Past Holds Key to the Future

May 14, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor
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Panelists discussing effective command and control in a contested environment at East: Joint Warfighting 2013 agreed that technology provides superb benefits but could be a severe vulnerability in the next battlespace. While the United States and its allies have experienced relatively little resistance from adversaries, this is sure to change in the future, and the military must be ready for it despite fiscal constraints.

Leading the discussion was Lt. Gen. William J. Rew, USAF, vice commander, Air Combat Command, who asked panelists to share their expertise about how the U.S. military can prevail in tactics, operations, and command and control when an enemy takes away some of the tools it has come to rely on, such as networks and situational awareness.

Brig. Gen. James E. Rainey, USA, director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, pointed out that while the U.S. military can operate and maintain communications on land and sea, it is time to think about maintaining communications via the space and cyber realms, because the network has become a weapon system. As such, said the general, while pointing out that he knew this wasn’t a panel about logistics, bandwidth must be considered a commodity and the logistics must be in place to deliver it.

The panelists concurred in their confidence in the digital native military service members. In particular, the generations that grew up with cell phones and the Internet are great at multitasking and transitioning to new capabilities as they come along. However, the tactics, techniques and procedures for operating when networks are down and communications is interrupted is just as important as learning the latest techno-navigation skills, and junior officers also must be trained in these, the panelists agreed.

The conference is taking place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, May 14-16.

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