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Context of 'January 22, 2003: Pentagon Official Discusses Importance of ‘Network Centric Warfare’'

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In a report to Congress, the Department of Defense explains the importance of applying the principles of “Network Centric Warfare” (NCW) theory to US military strategy. Its premise is that the capability to share large amounts of data in real-time across all levels of the military will revolutionize warfare and give those who possess it an enormous advantage over their adversaries. NCW, the report explains, “represents a powerful set of warfighting concepts and associated military capabilities that allow warfighters to take full advantage of all available information and bring all available assets to bear in a rapid and flexible manner.” The Global Information Grid (GIG), the US military’s so-called “war net,” will make it possible for the US to put NCW concepts into practice. The application of NCW concepts will allow soldiers to “achieve situational dominance and dramatically increase survivability, lethality, speed, timeliness, and responsiveness,” the report says. The report says that the effort to develop such a system “will span a quarter-century or more.” [US Department of Defense, 7/27/2001 pdf file; DNE Technologies, 2003 pdf file; New York Times, 11/13/2004]

Entity Tags: US Congress, US Department of Defense

Timeline Tags: US Military

Arthur Cebrowski.Arthur Cebrowski. [Source: Publicity photo]Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announces the establishment of a new unit within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, called the Office of Force Transformation (OFT). Rumsfeld had called for the establishment of this office “as part of President Bush’s broad mandate to transform the Department of Defense. This transformation process challenges the organizational status quo with a new architecture for American defense in order to ensure an overwhelming and continuing competitive advantage for America’s military for decades to come.” He appoints retired Navy Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski—the former president of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island—as its director. [US Department of Defense, 11/26/2001; New York Times Magazine, 3/10/2002] Also recruited for this new department, as assistant for strategic futures, is Thomas Barnett, a senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College. As the “vision guy,” Barnett’s job is “to generate and deliver a compelling brief that would mobilize the Defense Department toward generating the future fighting force demanded by the post-9/11 strategic environment.” Barnett claims that, over time, senior military officials will come to cite his brief as “a Rosetta stone for the Bush administration’s new national security strategy.” [Barnett, 2004, pp. 5-6] Prior to 9/11, Barnett was the director of a research partnership between the Naval War College and the Wall Street bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald, called the New Rule Sets Project (see May 1, 2000-June 4, 2001). Considering that the OFT is a personal initiative of the defense secretary, it is interesting that Rumsfeld was in the late 1990s one of the founders of the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) (see June 3, 1997). [BBC, 8/25/2005; Washington Post, 6/12/2006; Federal Computer Week, 9/4/2006] In September 2000, PNAC published a strategy document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (see September 2000). Among other things, this laid out the need to establish “four core missions” for US military forces, one of these being to “transform US forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs.’” The OFT appears to be fulfilling this mission. However, the PNAC document had continued, “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Project for the New American Century, 9/2000, pp. iv and 51 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Thomas Barnett, Office of Force Transformation, Art Cebrowski

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Arthur Cebrowski, Director of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation, gives a speech to the Network Centric Warfare 2003 conference. He talks about the US military’s efforts to transform itself from a military focused on state vs. state wars to one that can deal with the new realities of the 21st century where power exists at the “larger system level” and violence has moved “downwards to the individual level.” Central to the process of transformation, Cebrowski explains, is the need to move from a static platform-based hierarchical structure into a dynamic network-based peer-to-peer structure. This approach, known as “Network Centric Warfare,” amounts to an entirely “new theory of warfare,” he says. [Transformation Trends, 2/17/2003 pdf file; New York Times, 11/13/2004]

Entity Tags: Art Cebrowski

Timeline Tags: US Military

In a curious echo of reports of an Israeli “art student spy ring” in the US before 9/11, it is reported that numerous young Israelis claiming to be from non-existent art schools in Israel are being arrested and deported for selling art in Canada. Unlike the earlier events in the US, there are no reports of government offices and workers being targeted. Rather, it appears to be a money making scam to sell cheap Asian art for vastly inflated prices in numerous Canadian cities. However, it is reported these Israelis “may be linked to a group fronting for Islamic fundamentalist fundraisers.” The nature and detail of the connection between the Israelis and Islamic fundamentalists is not explained in the newspaper accounts of this scam. [Ha'aretz, 9/16/2004; Jerusalem Post, 9/16/2004]

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

The New York Times reports on the Pentagon’s efforts to develop its own internet, or “war net,” which the Pentagon calls the Global Information Grid (GIG). The GIG would, among other things, allow soldiers to download high-resolution imagery of the places where they are fighting. The “essence of net-centric warfare is [the]… ability to deploy a war-fighting force anywhere, anytime,” says John Garing, strategic planning director at the Defense Information Security Agency, who is quoted in the article. The newspaper reports that “[a]dvocates say networked computers will be the most powerful weapon in the American arsenal” and that “fusing weapons, secret intelligence and soldiers in a global network… will…. change the military in the way the Internet has changed business and culture.” The article quotes several officials and people in private industry who are involved in GIG. For example, Robert J. Stevens, chief executive of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, says that the DoD’s objective is to provide troops in the field with a “a picture of the battle space, a God’s-eye view” which he says will give the military “real power.” Linton Wells II, director of the Office of Networks and Information Integration, says that net-centric principles (see July 27, 2001) are becoming “the center of gravity” for war planners and that the “tenets are broadly accepted throughout the Defense Department.” The article also reports that skeptics of the program doubt that the Pentagon will succeed in its project because it will require excessive amounts of bandwidth—enough to download “three feature-length movies a second.” The Times reports that the program has a projected cost of $120 billion—roughly 5 times the total cost, in today’s dollars, of the Manhattan project to build the atomic bomb. [New York Times, 11/13/2004]

Entity Tags: John Garing, Robert J. Stevens, Linton Wells II

Timeline Tags: US Military

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