Network Centric Warfare in the Context of ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’

Col Shitanshu Mishra was Research Fellow in IDSA, and is presently working on ‘Communication Technology and Counter Terrorism’. He is Fellow of Institution of Telecommunication and Electronics Engineers (IETE) for more than 10 years, and a member of Computer Society of India (CSI) for well over 15 years. He is one of the founding members of ‘Association for Security of Information Systems’.
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  • October 2003

    The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) moves on the wheels of Technology, Doctrine and Organisation; however, the main support structure, which gives it the predominant strength, is undoubtedly the technology. The changing concepts of warfare are driven by the available technology of the times. While sophisticated weapons and sensors have greatly enhanced combat efficiency, developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have enabled greater connectivity and information sharing among widely spread force components. The concept of networking in business enterprises has found an equivalent in warfare in what is now referred to as ‘Network Centric Warfare (NCW)’. NCW rests on the premise that the power of a force grows proportionate to the extent of networking among the weapons, sensors and the command and control (C2) elements, quite akin to Metcalf Law, which is applicable to any network. NCW not only enhances situational awareness, it is expected to drastically reduce the time for decision-making at higher levels of command.

    This paper looks at the basic concepts of Network Centric Warfare and then goes on to examine how these concepts were actually tried out and put into practice in the recently concluded Gulf War II. The Indian efforts in this particular field, which are at a comparatively nascent stage, are also examined.

    Finally, the paper tries to explore the future frontiers — what are the new technologies, which may usher in the global technological revolution with equally important consequences for warfare.

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