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Network centric warfare and its implementation in baf

INTRODUCTION

1. Emergence of micro-electronics, proliferation of nanotechnology and seamless convergence of communication platforms into the domain of ‘Information Technology' have brought about radical changes in all spheres of modern society.   With the advent of Internet, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Video Conferencing and other means of digital communications, whole world has entered into the ‘Information Age', where information content has attained strategic importance. As a result, every discipline of human society is gradually acquiring the capability to embed the power of information to leverage the productivity of respective sectors.

2. In business sectors, sharing useful information across widely dispersed business locations have become the sine qua non of modern enterprises. ‘Shared awareness' facilitate large business firms to synchronize supply and demand from top down and thus deliver required commodities in correct time and space by achieving competitive edge over adversaries. Such embedded benefits of ‘information sharing' demands that more and more entities and platforms are linked or networked to enable speedy decision and self-synchronization of dispersed entities. Thus the underlying dynamics of growth and competition in business have changed from ‘stand alone' or ‘platform centric' concept to ‘network centric' approach. Similar changes are evident in the business of military as well, and thus the concept of ‘Network Centric Warfare (NCW)' has evolved.

3. Network Centric Warfare is an emerging theory of war in the Information Age. NCW is about leveraging the power of ICT to acquire and share knowledge about an enemy amongst geographically dispersed forces so that the combat power could be delivered at a decisive time and space. ‘Shared Awareness' of battlefield could be achieved by linking of people, platforms, weapons, sensors, and decision aids into a single network. NCW injects speed in decision making and enables forces to operate in higher operational tempo. Success of limited Network Centric Operations (NCO) of US in Afghanistan and Iraq have persuaded most of the nations of the world to commence the process of force transformation to embrace NCW as a new concept of warfare.  Amongst the armed forces, air forces of most of the modern nations remain in the fore front to embrace this new concept as the speed, reach and ubiquity of air power make air force an ideal organization to embrace and evaluate this new concept.

4. Like other air forces around the world, BAF will eventually have to embrace NCW as a new war fighting concept. However, the process of force transformation to embrace this new concept is likely to pose serious challenges as the economy and available infrastructure of Bangladesh may inhibit such transformation. Without a compelling justification and visible immediate benefits, such transformation is likely to be a distant proposition for us.  A thorough study of its affordability, necessity, relevancy and analysis of our ICT infrastructure, economy and merits and demerits of NCW are, therefore, a pre-requisite to the embracement of NCW concept in BAF.  This paper would try to address all these issues adequately.

5. This paper will make an endeavour to assess the suitability of embracing NCW as a new war fighting concept in BAF.  In order to do that, the concept of NCW would be explained in details at first.  Thereafter, its effect in recent wars, requirement of infrastructure and Case Study based implementation of NCW around the world would be highlighted.  At last, the relevancy of NCW in BAF and its embracement strategy would be discussed with specific recommendations.

6. It is acknowledged that NCW is a joint concept.  Collaboration amongst all the three services is, therefore, the key to success. However, in order to keep the scope of the paper limited, only issues surrounding BAF has been addressed in this paper. Additionally, the implementation of NCW in BAF has been discussed from a theoretical perspective. 

AIM

7. The aim of this paper is to make an in depth study of NCW as a new warfighting concept and recommend strategy for its implementation in BAF.

UNDERSTANDING BASICS OF INFORMATION AGE

General

8. NCW is the response of military to the opportunities and challenges created by the rapid advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).  It is the direct outcome of capabilities attained as mankind entered into the new era of information revolution.  Information and its management is the key ingredient of NCW.A clear understanding of Military Information Age, information cycle and Information Superiority are, therefore, essential to comprehend the concept of NCW.

Military Information Age

9. The definition of Information Age is different to military strategist and economists.  According to the economist, ‘Information Age' heralded the era where information was a scarce resource and its capture and distribution generated competitive advantage.  Economists estimated that the Information Age lasted from approximately 1971 to 1991. However, according to military strategist, ‘Information Age' is characterised by an ‘Information Revolution'.  This revolution has emerged as the sixth Revolution in Military Affair (RMA) in the recent history altering the character and conduct of warfare. A brief summary of these RMAs is given at Table-1. ‘Information Revolution' is ongoing and until it ends, ‘Military Information Age' would continue.  Explosive growth of the Internet, intranets, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), web browsers and Java computing are the characteristics of ‘Information Age'.Militarily, dominant factor in ‘Information Age' is the ability to collect, analyze, disseminate and act upon battlefield information.  Major perception in the Information Age is that the conflict will largely be about knowledge and mastery of the network as networked organizations are believed to provide knowledge advantage in conflict. The concept of NCW reiterates this perception of Information Age.

Serial

RMA

Years

1

French Revolution

1789

2

Industrial Revolution

Mid 19th Century

3

Managerial Revolution

Late 19th Century

4

Mechanized Revolution

Between 1919 and 1939

5

Scientific Revolution

After 1939 until 70s

6

Information Revolution

1970 - Ongoing

Table-1: RMA in Recent History

Information Cycle

10. Throughout history, success in conflict has depended on the ability of combatants to obtain information of military relevance on their opponents. This information can take many forms and may include force dispositions, structures, organizations and capabilities of the enemy. With rigorous analysis, information can be assessed to offer commanders an indication of an opponent's potential intent. Military information is, therefore, a vital element of planning. The method of gathering, controlling and fusing information is known as ‘Information or Decision Cycle' or Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop.OODA Loop was first illustrated by Col John Boyd, a USAF pilot in 1970 as given in Figure-1.  OODA is an abstraction, which describes the sequence of events that must take place in any military engagement. The opponent must be observed to gather information; the attacker must orient himself to the situation or context, then decide and act accordingly. A key advantage in any military engagements is the ability to stay ahead of an opponent and dictate the tempo of the engagement, i.e. to maintain the initiative and keep an opponent off balance.  In order to retain the initiative, one has to complete the OODA loop faster than the opponent and force the opponent to be reactive.

11. OODA loop is thus all about gathering, distributing, analyzing and, understanding information to decide action. The faster we can gather, distribute, analyze and understand information, the faster we can decide, and arguably the better we can decide how and when to act in combat. NCW is a concept via which the OODA loop can be accelerated, and the decision phase facilitated.[10]

Information Superiority

12. Information Superiority is a condition that is created when one competitor is able to establish a superior information position vis-à-vis an adversary. ‘Information Superiority' is a requirement prior to any military operation so that own OODA loop can be completed faster than the opponent to force the later to be reactive.[11] NCW is largely dependant on the availability of ‘Information Superiority'.

THE CONCEPT OF NCW

Definition of NCW

13. NCW is a concept which generates increased combat power by networking sensors, decision makers, and shooters to achieve shared awareness, increased speed of command, high tempo of operations, greater lethality, increased survivability, and a degree of self-synchronization as shown in Figure-2. It is characterized by the ability of geographically dispersed forces to create a high level of shared battle space awareness and deliver increased combat power at decisive time and space to achieve commanders' intent. NCW is transparent to mission, force size, and geography. Furthermore, it has the potential to contribute to the coalescence of the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war. In brief, NCW is not narrowly about technology, but broadly about an emerging military response to the Information Age.  NCW is also not about networking, it is about human behavior.  While ‘network' is a noun, ‘to network' is a verb, thus NCW is about human behavior in networked environment. While NCW is a concept, Network Centric Operations (NCO) are practical implementation of that concept through military operations.

Tenets and Governing Principles of NCW

14. General . Office of Force Transformation (OFT), Department of Defense (DoD), USA identified four basic tenets of NCW and a set of governing principles for a network-centric force.  Together, these tenets and principles comprise the core of NCW as an emerging theory of war. Four tenets of NCW help us understand the enhanced power of networked forces. At the same time, they constitute a working hypothesis about NCW as a source of warfighting advantage.

15. Tenets . The tenets of NCW are:

  1. A robustly networked force improves information sharing.
  2. Information sharing enhances the quality of information and shared situational awareness.
  3. Shared situational awareness enables collaboration, self-synchronization, enhanced sustainability and speed of command.
  4. All these, in turn, dramatically increase mission effectiveness.

16. Governing Principles . The governing principles for a network-centric force are still evolving and subject to further refinement. These principles constitute the new rules by which a network centric force organizes, trains and operates.  These are:

  1. Fight First For Information Superiority . Forces are to strive to create an information advantage through better timeliness, accuracy, and relevance of information. It is required to Increase an enemy's information needs, reduce his ability to access information, and raise his uncertainty while ensuring own access to information through a well networked and interoperable force.  Moreover, own information needs have to be decreased, especially in volume, by exploiting all available sensors.
  2. Shared Awareness . Shared awareness can be achieved through a collaborative network of networks, populated and refreshed with quality intelligence and non-intelligence data. This data enables forces to build a shared awareness relevant to their needs. Access to the data regardless of location is to be ensured.
  3. Speed of Command and Decision Making . Battlefield innovation and adaptation enable compression of decision timelines to turn information advantage into decision superiority and decisive effects. Aim is to progressively lock out an adversary's options and ultimately achieve option dominance.
  4. Self-Synchronization . Self Synchronization is a process of enabling low-level forces to operate nearly autonomously so as to re-task themselves through exploitation of shared awareness and the commander's intent.  It increases the value of subordinate's initiative to produce a meaningful increase in operational tempo and responsiveness.  It also facilitates subordinated forces to adapt to changing circumstances of the battlespace and eliminate the step function character of traditional military operations.
  5. Dispersed Forces . Theme is to move combat power from the linear battlespace to non-contiguous operations.  Emphases rest on functional control as opposed to physical occupation of the battlespace and generate effective combat power at the proper time and place.  Modern forces are to be non-linear in both time and space, but achieve the requisite density of power on demand.  It is also required to increase coordination of intelligence, operations, and logistics to achieve precise effects and gain temporal advantage with dispersed forces.
  6. Demassification . Demassification is about massing of forces to achieve effects.  Importance is on the usage of information to achieve desired effects and limit the need to mass physical forces within a specific geographical location. Such effect based approach increases the tempo and speed of movement throughout the battlespace to complicate an opponent's targeting problem.
  7. Deep Sensor Reach . Usage of deployable, distributed, and networked sensors is to be expanded to detect actionable information. Sensors are to be used as a maneuver element to gain and maintain information superiority.  Emphasis is to be given to enable every weapon platform to be a sensor, from individual soldier to a satellite.
  8. Compressed Operations and Levels of War . Procedural boundaries between Services are to be eliminated so that joint operations are conducted at the lowest organizational levels possible to achieve rapid and decisive effects.  Eliminate the compartmentalization of processes (e.g. organize, deploy, employ, and sustain) and functional areas (e.g. operations, intelligence, and logistics). Structural boundaries are required to be eliminated to merge capabilities at the lowest possible organizational levels, e.g. joint operations at the company/sub-squadron/task unit level.

Logical Model of NCW

17. General . The logical model of NCW is based on the approach of commercial firms who compete in the information age to sell a product exploiting the advantages of ICT. A clear understanding of how coevolution of commercial organization, processes and ICT create a competitive advantage, would allow us to comprehend the concept of NCW easily.

18. Commercial Net Centric Model . For commercial firms, creation of ‘value' is at the heart of creating competitive advantage. Attractive products, timely supply and competitive price etc are the values while activities of different branches of the enterprise like operations and production, marketing, sales and service, and logistics are the entities which create values. In platform centric enterprises, each branch starts multiple processes to pass information about the product and customers. When all relevant parts of the information are fused, the value creation takes place as shown in Figure-3.   The whole process takes place sequentially and as such consumes valuable time and effort.

On the contrary, Network Centric Enterprises bring all these branches and their activities under a single network and as such, all entities remained aware of the requirement of the value creation process at all time. Thus the value creation process improves significantly as it can be completed faster with less effort.  It all begins with the establishment of info-structure as ‘entry fee', which enables the processes that create vastly improved competitive advantages through shared awareness. This in turn results in an improved “bottom line” as shown in Figure-4.

19. Military Net Centric Model . Like Network Centric Enterprise, the logical model of NCW consists of a high performance information grid that provides backplane for computing and communications.  The information grid connects Command and Control, Sensor and Engagement grids in a single network. Sensor grids rapidly generate high levels of battlespace awareness and synchronize awareness with military operations. Engagement grids exploit this awareness and translate it into increased combat power.Military as a Network Centric Enterprise generates combat power in the same way as Network Centric Enterprises generate value chain. As in the commercial sector, it begins with info-structure. This in turn enables the creation of shared battlespace awareness and knowledge. This awareness and knowledge is leveraged by new adaptive command and control approaches and self-synchronizing forces. The “bottom line” here is increased tempo of operations, increased responsiveness, lower risks, lower costs, and increased combat effectiveness as shown in Figure-5. NCW focuses on reaping the potential benefits of networking battlespace entities and enabling them to work in concert to achieve synergistic effects.  It is built around the concept of sharing information and assets, which is enabled by networking. Linking battlespace entities together greatly increases warfighting effectiveness by allowing us to get more use out of our battle space entities.

Power of NCW

20. Platform Centric Engagement .The source of increased combat power of net centric operations can easily be understood if we contrast the combat power of net centric ‘platforms' from that of stand alone ‘platforms' or ‘nodes'.  In platform centric engagements, a number of activities have to be accomplished sequentially to engage a target successfully. These are, the target must be detected, it must be identified, decision to engage the target must be made, decision must be conveyed to a weapon and finally the weapons must be aimed and fired. Time required for the whole process depends upon the ranges of the sensors and weapons, kill radius of the weapons, time required to communicate, process information and make decision. Figure-6 portrays a Platform-Centric Shooter (a single warfighter in a tank, aircraft or naval ship) where sensing and engagement capabilities reside on the same platform.  It is important to note here that in platform centric engagements, stand alone platforms possesses only limited capability to engage targets based on awareness generated by other platforms.

In combat operations, the performance capabilities of a sensor-weapon combination are governed by the geometric argument as portrayed in Figure-7. In this figure, the sensing envelope is represented by a greenish shaded circle, and the maximum weapons employment envelope by a blue circle. In platform-centric operations, value in the form of combat power can be created only when the platforms onboard sensor provides engagement quality awareness to the warfighter and the target is within the weapons maximum employment envelope. The effective engagement envelope is the area defined by the overlap of engagement quality awareness and the weapons maximum employment envelope. The effective engagement envelope, or E3, is portrayed as the yellow shaded area of the diagram. Consequently, the instantaneous combat power for a platform-centric engagement is proportional to the effective engagement envelope. As is apparent from the diagram, in platform-centric operations, combat power is often marginalized by the inability of the platform to generate engagement quality awareness at ranges greater than or equal to the maximum weapons employment envelope. This situation occurs frequently in platform-centric air engagements, as a result of the inability of an aircrew to positively identify as friend or foe the objects that they can detect and track at the full range of their sensors.

21. Network Centric Engagements .In network-centric operations, capabilities for sensing, C2 and engagements are robustly networked via digital data links as shown at Annex A. The source of the increased power in a network-centric operation is derived in part from the increased content, quality, and timeliness of information flowing between nodes in the network. This increased information flow is the key to enabling shared battlespace awareness, and increasing the accuracy of the information. Heads-up displays in Figure-8 portray and contrast the effect of engagements in platform and network centric environments.  It is evident that in networked environment, HUD provides much more information about enemy and friendly forces and the same information is shared amongst all the entities networked in this engagement zone.  As a result, the battlespace awareness is much higher and collaborative engagements can take place through self-synchronization.

Figure-9 compares, Case-A which portrays two platform-centric shooters operating in close proximity, supported by an external sensing capability. In this operational situation, real-time engagement information cannot be shared effectively and combat power is not maximized. In contrast, Case-B portrays a geometric argument for the value-added combat power associated with a network-centric operation.  In this mode of operation, near real-time information sharing amongst various nodes enables potential combat power to be increased. The robust networking of sensors provides the force with the capability to generate shared awareness, which enables cooperative execution and self-synchronization of forces. Potential increase in total combat power of a network-centric operation results from the increased area of the effective engagement envelope.  If we relate to the ‘Information Cycle', it can be said that the increase in combat power of NCW is derived through the faster completion of OODA loop, which is facilitated by shared battlespace awareness.

Benefits of NCW

22. The concept of NCW offers a number of benefits as opposed to the traditional platform centric approach of warfare.  Few of these are as fol:

  1. Through Self-synchronization, NCW enables warfighters to do what needs to be done without traditional orders
  2. Facilitates improved understanding of higher command's intent
  3. Enables improved understanding of the operational situation at all levels of command
  4. Enables increased ability to tap into collective knowledge about enemy reducing the “fog and friction” of war
  5. Availability of timely, relevant and accurate information facilitates increased combat power against adversary at correct time and space

Disadvantages of NCW

23. Besides numerous advantages, the concept of NCW also exhibits certain disadvantages as a new concept of warfare.  Few of these are as following:

  1. The entry fee is reasonably higher
  2. Computers, software and other processor and software centric warfighting equipment are susceptible to cyber attack
  3. Increased dependence on network and easy availability of information would incapacitate friendly forces when these resources are not available
  4. Secrecy may be compromised in cases where military have to use open architecture and commercial interface standards of networking and software.
  5. Wireless networking technology uses known spectrum of electro magnetic spectrum.  As such, disruption and eavesdropping of data is likely to be frequent.

INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIREMENT OF NC O

24. ICT infrastructure is germane to the NCW functionality.  ICT is the vehicle of NCW and as such, robust ICT infrastructure is a pre-requisite to undertake NCO. This perception is also evident as most of the countries with superior ICT infrastructure like USA, UK and Australia are leading the way in embracing NCW. Effective embracement of NCW/NCO depends on the following:

  1. Information Grid . Information grid is the backplane for computing and communication in NCW environment.  It is the backbone to which all entities connect to create the network architecture.  Size and capability of the information grid would vary depending upon the military requirement of the countries.  For example, USA aims at creating a Global Information Grid (GIG) which would span around the entire world.  However, for other countries, like Bangladesh, requirement may be to develop a grid which would provide connectivity to forces operating within the territorial boundary of the country.
  2. Network and Connectivity . NCW is highly dependent on the interoperability of communications equipment, data, and software to enable networking of people, sensors, and manned and unmanned platforms. Parts of NCW technology rely on line-of-sight radio transmission for microwave or infrared signals, or laser beams. Other parts of the technology aggregate information for transmission through larger network trunks for global distribution via fiber optic cables, microwave towers, or both low altitude and high-altitude satellites. The designs for this technology must enable rapid communications between individuals in all services, and rapid sharing of data and information between mobile platforms and sensors used by all military services. The architectures must also have the ability to dynamically self-heal and reform the network when one or more communications nodes are interrupted. In order to generate optimum combat power employing NCW concept, all relevant entities are required to be networked.  This can also be explained using the Law of Metcalfe.  It states, as the number of nodes in a network increases linearly, the potential “value or “effectiveness” of the network increases exponentially as the square number of nodes in the network.  Figure-10, explains Metcalfe's Law where ‘value or effectiveness' of the network is synonymous to combat power in NCW environment.
  3. Satellite Communication . Satellites are crucial for enabling mobile communications in remote areas, as well as for providing imagery, navigation, weather information and a missile warning capability.   Leased commercial satellites play a vital role in providing all these capabilities to military forces engaged in NCW.
  4. Bandwidth . At the most basic level, bandwidth implies to the ‘channel capacity' or speed of data transfer.  Since the Gulf War-1991, bandwidth usage in advanced military has increased manifold as shown in Table-2 and it is expected to increase further as more and more entities are networked in NCW environment.  Assumption of bandwidth usage during the peak period of NCO is a critical task, which has to be solved to facilitate effective NCO.
  5. Serial

    Conflict

    Bandwidth Usage

    1.

    Desert Storm 1991

    99 Mbps

    2.

    Kosovo 1990

    250 Mbps

    3.

    Enduring Freedom 2002

    736 Mbps

    4.

    Iraqi Freedom 2003

    3200 Mbps (3.2 Gbps)

    Table-2: Increase in Bandwidth Usage

  6. Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) . UAVs, Ground Vehicles (UGVs), and Underwater Vehicles are primarily used for surveillance. However their mission is evolving to include combat as well.  During OIF, approximately 16 Predator and 01 Global Hawk UAVs were in operation. All were controllable remotely via satellite link from command centers in the United States. UAVs each require a large amount of bandwidth for control and for transmission of reconnaissance images. UAVs also serve as nodes that can relay messages through the NCW network.
  7. Computer Chips . In all digital equipment like sensors and UAVs, computer chips or microprocessors carry out complex logical computations to deliver requisite information to different nodes of NCW.  Important aspect of microprocessor is the processing power or speed, which ultimately coupled with the bandwidth, determines the speed of the flow of information in a NCW environment.

NCO IN RECENT CONFLICTS

OEF (2001-2002)

25. The network-centric capabilities of US Forces during the conduct of OEF in Afghanistan proved vital to the defeat of Taliban and al Qaeda forces throughout the country. US forces conducted operations in a mountainous, landlocked country that presented an extremely challenging environment.  Special Operation Forces (SOF) in Afghanistan were networked with other friendly forces on the ground and US aircraft capable of delivering advanced precision-guided munitions. This combination proved extremely effective. Weapon platforms like B-2 bombers flying from bases in Missouri and B-1 bombers flying from other bases far from the theater of operations, were updated in flight with new targets through shared awareness between the shooter and the sensor (Predator).

OIF (2003)

26. Increased networking during OIF reportedly allowed US forces to develop a much improved capability for coordinating quick targeting. In Operation Desert Storm in 1991, coordinating efforts for targeting required an elapsed time of as much as four days.  In Operation Iraqi Freedom, US forces reduced that time to about 45 minutes by embracing the concept of NCW.  During OIF, US Army forces utilized a new movement known as “swarm tactics.” Because networking allowed soldiers to keep track of each other, forces could spread out and move forward in smaller independent units. Using “swarm tactics,” movements were conducted quickly, without securing the rear. If one unit got into trouble, other independent units nearby could quickly come to their aid.  Enemy was attacked from all directions at once by small independent units. Such tactics exhibited a number of lessons based on the concept of NCO:

  1. Fewer troops and less equipment are needed, so waging net centric war is less expensive.
  2. It is harder for an enemy to effectively attack a widely dispersed formation.
  3. Combat units can cover much more ground, because they do not have to maintain a formation or slow down for lagging vehicles
  4. knowing the location of all friendly units reduces fratricide during combat operations.

IMPLEMENTATION OF NCW - CASE STUDIES

Case Study- USA

27. NCW originated from USA when a clear, concise concept of NCW was published in the ‘Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine' of January 1998 by Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski, USN and John J. Garstka.  Since then NCW became the main focus of US ‘Force Transformation' plan as per JV 2020.  So far, no time line has been set for embracing the NCW concept. However, DoD, USA has identified seven key elements for the implementation of NCW.  These are:

  1. Get the Theory Right
  2. Apply the theory Enterprise Wide
  3. Accelerate the Networking of Joint Forces
  4. Accelerate Deployment of Network Centric Systems, Concepts and Capabilities
  5. Experiment with Network Centric Concepts and Capabilities
  6. Address Challenges of Coalition and Allied NCO
  7. Develop Doctrine and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for NCO (TTP)

28. In order to support these key elements, a NCO Conceptual Frame work (NCO CF) has been established which is prepared through extensive mission specific case studies.  Besides, there are a number of key programs related to NCW that are identified in the DoD budget as Program Elements (PE) for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E).  Some of these programs along with its budget estimate are given at Annex B

Case Study - Australia

29. Australian DoD plans to implement NCW capability on a ‘learn by doing' strategy which takes advantage of a ‘model-test-model' approach. This means that a concept will be developed, tested on major exercises and then adapted into an improved model. To do this, a high level Master Question List is being developed for NCW. These NCW questions will be examined in major exercises and the results will guide the Defense approach to NCW development.  DoD plans to achieve the full NCW capability as shown in Figure-11.

NCW IN BAF

General

30. Rapid development in the field of NCW and its acceptance as a new war fighting concept to a large number of countries make it obligatory for BAF to consider NCW as an option in future.  However, NCW is not merely a tactics or techniques of conducting combat operation; it is a full fledged concept of fighting a war.  As such, a transformation to the new concept would be necessary to embrace NCW as a war fighting concept in BAF. Naturally this process of transformation is going to be expensive. However, given the socio-politico and economic condition of Bangladesh, modernization of defense forces is not going to be the top priority of any Government in foreseeable future. Thus, if BAF has to pursue NCW, it must be justified pervasively. Besides, other factors like ICT capability of BAF and Bangladesh as a whole are also going to determine its suitability in BAF.  In this circumstance, it is imperative to assess a number of factors which would influence the decision of embracing NCW in BAF.

Factors Affecting the Embracement of NCW in BAF

31. Necessity . A very basic question to be asked in determining the suitability of NCW in BAF is - why is it necessary? It has been amply emphasized in this paper that the nature of warfare is changing due to the unprecedented growth of ICT in the contemporary world. As a result, most of the countries including our neighbors are adjusting their ‘approach to warfare' to enable forces to fight in the information age. For example, in last one decade, Indian Armed Forces have taken a number of initiatives to augment their capability to fight Information Warfare (IW). They are the first in the region to develop a secure crypto system ‘TRINETRA' for defense computer networks. Indian Defense Forces (IDF) are also pursuing to book dedicated frequencies for their defense satellites.  They also intend to be completely computer wired by 2008 with 55,000 customized software to support their operation.In these circumstances, if BAF does not start the process of preparing for IW now, it might never be possible to match the pace with other countries like India. So for BAF, one of the credible ways of attaining the capability to fight in the information age would be to embrace and implement NCW as a new warfighting concept.

32. Long Term Benefit . NCW facilitates armed forces to achieve strategic, operational and tactical objectives with decreased but well informed and connected manpower. As such, in the long run, embracement of NCW might be a beneficial proposition for BAF as it would enable BAF to do much better with lesser resources. From this perspective, implementation of NCW would be economically beneficial for BAF in the long run.

33. Defense Expenditure . Bangladesh is one of least developed countries of South Asia with major problems like illiteracy, unemployment and over population.  In this situation, expenditure in defense sector is not the priority of the Government. Bangladesh has never spent more than 4 to 5 per cent of its GDP in the defense sector. For example, in 2001-02, allocation for defense budget was BDT 3402 crore or only 1.3% of GDP.  In 2005-06, it stood at Tk 4320 crore, which is 1.1% of GDP. Over the last few years, allocation for the defense budget has always been declining. As a result, budget share of BAF has also declined. Bangladesh's defense expenditure in terms of GDP percentage is presently lowest in the whole Asia. Besides, the major share of the allocation is spent on the salaries and other allowances, while expenditure for purchasing war equipment never really crossed 10% of the total allocation. There is no allocation in the R&D sector while arms are bought with soft loan.  Under these circumstances, embracing NCW would be a tough proposition for BAF.  However, long term phase wise implementation of NCW may still be an option for BAF.

34. ICT Environment in Bangladesh . ICT is the vehicle for the implementation of NCW. As such, current ICT environment prevailing in the country is required to be analyzed to assess the suitability of implementing NCW concept in BAF.  

  1. Overall . ICT infrastructure in terms of number of telephones, availability of high speed communication backbone (e.g. Fiber Optics), internet penetration rate, number of personal computers etc are the indicators of overall ICT capability of a country.  From the assessment of these indicators, till date, Bangladesh continues to be one of the least ICT capable countries of the world.  According to a joint study conducted by Orbicom and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) during the period 1995-2003, Bangladesh placed herself in 125th position in ICT capability out of a total of 139 countries. Even when compared to other South Asian Countries only, ICT performance of Bangladesh was still not impressive as evident from Figure-12. 
  2. National Data Backbone . National data backbone of Bangladesh comprises of National Digital Data Network (DDN) running across the entire country with access node in most of the major cities.  Besides, a total of 1396 Km of optical fiber network is also being installed with an aim to integrate the whole country under a single digital network for voice and data communications DDN and optical fiber network of BTTB is particularly important because it could be utilized for implementing an info grid of NCW for BAF.  Besides, recently Bangladesh has officially connected to the high speed SEA-ME-WE4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe) submarine cable. This high speed Internet connectivity would facilitate BAF to create Virtual Private Networking (VPN)between Command HQ and any remote forward air bases without the need of hiring dedicated or leased lines.

35. ICT Capability of BAF . NCW is all about Information and its management, which is the domain of ICT. ICT capability of BAF is thus extremely important to assess the suitability of net centric warfare in BAF. Existing ICT capability of BAF includes the fol:

  1. Communication Backbone . Communication backbone of BAF consists of digital Microwave (MW) communications (also called LOS or line of sight communication) between all bases and radar stations. BAF is the only member of the armed forces of Bangladesh to have own independent communication infrastructure.  Existing digital system is capable of providing 16 Mbps bandwidth for voice and data communications between two nodes.  However, presently the available bandwidth of the digital system is limited to 02 Mbps due to compatibility problem with the existing BAF Telephone Exchanges.  Besides the LOS links, each base is also connected with leased trunk lines from BTTB. So, in case of non availability of LOS communication, stand by leased lines are utilized for voice communication only between the bases.  Existing network of BAF LOS communication is shown at Figure-13.  Bandwidth available in existing backbone of BAF is inadequate for even simple WAN; let alone the possibility of supporting heavy requirement of net centric warfare.
  2. LAN/WAN . Presently all bases of BAF are connected through a WAN, which connects 06 LANs representing each bases and dispersed radar units.  Although, theoretically LANs connected via LOS operates at 02 Mbps, in reality bandwidth available is much lower.
  3. System Automation . In 2003, BAF with the assistance of Air Weapons Complex, Pakistan completed the command and control automation of BAF Radars. The designed system collects information from all radars, processes it, converts it into a standard format and then displays it in real time in the Air Defence Operations Centre (ADOC). The System allows the Commander to a view a fused picture of his complete Area of Responsibility (AOR).Presently, the whole system operates through BAF MW (LOS) communication system with a maximum available bandwidth of 02 Mbps.  System Automation is the only initiative of BAF which provides partial net centric capability to BAF.
  4. Organisational Structure . Presently, there is no dedicated organisational infrastructure available in BAF to monitor and plan the ICT related development.  There is also no established ICT related R&D cells available.

36. Summary . The analysis of factors affecting the implementation of NCW concept in BAF can be summarised as following:

  1. Embracing NCW would be economically beneficial for BAF in the long run.
  2. Present trend of defense expenditure necessitates a long term phase wise implementation of NCW in BAF.
  3. With current ICT status of Bangladesh, it would be difficult for BAF to implement and maintain net centric capability solely with the indigenous support.
  4. BAF ICT capability has to be enhanced to a great deal if BAF opts to implement NCW capability.

Existing NCW Capability of BAF

37. C2 . Existing C2 grid of BAF can communicate with other grids through unsecured voice channels only.

38. Engagement Grid . None of the BAF platforms currently have data link capability.  All engagements are, therefore, platform centric.

39. Sensor Grid . BAF radars are presently networked with ADOC.  ADOC and radars are capable of communicating with the engagement grids (aircraft) only through voice channels.  Other sensor grid comprises of a few reconnaissance fighters. No satellite or UAV reconnaissance is aval with BAF.

NCW Implementation in BAF

40. Specific Areas of Interest . According to the defense policy of Bangladesh, during the period of crisis, the prime task of BAF is likely to be defensive.  Although offensive operations would definitely be undertaken, the weight of effort would be given in providing OAS to friendly forces.  From NCW perspective, it would mean that the main effort of net centric operations would be undertaken within the territorial boundary for defensive counter air operations and OAS.  A shared awareness of battle space would also be required for effective Land/Air and maritime operations.

41. Transformation Requirement . In order to transform BAF into NCW capable force, following are required to be undertaken:

  1. Organizational Structure . First and foremost requirement for transformation is to establish a dedicated agency to plan, formulate and experiment the concept of NCW from BAF perspective.  Persons detailed for such tasks are to be trained in networking, programming, and above all on the concept of NCW.
  2. Tra ining . For NCW, requirement is to have all warfighters trained on NCW and selected professionals trained on ICT aspects.  Training on ICT would have to be focused on networking, cyber security, software and hardware programming and on information management aspects of ICT.  A simple working knowledge of computers and software is not going to work in developing NCW capability.  Aim is to produce world class ICT professionals.
  3. Info or Defense Grid . A dedicated info grid is required to be set up to network Sensors, C2 and shooters into one network.  Initially, current national backbone may be utilized to establish the basic info grid as DDN and fiber optic is available in all existing BAF bases. However, DDN is capable of providing a bandwidth of only 512 kbps, which is inadequate to support the extensive requirement of NCW.As such, BAF will have to establish its own high speed grid in collaboration with other services (Defense Grid).  For communication with remote bases, VPN may be used utilizing the Internet provided by BTTB or other organizations.
  4. Satellites . In order to incorporate shooters and other dispersed entities into the info grid, satellite communication facility has to be acquired. Commercial satellites may be leased at the beginning. However, when sufficient experiences have been gathered, requisite number of professionals is trained and fund is available, dedicated own satellites have to be launched jointly with other service and allied nations.
  5. Weapons/Shooters . Existing platforms are to be equipped with data link capability and all future procurement of weapons has to conform to this capability. 
  6. Sensors . Currently, BAF capability in terms of sensors is marginal.  Options available to BAF include up-gradation of the existing aircraft with latest reconnaissance equipment and the procurement of good quantity of UAVs.  Sensors are to be networked with info grid to provide information to other grids for shared awareness.
  7. Networking . C2, shooters and sensors are to be networked utilizing the info grid as backbone of the network.  Networking of these diverse elements would require a number of specialized hubs, routers, wireless equipment and protocols, which can only be managed by specialist operators.
  8. Outsourcing ICT . Given the complexity and spectrum of technological activities required to support the communication infrastructure needed for NCW, it would be appropriate to outsource certain aspects of BAF ICT to private firms.  For example, satellite connectivity, development of software and network maintenance etc could be leased to private firms.

42. Financial Requirement . Transformation to a ‘net centric force' is going to be exponentially expensive.  In order to have a basic idea of costing involved, estimates of some of the equipment and services required for NCW are given at Annex C.

43. Strategy for Implementation . The probable strategy of implementing NCW in BAF could be as following:

  1. Take steps to enhance ICT capability of BAF, which include both infrastructure and training of personnel.
  2. Plan implementation of NCW in coordination with other services.
  3. Procure equipment required for NCW.
  4. Network all grids. Test and troubleshoot connectivity.
  5. Develop concept and prepare doctrine and other documents.
  6. Train warfighters on NCW.
  7. Start the process of embracement of NCW.

44. Phase wise Implementation . Considering the economic condition of Bangladesh and existing ICT infrastructure available in BAF, a phase-wise implementation of NCW is possibly the approach that BAF may pursue. Possible phase-wise implementation plan up to 2020 is shown in Figure-14. The plan consists of two parallel phases, which are discussed below:

    a. Phase-I . This phase basically aims at creating a robust ICT infrastructure for BAF, which is the foundation of NCW. It would ensure the following:

    1. 2007-2009 . Establishment of a central agency like ‘ICT Directorate' to supervise, coordinate and plan ICT initiatives in BAF.
    2. 2008- M id of 2010 . Newly developed ICT Control Agency would plan the overall ICT development of BAF.
    3. 2008 Onward . Train and create ICT professionals who can handle complex and diverse networking and programming requirement.  Training of personnel is a continuous process and it would continue as long as BAF continue to operate.
    4. 2009-2013 . Implement ‘the plan' for enhancing the ICT capability of BAF.  Specific interest would be on developing robust backbone through defense grid and leased satellites, developing customized software and on outsourcing selected sectors of ICT.
  1. Phase-II . Once a firm ICT foundation has been created, Phase-II would initiate.  This phase purely deals with the implementation of net centric concept in BAF and includes the following:
    1. 2009-2018 . The most important part of NCW implementation is the plan and continuous refinement of that plan with technological advancement and changing priorities.  As the practical implementation phase goes on, planning considerations would evolve and it has to be integrated in to the physical implementation.  Other important aspect of planning is that it has to be done in coordination with other services and a joint R&D cell would be required to research on the aspects of NCW. Planning would continue for the entire duration of Phase-II.
    2. 201 1 - 2 01 6 . Next step in the phase would be to procure modern sensing equipment like UAVs and to equip existing platforms with sensors and data link equipment.  Initially, support for operation of new equipment would be provided by the manufacturing countries.
    3. 2012-2017 . After obtaining sensors and data link equipment, connectivity through network would be established between C2 and sensors utilizing defense grid and satellite service.  Network connectivity has to be tested with war time loads and up-gradation or troubleshooting done accordingly.
    4. 2014-2017 . Once the connectivity has been established and tested between C2 and sensors, shooters would be connected to the network.  Once again, connecting this equipment is specialized tasks and it would initially require expertise of trained personnel.  Eventually technology has to be transferred to BAF ICT specialists.
    5. 2012-2018 . As the connectivity of different grids of NCW is being implemented, small scale exercises involving NCO would have to be undertaken to develop doctrine, manuals and SOP.  Exercises would have to be arranged with advanced countries to transfer their experiences to BAF and prepare a preliminary, yet comprehensive written material for guiding its implementation in BAF.  Once doctrine and manuals have been prepared, extensive training has to be undertaken for warfighters to accustom them with NCW.
    6. 2018 and Beyond . Once all previous steps have been completed, BAF would only start the process of implementing NCW because it is not merely about networking.  It is about human behavior in a networked environment.  As such, full transformation of BAF as a net centric force would take much longer.

CONCLUSION

45. With explosive growth of ICT, the nature of business, administration and management have changed in 21st century.  Similar changes are also evident in military as ‘information' and its management has now become the focus of all modern conflicts and thus NCW has evolved as a new concept of warfare in the Information Age.

46. NCW is about achieving shared awareness of battlefield.  The basic fact that an informed and knowledgeable force performs better than the adversary, is the essence of NCW.  Shared awareness can be achieved by networking three major elements of warfighting.  These are C2 element, sensors and shooters.  Linking C2 element with other elements facilitates commanders to always remain informed of the battlespace.  Conversely, it also facilitates other elements to always remain updated with commander's intent.  As such, a self synchronization between fielded and the commander can take place autonomously, abandoning the traditional requirement of command and control through successive steps. Linking sensors in the grid allows dispersed shooters to remain informed about all facets of a probable target. As such, a networked force can operate much faster and bring about increased combat power in time and space as demanded by a specific situation.  Increased combat power and responsiveness ultimately contribute to the increased operational tempo, which is vital in modern warfare.  On the contrary, for a platform centric force to operate with same operational tempo, a number of processes would be required between C2, sensors and shooters to coordinate and develop a shared battle scenario.  In most cases, it would be inaccurate and often available when crucial phase has already passed by.  Thus net centric concept provides visible and marked advantages over platform centric engagements.  Due to these inherent advantages, most of the countries around the world are gradually transforming to embrace NCW as a new warfighting concept.  So is the case with BAF.

47. Implementation of NCW in BAF poses serious challenges.  A number of factors like economic condition of the country, ICT capability of the country and BAF etc are presently not conducive to the implementation of NCW in BAF.  However, since NCW enables small but connected forces to operate with greater precision and operational tempo, it would reduce the cost of maintaining BAF as a force in long run.  To deal with the poor economic condition of the country, BAF needs to plan for its implementation in phases so as to distribute the financial burden over a prolonged period of time.

48. The preliminary implementation of NCW in BAF may be accomplished in two phases. First phase would deal with the development of basic ICT infrastructure required for embracing NCW, while second phase specifically would deal with the implementation of NCW. It is estimated to take almost 12 years (2008-2020) to implement the most basic infrastructure for NCW in BAF.

49. The first and foremost task of the first phase would be to establish a central agency to plan, coordinate and implement different ICT initiatives. ICT development is to be aimed at creating a robust communication backbone through which the networking of all the grids of NCW would eventually be done.  For networking requirement, a dedicated defense grid and leased satellite communication would be required. Training and development of ICT professionals would also have to be undertaken so that by the time BAF starts to implement NCW, sufficient experts in ICT are available.   Besides, due to the complexity involved in such diverse and large network of networks, certain ICT sectors of BAF may have to be outsourced.  Preliminarily, network maintenance and development of customized software appears to be feasible for outsourcing. 

50. Phase-II would deal with the pure implementation of NCW in BAF.  It would start with the planning.  Planning for integration of NCW has to be done in coordination with other services as the main theme of NCW rests in joint operation.  During the planning stage a dedicated R&D cell would also be required to research and develop concept of NCW in BAF perspective.  Physical implementation of NCW would also begin during the planning stage.  It would begin with the procurement of dedicated sensing equipment like UAVs and up-gradation of existing platforms with modern sensing and data link equipment.  Once the required equipment has been obtained, networking would commence. Networking of grids would also be done in two distinctive clusters.  First, the C2 grid would be connected to sensors followed by extensive testing and troubleshooting of the connection.  This phase would roughly last for 05 years from 2012 to 2017.  From 2014 until 2017, shooters would be given connectivity to the grid by correcting the problems faced during the networking of C2 and sensors.  With the networking of shooters, connectivity requirement for NCW would complete.  The task of preparing doctrine, manuals and SOPs would continue side by side and by the time all elements are connected, a comprehensive written document would be available for training of warfighters on NCW.  Training constitutes the most challenging part of implementing NCW because it is the human who would operate in this environment. So the secret of successful implementation of NCW would be nested on the effective transformation of human element into net centric environment. When all these steps are completed successfully, BAF would only start the process of implementing NCW as a warfighting concept.  Full transformation of BAF as a net centric force would take much longer.  After all, NCW is not about networking, it is about human behavior, which takes long time to change.

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