Army forces today are likely to encounter conditions of greater ambiguity and uncertainty. Doctrine must be able to accommodate this wider variety of threats. In so doing, the Army is prepared to respond to these worldwide strategic challenges across the full range of possible operations as part of a joint and combined team.
Commanders and their staffs operating in the Information Age face an increasingly complex environment. Commanders and staffs at all levels will encounter an expanding information domain termed the global information environment (GIE). The GIE contains those information processes and systems that are beyond the direct influence of the military or even the National Command Authorities (NCA), but nevertheless may directly impact the success or failure of military operations. The media, international organizations, and even individuals represent a partial list of GIE players.
This chapter describes the GIE domain and introduces the concept of information dominance as the key element for operating effectively within this new environment. To achieve information dominance, the commander must be able to dominate both the traditional maneuver-oriented battlefield and the military information environment (MIE), defined as that portion of the GIE relevant to his operation. To achieve the latter, the commander directs the acquisition, use, and management of friendly and enemy information and conducts command and control warfare (C2W) attack and protect operations.
Because of rapid advances in technology, especially in the information arena, the geostrategic environment of today has become increasingly complex and will become even more so in the future. Global communications accelerate and expand collective awareness of events, issues, and concerns. They ignite passions, spark new perspectives, crystallize deeply held beliefs, and compel people, nations, organizations and institutions everywhere to examine, define, and act on their interests. While many effects of this phenomenon may be benign and beneficial, others will create turbulence, confusion, chaos, and conflict. Such conflict may extend beyond the traditional battlefield to encompass espionage, sabotage, terrorism, economic competition, and efforts to shape public perceptions.In the Information Age, the United States is in the forefront of exploiting modern information technology to harness the explosive potential of rapid dissemination and use of information. The US economy, social and civil structures, and federal, state, and local governments have become dependent upon the rapid and accurate flow of information. At the same time, America exerts extraordinary influence throughout the world through its multinational media and commercial and entertainment industries. To a lesser degree, America is influenced by similar phenomena exerted from outside its borders. The global information infrastructure (GII) electronically links organizations and individuals around the globe and is characterized by a merging of civilian and military information networks and technologies.Developments in information technology will revolutionizeand indeed have already changedhow nations, organizations, and people interact. The rapid diffusion of information, enabled by technological advances, challenges the relevance of traditional organizational and managerial principles. The military implications of new organizational sciences that examine internetted, nonhierarchical versus hierarchical management models are yet to be fully understood. Clearly, Information Age technology and the management ideas it fosters greatly influence the armed forcesorganizations, equipment, how they train, how they fight, how they protect the force, or how they assist in resolving conflict.
The global information environment includes--
All individuals, organizations, or systems, most of which are outside the control of the military or National Command Authorities, that collect, process, and disseminate information to national and international audiences.
All military operations take place within the GIE, which is both interactive and pervasive in its presence and influence. Current and emerging electronic technologies permit any aspect of a military operation to be made known to a global audience in near-real time and without the benefit of filters. With easy access to the global or national information network, suppression, control, censorship, or limitations on the spread of information may be neither feasible nor desirable (see Figure 1-1).
Figure 1-1. Information Environments (GIE and MIE)
Adversaries and other non-DOD organizations, including many actors, agencies, and influences outside the traditional view of military conflict, intrude into the MIE. Adversaries, perhaps supported by nonaligned nations, will seek to gain an advantage in the GIE by employing battlespace systems and organizations. In addition, the media, think tanks, academic institutions, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), international agencies, and individuals with access to the information highway are all potentially significant players in the GIE. These entities can affect the strategic and operational direction of military operations before they even begin. Independent of military control, their impact is always situationally dependent. Their activities may cause an unanticipated or unintentional effect on military operations. Such actors include--
As technology enables ever greater numbers of individuals, groups, organizations, and nation states to be linked to the world through the GIE, these actors can be expected to pursue their interests by attempting to manipulate and control the content and flow of information within the MIE.
The role of the news media will continue to expand. The number of news organizations and their means to gather, process, and disseminate information is increasing exponentially. From the 147 reporters who accompanied the D-Day invasion in World War II, to the 800-plus reporters in Panama during Just Cause, to the 1,300 reporters in the Kuwaiti theater in Desert Storm, the ability and desire of the news media to cover US military operations is a given. Likewise, the demand by the US and international public to know what is happening, consistent with security and propriety, is also a given.
FM 100-5 observes that the impact of media coverage can dramatically affect strategic direction and the range of military operations. Clearly, the effect of written, and, more importantly, visual information displayed by US and international news organizations directly and rapidly influenced the nature of US and international policy objectives and our use of military force in Rwanda, Somalia, and in the former Yugoslavian republic.
Within the GIE, an intricate set of information infrastructures have evolved to link individuals, groups, and nations into a comprehensive network that allows for the increasingly rapid flow of information to all elements having access to the network. In practice, subelement labels are misleading as the information environment has no discrete boundaries. Each subelement is inextricably intertwined, a trend that will only intensify with the continuous application of rapidly advancing technology. This worldwide telecommunications web transcends industry, the media, and the military. It includes both government and nongovernment entities, the GII, the national information infrastructure (NII), and the defense information infrastructure (DII).
Global Information Infrastructure
An interconnection of communications networks, computers, data bases, and consumer electronics that puts vast amounts of information at the user's fingertips. The GII is a term that encompasses all these components and captures the vision of a worldwide, seamless, dynamic web of transmission mechanisms, information appliances, content, and people. Global accessibility and use of information in the GII is especially critical, given the increasing globalization of markets, resources, and economies. The GII--
National Information Infrastructure
All nations' NIIs are an integral part of the GII. The composition of the NII mirrors the GII, but on a reduced scale. The NII is--
Defense Information Infrastructure
DII encompasses transferring information and processing resources, including information and data storage, manipulation, retrieval, and display. The DII connects DOD mission support, command and control (C2), and intelligence computers and users through voice, data imagery, video, and multimedia services. It provides information processing and value-added services to subscribers over the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).
The sphere of information activity called the military information environment is defined as--
The environment contained within the GIE, consisting of information systems (INFOSYS) and organizations--friendly and adversary, military and nonmilitary, that support, enable, or significantly influence a specific military operation.
The MIE, at a minimum--
Within the context of the MIE, Army leaders exercising battle command will face many new challenges. They will also have many new operational opportunities. To realize these opportunities, information operations (IO) need to become an integral part of full-dimensional operations. The intertwined relationship between geopolitical strategic factors, technology, and management requires the adoption of a new perspective.
The proliferation of INFOSYS and the global information explosion brings more actors into the battlespace, implies new ways of managing force and forces, compresses the traditional levels of war in time and space, and gives operations a simultaneous and continuous character. A commander's battlespace now includes global information connectivity. As a result, tactical military actions can have political and social implications that commanders must consider as they plan, prepare for, and conduct operations. Know the situation now requires additional focus on nonmilitary factors. Commanders can best leverage the effects of new technology on their organizations by employing new and emerging automated planning and decision aids and new or different methods and techniques of control and management.
The threats to the information infrastructure are genuine, worldwide in origin, technically multifaceted, and growing. They come from individuals and groups motivated by military, political, social, cultural, ethnic, religious, or personal/industrial gain. They come from information vandals who invade INFOSYS for thrill and to demonstrate their ability. The globalization of networked communications creates vulnerabilities due to increased access to our information infrastructure from points around the world. Threats against computers, computer systems, and networks vary by the level of hostility (peacetime, conflict, or war), by technical capabilities, and by motivation (see Figure 1-2). The bottom line is that threats to all forces, from strategic to tactical, exist from a variety of new and different sources, and they exist on a continuing basis even during periods of relative peace.
Figure 1-2. Threats to Information Systems
Adversaries have several options to influence or attack opposing INFOSYS and services. Attacks can be designed with a delayed effect, such as corrupting a data base or controlling program as well as immediate actions to degrade or physically destroy. Examples include--
The effectiveness of military operations can be degraded if the user's confidence in the quality of the data can be eroded. Spurious data or false signals could be transmitted to erode confidence in the accuracy and effectiveness of such critical systems as the global positioning system (GPS).
Threats come from a range of sourcesfrom individuals (unauthorized users or insiders) to complex national organizations (foreign intelligence services and adversary militaries). Boundaries between these groups are indistinct, and it is often difficult to discern the origins of any particular incident. For example, actions that appear to be the work of hackers may actually be the work of a foreign intelligence service. Sources include unauthorized users, insiders, terrorists, nonstate groups, foreign intelligence services, and opposing militaries or political opponents.
Unauthorized users such as hackers are the source of most of the attacks against INFOSYS in peacetime. While to date, they have mainly targeted personal computers, the threat they pose to networks and mainframe computers is growing.
Individuals with legitimate access to a system pose one of the most difficult threats from which to defend. Whether recruited or self-motivated, the insider has access to systems normally protected against attack. While an insider can attack a system at almost any time during its lifetime, periods of increased vulnerability for a system include design, production, transport, and maintenance.
Terrorists are increasing their use of commercial INFOSYS. Their actions range from unauthorized access, to an information network, up to direct attacks against the infrastructure (bombing, and so forth). Terrorist groups have also been identified using computer bulletin boards to pass intelligence and technical data across international borders.
New players, ranging from drug cartels to social activists, are taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the Information Age. They can acquire, at low cost, the capabilities to strike at their foes' commercial, security, and communications infrastructures. Moreover, they can strike with relative impunity from a distance. Besides attacking opponents directly, these actors use the international news media to attempt to influence global public opinion and shape perceptions of a conflict. They even attempt to inflame dormant issues into conflicts that otherwise would not arise.
FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
Active during periods of both peace and conflict, foreign intelligence services take advantage of the anonymity offered by computer bulletin boards to hide organized collection or disruption activities behind the facade of unorganized hackers. Their primary targets are often commercial and scientific networks rather than direct attacks on the military.
OPPOSING MILITARIES OR POLITICAL OPPONENTS
While the adversary's activities are more traditionally associated with open conflict or war, his manipulation of the news media during peacetime may help frame the situation to his advantage prior to the onset of hostilities.
The level of hostility generally reflects the scope and scale of an adversary's actions against friendly INFOSYS. In peacetime, unauthorized access to and use of computers, computer systems, and networks is the greatest current threat. Deliberate use of malicious software by an adversary could be used against communications, transportation, banking, power, and computation systems upon which both industry and the military might depend. We can expect an adversary to use malicious software to assess the vulnerability of our information networks.
As the crisis moves toward overt conflict or war, more direct and far-reaching attacks can arise against information and INFOSYS. Targets can include both units and their supporting infrastructures. Deployed tactical units may face the results of earlier intrusions and insertions, allowing embedded malicious software to cripple systems or degrade communications. By the time a unit is engaged in combat, it could have been subjected to a variety of overt and covert attacks against its INFOSYS.
On the battlefield, reliance on an extensive and potentially fragile communications infrastructure presents a vulnerability that entices exploitation. The initial candidates for attack could be vital information nodes or links such as CPs and communications centers. In addition to striking battlefield information nodes, adversaries can also strike the supporting infrastructure, both on and off the battlefield. Central system support assets such as power sources can be very difficult to repair or replace. Artillery, tactical ballistic missiles, and air power provide the major attack systems for most adversaries today. The ability of an adversary to strike will only grow as more capable systems, such as cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions, proliferate. This ability to strike with precision will be enhanced by the spread of such technologies as GPS, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and near-real time imagery satellites. If INFOSYS or facilities cannot be destroyed, they can be made untenable through contamination by chemical or biological weapons.
Commanders and national leaders face significant and interrelated challenges in dealing with and anticipating the effects of the global visibility of operations and rapid changes in information technology and their impacts in the GIE.
Two commonly recognized facts address why information security (INFOSEC) is an important challenge. First, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) reports that over 95 percent of DOD communications during peacetime travel over the relatively unprotected public switch network (PSN) and are largely outside the direct control or influence of the military. In addition, a significant amount of open-source intelligence is carried by commercial means.
Because of the pervasive and intrusive nature of the MIE, preparation for dealing with IO must not wait until a unit receives a warning order to deploy. By that time, the commander and his staff must have already developed plans and procedures for dealing with the myriad aspects and influences in the MIE or risk being rapidly overcome by events.
With global visibility, dramatic information displays and expert analyses of military operations in progress can rapidly influence public opinion and, therefore, policy related to the conduct of military operations. The population that receives and potentially reacts to this coverage includes the US public, decision makers, alliance or coalition partners, and other nations. It also includes potential or actual adversaries of the US. The news media will most likely provide 24-hour coverage of all perspectives on the operation.
Global visibility of operations can also affect a commander's decision-making. When the information in the GIE is inaccurate, incomplete, not presented in context, based on rumor or the result of purposeful misinformation or disinformation efforts, a commander may react in haste, make an emotional decision, or make choices that are inconsistent with the real situation, up to and including a termination of an ongoing operation. Effective commanders anticipate how the adversary might attempt to manipulate the news media in order to prevent a potential foe from setting the terms of the conflict in the public arena.
The global visibility of operations impacts a command's combat power by either enhancing or degrading soldier morale. Soldier spirit and perseverance, the will to win, dedication to the cause, and devotion to fellow soldiers and the unit can be rapidly undermined by what is being said in the GIE. The instant communications capabilities of these INFOSYS often disseminate information to soldierswhether accurate or inaccuratefaster than the military chain of command. Bad news, misinterpretation, inaccurate information, and misinformation (or disinformation) impact families and communities as well as soldiers, affecting their morale and commitment to the objective at hand and potentially undermining the critically important human psychological dimensions discussed in FM 100-5. Nevertheless, Americans on and off the battlefield will continue to have free access to radio, television, and the press and be aware of events and circumstances.
Relatively few rules and laws govern the use of or access to many new INFOSYS or technologies. For that reason, IO confront legal challenges and other constraints such as rules of engagement (ROE) or status of forces agreements/status of mission agreements. Tension exists both in peace and during times of conflict. Collection of intelligence, or, simply, information in peacetime, is often limited by policy and/or law. Many policies and laws for using nonmilitary computer systems and other information networks during peacetime are yet to be determined. For example, the control or regulation of access on the internet to protect sensitive information or critical network nodes is largely unaddressed. What are the ROE for the INFOSYS in peace? In war? Close coordination with the supporting judge advocate is critical in confronting IO challenges based on legal considerations.
Because many of the actors and influences in the MIE are outside friendly military control, contracts or legal restrictions may prevent the military from controlling or influencing the use of civilian assets by an adversary. As an example, during hostilities an allied coalition force may depend upon an international agency to change the access codes for an imagery satellite to protect critical information in the area of responsibility (AOR). Without the change, the imagery is available in the open market. An adversary could, under commercial contract, download critical satellite imagery of the geographic region in near-real time as the satellite passed over the ground station.
Information dominance is defined as--
The degree of information superiority that allows the possessor to use information systems and capabilities to achieve an operational advantage in a conflict or to control the situation in operations short of war, while denying those capabilities to the adversary.
As we have come to recognize and depend on air superiority as a key condition for military success, information dominance has taken on a similar importance for military operations. This means that friendly knowledge and understanding of the situation must be more certain, more timely, and more accurate than the adversary's, revealing to the friendly commander the conditions that will lead to success. Creating information dominance has two equally important facets:
The friendly commander achieves information dominance by gaining a knowledge advantage over an enemy.
The knowledge advantage generated by commanders using innovative technical and human techniques permits the force to more readily seize or retain the overall initiative and increase its lethality and survivability. Building a knowledge advantage requires a highly developed sense of what information is required and an ability to manage the use and dissemination of that knowledge to the right place, at the right time, for the desired purpose.
Successful leaders use the knowledge advantage by combining technical and human information capabilities with a broad intent statement and a clearly articulated concept of operation. Like air power, a ground commander can enjoy levels of knowledge advantage ranging from information supremacy to information parity. An enemy can also achieve a knowledge advantage at our expense. Information also vary dominance can change over space and time; it can by echelon. An Army may achieve information dominance at the operational level but lose it at the tactical level. The notion of information dominance is not new. Throughout history, commanders have sought to leverage the temporary opportunity that comes from an information advantage, whether it comes from knowledge of terrain or satellite imagery.
For nearly two hours a succession of young officers, of about the rank of major, presented themselves. Each had come back from a different sector of the front. They were the direct personal representatives of the Commander-in-Chief, and could go anywhere and see anything and ask any questions they liked of any commander, whether at the divisional headquarters or with the forward troops. In turn, they made their reports and were searchingly questioned by their chief to unfold the whole story of the day's battle. This gave Field Marshal Montgomery a complete account of what had happened by highly competent men whom he knew well and whose eyes he trusted. It afforded an invaluable cross-check to the reports from all the various headquarters and from the commanders. I thought the system admirable, and indeed the only way in which a modern Commander-in-Chief could see as well as read what was going on in every part of the front.
Sir Winston Churchill
Triumph and Tragedy, 1953
High-performing units are in large part distinguished from other units by their ability to effectively acquire and use information. Historically, high-performing units often gained the information advantage by using nontraditional means and methods. One such method is often referred to as the directed telescope. In concept, the directed telescope acquires information by supplementing the routine information flow, normally by-
These techniques are still valid and in use today. Modern technological innovations potentially make the advantages gained via the directed telescope technique almost routine. Innovations in sensors, processors, communications, and computers can give commanders immediate access to enemy and friendly situation information and thus a subsequent operational knowledge advantage.
Creation of an operational knowledge advantage supports the commander's battlefield visualization. Battlefield visualization is the process whereby the commander--
A key step toward achieving information dominance is reached when one commander's level of battlefield visualization is significantly greater than his opponent's.
In the past, leveraging a knowledge advantage to decisively achieve a desired end state has been largely an intuitive process. Truly exceptional commanders have almost always possessed this trait; less successful commanders often have not. Information technologies now hold a potential for making this grasp of the battlespace, and the inherent opportunities it affords, more accessible to every leader, from field army to rifle platoon. The effect of these changes will be to enhance battlefield visualization by better supporting leaders with a deliberate and systematic information process based upon building blocks of raw data parsed and collated by both man and machines, synthesized into a coherent whole, and focused upon drawing understanding from the chaos of battle. Additionally, by linking commanders at different echelons, this same technology will enhance situational awareness and promote synchronized operational planning and execution. Ideally, the command will see and think as one.
A critical aspect of achieving a knowledge advantage over your adversary is the achievement of a condition of situational awareness throughout the force. Situational awareness includes--
IO potentially assure situational awareness appropriate to every level of an organization, down to the individual soldier. Systems being tested and fielded today offer commanders at all levels the potential of a collective, shared understanding of the battlespace. The commander's assessment of the situation, his intent, and the concept of operation provide the framework that applies throughout the organization. This framework fosters increased cohesion and unity of effort in the execution of operations. Figure 1-3 illustrates this relationship.
Figure 1-3. Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is inherently local, providing immediate context and relevance for the interpretation and use of new information as it is received by a soldier in a particular situation. The local situation relevant to each level and individual is developed within the common framework and shared vertically and laterally as appropriate. This situation not only retains the advantage of hierarchical structure (common framework and intent) but also adds the advantage of nonhierarchical INFOSYS that enable decentralized adaptation and action to local situations throughout the command.
Developing the flexibility of a nonhierarchical structure places a greater obligation on the commander to clearly articulate his intent and concept of operations. Traditionally, commanders ensured that both intent and concept were understood two echelons up and down in a hierarchical structure. Information technology now makes it possible for a senior commander's intent and concept to be relatively easily shared throughout the command whenever doing so will enhance the operation. The art of command requires clearly stating a common framework with sufficient freedom for local adaptation and application. Proliferation of that understanding, potentially to all leaders on the battlefield, gives the force a singular perspective and a clarity of focus that optimizes its combat power against an opponent or enables it to control a situation in other operations. Denying an adversary a similar capability, such as degrading his situational awareness, is an equally important objective and is addressed in Chapter 3 under C2W.
Our traditional operational vision must expand to take full advantage of the potential contribution of IO to dominate the enemy while protecting friendly forces. Before any mental constraints are placed on intent or operational concept, commanders at every level assess those actors and elements that can affect upcoming operations, to include informational aspects. The commanders' assessments include actors and elements both within and outside of their control. The result of this process of thinking about the GIE is a manageable number of informational elements with which commanders decide to deal, which, by definition, constitutes the MIE for a particular operation. This expanded vision of the battlespace can include various combinations of space, time, purpose, and people.
The elements of an IO vision align with the combat functions associated with traditional operations. The MIE equivalent of the tactical advantage of high ground, or the flanking position, might be transformed into an information advantage of local and international recognition that the military operation is legitimate and has international support. Just as successful maneuver gives a commander more options than the enemy, a perception of credibility and support, or an ability to command and control, provides an advantage for informational maneuver. Maintaining this advantage requires constant assessment and adjustment. To this end, PSYOP-supported Special Forces (SF) teams in the countryside, civil affairs (CA) teams in urban areas, reports from PVOs, and media coverage provide a form of reconnaissance and surveillance, just as standard military reconnaissance and surveillance operations provide information that drives subsequent fire and maneuver.
The purpose of firepower in combat is the generation of destructive force against an enemy's capabilities and will to fight. The MIE equivalent of firepower, already included in doctrine, is the employment of lethal and nonlethal, direct and indirect capabilities through C2W. C2W uses deception, PSYOP, electronic warfare (EW), operations security (OPSEC), and destruction to attack an adversary's capabilities. At the same time, C2W protects friendly operations. US armed forces have always employed these capabilities, but they were recently integrated into operations under C2W. This integration improves the friendly targeting process by directing the power of traditional attack, deception, PSYOP, EW, and OPSEC at the adversary's decision cycle, thus gaining control of that cycle and helping generate information dominance.
While the 1993 version of FM 100-5 recognizes the impact of global news coverage on the scope, nature, and duration of major operations, recent events demonstrate that the GIE also affects operations at brigade, battalion, and company levels. Commanders at every level may now find that CA, military police (MP), public affairs (PA), PSYOP, and SF activities that support, enable, or influence operations have become integral to their decision process and operations and require careful coordination and synchronization to achieve maximum effect. Commanders must continue to carefully manage the separation of PA and PSYOP functions to preserve the integrity and credibility of PA operations. The methods of using C2W, PA, and CA together to enhance operations is discussed in detail in Chapter 3.
Activities that affect how operations are seen and perceived by different audiences are an increasingly prevalent and required calculation of battle command and a prerequisite for effectively visualizing battlespace. The requirement to identify the critical audiences, messages, and communications means is not new to leaders. However, it is gaining major significance for successful operations.
During the course of the Gulf War, the combined operations of the allied coalition effectively isolated, both physically and psychologically, a large element of Iraqi forces on Faylaka Island. Rather then reduce the island by direct assault, a tactical PSYOP team from the 9th PSYOP Battalion, aboard a UH-1N helicopter, flew aerial loudspeaker missions around the island with cobra gunships providing escort. The message told the adversary below to surrender the next day in formation at the radio tower. The next day 1,405 Iraqis, including a general officer, waited in formation at the radio tower to surrender to the Marine forces without a single shot having been fired.
Besides forcing a broader view of the environment, IO imply closer attention to the media and the global visibility of operations. DOD and Army policy for principles of combat coverage require Army commanders to provide open and independent coverage by the news media as the standard means of providing the American public information about the employment and capabilities of their armed forces. This policy gives commanders and leaders at all levels the clear mission of preparing their soldiers to effectively deal with the media before, during, and after all operations.
The commander's primary tool at division-level and above for dealing with the news media is PA. PA addresses issues that are integral to all levels of war. Below division level, however, the commander has no special staff to discharge this responsibility. Often, brigade and smaller units have to house, support, and escort reporters. Commanders must understand and train their soldiers, as well as themselves, to plan for the presence of media and provide effective interviews to communicate legitimate information to the public, strengthen soldier morale and unit cohesion, and enhance their ability to accomplish their mission.
While the clear intent of this doctrine is to require commanders to pay closer attention to the media and its potential impact upon military operations, it is also clear that doctrine does not sanction in any way actions intended to mislead or manipulate media coverage of military operations. To the contrary, the Army accepts and fully endorses the healthy tension that exists between the normal desire of the media to inform the public as much as possible about military operations and the normal desire of commanders to control the information environment about those same operations to the greatest possible degree.
Information management takes on increasing importance in meeting the challenges of global visibility, rapidly changing information technology, and their impact on the GIE. Mountains of data must be acquired and quickly translated into knowledge and understanding. Accomplishing this challenge requires a continuous, cyclical process. Decision-making has become increasingly dynamic and multidimensional. Decisions about current operations must occur simultaneously with decisions and planning about future operations. Decision-making must match the pace with which situational awareness changes.
Information technology now permits the horizontal movement and integration of information and provides a framework for local decision-making, potentially allowing the commander's span of control to increase without losing effectiveness. The dynamics affecting a commander's span of control are critical because the modern battlefield sees forces increasingly separated, leaving large gaps between formations and requiring each cluster of forces to act with greater autonomy within an expanded AO. Dispersion creates more subordinate force clusters, decentralizes decision authority, and creates a major requirement for coordinated effort. The nominal span of control is increased and overall situational awareness is more complicated.
Harnessing the potential of information to transform how the Army operates is critical to its success in the future. However, technology alone cannot provide leaders with automatic battlefield visualization, flawless situational awareness, easily expanded vision, or highly effective information management. In the final analysis, the products of our initiative to harness the potential of information can only support the application of a leader's judgment, wisdom, experience, and intuition to enhance his battle command.
An increase in the amount of information available does not guarantee certainty; in fact, it potentially increases ambiguity. Current staff organizations, procedures, and analytical methods must adjust to master the richer flow, faster pace, and huge volume of information. The challenge is to find better, not just faster, analysis and decision-making procedures.