At the brink of a new century, the U.S. military is grappling with its role, its requirements, and its operational imperative as an instrument of national power. Military responsibilities span a wide range, from peacetime engagement to shape the international environment, maintain alliances, and ensure access; to stability and support operations including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping; to a capability for prosecution of conflict from small-scale contingencies to major theater war. Primarily a deterrent force during the Cold War, today the U.S. military is seen more as an integral element of U.S. national power that is committed around the world on an ongoing basis. At the same time, its forces are smaller and stationed mainly in the continental United States, and the military budget will likely continue to be constrained. The resulting leaner force structure will need the versatility to project power flexibly, rapidly, and from a distance, in combination with allies and coalition forces.
Information creation, communication, analysis, and exploitation have always played a key role in military strategy and operations. But the recent and continuing rapid progress in information and communications technologies dramatically enhances the strategic role of information, positioning effective exploitation of these technology advances as a critical success factor in military affairs. These technology advances are drivers and enablers for the "nervous system" of the military--its command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems--to more effectively use the "muscle" side of the military, namely the weapons and platforms and troops. The growing importance of C4I systems reflects an information technology-driven transformation of strategy and operations similar to what is occurring across almost every segment of society. Information superiority, indispensable to dominance in the full range of military operations, is central to Joint Vision 2010,1 the conceptual template guiding Department of Defense (DOD)2
efforts to leverage technological opportunities and structure innovations by
military personnel to achieve new levels of effectiveness in joint military
operations. As this report discusses in detail, in realizing this vision for
C4I the U.S. military faces a fundamental set of technical and management