Net­work-Cen­tric­ity for the In­dian Mil­i­tary

The evo­lu­tion of a joint struc­ture will ne­ces­si­tate spec­i­fy­ing a doc­trine and ad­dress­ing spe­cific is­sues of sen­sor ar­chi­tec­ture, weapon ar­chi­tec­tures, in­ter­op­er­abil­ity lev­els and com­mand and con­trol struc­ture. A phased im­ple­men­ta­tion as well as war-gam­ing

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch

The evo­lu­tion of a joint struc­ture will ne­ces­si­tate spec­i­fy­ing a doc­trine and ad­dress­ing spe­cific is­sues of sen­sor ar­chi­tec­ture, weapon ar­chi­tec­tures, in­ter­op­er­abil­ity lev­els and com­mand and con­trol struc­ture.

TECH­NOL­OGY AND WAR­FARE HAVE all along had a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship. This also re­lates to net­work-cen­tric war­fare (NCW), al­beit some mis­tak­enly think it is purely a tech­no­log­i­cal is­sue. NCW is only an aid and not the end in it­self; a man­i­fes­ta­tion to syn­er­gise re­sources and bring them to bear con­cen­trated onto the en­emy. NCW is not tech­nol­ogy alone but en­com­passes the gamut of emerg­ing mil­i­tary re­sponse to the in­for­ma­tion age. Tenets of NCW com­prise a ro­bustly-net­worked force that im­proves in­for­ma­tion shar­ing, en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of in­for­ma­tion and shared si­t­u­a­tional aware­ness, en­abling col­lab­o­ra­tion and self-syn­chro­ni­sa­tion, and en­hanc­ing sus­tain­abil­ity and speed of com­mand, and fi­nally, all of th­ese, dra­mat­i­cally in­creas­ing mis­sion ef­fec­tive­ness. Tech­nol­ogy, there­fore, will have to be matched with a req­ui­site vi­sion, doc­trine and struc­tures to im­ple­ment on ground. Log­i­cally, NCW would also im­pact the hi­er­ar­chal or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture that we have got used to in mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions. Shap­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion to meet new chal­lenges is tough. Even with vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship and mo­ti­vated peo­ple, un­ex­pected prob­lems and even cri­sis can erupt. The chal­lenge to the de­fence forces is thus im­mense and we would have to ad­dress th­ese head on.

NCW Con­cept

Typ­i­cally, in the plat­form-cen­tric force, shoot­ers do not in­her­ently own sen­sors and de­ci­sion-mak­ers do not in­her­ently own shoot­ers; plat­form owns weapon sys­tems and weapons have their or­ganic sen­sors. There­fore, in this type of tra­di­tional ap­proach to warfight­ing, there is al­ways dis­con­nect be­tween the shooter, sen­sors and the de­ci­sion-maker. Con­versely, in NCW, the de­ci­sion-mak­ers, sen­sors and shoot­ers work col­lab­o­ra­tively in re­sponse to the dy­nam­ics of the bat­tlespace to achieve the com­man­der’s mis­sion. The most vis­i­ble part of NCW is the fo­cus on in­tel­li­gence-based war­fare, which oc­curs when in­tel­li­gence is fed di­rectly into op­er­a­tions rather than used as an in­put for over­all com­mand and con­trol. As sen­sors grow more acute and re­li­able, as they pro­lif­er­ate in type and num­ber and as they be­come ca­pa­ble of feed­ing fire con­trol sys­tems in real time and near real time, the task of de­vel­op­ing, main­tain­ing and ex­ploit­ing sys­tems that sense the bat­tle­field as­sess its com­po­si­tion and send the re­sults to shoot­ers, as­sumes greater im­por­tance.

NCW fo­cuses on the com­bat power that can be gen­er­ated from the ef­fec­tive link­ing of max­i­mum warfight­ing en­ti­ties. It is the abil­ity of ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­persed forces to cre­ate a high level of shared aware­ness that can be ex­ploited for ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient ex­e­cu­tion of op­er­a­tions. NCW has the po­ten­tial to merge the tac­ti­cal, op­er­a­tional and strate­gic lev­els of mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chy lead­ing to the co­he­sive em­ploy­ment of dis­parate in­ter-ser­vices re­sources.

NCW Model

NCW im­plies a change in the pace of war­fare. This par­a­digm in­volves shrink­ing of the de­ci­sion-cy­cle which would ex­ert ad­di­tional pres­sures on al­most all other com­po­nents of the war ma­chine, whether op­er­a­tional or ad­min­is­tra­tive; the buzz words be­ing self syn­chro­ni­sa­tion, in­for­ma­tion dom­i­nance, in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity, shared aware­ness, in­creased op­er­a­tional tempo, re­duc­tion of the ob­serve, ori­ent, de­cide and act (OODA) loop and the like.

With re­spect to com­mand and con­trol setup in the mil­i­tary (en­com­pass­ing com­mand and con­trol (C2) frame­work, C2 process, info man­age­ment, IT and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions), data bear­ers, in­for­ma­tion bear­ers and the knowl­edge bear­ers will re­quire re­struc­tur­ing. Es­tab­lish­ment, main­te­nance and avail­abil­ity of the net­work in­fra­struc­ture, back­bone com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work, seam­less in­ter­ac­tion and se­cu­rity will be im­por­tant. Es­tab­lish­ment, main­te­nance and up­dat­ing of data cen­tres will be a crit­i­cal com­po­nent. Spe­cific struc­tures for han­dling is­sues of data in­tegrity and con­fi­den­tial­ity with clear-cut accountability and re­spon­si­bil­ity are ma­jor chal­lenges. Change man­age­ment will be crit­i­cal with re­spect to knowl­edge bear­ers which is the do­main of com­man­ders.

The ex­pe­ri­ence of the cor­po­rate has re­sulted in re­duced lev­els of man­age­ment, work­ers em­pow­ered to take de­ci­sions and few dif­fer­ences in re­spon­si­bil­ity due to the need for speed, lesser need for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­trol func­tion of mid­dle man­agers and the im­pact of glob­al­i­sa­tion. How­ever, in the mil­i­tary, strat­egy and plan­ning pro­ceeds in a lin­ear top down man­ner through devel­op­ment and then to im­ple­men­ta­tion and a flat or­gan­i­sa­tion that fun­da­men­tally changes the present struc­tural par­a­digm. This may not be eas­ily palat­able to the tra­di­tional mil­i­tary. For the mil­i­tary, the changes as men­tioned above in the cor­po­rate sec­tor, trans­lates into dy­namic li­aisons adap­tively form­ing from op­er­a­tional as­sets with­out the over­ar­ch­ing pres­ence of higher HQ. Myr­iad ques­tions like lev­els of au­ton­omy, lev­els, amount of in­for­ma­tion to be fed, se­cu­rity and the like will con­tinue to be raised.

In­te­gra­tion of sen­sors in the bat­tle­field re­quires def­i­ni­tion of the sen­sor ar­chi­tec­ture as it will have a bear­ing on hard­ware pro­cure­ment as also the com­mand and con­trol struc­tures. The def­i­ni­tion of the ar­chi­tec­ture is es­sen­tial to ad­dress is­sues of data fu­sion, es­pe­cially if sys­tems of the three ser­vices are to be in­te­grated. Op­er­a­tional in­ter­op­er­abil­ity as also pro­ce­dural is­sues for ex­change and con­trol of in­for­ma­tion will re­quire ad­dress­ing in case of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ar­chi­tec­ture. There would be many such prac­ti­cal prob­lems that need to be looked into. The or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture to man­age the sen­sor grid will have to be evolved, based on the sen­sor ar­chi­tec­ture that is adopted and ad­dress­ing is­sues of com­mand and con­trol of th­ese sen­sors. Sim­i­lar is­sues will emerge while in­te­grat­ing the weapon grid. A vi­able op­tion for in­ter­face be­tween sen­sor and shooter plat­form would have to be found from a fast and re­spon­sive de­ci­sion-sup­port sys­tem. In­ter­face yet seg­re­gate op­er­a­tional tac­ti­cal and strate­gic level will pose ma­jor chal­lenges dur­ing re­struc­tur­ing. The level of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity across the ser­vices and even within a ser­vice too needs to be de­fined.

In­dian Mil­i­tary

Net-cen­tric­ity in the In­dian mil­i­tary has mush­roomed bot­tom up­wards. Lack of an NCW phi­los­o­phy/doc­trine has re­sulted in an am­bigu­ous NCW ar­chi­tec­ture, which has still not been de­fined. Though we have doc­trines for com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­for­ma­tion, in­tel­li­gence (C4I2) and in­for­ma­tion war­fare (IW), th­ese two spheres are com­po­nents of NCW and do not con­sti­tute NCW by them­selves. NCW must also en­com­pass poli­cies, strat­egy, con­cepts, mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions and ad­just­ments. To trans­form the In­dian mil­i­tary into a NCW-ca­pa­ble force, we need a NCW phi­los­o­phy/doc­trine as the start point. Con­cepts of in­di­vid­ual ser­vices should flow from a joint doc­trine. This will fa­cil­i­tate devel­op­ment of co­her­ent tri-ser­vice net­worked ar­chi­tec­ture. Non-in­te­gra­tion of Head­quar­ters In­te­grated De­fence Ser­vices (HQ IDS) with Min­istry of De­fence (MoD), lim­ited author­ity/op­er­a­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity with HQ IDS and void of a CDS have all contributed to­wards this.

At present, net­works of the three ser­vices are not in­ter­op­er­a­ble. Nei­ther voice nor data net­works nor our ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions are in­ter­op­er­a­ble to the de­sired de­gree. Each ser­vice de­vel­ops net­works on its own and starts think­ing of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity at a much later stage. The de­fence com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work (DCN) is coming up but lit­tle progress has been made for achiev­ing ser­vices hand­shake. Com­mon stan­dards and pro­to­cols for the three ser­vices have not been evolved. Fi­nal­is­ing and adop­tion of stan­dards and pro­to­cols, mu­tu­ally com­pat­i­ble data­base struc­tures, devel­op­ment/de­ploy­ment of in­ter­faces be­tween sys­tems us­ing dis­parate plat­forms and com­mon­al­ity of hard­ware are chal­lenges which need to be over­come. No sin­gle uni­fy­ing se­crecy al­go­rithm for the three ser­vices has been devel­oped. Bring­ing the stan­dards and pro­to­cols of the three ser­vices on the same plane is a gi­gan­tic task that can only be solved through out­sourc­ing, given the lev­els of ex­per­tise avail­able within the ser­vices. This process is way be­hind and there is ab­sence of knowl­edge man­age­ment. In our con­text, this col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing needs to be looked at closely, not only across the ser­vices but also within each ser­vice. The com­mand and con­trol struc­tures will have to cater to this col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing. A net­work-en­abled en­vi­ron­ment for In­dian mil­i­tary would be avail­able down to op­er­a­tional level in a few years time. How­ever, it is the change in mind­sets and ab­sorp­tion of tech­nol­ogy that is likely to take up most of the time.

Re­quire­ment

To trans­form the In­dian mil­i­tary into a NCW-en­abled force, the es­sen­tial steps would be: to evolve a net­work-cen­tric op­er­a­tional con­cept to achieve a mis­sion; de­fine the level of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity across the ser­vices and within the ser­vices that is fea­si­ble/de­sired; de­fine the type of ar­chi­tec­ture that is ap­pro­pri­ate for the sen­sor and weapon grids; evolve a tri-ser­vice doc­trine for NCW; de­fine com­mand and con­trol struc­tures de­signed for the net­work-cen­tric en­vi­ron­ment; re­struc­ture a bri­gade sized

In­te­grated Net­work Plat­form

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