Second Honorable Mention, Arleigh Burke Essay Contest
New technologies force changes—in force structure, equipment designs, and operational processes. For the Navy, one effect of the shift to the network-centric/information age will be a change in command relationships, with a shorter chain between commanding officers and top political and military decision makers.
Fixing computers so they recognize dates after 31 December 1999 (the "Y2K Problem") pales into insignificance when compared with the challenges that will follow the widespread introduction of information technologies into the fleet. Much has been written about the affects on the sensing, collection, and dissemination of information in the battlespace, but thus far there has been little discussion of how information technologies are likely to alter the Navy's command relationships and operational practices—both basically unchanged since their development in fleet exercises and war games before World War II. Where that command structure was designed on the basis of force and distance, information technologies are shifting considerations to time and accuracy.