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Network Enabled Command and Control (NEC2) Short Course

  • Background
  • Educational Objectives
  • Course Modules

The U.S. Department of Defense, NATO, and other military organizations around the world are committed to developing network-enabled capabilities (NEC) that leverage Information Age concepts and technologies. This concept, initially named Network Centric Warfare, was first advocated in the late 1990s. These ideas have been institutionalized in strategy, policy and programs that have significantly improved the ability of military organizations to meet 21st Century mission requirements. However, NEC reality, in the form of current capabilities, still falls far short of its potential. There are a number of reasons for this “implementation gap” (the gap between theory and practice) including a lack of understanding of networked environments and their implications for command and control, misallocation of resources, inadequate and/or ineffective policy, technical shortfalls, and cultural barriers.

Additionally, NEC has been predominantly understood and applied in the context of traditional military organizations and missions. However, more and more missions that militaries are being called upon to undertake are not, in the traditional sense, military operations; and they involve more than military forces. Arguably the most important and challenging missions require participation in Complex Endeavors involving objectives and effects in other domains including the political, social, and economic. Success in these Complex Endeavors requires that command and control concepts be extended to include inter-organizational relationships and interactions.

Since the theory of NCW was introduced a decade ago, progress has been slowed by an inadequate understanding of 1) the nature of complex endeavors, 2) the importance of agility, 3) the theory of network-enabled organizations and operations, and 3) best practices among individuals and organizations operating in a networked environment.

A comprehensive educational campaign is required to remedy the lack of awareness and understanding of the nature of 21st Century missions, Networked Enabled Capability (NEC), and the implications for Command and Control (C2) and intelligence.

The overall objective of such an educational campaign is to develop the wide-spread awareness and in-depth understanding necessary to accelerate a “network-centric” transformation of existing C2I organizations, processes, and systems to make them more effective and efficient so that they are better able to meet 21st Century mission challenges.

This campaign involves the development of curricula, courses, educational materials, and experimental environments that provide students with “hands-on” opportunities to experience a variety of network-enabled capabilities and network-enabled C2 (NEC2) under different mission-related scenarios and circumstances.

A re-invention of traditional command and control is on the critical path to realizing the development of capabilities that are required for success in Complex Endeavors. C2 plays this central role because it determines the way responsibilities are allocated, specifies the nature of processes and the interactions between and among individuals and organizations, and determines the accesses to and the use of information including intelligence. Thus, a significant part of any educational campaign must be devoted to developing a better understanding of networked-enabled command and control (NEC2) and its application to complex, asymmetric missions.

The C2-related educational objectives of such a campaign include providing students with the understanding necessary to answer the following basic questions:

  • What is “command and control”?
  • What is NEC2?
  • What is the value chain that links C2-related capabilities to mission success?
  • Is there a “best” approach to C2?
  • Why are 21st century missions “complex endeavors”?
  • Is either traditional C2 or NEC2 well-suited for complex endeavors?
  • Are there other approaches to accomplishing the functions associated with command and control?
  • How should organizations approach C2 in order to be successful in complex endeavors?
  • What policies, investment strategies, organizational constructs, processes, and technical capabilities need to be developed and adopted to ensure that the functions associated with command and control are implemented appropriately for complex endeavors?