Progressing Toward a Net-Centric Force
by Lawrence P. Farrell, Jr.
Part of the much talked-about transformation of our military is the ability
of the services to seamlessly integrate and fight as a joint force.
As we saw in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the services have come a long way in
this arena. The senior commanders of the war unanimously agreed that, in this
conflict, operations were much more integrated than in any previous campaign.
Despite this recent success, much work remains ahead, particularly in the joint
command and control area, where gaps and seams still exist, largely due to the
lack of interoperability between each service’s command and control systems.
This is a significant task, not only for the services, but also for the industry,
which must be prepared to change the traditional approaches to meeting service-unique
As far as joint command and control is concerned, the challenge is enormous.
Not only are there lots of different stove-piped architectures to sort through,
but there are also multiple players who have a role in setting requirements.
The job that lies ahead is difficult, but not impossible. As we have seen in
recent weeks, changes already are under way in how requirements and standards
are being developed in joint battle management, command and control.
During the past several months, specifically, the office of the undersecretary
of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and the U.S. Joint Forces
Command, have been working on the development of a Joint Battle Management Command
& Control (BMC2) Roadmap.
The Roadmap will provide the services, the Defense Department and the Joint
Staff an update on those systems that require interoperability and will address
whether those systems can effectively interact in our new environment of a capability-based
military and net-centric operations.
The kickoff of the Roadmap occurred in late July, when officials from the Pentagon,
Joint Forces Command and the services addressed a contingent of senior military,
government and industry attendees at the Joint Battle Management Command and
Control (JBMC2) Summit.
Interoperability is at the heart of JMBC2. Both the acting undersecretary of
defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Mike Wynne, and John Stenbit,
the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration,
stated at the Summit that OSD will focus on the critical interactions that will
facilitate truly joint operations, via a new Joint Battlespace management architecture.
It was noted that the “system-of-systems” concept is still a stovepipe
approach and has been ineffective in achieving true integration and interoperability.
Wynne said that the Roadmap should allow a seamless delivery of land, air and
sea pictures to all forces—including collusive and collaborative solutions
to the common command function.
The information must be routinely available, useful and transferable among
the squad leaders, pilots and special operations team members, as it is no longer
sufficient that only flag officers and staffs have access to the information.
And the information must be accurate, comprehensive, integrated, networked,
common to all, unambiguous, consistent and reliable.
“JBMC2 is the challenge of the hour,” Wynne said. “And meeting
the challenge is nothing less than the most urgent military necessity of our
Those of you in industry surely must be wondering what specifically companies
will be asked to do and how far the Defense Department and Joint Forces Command
will go in setting common standards and architectures for the services and contractors
It is yet too early to expect precise answers to these questions. Even though
the technology is rapidly maturing, there are many issues to work out, such
as the role of legacy systems and the development of new joint operational concepts.
Proving out these concepts also will require lots of experimentation, trial
Making our forces fully interoperable and giving them effective tools to command
and control a joint force is a tall order, and one that will truly require a
dramatic change in how we procure and deploy systems. The exact path is still
being defined but the trend is clear: U.S. military forces are moving rapidly
toward total integrated military operations.
I should point out that two of our NDIA divisions—the Systems Engineering
Division and the C4ISR Division—are spearheading efforts to keep industry
involved in the process of developing joint command and control standards and
consolidating architectures, in partnership with their government counterparts.
I urge you to join their efforts. Check our NDIA Website for points of contact.
The defense industry is up to the challenge. Now we need to perform.
Please e-mail me your comments to email@example.com
Back To Top