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Network-Optional Warfare (NOW)

  • Vulnerabilities arise for naval forces conducting constant communications due to lack of stealth and dependence on continuous data exchange.
  • "Radio silence" emissions control (EMCON) and judicious use of low-probability of intercept (LPI) data channels can restore naval covertness and tactical surprise.
  • Data compression and a well-defined signal book can enable fluid operations across NCW and NOW, aiding command autonomy and freedom of action.

Network-Centric Warfare (NCW)

  • “Seeks to translate an information advantage, enabled in part by information technology, into a competitive advantage through the robust networking of well-informed geographically dispersed forces.”
  • “This networking—combined with changes in technology, organization, processes, and people—may allow new forms of organizational behavior.”
  • Source:  Network-Centric Warfare, Wikipedia

Operational View (OV-1) shows line-of-sight (LOS) optical signaling via Quick Reaction (QR) codes and Digital Flashing Light (DFL).

Only two EM-based lightning bolts!


Three long-running areas of work now appear to be composable enablers in support of NOW: Efficient Messaging, Optical Signaling, and Semantic Coherence.

Tactical Opportunities

  • 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 force locations are known 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)


Don Brutzman, voice +1.831.656.2149



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