The debates over information operations have shifted from academia and Pentagon studies, military exercises and computer simulations to joint warfare over the sands of Iraq. This is the first opportunity to document and evaluate the role information actually plays in evolving military transformation into truly joint operations.
The international telecommunications system is re-balancing into four major centers of innovation: the United States, China, India and an expanded Europe. If current trends persist, the United States may be hard pressed to maintain an advantage in communications technologies and services and could find its ability to prosecute information warfare highly constrained.
The changing composition of the semiconductor industry, combined with foreign government action that has leveraged market forces, has resulted in the shift of chip manufacturing from the United States to offshore locations, particularly China and East Asia. This migration has substantial national security ramifications, as the transformation of this nation's military into a network-centric force requires high-end semiconductor chips to provide the processing power for numerous defense applications.
Network-centric warfare is widely acclaimed to be the centerpiece of military transformation. It has been embraced enthusiastically by the United States and some allied armed forces. However, critics question whether this nascent philosophy is yet fully deserving of star billing. They urge more thoughtful analysis, extensive operational experimentation and testing, and firm budget and procurement commitments before its precepts become frozen into doctrine, organization and strategy.
Today's battlefields transcend national borders. Cyberspace adds an entirely new dimension to military operations, and the ubiquitous dependence on information technology in both the government and commercial sectors increases exponentially the opportunities for adversaries as well as the potential ramification of attacks.