Throughout its history, Proceedings has always endeavored to be at the forefront of the latest developments in naval warfare. Whether it was the transition to the steel-and-steam-Navy of the late 19th century, the rise of the submarine, airplane, and aircraft carrier, or the origins of the nuclear-powered fleet, the professional journal of the Sea Services has been at the leading edge of the discussion. This month we explore another relatively new dimension—information dominance—in greater detail. Many of you no doubt have heard the term but may not be familiar with everything it encompasses. We aim to shed more light on that with this issue’s coverage.
Vice Admiral Ted Branch, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance, starts off by explaining that this new warfare discipline is charged with “delivering decision-quality information where it matters and when it matters.” To do so it focuses on three elements, or “pillars”: assured command and control, battlespace awareness, and integrated fires. Information dominance integrates intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, oceanography, meteorology, networks, cyber, and electronic warfare to produce better planning, smarter decisions, and earlier results. This makes it a critical force multiplier for Fleet operators. “It’s no longer just an adjunct to warfighting,” Admiral Branch tells us, “It is warfighting.”
The Navy’s Information Dominance Corps is working to develop and implement the first pillar, assured command and control, to the benefit of commanding officers and their attached forces, who must be able to receive and transmit secure data. The recently established Assured C2 Division is heading this effort. “This capability will shape the plans, exercises, peacetime steaming, and combat operations of forward-postured Navy forces with the increasingly sophisticated information-technology services and solutions made available to them by the Information Dominance Enterprise Architecture,” say authors Matthew Swartz and Navy Captain Christopher Page. They go on to emphasize the importance of investing in the education of IT personnel and describe the division’s programs of record.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s 2011 statement that “Control of information . . . is already growing more important than the control of territory in modern warfare” seems prescient in a number of areas—including that of battlespace awareness, the second pillar of information dominance. As Rear Admirals Jonathan White and Sean Filipowski delineate, there are multiple aspects to that awareness. From knowing the environment to knowing the enemy to knowing the target, the Navy is deploying a diverse and dynamic arsenal of manned and unmanned sensors, data-collecting systems, and emerging technologies to give U.S. forces the crucial informational edge.
The third pillar, integrated fires (kinetic and non-kinetic), is key to providing the Navy with an asymmetric advantage in any fight. According to Margaret Palmieri, Director of Integrated Fires, the inclusion of this capability “represents a shift in Navy thinking from platforms to payloads, networks, and information.” She believes it will ultimately lead to a new way of operating in which commanders can “visualize the entire battlespace, understand enemy intent, select the best kinetic or non-kinetic weapon . . . and be assured that the desired effect is achieved as intended without collateral damage.”
The other branches of the armed forces also play a role in the joint information environment but the lines of authority aren’t always clear. The Navy has a strength in this arena that the other services don’t, however: It can often go where other branches can’t. But if a single entity, such as the Defense Information Systems Agency, were to define how the service operates in this environment, the Navy could lose its ability to shape the battlespace. With this in mind, the 2014 Information Dominance Essay Contest winner, Navy Lieutenant Peyton Price, argues for tailored participation by each branch in the joint information environment. “We must be able to give and receive the necessary information to support each combatant command without being tied to a product or policy that hinders our ability to bring all of our naval capabilities to bear against any target,” he warns.
Just as the steel warship, submarine, airplane, and aircraft carrier each marked a new age of naval warfare, so too does information dominance. We offer you here an in-depth look at this vital and growing field, and we’re confident you’ll be reading more about it in the pages of the open forum in the months and years to come.