Needed: common platform for shooters

The Defense Department's transformation initiative has 'built up a bow wave of change,' Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc 'Buck' Rogers said today at the Joint Warfare 2004 conference in Arlington, Va.

But military restructuring and user training must advance far more rapidly, until 'any certified controller from any service can control any weapon platform,' Rogers said at the conference sponsored by Defense News Media Group.

'We need a common, deployable, standardized command-and-control facility to work in and train for, just like we use a workstation in ordinary jobs,' he said.

It might look like a workstation, Rogers said, 'but it's called a weapon station, and it will have hundreds of switches. There's no time for hunt and peck' searching for the right tool at a weapon station, so 'it's all about training' of the decision-makers as well as the shooters.

Besides a common weapon station, the military services must have interoperable data, he said. 'We need one common format for data, whether it's WAV files or pixels. Why can't all applications recognize what they are and open them automatically? Basketballs don't look or behave like footballs. Applications should recognize the difference.'

Force transformation is bringing some unintended consequences, Rogers added. For example, the flood of network-centric data is camouflaging the needed information.

'In World War I, we got 30 words per minute from field phones,' he said. 'In the first Gulf war we had 192,000 words per minute from networks. By 2010 we'll have 1.5 trillion words per minute from wideband data links.'

The future warrior will have not only tremendously greater situational awareness and massless weapons, he also will be far more mobile, said Arthur K. Cebrowski, the Pentagon's director of force transformation. 'It will be the age of the small, the fast and the many,' leading to military organization by squads instead of larger units.

'The smaller your professional army, the more civilians are involved in defense,' Cebrowski said. 'It's a big focus shift' from fighting traditional wars to preparing for terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and unexpected, disruptive technologies such as laser weapons.

'Traditional capabilities can't fight them,' he said. 'Give up the notion of the one best system or the one best provider. Develop a broader mix.'

As metrics for the net-centric transformation of the military, he suggested counting:

  • Networks and nodes

  • Data transfer rates

  • Sensors and other information generators

  • Geographic dispersion of information

  • Transactions

  • Learning rates.

The future streams of net-centric data, Cebrowski predicted, will force DOD to realign its information management activities under a CIO.


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