Navy Wants "Net-Centric" Back in Vogue

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Network centric warfare, a term that was in vogue a few years ago, has been rehabilitated by Admiral Gary Roughead, recently appointed to the important position of Commander, Fleet Forces Command, i.e., head of the Navys Atlantic and Pacific ship and air type commanders.

Admiral Roughead spoke at a three-day conference in Virginia Beach on 19-21 June, sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). Roughead took over the Fleet Forces Command on 17 May.

He said that U.S. warships need improved capabilities to detect contacts, process data, and distribute the information to other platforms. In an address at the transformation warfare conference, Admiral Roughead expressed concern that the fleet needs a better picture of what other ships and aircraft are at sea as well as in the underwater dimension.

Our strike groups are challenged in persistent surveillance today. And in 2010, I believe that were going to be suffering even more so in the area of persistent surveillance, he said. Maritime domain awareness is where it all begins. We cannot conduct the operations that we must if we dont have a good sense of whats out there, moving on, above or under the sea.

Admiral Roughead continued, We must take into account a network approach that goes from the sensor to the network to the weapons platform to the weapon itself and the decisions we make in each one of those must be integrated, he said. The war will be won and lost on the initial battles that take place on that network battleground. That is something that we must all be mindful of and ask ourselves the question, Are we prepared to fight in that environment?

He also said the latest in low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles, target recognition, and anomaly detection systems are needed for the future fleet.

We have some tremendous opportunities ahead of us. We have some great technologies there, he said. But I would submit that we have to maintain the focus on the war fighter and also look at how we come at the network solutions that are going to be so much a part of our future.

Some observers believe that Admiral Roughead is the most probable candidate to succeed Admiral Mike Mullen as Chief of Naval Operations. Mullen has been proposed as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Roughead previously served as Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet and before that Deputy Commander U.S. Pacific Command. Before that he held major positions in the Atlantic Fleet.

Like Admiral Mullen , Admiral Roughead is a surface warfare specialist.

-- Norman Polmar

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