The startlingly efficient coalition victory during the 1991 Gulf War heralded the advent of a revolution in military affairs (RMA). The RMA represented a sea change in the way military operations would be conducted in the future. Technologies that allowed rapid information collection, analysis and dissemination would receive equal if not greater emphasis relative to kinetic (weapon delivery and payload technologies). During the majority of the last twenty-plus years, efficient military grade information technologies have remained the province of comparatively few nations due to factors of complexity, availability and expense.
This de facto technological quarantine has largely evaporated over the last five or so years due to the proliferation of powerful, lightweight and readily available integration and knowledge management tools many of which are available under open source software licenses. These technologies have the potential to create what is effectively RMA 2.0, marked by a global democratization of military information dominance technologies. The remainder of this white paper will explore the intersection of doctrinal and technical developments fueling RMA 2.0 and offer some thoughts on the benefits and way ahead for impacted nations and organizations.
In 2003, David Alberts and Richard Hayes published the seminal work on modern command and control (C2) doctrinal theory, Power to the Edge. Power to the Edge is not a technical work focusing on communications and computing systems, nor is it a case study about modern C2 systems. Instead, it describes the transition from the industrial age military to the information age military, and sets out principles and goals toward that end. “Edge” elements of organizations are those that are responsible for operational execution, and with whom the burden of ultimate success or failure ultimately lies. Pushing “power” to the edge elements of an organization refers to that organization’s ability to achieve a high degree of operational agility through the provision, over a robust, networked grid, of timely relevant C2 information that the edge elements can use to autonomously synchronize their actions to achieve command intent. “Power to the Edge” has become the dominant information and management philosophy in Western defense establishments, and to a lesser extent in those of Russia and China.
Key tenets of power to the edge philosophy are:
• Providing information from which relevant situational awareness can be achieved rather than creating a single operational picture;
• Autonomously synchronizing operations instead of autonomous operations;
• Information “pull” rather than broadcast information “push”;
• Collaborative efforts rather than individual efforts;
• Communities of Interest (COIs) rather than information stovepipes;
• Sharing data rather than maintaining private data;
• Persistent, continuous information assurance rather than perimeter, one-time security;
• Capability on demand rather than allocated capability budgets;
• Open standards rather than interoperable interfaces;
Common enterprise services rather than separate infrastructures; and
• Commerical-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) based, net-centric capabilities rather than customized, platform-centric stovepiped IT.This white paper describes benefits gained by:
• Transforming industrial age forces to information age forces
• Pushing power to the edge
• Promoting self-synchronization
• Adopting open-source software in general
• Adopting open source middleware in particular
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