With the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan amid the Global War on Terrorism, it is easy to become focused on the Persian Gulf and U.S. Central Command, on NATO and Europe, and on the domestic homeland security threat. However, outside of these areas lies half of the Earth’s surface, and it comprises many of the challenges present in other parts of the world.
If you have not been to Europe lately, you need to reflect on how the continent has changed dramatically in recent years. Little has remained constant. The European Union has grown in scope and role and, with it, the euro has emerged as a major international currency. NATO has grown in size and mission, now embracing 26 nations.
Cyber warfare. Critical infrastructure. Increased threat. Information assurance—or information security—is not the endeavor it used to be. The democratization of the Internet has had the same, albeit unwelcome, effect on criminal cyberspace activities. The extensive incorporation of information systems and networks into every facet of our lives has created a web of vulnerability across the spectrum of society. A threat can emerge from anywhere at any time in virtually any form.
I am concerned-despite the discussions that take place in favor of information sharing, information security, network-centric operations and communications support to the warfighter-that the U.S. military remains a platform-centric force. That same case may be made for many NATO and other allied nations. Military leaders throughout the Free World continue to focus their discussions on tanks, ships and aircraft. These warfighting platforms are important big-ticket items that have a key role in warfare. But, to move from our industrial-age mindset to today's information age, I suggest that virtually every platform planning session include a discussion on how that platform fits into the warfighting network.