NCW Conference – first thoughts

I got down to DC this week to attend two days of the Network Centric Warfare conference. There were about 700 attendees in the audience so it is still a pretty well subscribed event.

I only have time for a quick post tonight (I plan to post more later) so just a few highlights…

Terry Pudas, Deputy Assistant Sec Def for Transformation, focused on the fundamentals of tranformation – information for mass. His discussion was notable because of the focus he placed on the 3000.05 “HADR Directive” that elevates stability operations to a core military mission. This was the only mention of this directive that I noticed despite the impact it seems to be having.

Mr. Pudas also made an interesting observation comparing the fight for information superiority to the fight for air superiority. I will try to come back to this in another post because I think it is a powerful analogy that probably doesn’t get enough attention.

Quote of the Conference came from Gen Barry McCaffrey (ret) on the day of the SOTU speech: “Tonight’s speech is the most dead on arrival speech given in this town in 25 years.”

Second best quote from Gen McCaffrey… “Don’t threaten people in public.” in reference to the administration’s current round of sabre rattling in the Persion Gulf.

And what the heck, one more good Gen McCaffrey quote: “Leaders have to be where the situation is most dangerous and confusing, not where communications are best.” He made that point in reference to the incredible situational awareness and communications power of the modern TOC, that because of the static nature of our current conflict, has unproven mobility. The slow arrival of Mobile Battle Command on the Move is doing little to allay those concerns.

Congressman Saxton gave the room full of defense contractors a strongly delivered warning that could be summarized as “stop over promising and under delivering netcentricity…”
– “The hype of netcentric systems outweighs the capabilities of current systems.”
– “Combatent commanders are not active participants in defining these systems.”
– “Demonstrate real results in reasonable periods of time.”
– “…promises repeatedly fall short of reality.”
– “I’m continuously promised that perfect battlefield intelligence is just around the corner.”

He then went on to point out that the Army’s “reset” program that will require $17B up front and then $13B per year for as long as this conflict goes on, and then an addtional two more years, to fix and replace all of the Army’s broken stuff makes this a difficult environment for transformational programs such as FCS and LCS. Especially with all of the broken promises.

I’ll post more later but, quickly, one of the highlights for me was a presentation by LTC James Buck on Stryker employment in Iraq in which he compared and contrasted his term “network enabled” with Network Centricity.

“Network Enabled” ~ “how the network helps me do my job”
“Network Centric” ~ “when other people make me feed the beast”

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