Naval forces do not have to be engaged in constant centralized communication. Deployed Navy vessels have demonstrated independence of action in stealthy coordinated operations for hundreds of years.
Littoral operations, deployable unmanned systems, and a refactored force mix for surface ships pose a growing set of naval challenges and opportunities. Network-optional warfare (NOW) precepts include Efficient Messaging, Optical Signaling, Semantic Coherence and Ethical Human Supervision of Autonomy for deliberate, stealthy, minimalist tactical communications.
Network-Optional Warfare (NOW)
Network-Centric Warfare (NCW)
Operational emphasis: opportunity to restore naval covertness and potential for tactical surprise, enabling fluid operations by fleet and marine forces across NCW and NOW.
Operational View (OV-1) shows line-of-sight (LOS) optical signaling via Quick Reaction (QR) codes and Digital Flashing Light (DFL). Only two radio frequency (RF) lightning bolts!
Tactical Opportunities afforded by NOW
Stealth: gain deeper access into battle space, utilize inherent covertness of unmanned systems.
Surprise: choose time and place to shift from passive to active use of electromagnetic spectrum.
Coherence: formal mission brevity codes are actionable and precise with well-defined semantics.
Uncertainty: reduced opponent confidence that threats are located and attack is unchallenged.
Flexibility: tactical commanders decide use of NCW/NOW on per-platform, per-mission basis.
Scalability: incremental response using low-cost assets avoids destabilizing high-cost escalation.
- Autonomy: loosely coordinated command via Rules of Operation (ROO) and Engagement (ROE).
- Cyber: smaller "surface area" exposed to attacks employing EM radiation or network connectivity.
- Asymmetric: increased survivability and independence of action multiplies opponent difficulties.
- Trust: data-centric security and ethical human supervision of intermittently connected systems.
Overview Resources for NOW
These references describe tactical techniques, operational concepts, and strategic possibilities that emerge when regaining asymmetric advantages.
- Network-Optional Warfare: Concepts Exploration and Enabling Technologies slideset (.pdf, also synopsis).
- The full version includes quick looks at many thesis research opportunities, starting on slide 26.
- Network-Optional Warfare: Operational Employment Concepts lists component concepts of interest plus numerous relevant references.
- Network-Optional Warfare: Information Transfer Considerations analyzes the transition space between always-on NCW and all-off NOW operations.
- Network Optional Warfare: Overview Video (200 MB) produced for the NPS Littoral Operations Center (LOC) inaugural workshop, 24-26 March 2014.
"Material contained herein is made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense."