“The continued development and proliferation of information technologies will substantially change the conduct of military operations. These changes in the information environment make information superiority a key enabler of the transformation of the operational capabilities of the joint force and the evolution of joint command and control.”- US Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Vision 2020
“The enemy’s ships are coming out of port,” a series of flag signals warned as the message was relayed from ship to ship until it arrived at the HMS Victory, the flag ship of Lord Nelson. This crucial piece of information was the catalyst of the naval battle at Trafalgar where the Royal Navy defeated the combined French and Spanish fleet and established the command of the British empire of the world’s seas.
The importance of delivering the right information to the right individual is just as critical to military operations today as it was in Lord Nelson’s time. In this age of instant information collection and dissemination, the ability for military forces to rapidly harness needed information to plan and execute can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Warfighters today need the ability to pull information from across all information domains to build an accurate picture of the operational battle space. As the Duke of Wellington once noted:
All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I call guessing what’s on the other side of the hill.
The information revolution has made it possible to reduce the guess work as information technologies provide the ability to gather and share information from a wide variety of sources to build a complex view of one’s environment. However, military command and control along with military planning are beset with the challenge of obtaining information efficiently and effectively between different security domains. Military planners need to not only receive all the information, no matter the security classification, but also to pass the information relevant to the plans of action to their action officers who may have different security classifications. Too frequently information is “siloed” by its classification system, with necessary data residing on one or all of these networks: unclassified Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPR), classified Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPR), or TOPSECRET Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS). While this challenge is rampant within a single service, it becomes even more difficult when the planned mission needs to incorporate more than one service or more than one nation.
The Primacy of Information
“The joint force must be able to take advantage of superior knowledge to achieve ‘decision superiority’—better decisions arrived at and implemented faster than an opponent can react…,” notes the Joint Vision 2020. A key component of achieving “decision superiority” is the ability to access the right information at the right time—particularly in a future operating environment characterized by complexity and uncertainty. The Capstone Concept for Joint Operations notes that the future joint force must be able to engage in globally integrated operations:
[Globally integrated operations] require a globally postured Joint Force to quickly combine capabilities with itself and mission partners across domains, echelons, geographic boundaries, and organizational affiliations. These networks of forces and partners will form, evolve, dissolve, and reform in different arrangements in time and space with significantly greater fluidity than today’s Joint Force.
Given the need to operate in a networked operational environment—one that calls for integration with joint, coalition, and National mission partners—it has become even more important that information be gathered appropriately from all sources, all classifications, and combined into a cohesive and useful data set that can be shared. Providing a framework to sift, organize, and swiftly share information received is vital if everyone in the military organization is to achieve the ability to make efficient and timely decisions. As the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff state, “decision superiority does not automatically result from information superiority. Organizational and doctrinal adaptation, relevant training and experience, and the proper command and control mechanisms and tools are equally necessary.”
The U.S. Navy has made information a “main battery” of its arsenal to enable effective maritime superiority and maintain global maritime awareness. Information, when networked across joint, allied, and coalition forces enables commanders with the ability to create a cooperatively created common operating picture—to better able to see what is over the horizon faster than the adversary. As noted in the U.S. Navy’s 2010 Vision for Information Dominance, “[t]o be successful at 21st century warfare, the Navy will create a fully integrated C2, information, intelligence, cyberspace, environmental awareness, and networks operations capability and wield it as a weapon and instrument of influence.” Enhancing its proficiency at operating within the information domain will also allow the U.S. Navy to better respond to a rapidly changing battlespace as it takes advantage of advanced IT and networks; develop a global enterprise through network centric operations and command and control (C2); and elevating the use of information as a main weapon alongside traditional weapons.
The U.S. Navy’s Information Dominance Roadmap recognizes the issue of ensuring the U.S. Navy can “maintain essential network and data link services across secured segments of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to transport, share, store, protect and disseminate critical combat information.”
The U.S. Navy’s Information Dominance Roadmap states the importance of having a system that can reach across secured segments of U.S. Navy’s networks; there is currently not a fielded system to address the problem. The U.S. Navy faces a number of unique challenges in passing information out to its deployed fleet, and back to headquarters commands. While work on this problem is progressing in other areas, the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) has brought its experience with command and control, as well as programming and networks, to bear on the problem.
Secure Web Integration Framework (SWIF)
Current analytical tools do not have the security features to handle—and where necessary—harmonize information from disparate classified networks. As a result, planners and warfighters are typically relegated to using static Power Point slides on the high side—resulting in sub-optimal planning and execution. Consequently, key adversary information remains undiscovered and the planner is typically unable to explore alternative scenarios and courses of action. This often results in suboptimal mission planning and in a worst-case scenario, can result in mission failure. The SWIF Security Services provide an interactive analytic tool that allows joint operational planners to visualize and access critical adversary data from multi-domain spaces to produce effective, safe, and successful mission plans. Planners and intelligence analysts will use this tool to develop dynamic models that will answer the “What if ”-type questions typically posed by senior leadership and will ultimately enable these leaders to make better decisions, faster, with fewer people and fewer mistakes.
The analytical planning tool will allow planners to dynamically manipulate analytical data on the high side. These planners will be able to collaborate with in-house analysts, analysts from other organizations, and subject matter experts from academia and other agencies to discover information on the target system without fear of compromising security or mission success. Planners will have more effective tools that are able to seamlessly leverage all-source intelligence. Hence, they will be better equipped to deliver timely, mission specific plans to the warfighter.