Air University Student Research Paper 1996
Title:  Information Operations: A New War-Fighting Capability
Subject: A future study on concepts and technologies to
exploit air and space in the year 2025 and beyond.
Author(s): Scott A. Bethel; Nolen R. Chew; James B. Near
(Faculty Advisor); Philip M. Nostrand; YuLin G. Whitehead
DTIC Keywords: AIR POWER, MILITARY RESEARCH, SPACE DEFENSE,
SPACE SYSTEMS, SPACE TECHNOLOGY, SPACE WARFARE, SPACE WEAPONS, UNCONVENTIONAL
Abstract: In its most basic form, commanders have always
performed the functions of observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA
Loop) to prosecute military operations. As with Alexander the Great,
history shows the military commander who best analyzes, decides,
and controls the speed of the engagement prevails in nearly every
conflict. To master the OODA Loop, military leaders have pushed
technology to obtain more information. Ironically, this now leads
to the requirement to solve two fundamental challenges if the United
States expects to maintain air and space dominance in 2025. First,
the proliferation of unintegrated military warfighting architectures
gives the commander potentially conflicting perspectives of the
battlespace. Second, the explosion of available information creates
an environment of mental overload leading to flawed decision making.
Failure to master these challenges critically weakens the military
instrument of power. This paper presents a solution to these challenges
confronting commanders as they employ future airpower forces.
Regarding the first challenge, the large number of specialized warfighting
architectures makes information integration supporting overall coordination
and control more important and more difficult. Simultaneously, the
speed and the range of modern weapons drastically reduces the time
commanders have to integrate conflicting information and decide
on a course of action.
The second challenge is to harness the information explosion to
combat mental overload, thus improving decision making. Recent exercises
reveal an alarming number of unread messages because of information
overload. As the quantity of data rises, the difficulty of preparing
and interpreting it for decision making grows. Traditionally, the
military attempted to solve this problem by increasing the number
of communications nodes. These past solutions only injected additional
inputs and information without improving decision making capability.
The optimum solution must integrate the functions within the OODA
Loop and allow the commander to control the momentum of the cycle.
This paper describes how a system called the Cyber Situation can
do just that, thus optimizing commanders' ability to operate air
and space systems. The Cyber Situation will enable commanders and
decision makers to have in-time access to the battlespace, characterize
the nature of the engagement, determine the calculated probabilities
of success from the various authorized lethal or nonlethal options,
decide what to do, employ the weapons chosen, and receive in-time
feedback on the result of the engagement.
The Cyber Situation system includes five major components. First,
all-source information collectors will transmit raw data to the
Information Integration Center (IIC), discussed below. Second, archival
databases, linked to the IIC, will be used for historical analysis
to fill information gaps if the data is not available for collection.
Third, the IIC, an integrated and interconnected constellation of
"smart" satellites will analyze, correlate, fuse, and deconflict
all relayed data. Fourth, implanted microscopic chips link users
to the IIC and create computer-generated mental visualizations.
The visualization encompasses the individual and allows the user
to place himself into the selected battlespace. Fifth, lethal and
nonlethal weapons will be linked to the IIC allowing authorized
users to employ them from the Cyber Situation.
Implied in the Cyber Situation are five key technologies evolving
on separate paths that will synergize by 2025 to achieve this goal.
They are collection platforms, communications infrastructure, computing
power, intelligent software, and human systems and biotechnology.
Most of these technologies will evolve through the commercial community,
but the military must focus research and development efforts on
biological and computational intelligent software and biotechnology
breakthroughs to allow mental visualization.
Once realized, these new capabilities will give commanders a new
way to prosecute warfare. New technology alone does not revolutionize
warfare. Rather, technology's impact on systems evolution, operational
tactics, and organizational structure is its true advantage. This
fuels necessary and complementary changes in doctrine and organizational
Organizations and doctrine will need to adapt to a streamlined,
decentralized environment. The traditional emphasis on command and
control will give way to an emphasis on consultation and control.
This organizational structure permits the Cyber Situation to operate
at maximum efficiency. This allows commander's at all levels to
operate with a greater degree of latitude and autonomy as part of
an integrated joint operation--a truly combined arms.
Airpower in 2025 must make optimum use of information technology
to operate inside an opponent's decision cycle. This requires unequivocal
dominance of cyberspace. In addition to enabling all military pursuits,
information-related activities will transcend all air and space
operations. To be sure, the Cyber Situation proposed in this paper
will certainly not eliminate all the command problems facing airpower
forces in 2025. However, it may well shed light on the main factors
involved and indicate the direction any reform efforts should move.
The challenge now is for airpower strategists to develop the warfighting
doctrine to turn the vision of a true battlespace execution capability