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Naval forces do not have to be engaged in constant communication.  Deployed naval vessels and aircraft have demonstrated independence of action within coordinated operations for hundreds of years. 

Littoral operations pose a growing set of naval challenges that can be countered through communications stealth and tactical effectiveness.

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!

Efficient Messaging, Optical Signaling, and Semantic Coherence are three long-running areas of work that appear to be composable enablers for NOW.


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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