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Air & Space Power Chronicles
Network-Centric Special Operations--
Exploring New Operational Paradigms
Captain Greg Gagnon, USAF
This essay garnered third place in the US Special
Operations Command 2001 Essay Contest. The views expressed in
this essay are the sole responsibility of the author. This essay
does not represent the views of the US Government, US Special
Operations Command, or the US Air
Network-centric operations are achieved by networking the force
to create shared situational awareness derived from common operating
information that is relevant, timely, and accurate. Network-centric
warfare (NCW) results from using this shared situational awareness
to self-synchronize operations, speed decision making, and increase
the speed of operations. In this paper I explore the utility of
network-centric warfare for special operations. The paper begins
with a description of a hypothetical future network-centric special
operation, following which, a review of the network-centric warfare
is provided. Next, the paper summarizes an academic theory of
special operations drawn from a book by Capt William McRaven.
The fourth section of the paper presents the results of cross-pollinating
network-centric warfare and McRaven’s principles of special
operations -- what I’ve termed network-centric special operations.
Today, within US Special Operations Command, there are a number
of initiatives which represent a drive toward network-centric
special operations. This paper helps to conceptualize the academic
theory that initiatives such as the Naval Special Warfare Command’s
Mission Support Center1 and Special Warfare Automated
Mission Planning System (SWAMPS)2 are seeking to achieve.
Although new technologies and reach-back communications are currently
being integrated into special operations, very little academic
time has been spent reflecting on the operational impacts for
special operations doctrine and strategy. This paper is a beginning
to that debate.
A hypothetical future scenario of a network-centric special
A network-centric special operations entity, called an A-team,3
is assigned a direct action mission to destroy a deep underground
communications facility’s ability to receive and transmit
electronic information. The A-team leaves its stateside base and
steps into their mission planning transport, which is an aerial
vehicle connected to the joint force information grid. As the
team moves into theater they communicate electronically with their
assigned information gathering team, known as the I-team, which
resides at the Special Operations Force (SOF) mission support
center. The SOF mission support center maintains a staff of expert
SOF planners and information gatherers. The I-team, already aware
of the A-team’s mission, pushes planning information to
the en-route A-team for further detailed analysis and planning.
The I-team stays in contact with the A-team throughout the mission.
The I-team is responsible for the A-team’s information management
before, during, and after the mission. During the planning process
the A-team identifies their mission "information profile."
This information profile identifies the information the A-team
will need during the operation while they maintain their communication
links in receive mode, in order to minimize their signature. As
the A-team builds its plan, the team collaborates with experts
who the I-team have brought on-line to provide needed target specific
and culturally specific information. During the collaborative
planning process a new innovative approach is identified. The
A-team leader chooses the new innovative approach and continues
his planning. Since this operation is on a short timeline, much
like most operations these days, the A-team didn’t have
the opportunity to do a "physical" full-dress rehearsal.
Instead the A-team commander directs the I-team to run the mission
analysis simulation. The simulation identifies one critical area
of vulnerability for the A-team commander to reconsider. As the
A-team builds its plan, the team incorporates the standard rules
of engagement and rule set, which is techniques, tactics, and
procedures that they have practiced day-in and day-out.
As the A-team enters the theater the team transfers to tactical
transport and reports to the supported commander. She informs
the A-team that its mission is in support of other conventional
strikes designed to isolate the enemy leadership. As the A-team
ingresses to target, they receive an abort call from the supported
commander. The team’s target has been neutralized by a conventional
force strike on the electrical grid, but more importantly, time
sensitive intelligence has located the enemy’s military
commander. The A-team’s new task is to snatch the commander.
Throughout the mission the I-team continues to monitor the network.
Aware of the new mission tasking the I-team gathers the A-team’s
new information needs. As the A-team receives orders from the
supported commander the A-team also receives support information
from the I-team.
The A-team moves to their new location by using conventional
lift that the A-team identified using their common operating picture
they share with the conventional forces. With the building schematics
transferred from the I-team, the A-team collaboratively plans
its assault with the support of on-line planning assistants. The
A-team updates the building schematic with the latest available
human intelligence. Using micro-sensors, the team enters the building.
The special operators see the sensor information through their
left eyepiece. The sensor locates a possible human heat source
in the basement of the building. The A-team advances and successfully
snatches the enemy commander. As the team egresses with the hostage,
they interrogate the enemy commander using questions sent electronically
from the supported commander. The A-team returns to their operating
location for a mission hot wash – by all accounts, the team’s
flexibility was a key to mission success.
What is network-centric warfare?
NCW is an approach to warfare, which focuses on the greater synergistic
effect that can be created by networking, and electronically linking
geographically separated forces into one sensor-to-shooter engagement
grid.4 Improved battlespace awareness can be created
through extending the sensing of the individual entity (aircraft
or SOF operator or team) to the cumulative ability and reach of
the entire network. With access to common operating information,
21st century forces can mass information, vice forces,
and project combat power. As part of a warfighting network, entities
coordinate their actions by following the commander’s intent
and the commander’s rule set which govern operations. This
"rule set" provides guidelines for coordinating and
controlling the interactions of the network entities. The rule
set addresses who engages each target in different situations.
The rule set seeks to deconflict shooters and optimize sensor
coverage. By decentralizing the decision making, establishing
rule sets, and providing access to the common operating information,
the network accelerates observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA)
loops.5 Using the commander’s guidance, the network
can engage more targets as an aggregate system than the entities
individually can handle. Furthermore, the network’s ability
to increase shared situational awareness can increase the speed
of command for the entities, since for most engagements, the entities
are following the commander’s intent and rule set, to self-synchronize
their activities and are not idly waiting for commands from military
How does NCW increase combat power?
To the warfighter, NCW can be used to improve the operators’
shared awareness and increase the chances of mission success.
Even though the concept of NCW is embryonic, efforts to measure
NCW have begun. A US Air Force Operational Special Project employing
F-15C fighter aircraft set out to evaluate the military utility
of tactical data links, i.e. the Joint Tactical Information Distribution
System (JTIDS). In the evaluation, F-15C aircraft were employed
against other F-15C aircraft in air-to-air operations. One side
could only transmit information between aircraft via voice communications.
The other flight had both the voice capability and the shared
digital tactical picture provided by JTIDS, which functionally
networked the aircraft. The project collected data from over 12,000
sorties and the results of the evaluation support their hypothesis
that network-centric operations can increase combat power -- the
JTIDS equipped aircraft increased their kill ratios for daylight
and night operations by 2.61 and 2.59, respectively. The evaluation
"demonstrated air crews fighting with shared awareness
could increase combat power by over 100%."7
This network-centric theory is summarized below.
(nc = network-centric aircraft enabled with JTIDS, pc = platform-centric
aircraft sharing information by voice communications only)
Improved Information Position (I):
Inc > Ipc The pilots with
access to the relevant, timely, and accurate JTIDS data had
a superior informational advantage over the pilots with voice
only communications between aircraft. JTIDS effectively extended
each individual platforms sensing range by sharing the sensor
data between platforms.
Increased Shared Situational Awareness (SSA):
SSAnc > SSApc By sharing the
same common operating information between the nc aircraft, the
nc fighter pilots had better shared situational awareness than
their adversaries, the pc pilots.
Increased Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO):
OPTEMPOnc > OPTEMPOpc
For the nc pilots, the superior situational awareness
resulted in faster OODA loops, improved command and engagement
Increased Loss Exchange Ratio (R):
Rnc > Rpc Subsequently, the
nc pilots increased their kill ratio over the pc enemy.
Similar experience and evidence is available to further support
the findings of the above experiment.8 The realization
that increased shared awareness can improve combat power is not
new, but before we address the implications for special operations,
we first review a theory for the art of special operations.
McRaven’s Theory of Special
There are many historical recounts of special operations and
many more theories on warfare. Unfortunately, there are few theories
on the operational art of special operations.9 One
theory, popular within the special operations community, is Capt
Bill McRaven’s Theory of Special Operations.10
McRaven uses eight historical special operations cases to deduce
his theory and isolate six principles that are key for success
in special operations. For McRaven, a "special operation
is conducted by forces specially trained, equipped, and supported
for a specific target whose destruction, elimination, or rescue,
is a political or military imperative."11 For
the cases he selected, a smaller force attacking a larger force
already in a defensive position characterized special operations.
From analyzing these historical raids and rescues, McRaven postulates
that relative superiority is a necessary condition for success.
"Simply stated, relative superiority is a condition that
exists when an attacking force, generally smaller, gains a decisive
advantage over a larger or well-defended enemy."12
The basic properties of relative superiority are that it is achieved
at the pivotal moment in an engagement and that relative superiority
must be sustained because it is difficult to regain.
In McRaven’s study, special operations are narrowly defined
to what we generally term today as direct action, or raids and
rescues. The utility of the narrow definition is that it allowed
McRaven to deduce six principles for special operations, which
McRaven contends lead to relative superiority. McRaven’s
principles of special operations are simplicity, security, repetition,
surprise, speed, and purpose. According to McRaven "a simple
plan, carefully concealed, repeatedly and realistically rehearsed,
and executed with surprise, speed, and purpose"13
provides special operators with the highest probability of succeeding.
Dividing special operations into three phases serves to clarify
the six principles – planning (simple), preparation (security
and repetition), and execution (surprise, speed, and purpose).
Simplicity in planning is the most crucial of the six principles.14
The three elements of simplicity are to limit the mission objectives,
good intelligence, and innovation. Although the strategic objective
for the mission is dictated to the special operator, the special
operator can limit the number of tactical objectives for the mission.
Attaining good intelligence is critical in all military planning.
Good intelligence can limit the uncertainty in planning, however,
intelligence gaps will always exist. But, unlike most military
operations, strategic special operations, such as hostage rescues,
have access to strategic intelligence assets. The final element
of simplicity is innovation. Innovative planning overcomes foreseen
obstacles that would otherwise inhibit surprise or increase the
time special operators spend on target.
Security and repetition are the key principles during the preparation
phase of the mission. In the cases selected by McRaven for study,
special operators attacked forces prepared to defend fortified
positions. In these cases, security was required to protect the
timing of the operation, as well as the method of attack. The
second principle for the preparation phase of special operations
is repetition. During preparation, full mission rehearsal allows
planners to identify critical areas and vulnerabilities to address
In McRaven’s analysis, special operators, normally small
in numbers, typically attack forces in defensive positions, which
are generally prepared to defend. Because of this characteristic,
the three key principles for the execution phase of a special
operation are surprise, speed, and purpose. Surprise in these
cases relates to protecting the timing and manner of attack. Since
the defensive forces are being engaged, McRaven determines their
will to fight is a constant. With that assertion, speed is no
longer relative to whether or not the enemy will defend against
your attack, but is now "a function of time, not, as some
imply, a relative factor that is affected by the enemy’s
will to resist."15 The third and last principle
in the execution phase of the operation is purpose. The purpose
of the mission must be clearly defined by the mission statement
and the special operator must clearly understand and be personally
committed to the mission’s purpose and objectives.
McRaven concludes that following his principles of special operations
increases the probability of mission success, but that the frictions
of war (uncertainty and chance) will constantly act upon the special
operator during the mission. McRaven, drawing on Carl Von Clausewitz’s
moral factors, notes that special operator’s courage and
commitment, although difficult to isolate and theorize, inevitably
weigh heavily in determining success.
For my analysis, I continued with McRaven’s definition
of special operations and divided special operations into the
same three phases as McRaven– planning (simple), preparation
(security and repetition), and execution (surprise, speed, and
purpose). For each phase (planning, preparation, and execution),
I applied the concept of network-centric warfare to the principles
of special operations to form the hybrid of those theories –
network-centric special operations. The subsequent question I
asked was this, does network-centric special operations improve
the likelihood of achieving the six principles of special operations
and if so will network-centric special operations improve the
probability of mission success for special operations (raids,
direct action, and rescues)?
NCW’s impact on McRaven’s Theory of Special Operations
On the surface, the concept of using simplicity to deal
with planning a complex mission seems like an oxymoron, but in
reality, it is a necessary condition for success. Self-synchronized
operations are not the uncoordinated mêlée one may think. Like
other operations, network-centric operations are coordinated and
limited by doctrine, rule sets, and the commander’s intent.16
Simplicity in planning is maintained by developing simple, coherent
rule sets, commander’s intent, and leveraging doctrine.
These coordination mechanisms allow for decentralized execution
by standardizing operator performance through intensive training
and simulation. Designing this guidance is the key task in the
planning phase for network-centric special operations.
With regards to planning, network-centric special operations
have inherent advantages and some disadvantages when compared
to traditional special operations. Networked special operations
forces can use the network connectivity to leverage information
agencies or information clearing houses, such as Naval Special
Warfare Command’s Mission Support Center and other theater
and national intelligence agencies, to create a collaborative
planning environment. Using the network, collaborative planning
can speed the process and improve the quality of the product.
While the A-team is still responsible for their own operational
plan, they can be assigned information gatherers to scour the
network for relevant intelligence, operational material, and access
to subject matter experts. Furthermore, when a special operations
entity is tasked with a mission, it is possible to use the mission
support center to pre-gather standard operational material so
that with each mission comes an electronic mission folder of relevant
information. Innovation was McRaven’s third element of simplicity
in planning. The ability to create innovative operational approaches
should increase as the number of additional minds are added to
the collaborative planning process. As the innovative use of gliders
at Eben Emael indicate,17 the link between innovation
in planning, and surprise in execution is profound. Increasing
the likelihood of innovation and surprise is strong evidence of
the utility of network-centric special operations.
For network-centric special operations there are some new limitations
to consider. In the collaborative planning process it remains
imperative for the striking force to maintain planning control.
The team designated to execute the mission must be "supported"
in the planning process and not "directed" through the
tactical level planning. It is reasonable to expect that mission
support center personnel may out rank the strike force leader,
but as a support unit, the mission support center must maintain
a support relationship.
A reasonable concern with regard to network-centric special operations
is the possibility of information overload. To avoid information
overload in planning the use of advanced search engines and, most
importantly, the human interaction with experienced "special
operations" planners must be incorporated. To mitigate information
overload during the preparation and execution phases of a special
operation, information profiles must be created for each operator.
These information profiles contain standing queries and requests
for information that update the operator when new information
becomes available, such as new target intelligence or an updated
weather advisory. Past information strategies tended to focus
on information to support planning, since during execution communication
connectivity was limited. Network-centric special operations use
information profiles to provide relevant, timely, and accurate
information both before and during operations.
Preparation (Security and Repetition)
Security in the preparation for special operations remains imperative.
Without proper operational security, achieving surprise becomes
increasingly more difficult. Network-centric special operations
introduce new security needs that should be addressed during the
execution phase of the operation. The shared situational awareness
created by sharing the common operating information must be protected,
both in and amongst the operators. Data link protection and emission
controls become operational necessities. For example, you need
to have a method to remotely take captured operators out of the
network otherwise mission success may be compromised. Secondly,
the levels of network traffic may provide the enemy indications
of an impending attack. To negate this vulnerability, it is important
to practice network deception whereby large amounts of data are
sent through the network to desensitize the enemy to the real
operational traffic pattern. To increase security for the special
operators while on target, information listed in the information
profiles can be broadcasted to the special operators, who remain
in receive mode to minimize their electronic signature.
A common element between special and network-centric operations
is the need for extensive repetition during preparation to improve
coordination. In network-centric operations, extensive repetition
will breed familiarity with the sum total of network entities.
Through extensive rehearsal of the network entities, doctrinal
lessons are learned and perfected. The implications for network-centric
special operations are that they require extensive preparation
and rehearsal, much like traditional special operations. Unlike
traditional special operations, network-centric special operations
find their organizational strength in the synergistic sum of its
parts and the network’s ability to solve and mitigate unexpected
obstacles. In network-centric special operations, adaptability
becomes a tenet of planning in which rehearsal and repetition
focus on understanding how to prioritize the unexpected. One unintended
consequence of rehearsing the most likely permutations of an operation
is that it leads to an increase in rehearsal time.18
So while network-centric special operations increase planning
speed, they conversely require greater preparation time in rehearsing
and exercising the network entities. Also, to properly prepare
you must incorporate your information agencies into the training
to realistically simulate question and answer exchanges. This
causes not only increases in rehearsal time but also the number
of rehearsal participants required.
Execution (Speed, Surprise, and Purpose)
The inherent informational advantage of special operations are
threefold, their unique offensive nature, reliance on surprise,
and speed. According to McRaven, relative superiority is a condition
which exists when the "attacking force, general smaller,
gains a decisive advantage over a larger or well-defended enemy."19
Since relative superiority is perishable and critical to success,
McRaven recognizes the importance of surprise as one of his key
From an informational perspective, surprise has initial informational
or combat value which diminishes over time following initial contact.
Surprise can take at least three forms,20 they are
doctrinal, strategic, and tactical. Doctrinal surprise can be
achieved by attacking an adversary in a manner seen as unconventional
or unexpected.21 Doctrinal surprise can be profound
but in many ways is a one-time advantage. Strategic surprise occurs
when the enemy has no idea the raiders are operating against them.
Tactical surprise is achieved when the enemy has no warning, or
insufficient warning to respond to a special operation during
execution. You can succeed in special operations without strategic
surprise, but tactical surprise is almost a necessary precondition.22
The level of surprise is inherently linked to speed. In a special
operation, special operations forces are trying to increase the
speed of their own OODA loop and delay the time it takes the enemy
to complete their OODA loop. Surprising the enemy both delays
observation and inhibits the enemy’s ability to orient,
causing a slowdown in the enemy’s OODA loop. If the special
operator can exploit the enemy’s disorientation by increasing
the speed and efficacy of his own OODA loop, then the special
operator would in theory improve his ability to succeed. McRaven
describes this event as sustaining relative superiority. NCW is
a concept focused on transforming greater situational awareness
into increased operational tempo by decreasing the period of ones
own OODA loop – this speed of command is the essence of
turning network-centric operations into combat power.23
As a principle of special operations the value of surprise arguably
remains constant but possibly harder to achieve against a network-centric
opponent. Holding all other things constant, a network-centric
opponent would have a greater ability to observe and orient to
your actions. Thus, the importance of gaining (through security
and surprise) and maintaining (through speed and purpose) the
relative informational advantage becomes clear.
McRaven describes purpose as "understanding and then executing
the prime objective of the mission regardless of emerging obstacles
or opportunities."24 Network-centric special operations
impact McRaven’s principle of purpose in two distinct ways.
First, by leveraging the network’s shared knowledge (the
knowledge of both the special operators on target and those on
the network), solutions to emerging obstacles can be identified
faster. The second way network-centric special operations impact
purpose is drawn from McRaven’s observation that each special
operator needs to be personally committed to mission success.
Network-centric special operations may require greater leadership
to create high levels of commitment throughout the virtual network
With an improved network-centric situational awareness, NCW promotes
adaptability in execution.25 Using the common operating
information, operators self-synchronize operations to decrease
the re-act time associated with the OODA loop. At the tactical
level, this transforms the traditional top-down command paradigm
to a more lateral command web and results in tactics that may
exhibit a "swarming effect."26 This new operational
tenet increases operational tempo and can facilitate greater combat
In theory, network-centric special operations improve mission
planning, accelerate our own OODA loop, expand McRaven’s
area of relative superiority, and can ultimately increase combat
effectiveness. Network-centric special operations have inherent
advantages over traditional special operations for mission planning
and execution. As outlined above, the limitations of network-centric
warfare are most obvious in the mission preparation phase.
The above conclusions are theoretical and academic in nature.
Like the services, US Special Operations Command must move to
experiment with new emerging network and information technology.
Only through experimentation will the doctrinal and procedural
nuances be identified and corrected.
Although this essay’s analytical framework didn’t
address organizational issues, three organizational implications
can be drawn from this cross-pollination of theories. First, special
operations’ striking force composition may require reexamination.
A network-centric special operations force would have the ability
to leverage reach-back information centers to provide needed information.
This may imply a smaller front-end for future network-centric
special operations forces.
Second, the shared situational awareness derived from the common
operating information enables senior commanders a god’s-eye-view
of the operation and tends to invite their input at the tactical
level. SOF, like all forces, can either learn the lessons of micromanagement
in training, or as is often the case, during operations. This
compression of access between senior leadership and the actual
operator can best be discussed absent the heat of a real-world
Third, network-centric special operations allow special operations
forces, when working in concert with conventional forces, the
ability to link into the greater Joint Forces Commander’s
(JFC) network. With greater speed derived from networked operations,
SOF can continue to provide the JFC the ability to access denied
areas and extend the conventional sensor grid to facilitate faster
and further reaching weapon engagement zones.
I have one final caveat about the limitations of this essay.
As described in the beginning of the text, network-centric special
operations inherited McRaven’s narrower definition of a
special operation. So the findings and thoughts contained in this
paper reflect thoughts about, and limited to, strategic, short-duration
special operations such as raids and rescues. Although certain
characteristics of network-centric special operations, such as
collaborative planning and faster OODA loops, seem relevant to
other protracted special operations such as psychological operations,
it was not the intent of this essay to expand the definition adopted
from McRaven’s study.
- The Mission Support Center (MSC) is a CONUS-based information
support center for Naval SEAL operations. The center is designed to collect, process, and disseminate
an uninterrupted flow of mission related information to SEAL
teams during peacetime and wartime operations.
- SWAMPS is an automated Naval Special Warfare’s
mission planning process and provides land, shipboard, and submarine-based
operational and liaison elements the ability to conduct collaborative
joint mission planning, information management, and operational
deconfliction over SIPRNET.
- Today, an Operational Detachment A (A-team) generally
consists of 12 members with a Captain as commander.
In the future, using network-centric special operations,
the size and composition of the A-team becomes debatable.
- The engagement grid is defined as the shared area of
the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sensor grid
and the weapons reach envelope.
- The observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA) model,
also known as the Boyd cycle, was first articulated by Colonel
John Boyd, a retired Air Force pilot. The model was developed
during Boyd’s study of air-to-air aircraft engagements.
Boyd developed the model to explain how pilots adapt
to new information and translate that information into action.
For further description and analysis of the OODA loop
concept see Robert Bateman III, “Avoiding Information
Overload,” Military Review, Jul-Aug 1998 at www-cgsc.army.mil/milrev.
- Alberts, Garstka, and Stein. Network Centric Warfare:
developing and leveraging information superiority, C4ISR
Cooperative Research Program, Washington D.C., 1998.
- Garstka, John. “Network Centric Warfare: An overview
of Emerging Theory.” Phalanx 33:4 (December 2000):
- See Garstka, John. “Network Centric Warfare:
An overview of Emerging Theory.” Phalanx 33:4
(December 2000): 1-33 for descriptions of Fleet Battle Experiment
Delta, conducted in October 1998 in conjunction with FOAL EAGLE
98, and the US Army’s Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting
- For a discussion on why special operations fail see
Lucien Vandenbroucke’s Perilous Options, Oxford
University Press, 1993.
Also, an excellent chapter on the strategic utility of
special operations can be found in Colin Gray’s book Explorations
in Strategy, Penguin, 1998.
Nevertheless, most books about special operations tend
to be historical recounts of the operations, one useful ‘historical’
anthology is John Arquilla’s From Troy to Entebbe,
University Press of America, New York, 1996, in which the editor
organizes the essays to highlight what makes special operations
strategic, the importance of surprise in special operations,
and the tension and utility special operations provide to conventional
- McRaven, William. Spec Ops - Case Studies in Special
Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice, Presidio, Novato,
CA, 1996. McRaven’s eight historical cases are the German attack
on Eben Emael, 10 May 1940; the Italian manned torpedo attack
at Alexandria, 19 December 1941; Operation Chariot: the British
raid on Saint-Nazaire, 27-28 September 1943; Operation Source:
midget submarine attack on the Tirpitz,
22 September 1943; the U.S. Ranger raid on Cabanatuan, 30 January
1945; Operation Kingpin: the U.S. Army raid on Son Tay, 21 November
1970; and Operation Jonathan: the Israeli raid on Entebbe, 4
- McRaven, p. 2.
The Department of Defense uses a broader definition for
special operations - "operations
conducted by specially organized, trained, and equipped military
and paramilitary forces to achieve military, political, economic,
or psychological objectives by unconventional military means
in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive areas" (Joint Publication
- McRaven, p. 4.
- McRaven, p. 11.
- McRaven, p. 11.
- McRaven, p. 21.
- Alberts, Garstka, and Stein. Network Centric Warfare:
developing and leveraging information superiority, C4ISR
Cooperative Research Program, Washington D.C., 1998.
- On 10 May 1940 German airborne personnel attacked the
Belgium fortress of Eben Emael.
The Germans needed to capture, or neutralize, Fort Eben
Emael so that they could use the three bridges at Veldwezelt,
Vroenhoven, and Canne to cross the Albert Canal.
They Germans decided to use gliders to land their troops
at daylight to attack the fort.
The Germans gained surprise by using the glider to close
with the defensive forces in a manner which the Belgians were
unprepared to defend against. For further details see McRaven
- If the same special operators plan, rehearse, and execute
the mission and we assume time to respond to a crisis is a given,
then the expansion of rehearsal time comes at the expense of
time to plan. If,
as many theorists propose, the speed of warfare is increasing,
then it may become necessary in future special operations to
use separate individuals for planning and execution.
At the operational level, the USAF uses this distribution
of labor to deliver aerospace power to the Joint Forces Commander.
- McRaven, p. 4.
- See Arquilla, John, ed. From Troy to Entebbe,
University Press of America, New York, 1996.
- The first use of a new capability, such as the use
of gliders at Eben Emael.
- The ability to process through the information domain
faster than your enemy is what results in speed of command.
It is a relative concept, not discreet.
What matters is that you are faster than your enemy,
not the absolute speed of your decision cycle.
- Page 21.
- This self-synchronization is not autonomous operations
because operations are bounded by doctrine, communications,
and the commander’s intent. See Cebrowski, “Network-centric
Warfare: An Emerging Military Response to the Information Age,”
This self-synchronization is not autonomous operations because
operations are bounded by doctrine, communications, and the
See Cebrowski, “Network-centric Warfare: An Emerging
Military Response to the Information Age,” www.nwc.navy.mil/pres/speeches/
29 June 1999.
- "Swarming occurs when the dispersed nodes of a network
of small (and perhaps some large) forces converge on a target
from multiple directions. The overall aim is the sustainable
pulsing of force or fire. Once in motion, swarm networks must
be able to coalesce rapidly and stealthily on a target, then
dissever and redisperse, immediately ready to recombine for
a new pulse.” See
Arquilla, Ronfeldt, and Zanini, “Networks, Netwar, and
Information-Age Terrorism,” p. 88, in Khalilzad and White ed, The Changing Role of Information
in Warfare, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, 1999.
- Cebrowski, 29 June 1999.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those
of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic
environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official
position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United
States Air Force or the Air University.
This article has undergone security and policy content review
and has been approved for public release IAW AFI 35-101.