The network-centric battle management is focused on enhancing the combat capabilities of promising formations in modern wars and armed conflicts by achieving information and communication superiority and uniting members of military (combat) actions into a single network.
The most advanced technology of warfare has a lot of names: "automated war", "network war", "central network war", "network-centric hostilities", "combat operations in a single information and communication space" and many others. This phenomenon is presented as the bright future of the Russian Armed Forces. According to statements by senior representatives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, we saw it in action as early as 2015. Is that really the case, did we really understand this phenomenon, and did not fall into discussions solely about its name?
Ensuring the national security of the state is becoming more and more complex and complex measures involving the fight against international terrorism, the prevention of regional conflicts and much more. It is the complexity of modern threats that makes it difficult to solve problems using the old methods. In this regard, the all-round integration of combat formations and increasing their interaction through the implementation of the principles of the new "network-centric" concepts and the integration of control, communication, reconnaissance and destruction systems is becoming an increasingly relevant and priority direction for reforming the armed forces of most leading foreign countries.
The term “network-centricism” first appeared in the American computer industry and was the result of a breakthrough in information technology, which made it possible to organize interaction between computers, despite the use of different operating systems. It is quite natural that the Americans also became the ideologists of the military application of this term: Vice-Admiral Arthur Tsebrovski and the US Department of Defense expert John Garstka, who, meanwhile, noted that their concept of “network-centric war” is not only the deployment of digital networks ensuring both vertical and horizontal integration of all participants in the operation. It is also a change in the tactics of action of promising formations with dispersed battle formations, optimization of the methods of reconnaissance activities, simplification of procedures for coordination and coordination of fire destruction, as well as some leveling of the distinction between means of command and control. Moreover, the increase in the combat capabilities of modern formations is a direct consequence of the improved information exchange and the increasing role of the information itself, i.e. implementation of the principles of the new concept.
Having discovered what preferences the American approach gives, other countries have moved in the same direction. A real "network-centric" fever began. NATO is implementing the concept of "Integrated network capabilities" (NATO Network Enabled Capabilities), in France - "Information-centric warfare" (Guerre Infocentre), in Sweden - "Network Defense", in China - "Command and control system , communications, computing, reconnaissance and fire engagement ”(Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Recognizance & Kill), etc. It is in "network centrism" that the military of foreign countries see an innovative tool for increasing the combat capabilities of the downsized armed forces and quite objectively expect to receive economic benefits.
In turn, the founders of the concept closely and rather jealously follow such initiatives of their foreign colleagues and opponents. For example, back in 2006, American experts indicated that the implementation of the “network-centric” concept in China was a matter of serious concern to them. “No matter how our network-centric war will copy and adapt our brand to their needs, it is important that they increase the investment in the development of promising means of exploration and high-precision weapons"- noted in the United States. The result will definitely be a technological breakthrough that will provide the Chinese with the necessary level of situational awareness and understanding of the situation on the battlefield. That is, American groups will be opened, and this (with the availability of the necessary means of long-range precision weapons) is equivalent to their defeat.
FOREIGN VIEW ON RUSSIAN SUCCESSES
For the last two years, the attention of military experts around the world has been focused on the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which are in a state of large-scale reform and transition to a new look. Evidence of this - a huge number of publications in the foreign press on the progress of reform. At least two works deserve attention - the large-scale work of Margaret Klein, a staff member of the German Institute for International Politics and Security, “Russia's military potential. Great Power Ambitions and Reality ”, as well as a review of“ Russian perspectives of a “network-centric” war: the key goal of Serdyukov’s reform, ”authored by Roger McDermott, is a staff member of the Foreign States Research Command of the United States Army Training and Research Command (TRADOC - United States Army Training and Doctrine Command).
In Margaret Klein's work, the success of the Russian army in implementing the “network-centric” concept is evaluated in relation to the results of the 08.08.08 war with the Georgian aggressors. According to her, the military-political leadership of the Russian Federation has already realized the need for reforming the Armed Forces, equipping them with modern technical means of reconnaissance, high-precision weapons, communication and data transfer systems, and uniting all participants in the operation (combat operations) into a single information space. However, the movement in this direction has just begun.
The war showed that the Russian army lacked long-range radar detection and control systems (DRLO and U), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and reconnaissance equipment such as the American joint radar reconnaissance system J-STARS. As the author emphasizes, at the disposal of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation there were either technically and morally obsolete complexes, or difficult-to-target assets without the ability to quickly transfer the collected intelligence information. This, according to Margaret Klein, was the cause of the untimely opening of the Georgian air defense system, and as a result, the loss of seven combat aircraft in such a short war.
There were significant problems with communication and data transmission systems, which made it impossible to effectively manage subordinate formations. It is known that Russian officers had to resort to the help of journalists who had cellular and satellite phones. Moreover, the units of the Air Force and the Ground Forces acted without any coordination and interaction, which did not allow the formation of a truly unified grouping, although this is one of the essential conditions for conducting operations in accordance with the principles of "network-centric" concepts.
In the means of destruction, according to the German analyst, Russia has achieved great success. It had Iskander operational tactical missile systems, KAB-500 adjustable bombs and X-555 and X-101 cruise missiles. Nevertheless, all this weaponry was hardly used in that war, because it was in single copies, Margaret Klein notes. Another problem was the lack of carriers capable of using such weapons.
A discrepancy has emerged between modern realities and the theory of operational art, which in the RF Armed Forces is still based on the old views of traditional large-scale ground operations, and not on modern concepts involving massive use of the WTO. Despite the fact that the Russian army officially began a new stage in the development of operational art with 1990, the changes in the technical equipment of foreign armed forces, the increase in the capabilities of their means of warfare, and the transformation of foreign military views on the use of troops in various forms fighting. On the one hand, we talk about new technologies and “network-centrism”, which allows to increase the combat capabilities of the formations distributed on the battlefield, and on the other, we are guided by the old definitions and concepts. What kind of realization of “network-centrism” can be if the combat capabilities of the Ground Forces are still being evaluated “... by the ability of a unit, compound and association to create the corresponding densities of forces and means on the 1 km of front ...” (“Military Encyclopedic Dictionary”, Moscow, Military Publishing 2007 G., p. 92). One would like to exclaim that the old cavalrymen from the General Staff are, as always, against replacing the horse with machines. Here, however, is not the case at all. Everyone understands the need for reform, voiced plans for the transition to new concepts and principles, but still something is missing, something is not working.
In the review of Roger McDermott, too little was noted. One of the main achievements is the development and testing of the Unified Tactical Management System of the ESU TZ "Constellation". Attention should be paid not only to the eight billionth cost of the kit for one brigade, which greatly surprised the author, but also to what he calls our promising system - C2 YeSU TZ. Drawing the analogy with the Americans, it is clear that such a designation corresponds to the level of their concept of integrating the C2 command and control systems. In this regard, the question arises, and where are the other components of "C" for communications and computing (Communications, Computers), and also "ISR" for intelligence (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance). Probably the author is mistaken. And if not? Then again turn to the founders.
WHEN "NETCENTRISM" BECAME "NETCENTRISM"?
Americans have long been experiencing an irresistible craving for various kinds of concepts, sometimes denoted by not quite understandable abbreviations - C2, C3, C4, C4IFTW, C2W. All this is a concept of integrating control, communications, intelligence and electronic warfare systems based on computerization of the armed forces. At the end of the 70s of the last century, the concept of “Integration of control and communication systems” (C3 - Command, Control and Communications) appeared in the USA. Its main content consisted in the development of communication systems and tools, allowing to organize effective data exchange between different automated control systems. By implementing the concept, it was envisaged to achieve the required level of technical interfacing, to develop uniform standards for message formats, as well as to ensure the continuity and efficiency of management.
In the middle of 80-ies, it was replaced by the new concept of Integrating Control, Communication and Intelligence Systems (C3I - Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence), which covered not only the ACS, but also a wide range of functional areas and operational (combat) security. In particular, the development of uniform forms and methods for the presentation, accumulation and display of intelligence information and the current situation, the creation of processing centers and logical analysis for the purpose of distributing generalized information to all controls in real time were carried out.
The beginning of 90-ies was marked by the adoption of the concept of "Integration of control systems, computing, communications and intelligence" (C4I - Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence). As part of its implementation, a single complex of information and computational networks with standard software and hardware was created, a high degree of automation was achieved in the process of locating, targeting and distributing information of various types, including via e-mail and teleconferencing. Expert systems, combat simulation tools, and high-performance computers were also introduced. There were other concepts that reflected the systematic process of combining disparate controls, communications and intelligence, and the network has long been an integral part of them. However, there was no talk of any “network centrism”.
The first American concept of "network centrism" appeared only at the end of 90's and received the designation NCW - Network-centric Warfare. True, behind this abbreviation it is impossible to see the relationship with the processes of integrating control and intelligence systems and to determine when “network centrism” became “network centrism”. Therefore, you should consider other symbols found in foreign publications, for example, C5ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). Here, to the standard American concept of C4ISR, one more “C” element was added - combat systems (Combat Systems). In the Chinese abbreviation "network centrism" C4ISRK, a new element is the means of destruction ("K" - Kill). Thus, it can be argued that “network-centrism” is the result of the integration of combat systems on the battlefield, control networks, computing equipment, communications and reconnaissance, which by that time had passed a twenty-year period of evolution.
By restoring the chronology of events, it becomes obvious that the movement of Americans to "network-centrism" began more than 30 years ago. First, control and communication systems were combined, then automated control systems and computing equipment, then connection to the already formed network of reconnaissance and surveillance equipment, and finally, combat systems on the battlefield (first of all, high-precision fire destruction equipment). As a result of a long evolutionary development, the task of building an innovative army and forming reconnaissance-strike systems on a global scale was solved.
For this purpose, the most promising combat systems were developed and put into service, including various means of reconnaissance, high-precision weapons, as well as communications and data transmission, which can integrate into the already deployed control system in the theater of war (theater of war) and ensure that of time. The integration of such complexes and tools allows you to create a truly effective reconnaissance, information and shock system in any operation and assign the most appropriate means of destruction for impact on the revealed target. At the same time, the system formed in the US Armed Forces has nothing in common with the concepts of reconnaissance-strike complex (RCC) and reconnaissance-fire complex (RK) that are still in force in the Russian Armed Forces.
Such systems are becoming an effective tool for modern warfare, about which Vladimir Slipchenko, an expert on future wars, spoke of the sixth generation remote contactless war. I would like to clarify that such a war can only be contactless for a party with a multiple advantage in modern means of control, communications, reconnaissance and high-precision long-range weapons. For opponents, it will turn into either a real contact hell without the ability to strike back, or into a disastrous nuclear war for all.
Thus, all modern "network-centric" concepts, which appeared as a result of the evolution of military network architectures, provide for the mandatory deployment of three functional networks - control, reconnaissance and destruction. Will we be able to go through the remaining four years of the thirty-year period of transformation of American networks? Given the generally recognized lag of Russia in such areas as microelectronics, communications and switching, it will be very difficult to do. First you need to get away from the trivial discussion of the name of the phenomenon “network-centrism”, understand its essence, and then move on to systematic steps to introduce its innovative capabilities into its armed forces.
"NETCENTRISM" IN THE EXAMPLES
According to American experts, the principles of warfare, the construction of the armed forces and the management of military formations in the XX century were called "platform-centric". At that time, in their opinion, the success of operations and battles depended mainly on the individual capabilities of military equipment, and the integration of networks, although it was envisaged, did not allow for the effect that modern information technologies provide. That is why throughout the second half of the last century, military experts from all over the world were engaged in the development of technical solutions related primarily to mobility, accuracy, and also firepower of means of warfare. At its core, this process was an increase in the potential capabilities of formations (in fire, maneuver, control, survivability, etc.) or, in other words, combat potential, the basis of which is the technical equipment of the troops.
However, as practice has shown, the process of improving military equipment has certain limitations for further growth, moreover, it is very costly. At the same time, the high individual capabilities of various types of weapons with an outdated approach to their combat use are not fully realized. That is, the already costly process of increasing the combat potential of the armed forces with a “platform-centric” approach is also economically inefficient.
The concept of “network-centric warfare” considers combat formations as unique devices connected to a single network. Depending on the choice of network architecture and its type, such devices can be ships, airplanes, means of destruction, control, communications, reconnaissance and surveillance, a group of military personnel or individual soldiers, as well as a combination of both. In this case, the capabilities of combat formations are determined not so much by the individual tactical and technical characteristics of individual IWT samples, as by the capabilities of the entire group of network-connected assets as a whole.
As Alexander Herzen said, “there are no difficult sciences, there are only difficult expositions, that is, not digestible. " Therefore, we will try to present all of the above with an example and figure out what is “platform-centrism” and what is “network-centrism”. In the era of "platform-centric" wars, when the success of operations and battles depended mainly on the individual capabilities of military equipment, for every thousand tanks the enemy at our borders, we had to put more, say, 1500. This is actually the law of the time, which was reflected in the endless "muscle building", ie arms race. Now there is no such need. Network-centrism allows you to get by with a smaller number, for example, 500 tanks, which already have the necessary potential. But in order to sufficiently realize it (to achieve the required level of combat capabilities), the available funds must be connected by a network and a special “hub” added, that is, a key node that provides connection to all users of the network, without which the network itself cannot function or its capabilities will be significantly limited. The “hub” is at the same time both a concentrator and a multiplier of the capabilities of individual funds connected to the network. Here, in fact, the effect of synergism is manifested, when the whole represents something more than the sum of its parts. In the annex to military affairs, synergism is the effect of the joint action of the armed struggle means combined into a network, which, by the combined result, exceeds the sum of the effects of using the same means separately.
To further simplify the understanding of the phenomenon of "network centrism", consider the situation on a very obvious example from everyday civilian life. This is entirely appropriate, firstly, in accordance with Herzen's idea given above, and secondly, because “network-centrism” itself has come into the army from civilian life.
Suppose that the two heads of families are faced with the task of paying for utilities. To do this, each of them has the same potential in the amount of 5000 rubles. One task performs in the old manner, filling out receipts, going to the bank and defending the queue. Another, an advanced user of information technology, put his potential (5000 rubles) on a bank card and makes a payment at any convenient time, without leaving home, and most importantly - quickly. It turns out that both test subjects with the same potentials and all other things being equal ideal conditions, perform the same task, but with different effectiveness, i.e. with varying degrees of realization of potential opportunities. In this case, the second test subject also saves on interest for a commission.
On the one hand, someone may argue that this is a simple management of funds, but on the other hand, we also see the immediate fulfillment of the task of paying for utilities. So, extrapolating the results of the study of this phenomenon from the civilian to the military, we get the following results:
- “network centrism” does not affect the potential capabilities of a combat formation;
- "network centrism" allows you to more effectively carry out your combat mission;
- “network centrism” becomes a real tool for enhancing the combat capabilities of the formations of the “new look”;
- “network centrism” allows to achieve economic effect.
NO RISK NO FORWARD MOVEMENT
I foresee the objections of ardent opponents of a similar path of development of the RF Armed Forces, who believe that when guns start talking, computers should be turned off, that everything cannot be trusted by the network, because its opponent can incapacitate. You should not be surprised at this position, especially since even in the USA, the community of military experts was divided into supporters, seriously doubtful, and opponents of such a concept. Nevertheless, as Professor Ilizarov said, “the mechanism of a person’s existence is set on progress. And no matter how much individual individuals want this, they are unable to stop it. ” If the professor were wrong, we would never have adopted the brainchild of Alexander Popov, and would still be content with the most noise-resistant means of communication - signal flags.
“Network-centrism”, which is currently a real tool for increasing combat capabilities, however, cannot be considered as a panacea for solving all problems. After all, if a standard ammunition unit of an armed tank makes up a 63 shot, then even if it is equipped with super-modern communication and control systems, it will never be able to hit targets with this 64 kit. So the truth lies somewhere in the middle. That is why without an integrated approach to solving the problem, including changing the outlook of the military leadership on the management of subordinate formations; creation of unified ACS; the development of modern technical means of intelligence, which will fill the network; the adoption of a sufficient number of high-precision weapons, which really need such information, all initiatives will turn into a waste of money.
In addition, it must be remembered that we are in the role of overtaking, and therefore the “informatization” of the Armed Forces that is taking place will objectively grow into a revolution in military affairs only with the parallel development of other promising technologies. But the military should not sit quietly and wait until the necessary technological solutions themselves come to them. We need their activity at all levels. Take, for example, UAVs and other robotic means of warfare, the number of which in the US Armed Forces is steadily increasing, and the methods of their use are constantly being improved. The merit here is not only of the American military industrial complex with its revolutionary technological solutions, but also of the military itself, who have shown enviable perseverance and even creativity of military thought in developing new forms and methods of using these tools in modern wars and armed conflicts. According to foreign military experts, a large role in this was played by the American "combat laboratories" formed in the 90-s of the last century in each branch of the Armed Forces, directorates and training centers of the US Department of Defense. It was on their shoulders that the tasks of identifying innovative ways of using UAVs, as well as exploring the capabilities of other promising models of weapons and military equipment, fell.
Thus, in order to create opportunities, and the very prerequisites for the implementation of the "network-centric" concept in the Russian army, it is necessary to solve a complex task both within the Armed Forces and the country as a whole. This is a search for new technological solutions, the transfer of the defense-industrial complex to an innovative development path, clarification of charters and manuals, the development of new forms and methods of using groups of forces, and training of personnel to work with modern hardware and software.
In this regard, it is advisable to intensify work on the creation of truly united control bodies, the development of modern algorithms for their work in solving various combat missions, the formation of a list of means that we plan to link into a network, understanding why and, most importantly, why it is needed. It is necessary to actively implement information technologies in the daily activities of the Armed Forces. But first you should conduct an audit of all deployed and planned to deploy computer networks.
Otherwise, we will spend a lot of money on the fashionable trend and, in the end, we will step on the American rake, when “unexpectedly” the unsolvable problem of uniting these separate, independent networks and nets will arise. Also, it is compulsory to introduce an electronic document management system so that commanders, and indeed all personnel, receive the necessary knowledge and experience in working with modern information systems. Their actions should be worked out to automatism, as with a TV, cell phone, computer. Only in this case, information systems and tools will turn from unknown expensive equipment into a real helper in solving combat missions.