he said.


GCN honored Cebrowski as the 1998 Defense Department government executive of the year
for his leadership in managing DOD’s information resources. Cebrowski is president of
the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and the former director for space, information
warfare, command and control. He is credited with coining the term “network-centric
warfare.”


The most highly valued attribute of network-centric warfare is access to information at
all levels, Cebrowski said. Military operations are extremely complex and such large-scale
enterprises are best organized from the bottom up, he said.


Commanders, however, tend to provide top-down, command-directed synchronization of
complex warfare activities, Cebrowski said. But network-centric warfare enables forces to
organize from the bottom up—or to self-synchronize—to better realize the
commander’s intent, he said.


At Newport we are building a new Naval War College dedicated to crafting a new future
for the Navy,” Cebrowski said. “I believe that forces will become vastly more
decentralized.”


The college’s new Warfare Development Command has adopted three pillars of change:
new concepts, experimentation and doctrinal change, Cebrowski said. New concepts of Naval
operations will be tested through ubiquitous war-gaming, and then lessons learned will
result in changed doctrine, he said.


Under Cebrowski’s guidance, the Navy is moving away from a platform-centered force
to a network-centric one. He said he wants the Navy to establish a high-performance
information grid that quickly gathers and shares battle data among Naval forces worldwide.


A global Naval intranet linking sensors and weapons should provide a single, integrated
picture of the battlefield, Cebrowski said.  

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