While it is impossible to determine the operational characteristics of complex, distributed, networked forces that do not yet exist, one can examine other disciplines for force design principles, potential experimental hypotheses, and new ideas about the command, control, and operation of distributed collectives. One of the most fruitful disciplines for such an exercise is the study of wolf pack behavior. Animal behavior has long inspired other traditional types of military operations, and pack behavior itself was a metaphor for U-boat tactics in World War II.
At a basic level, wolf packs are similar to military forces in that wolves must both hunt and attack their quarry just as military forces must search and destroy opposing combatants. From a distributed, networked forces perspective, these two functions reflect the dual prerequisite for adaptive behavior: exploration and exploitation. The wolf survives because the pack succeeds, and pack success is collective. Just as distributed, networked forces can be defeated in detail without collective support from the rest of the force, ostracized wolves quickly die alone once banished by their packs.