Part 2 of 2
Establishing air control will probably rely heavily on the creation of a favorable information gap. In a situation where peer competitors oppose one another, the combination of establishing information dominance and employing ranged-fires using PGMs, ASATs, and strategic and theater defenses could, if employed quickly and effectively, fracture an opponent's information, deep-strike, and air defense networks. This, combined with the preservation of friendly active and passive air defenses, would assure air control. Mastering control of the air is thus based on three factors: first, establishing information dominance; second, exploiting it through the employment of ranged fires to disable enemy offensive and defensive air networks; and third, possessing active and passive defenses adequate to protect friendly air assets.
In the case of conflict between two peer competitors, and in the absence of dramatic improvements in active and passive defenses that outstrip improvements made in offensive capabilities, a great advantage will probably go to the side that strikes first. This will especially hold true if the strike corresponds to simultaneous operations that lead to establishing or preserving information dominance.
Electronic warfare, deception, cover and concealment, mobility and hardening of key assets will be employed by peer competitor and non-peer competitor states to minimize their vulnerability to detection and destruction. Peer competitors also can be expected to employ stealth technology to this end. These countermeasures will receive relatively greater emphasis from non-peer competitors because of their inability to compete for information dominance, and also because of their limited ability to employ nonnuclear ranged fires to significant effect. Peer competitors, on the other hand, will likely put considerable effort into developing an assured "second-strike" capability.
Once air control is achieved it could be possible for peer competitors to populate the skies with additional information platforms, ranging from UAVs to sunset systems like JSTARS and AWACS, and with so-called brilliant conventional munitions that can loiter on station until cued by RSTA systems to engage a target. The result will be a widening information gap and increasing leverage for friendly ranged-fire systems.
World War II saw the intrusion of aircraft on military engagements at sea. The Cold War saw the range of aircraft extended and the deployment of large numbers of anti-ship missiles. Future conflicts could well see a considerable increase in PGMs and overhead information processing added to this mix. The result will likely be a major increase in the vulnerability of surface ships to attack and destruction by ranged-fire attacks. Just as maritime forces are threatened from forces on land, at sea, in the air, and in space, establishing sea control will require the integration of forces from each of these dimensions.
In a conflict between peer competitors, targets at sea could be identified and tracked by space systems and UAVs, and engaged by naval forces, or by extended-range land systems, or by intercontinental nonnuclear strikes. As with forces based on land, naval forces will likely have to become smaller and more mobile to survive, also relying on other active and passive defensive measures as well. Just as some force elements on land will find themselves burrowing underground to enhance their survival, new underwater platforms will probably be among the sunrise systems in this MTR. The structure of surface force elements may evolve to comprise a number of small support ships, operating as far as possible from an adversary's engagement envelope, each sustaining a handful of smaller highly mobile surface effects ships (SES). Both the SESs and underwater platforms would be modular in nature, and could be reconfigured with various "packages" to perform a variety of missions (e.g., sea-launched cruise missile/UAV launches, special operation forces' insertion, heli-borne raids, mine-laying and minesweeping, non-LOS fire support, etc.).
In addition to surface and subsurface operations, it may be possible to seed areas with sensors to establish passive barriers or cordon sanitaires. These barrier regions could be activated by the emplacement (perhaps remotely by ranged-fire weapons)—of smart mine fields that could impair mobility or restrict access to key straits or coastal regions (e.g., the Persian Gulf). These sea-denial zones could be monitored and enforced, not only (or even primarily) by surface or subsurface fleet elements, but by space-based and land-based systems, to include aircraft, and extended-range ballistic and cruise missiles.
The placement of sensor and mine barriers covered by ranged-fire systems will probably become an increasingly attractive option for non-peer competitor belligerents that are attempting to enforce sea denial in coastal waters, or perhaps in strategic straits located in their region. In establishing sea control in these areas, peer competitor states would likely rely primarily on their advantages in RSTA, ranged-fire systems, missile and air defenses, and electronic warfare to provide cover for mine/senor countermeasure operations.
Sustained Land Operations
The recent land operations that occurred in the Gulf War relied heavily upon strategic strikes, air control (superiority), air support, and space- and sea-based assets for their success. The growing effectiveness of extended-range strikes by air and maritime forces (e.g., with advanced cruise missiles) will likely increase the role of these forces in land operations. Thus land forces and operations will probably have to change significantly to maximize their military effectiveness in future wars.
In a conflict between peer competitors, there likely will be a strong incentive to shoot first to support efforts to gain information dominance, primarily on the tactical and operational level. Success in this effort would make the accomplishment of subsequent objectives significantly more manageable. If a favorable information gap is created, ground forces would likely have strong incentives to abandon their traditional role of closing with and destroying the enemy in favor of employing ranged fires as the decisive element in combat. Line-of-sight (LOS) weapon systems—principally armored forces and helicopters—would be employed in the traditional role of cavalry. They would screen enemy forces that, having lost the information assets necessary to employ deep strikes (at least against most friendly mobile targets), would have to rely on direct-fire engagements in conducting ground combat operations.
Thus peer competitor land forces will likely place significantly more reliance on a combination of space-based systems, UAVs, extended-range precision-guided missiles, and special operations forces (SOF), and far less emphasis on armored systems. Furthermore, to minimize reliance on large, vulnerable logistics bases which could be subjected to enemy deep-strike attacks, and to enhance mobility, the importance of PGMs, advanced highly fuel-efficient engines, and lightweight composite protective materials will increase further.
In summary, a future land campaign might involve ground forces initially supporting information dominance operations, and conducting ranged-fire strikes on enemy center-of- gravity targets while screening enemy LOS systems. Only after this preparation of the battlefield occurred would friendly land forces begin sustained offensive operations, conducted in conjunction with forces operating in the other dimensions of conflict, to eliminate residual enemy resistance. On the other hand, a peer competitor facing either a peer competitor that has lost the battle for information dominance, or a non-peer competitor, may encounter an adversary that will attempt to redress the imbalance through some innovative operational concepts for land operations. One such concept will be discussed presently.
It was observed that advanced technologies may provide the means for fielding an integrated group of networked systems (or architectures) that could execute conventional "strategic" strikes against an adversary. There has been some discussion, particularly in the Soviet/Russian literature, that this could occur through the employment of so-called aerospace operations, whereby airborne and space information (and perhaps weapon) platforms provide real-time targeting information to long-range precision-guided advanced conventional munitions, which may be land-, air-, or sea-based. If a sufficient information gap can be created , it may be possible to strike the entire range of enemy strategic targets comprising their center of gravity in a relatively short period of time, without first having to defeat the bulk of an enemy's military forces. Thus, strategic strikes would be expected to either coincide with, or follow on the heels of, operations to achieve information dominance, and perhaps air and space control as well. Strategic strikes would focus on a relatively small set of enemy targets—those comprising its center of gravity—i.e., those targets that, when disabled, will deny an enemy state the ability or the will to block an opponent from achieving its military objectives.
Furthermore, at some point in this revolution it may be possible, through the use of advanced simulations, to "test strike" a small subset of a target base, observe the effects—perhaps even matching the data obtained with simulations—and then deciding whether (and how) to continue eliminating the entire class of targets designated for destruction, or to identify more promising alternatives. There are two potential advantages to employing test strikes. First, they may allow a peer competitor to preserve time and resources critical to achieving its military objectives. The intent would be to avoid the situation the United States found itself in during previous strategic bombardment campaigns in World War II and the Vietnam War. In the former case, in the European theater the United States focused on several target sets (e.g., air frames) before finding Germany's weak point. During the Rolling Thunder campaign against North Vietnam, a progression of target sets was attacked (e.g., transportation, oil, electrical) without achieving the desired results. The importance of time and the high cost of advanced conventional munitions places a high premium on "getting it right the first time" in extracting the desired results from a chosen target set. Second, such an approach allows a peer competitor to avoid creating undesirable damage to the enemy state. Such unwanted damage may complicate war prosecution (one thinks here of the effect on domestic and world public opinion), war termination (will such damage stiffen the resolve of the target regime or its people?), and postwar plans (e.g., reconstruction).
In a war between peer competitors it seems clear that, unless an assured second-strike capability is established, the side that can execute its strategic strike operations first stands to benefit most, assuming that it retains sufficient information on the enemy target base, and overcomes active and passive defenses, to conduct its strikes effectively. This is an important point, since it is not yet clear that forces engaged in strategic strikes will have the requisite level of RSTA and battle-damage assessment (BDA) data, or that they will be able to negotiate successfully all enemy countermeasures. Therefore, in a war between peer competitors, it may not be possible to execute decisive strategic strikes, especially if the defender retains a sufficient level of its information structure intact to enable it to conduct an integrated, coordinated defense.
As for nuclear weapons, they may become significantly more discriminate. Micro-nuclear weapons might be able to destroy targets with little collateral damage that conventional systems could not eliminate at an acceptable cost. While their employment may be useful in a purely military sense, there are obviously strong political factors and precedents for not employing nuclear weapons, save in extremis. However, nuclear weapons in the hands of radical regimes that possess ballistic or cruise missiles could emerge as the "poor man's" counter against peer competitor states.
Strategic and Theater Defense
Another mission area requiring attention concerns strategic and theater defense, which comprises defense against ballistic missiles and air-breathing systems, like cruise missiles and attack aircraft. As states exploit the advanced technologies that appear likely to move the world into the new military-technical regime, strategic and theater defenses will not only have to contend with weapons of mass destruction, but with extended-range precision strikes employing nonnuclear munitions as well. The latter defense requirement will be the most likely, and will almost certainly focus on the protection of point targets (e.g., satellite networks, data fusion centers, key military industries, senior political and military leaders, etc.). A symbiotic relationship will exist between the strategic defense systems network and the information systems network.
Establishing information dominance will likely be as crucial to conduct of effective strategic defensive operations as it is to supporting other military operations. At the same time, the ability to maintain information dominance in the face of enemy attempts to fracture friendly information networks will probably depend, to a significant extent, on the ability of strategic and theater defenses to protect those networks. This dynamic reinforces the earlier discussion on the importance of creating an information gap between friendly and enemy forces, and the incentive to strike first—especially in a war between peer competitors—before the friendly information network comes under attack. It also reinforces the incentives for peer competitors to develop an assured second-strike capability, of which strategic and theater defenses could be a major component.
Early in the next decade much of the early and middle Cold War era military technology will have diffused to those non-competitor Third World states that have the means and the desire to acquire it. These states could well have military forces equipped with such "late-model" technologies as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and satellites. In sum, they may have dramatically increased their ability to identify and destroy targets at extended ranges. For many Third World states, this will be a military- technical revolution in the sense that they are entering the Cold War era MTR. Ten to fifteen years from now, or perhaps sooner, a peer competitor having to project its power to protect its interests may find that the nature of the threat it faces has probably changed dramatically from the late Cold War and early post-Cold War era. Unless a peer competitor has moved to a higher military-technical plain—unless it preconstitutes to exploit the potential of the current revolution, it is unlikely that it will be able to prevail as quickly and antiseptically as, for example, the United States did in the Gulf War. A more extended discussion of this challenge is found in the section dealing with the competition.
To deter and, if necessary, conduct effective military operations against this kind of emerging Third World threat, a peer competitor will have to develop the means to neutralize this threat. One possible option involves some form of strategic and theater defenses. These defenses will probably offer protection for the homeland, and also for forward-deployed forces and coalition partners that lie within the range of an enemy state's conventional weapons and its weapons of mass destruction.
The required level of strategic defense proficiency will depend on several factors, to include the military capabilities of enemy, the nature of friendly forces, the circumstances or contingency under which the defenses are stressed, and the strategic posture adopted by the two sides. With respect to this latter point, several options are open to a peer competitor opposed by a non-peer competitor, all of which were debated in the early days of the Cold War when the emerging nuclear power was the Soviet Union. It was true then, and is today, that a strategy of preventive war and, perhaps, pre-emptive war as well, places less stress on strategic and theater defenses than a strategy of deterrence and a willingness to accept the first blow in war. Or it may be that an "optimum mix" of simultaneous operations comprising information superiority, air superiority, strategic strikes, and strategic defense will be the most likely initial phase of future conflict. If a peer competitor fails to come to grips with the issue of strategic defenses, it may find itself deterred from exercising military power against a non-peer competitor, even though the peer competitor may have dramatically improved its combat potential as a consequence of the military-technical revolution.
As peer competitors become increasingly proficient in exploiting advanced technologies and developing sunrise systems, and as many Third World states acquire more destructive, extended-range weaponry, the conduct of forcible-entry operations will likely change dramatically. For peer competitor states operating against non-peer competitor states, the threat environment could require that forcible entry operations be initiated at extended ranges (although they may be supported by covertly inserted special operations forces). For peer competitors, the ever-increasing engagement envelopes of noncompetitor states, combined with the post-Cold War reduction in forward-based assets, will likely require peer competitors to project a higher proportion of their military power—although not necessarily a greater absolute amount of tonnage—than was the case during the Cold War.
Using the United States as an example, in many forced-entry operations, whether against peer or non-peer competitors, once information dominance is established the focus will probably turn to space, air, and sea control operations. These would be coupled with strategic strikes, probably by CONUS-based and, perhaps, sea-based systems, all supported in part from space. Their objective would be to take out those capabilities constituting the enemy's center of gravity, and they would employ conventional munitions. If these strikes proved successful, the need for forcible entry and follow-on operations might be reduced or eliminated. These strikes would be followed by combined strikes against forces that might oppose the forced entry. This could establish the conditions for forcible entry operations and follow-on sustained land operations, if required.
These deep-strike forces would be the "tip of the spear;" the high end of a high-low mix of sunrise and sunset forces. Their strikes would open the way for the application of more "traditional" forms of military power. Of course, the entire force would be integrated into the military's information network structure. To employ an historical analogy, the "spear tip" of a peer competitor would be akin to the German panzer corps and tactical air arm in the blitzkreig—the force that breaks through the enemy's main line of resistance, thereby allowing more traditional forces (the infantry and artillery) to operate with greater effectiveness.
Gaining information dominance, and air and sea control can facilitate the movement of force to areas where it is needed. By combining advanced technologies with innovative applications, peer competitors could develop the ability to move relatively large amounts of combat potential per unit of weight compared with Cold War era capabilities. There are several reasons for this. First, many C3I functions could migrate into space. Second, the increased employment of PGMs should reduce ammunition tonnage requirements. Third, as systems become smaller and lighter (hopefully benefiting from advanced composites and improvements in fuel efficiency), lift requirements will be further reduced. Fourth, the increased use of strategic strikes to disrupt and fragment enemy plans and military effectiveness should result in a reduced combat burden for those forces projected into the theater of operations. Conversely, reliance on forward-based assets will likely be reduced, both for geopolitical reasons as well as military-technical necessity. The former speaks to the changing international environment: now that the Cold War is over, the overseas base structure of many states will almost certainly shrink significantly. The latter speaks to the dangers of placing forces within range of adversaries whose ability to conduct pre-emptive attacks at extended ranges will likely increase significantly in the mid- to long-term future.
The information revolution, combined with business practices that rely heavily on information technologies, also can be used to minimize the drain on logistics—and to allow logistics centers to be as small (and mobile, or hardened) as possible, to escape detection, targeting, and destruction. These centers also may be increasingly "remote"— out of harm's way—as the reliance on stand-off munitions and ranged-fire engagements increases.
Computer-assisted design and manufacturing, and computer-supported simulations will be essential elements of research and development (R&D) efforts designed to produce highly efficient engines, and to develop light-weight ceramics and stealthy designs to provide a new generation of systems that will employ a variety of countermeasures to dilute the effectiveness of peer competitor forces. Progress in these areas could dramatically reduce the demand on logistics support for fuel (and on strategic lift requirements as well). Computer-aided management principles can be used to minimize stockage levels and insure the logistics system provides quality support (as demonstrated by the "just in time" business practices currently in vogue). Finally, as was recently demonstrated in the Gulf War, information technologies can help establish a more efficient organization for the movement of large military forces and their associated logistics as part of a major power-projection operation, thereby maximizing combat power for a given amount of logistics expended.
Non-competitor states—those states that can only realize a fraction of the potential of advanced technologies and systems to change the nature of warfare, will likely attempt to make up for their technological inferiority by devising unconventional operational concepts. For example, during the period 1940-1990, technically sophisticated military forces were frustrated on several occasions by unconventional operations. Examples include the Soviet use of scorched earth warfare against Germany in World War II, the Vietnamese Communists' use of People's War against the United States in the Vietnam War, and Islamic fundamentalists' employment of terrorist operations against the multinational force in Lebanon in the early 1980s.
Low-intensity warfare, comprising primarily but not exclusively insurgency, terrorism, and subversion, has been the most prevalent form of conflict in the post-World War II era. It seems likely that these conflicts, which are characterized by unconventional operational concepts, will continue as a dominant form of warfare in the post-Cold War era. It also is highly probable that non-peer competitors will engage in low-intensity warfare, employing the unconventional operational concepts characteristic of those kinds of conflicts, albeit modified somewhat by the infusion of more advanced military systems, as a means of frustrating peer competitor adversaries. Time is often as precious in this kind of conflict as it is in the kinds of operations that may characterize the emerging MTR. In the case of unconventional warfare, however, the objective typically is not so much to beat the enemy to the punch; rather, it is to protract the conflict while employing an indirect approach to weaken that portion of the enemy's center of gravity that rests on the will to resist. Thus unconventional operational concepts can be considered a "countermeasure" to those operations described above that will likely become increasingly possible for peer competitors.
With the continued movement toward a global economy and the rapid breakdown in the barriers impeding the flow of information, peer competitor states will probably have to address the more subtle, but important, implications of these phenomena on military operations, in crisis and in war. This issue is elaborated upon in some detail in the section addressing the U.S. competitive posture over the next 10-20 years. Unfortunately, a more detailed examination of this issue—including an assessment of peer competitor countermeasures—was outside the scope of this initial effort.
In summary, it seems very likely that, as peer competitors identify the best methods for employing the products of advanced technologies and the military systems they are making possible, and as both peer and non-peer competitors react to this phenomenon, that military operations will likely experience a revolutionary change in nature. For peer competitors, they will almost certainly be increasingly dominated by the need to establish information dominance as a prerequisite to effective execution of other operations. Furthermore, these operations will typically involve a myriad of forces; i.e., they will be joint, combined, and/or full-dimensional operations. Operations by peer competitor forces will probably be increasingly characterized by the application of force at extended ranges to exploit the advantages of information dominance. Integrated with advanced information systems, the forces conducting these operations will closely approximate what the Russians have described as "reconnaissance-strike complexes," or what we might call "deep-strike task forces." The key operative term here is "integrated," and the key variable is time. The peer competitor will almost certainly look to integrate quickly the various information and strike systems that together will be employed to establish information dominance and accomplish national military objectives.
There are probably considerable gains in military effectiveness to be derived from translating technological advances into operational concepts, and in modifying military structures to execute these concepts effectively. From the above discussion, this clearly implies the likely need for a major restructuring of a peer competitor's armed forces (and acquisition system), if such a state desires either to dominate the competition or remain a major competitor.
D. ORGANIZATIONAL INNOVATION
We are likely at the beginning of a period of revolutionary change in warfare. This change will probably occur over an extended period of time, perhaps 10-20 years, or longer. A major factor in determining the length of this transition period will be how adept competitors are at fostering and nurturing innovation. For those states that intend to develop the capability to wage war effectively in a new era of conflict, it is important that they begin to think through how they will organize themselves to promote the innovations—in terms of technologies, systems, and operational concepts—that will be required for a successful transition. In short, possessing potentially revolutionary technologies and associated military systems, and a blueprint for an innovative operational concept to best exploit those assets, is not sufficient to effect a military-technical revolution.
Innovation in the Interwar Period
The British clearly demonstrated this point during the interwar period. Then, despite having been on the cutting edge of mechanized warfare in World War I, despite the input of British strategists like Fuller, Hart, Stuart, and Broad, despite the strong desire to avoid the carnage of static, positional warfare characteristic of the Western Front, and despite the need to develop a more mobile form of ground warfare for potential operations in areas like North Africa, the British could not effect the organizational change necessary to create a blitzkreig capability of their own. Thus it is possible to have cutting-edge technologies, systems that exploit these technologies, brilliant innovative concepts for their application, and still fail to realize the potentially revolutionary gains in combat potential and military effectiveness that they promise. Evidence indicates that, if a "market" cannot be created among a state's civilian and military leadership for organizational adaptation and innovation, then that state probably will not succeed in its attempts to promote such innovation.
One also, however, cannot discount the influence of other factors on these trends. The British, for example, after their losses in World War I, were determined to avoid a grinding war of attrition by not fielding ground forces for deployment on the Continent. Although they did establish an independent tank corps to test and develop operational concepts, it was overshadowed by an overall effort to escape the horrors of World War I.
The Germans, victims of a war of attrition, also saw the need to avoid that kind of war. However, they could not realistically consider the option of opting out of the next major war on the Continent. They therefore looked for a way to win quickly and avoid a stalemate, so as to avoid losing a war of attrition as they had in 1918. Furthermore, the Treaty of Versailles, having limited the German Army to 100,000 men, led to an increased focus on mobile operations for defense, as opposed to the static defenses that characterized World War I. Finally, stripped of their planes and tanks by the treaty, the German military could think more freely about what types of weapon systems would best be suited for future conflicts. It was not burdened by a large capital stock of defense equipment. Since the Germans could not, in many instances, actively train, they also had a greater opportunity to think through how they would approach future conflicts. The result was that the Germans developed the capability to wage a war of maneuver that offered them the prospect of winning quickly, before France and England could fully mobilize their war potential and before a naval blockade could strangle Germany.
Another example of organizational rigidity frustrating a peer competitor is the concentration of the British air assets in the Royal Air Force, which led to the anomalous result of RAF aircraft existing as "tenants" on Royal Navy aircraft carriers. The retardation of British carrier air operations development followed. Again, however, in the case of the British fleet air arm, other factors like geography come into play as well. The British seeing their island as a huge aircraft carrier off the Continent, did not feel the need to develop the carrier's power-projection potential as strongly as did the United States and Japan.
The United States, on the other hand, did see a need to project power across the entire Pacific, a mission that would require projecting power and seizing advance bases. An innovative cadre of U.S. naval officers appreciated the role carrier-based aircraft could play in meeting these requirements. They oriented the U.S. Navy's performance objectives around the ability to maximize the number of aircraft sorties it could generate. Their British counterparts, on the other hand, focused on detection and warning for British battleships, sailing and navigation as determinants of carrier proficiency. The U.S. Navy's use of carriers to "extend the battle space," and support forward offensive operations in austere environments paid big dividends in World War II, while British carriers played a relatively minor role.
Resources can be constrained, but that need not impose an insurmountable barrier to innovation. Revolutionary changes occurred between 1919 and 1939 in an era of severe resource constraints for most military organizations, especially in the United States. Yet the U.S. Navy was able to develop the concept of carrier task forces, the U.S. Marines modern amphibious operations, and the U.S. Army Air Corps the foundations for strategic aerial bombardment, all remarkable accomplishments.
However, one must also acknowledge that the interwar period was also different in significant ways from the situation in which we currently find ourselves. For example, during this time some sectors, notably aviation, benefited from dramatic industrial growth and a supportive public policy. During the interwar period over eighteen aviation companies were formed, including most of our major aviation corporations now in existence. Moreover, despite limited resources, government development and acquisition management supported the development and flight-testing of over ten medium and heavy bombers and more than two dozen fighter and trainer aircraft each. Thus, despite significant resource constraints, the United States successfully preconstituted for World War II. During the interwar period, however, there was considerable overlap between the technologies associated with commercial aviation and the automotive industry, and those required for military systems. The extent to which this kind of relationship exists today between the commercial and the defense sectors could influence significantly a competitor's ability to innovate.
Another challenge in effecting organizational innovation is that frequently, when new weapons and organizational structures are tested, the results do not compare favorably with existing methods of waging war. This is because there often are technical "bugs" that need to be worked out in new weapons, and the integration of the various players in a new concept of operation often proceeds in fits and starts. This, combined with the heavy weight of bureaucratic inertia in organizations, is often sufficient to frustrate innovation. The use of simulations may be a way out of this problem, permitting a variety of organizational structures to be examined and tested before they are actually put into place. But simulations can be, and have been, "rigged" to produce the desired answers.
Innovation and the Emerging MTR
Innovation is critical to the success of any attempt to compete effectively in a new era of warfare. In the Cold War era, U.S. decisions about forces hinged to a considerable extent on the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and the need for organizations that could focus on adapting or innovating for the mid- or long-term potential threat took a back seat to the need to focus on the threat at hand. In the emerging geopolitical and military-technical environment great uncertainty surrounds both the identity and nature of the mid- and long-term threats to U.S. security, and the nature of future warfare. In this environment the ability to innovate and adapt quickly would logically assume a much greater priority than it enjoyed during the Cold War. The fate of military enterprises, and of nations and coalitions, may well depend on military and acquisitional structures that are able to innovate faster than their competitors, or their enemies. Much of the need for organizational innovation will stem from the information revolution.
To take but one example, a major problem of the Gulf War was moving the right amount and the right type of the enormous quantities of information collected to the people who needed that information to fight the war. Commanders frequently were overwhelmed by the amount of information at hand, much of it irrelevant to their needs. In addressing this problem over the years, we have tended to increase the size of our staffs, hoping that they would be better able to manage the incoming flow of information, fusing it into information packets, which are then sent on to those who need it. In practice, this has not worked.
What has worked, especially in the business world, is the streamlining of organizations by eliminating unnecessary organizational levels. This has had the effect of removing information bottlenecks by allowing more people direct access to the information they need. This is made possible by the information revolution, in which huge quantities of information can be quickly and deftly manipulated and organized in a manner tailored to the needs of its individual users. It is in this area—systems integration and information fusion—that we are only beginning to scrape the surface of the potential gains in military effectiveness. To put it bluntly: we have state-of-the-art information systems harnessed to antiquated military organizations. (Ironically, the corporate structure that emerged with the industrial age in the 19th century emulated the hierarchical military organizational structure; now it may return the favor by providing a model for military organizational change.)
Changing existing organizations to better exploit the benefits of the information revolution proved difficult in the business world. It will likely prove even more difficult in military organizations, given what the considerable body of knowledge on large-scale organizational change has to say on the matter. In this instance, we are talking about taking away a major element of the hierarchy's power: its authority to withhold or distribute information to subordinate organizations. The integration of information systems to better exploit the information revolution and establish information dominance in warfare may require fundamentally different command relationships than what we have traditionally come to expect.
Although the information revolution is responsible for much of the need for organizational innovation, this same revolution can also help organizations to make the required innovations as efficiently and effectively as possible. As noted earlier, organizational change is one area where the dramatic advances in simulations capability may prove highly useful. It could well be possible to examine the potential effectiveness of new organizational arrangements through a hierarchy of simulations.
The simulations could begin with a consideration of first-order organizational issues by a relatively small group of individuals. If the initial analysis proves feasible, further organizational "prototyping" could be accomplished through more elaborate simulations and, eventually, field simulations or exercises. Simulations can be employed to test the sensitivity of current organizations to changes in the geopolitical or military-technical environment. In this way the "feed forward—feed back" interaction mentioned earlier can be extended to organizational innovation as well. Simulations can assist in evaluating organizational change in wartime, as well as in peacetime. During war the "feedback" from real-world experience would, in most cases, provide better inputs to simulations examining the efficacy of organizational restructuring options.
There may also be a cultural disposition toward innovation (sometimes referred to in the United States as "Yankee ingenuity"). During the Gulf War, the ability of U.S. forces to innovate (e.g., to devise ad hoc solutions to problems relating to their inability to move the information at hand), was a key factor in the United States' success. This innovation ran the gamut, from the most basic to the most sophisticated information systems. For example, literally tons of maps were sent to the war zone, yet most didn't filter down to the level where they were needed. There were instances where commanders and their staffs were operating with rough grids sketched out on paper serving as maps. The U.S. forces also had to jerry-rig their linkages with the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. The technical literacy and initiative of American human resources will likely be a great advantage in U.S. efforts at establishing information dominance. Conversely, we would expect hierarchical societies to be at a disadvantage in attempting to adapt to the new military-technical regime.
The potential for peer competitor states to conduct highly effective, nonnuclear strikes to the depths of a theater of operations, and to disrupt or destroy C3I networks will likely produce a chaotic battle zone, and not only at the "front lines." Military operations will likely have to become highly decentralized, while unencumbered (i.e., rapid) access to needed information grows by leaps and bounds. The need to reorganize the command structure to function in this manner is clear. At the same time, lower-level commanders and their subordinates will have to remain informed of their role as part of a highly integrated (i.e., joint) military campaign. The result will probably be neither a horizontal nor vertical organizational structure, but a hybrid of sorts.
Indeed, to execute the kind of operational concepts that could dominate a new military-technical era—those emphasizing both the importance of acting quickly, yet within ever-higher levels of complexity—organizations will likely have to emphasize decentralized execution and centralized control. Junior commanders will need to know how their operations support the senior commander's overall plan, how to integrate their operations within various elements of a full-dimensional concept of operations, and how to react quickly, and often independently, to a rapidly changing conflict environment. The latter two requirements will likely necessitate a "flatter," less hierarchical, organizational structure, with junior commanders and their staffs having direct access to information that was formerly "rationed" out by higher headquarters.
Effecting Organizational Innovation
Having stated that innovation is a key element in realizing the full potential of military forces in a period of revolutionary change, the question must be posed: how is organizational innovation fostered and nurtured to a successful conclusion? Our initial research indicates that the most difficult part of the transition will come in the area of organizational innovation. Large-scale organizations—especially military organizations (including perhaps their requirements and acquisition components, and industrial base as well), with their high regard for tradition and the limited availability of feedback—are often highly resistant to change.
Typically a major military innovation comes about in peacetime only when two conditions are met. First, there must exist military leaders who recognize the need for innovation, and who support its implementation. In examining cases of U.S. military innovation in this century, it was discovered that senior military leaders in the Services played the crucial roles. Second, these leaders must be able to institutionalize the innovation. The latter requirement is accomplished primarily by attracting talented young officers to the cause. However, these officers are unlikely to risk their careers supporting innovation unless their mentors are able to protect and promote them. The redirection and institutionalization of human resources appears to be the crucial element in effecting peacetime military innovation.
The United States may find the process of innovation a difficult one. "High-level political overrides" imposed from above rarely occur, for the simple reason that the tenure of the senior DoD leadership is so brief, and its attention diffused. The United States (like France and Britain after World War I) has emerged victorious from its most recent war. Defense resources are being cut dramatically. The response thus far, however, has primarily been to cling to the sunset systems and forces that characterized the Cold War era, and the requirements, acquisition, and intelligence structures whose focus is on specific, near-term problems rather than on the general longer-term competition.
In fact, this preliminary study finds little evidence that the United States defense establishment is preparing for or even considering large-scale innovation. For example, our acquisition system is structured to respond to specific guidance on requirements provided early in the acquisition process. This may have been appropriate during an era in which their was a clearly defined threat and a well-defined international order. But this is no longer the case. What is needed now—especially in a period of declining resources—is a requirements system that looks much further into the future, that explores a variety of alternatives (again, simulations can play a major role here), and that works with the acquisition system through the feed-forward and feed-back process described earlier to identify—not only sunrise systems—but sunrise network architectures as well. Finally, we need an acquisition system that is highly agile and flexible; that can react quickly to an emerging threat that, at present, remains unknown, and that is already positioning itself to compete successfully in the next military-technical revolution.
Given the importance of systems and network integration, and the growing role of "all-dimensional" operations that require the interservice integration of a variety of systems and networks, it is unlikely that a single Service's senior leadership will be able to effect significant innovations by itself. Before a Service can innovate successfully, its leadership may also have to convince its counterparts in the other Services of the merits of innovation. This brings up the issue of whether the United States requires a professional joint, or general, staff with the authority to deal with these matters on a continuing basis with a significantly higher degree of expertise than is currently available.