Network-Centric Warfare - The Stimson Center

Network-Centric Warfare - The Stimson Center

Network-Centric Warfare: It’s Implications for Japan Self-Defense Force

Col. Yukiya Yamakura

Visiting Fellow, The Henry L. Stimson Center and

Air Staff College, Japan Air Self-Defense Force

August 18, 2005

The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by

the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Japan Defense Agency, and the Government of Japan.


1. Introduction

In the Iraq War, the US Armed Forces showed the world the new know-how

(planning, execution, evaluation etc.) for conducting warfare by Effect Based Operation

(EBO), and Rapid Decisive Operation (RDO). The concept of Network-Centric

Warfare (NCW) and a strong network of highly-effective sensors, precision guided

munitions (PGM), combined with the decision-making capability by US decision

makers, enabled the United States to introduce the new know –how for conducting


Now, the US Armed Forces are pushing transformation under the initiative of

the Office of Transformation. For a new concept for conducting warfare such as NCW,

no official definition has yet to be established. Nonetheless, the NCW concept is

believed to be at the very core of force transformation.

The US Armed Forces have been steadily moving toward the goals of

transformation. Through the process of transformation, the concept of operation and a

way to evaluate it have been established. The concept of NCW network that connects

shooters, censors, and command and control (C2) system has also evolved.

We can expect the NCW concept for US Armed Forces itself to evolve further in

the future. This, in turn, will drive the transformation in other countries’ armed

forces—US friends and foes alike—as well as other innovations in information

technology (IT) or changes in strategic environment.

In Japan, the Security Council and the Cabinet approved the new National

Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) on 10 December, 2004. Under the new

guidelines, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) is to strengthen its framework of joint

operations, shifting away from the conventional concept that each JSDF service

operates independently. In the process of the JSDF pursuing a greater degree of

“jointness”, there are some challenges, including how to establish logistical support,

command, control, communications and computer (C4) and other systems that are more


suitable for joint operations.

Currently, the interoperability between the JSDF and the US forces is not adequate

to conduct joint operations. In order to conduct joint operations with the US forces

successfully, the JSDF has to ensure that the concept of operations, ideas as well as

tactics are shared, and interoperability exists among weapon systems. Therefore, if the

NCW will be at the heart of US force transformation, it is important for the JSDF to

understand US forces’ basic concept for how to conduct war and how it will introduce

the NCW concept, so that the JSDF can transform itself into a force that can effectively

introduce the NCW concept while improving its interoperability with its US


Based on the point of view that I just mentioned, I will first give an overview of

the discussion of NCW concept in the United States, its effect as well as its limitations.

I will then examine the impact of introducing NCW concept to JSDF operations, and

what the future challenges may be.

2. The concept of NCW and the present situation of NCW in the US

Based on the publication 1

by the Department of Defense (DOD), we can

define the NCW concept as:ⅰthe guideline of conducting warfare and organizing

military forces, ⅱ a network that connects dispersed units, platforms, censors, and

decision-making functions that makes it possible to share the information on situations

on a real-time basis, which will enable a military force to acquire information

superiority over its adversaries, and ⅲ a means of winning an ultimate combat

superiority by capitalizing on information superiority. NCW is neither a dogma nor a


It may best be defined as a new concept in how to engage in warfare.

1 Network-Centric Warfare:Creating a Decisive Warfighting Advantage

(Director,Force Transformation,OSD,Winter 2003)


NCW consist of 4 element; censor, shooter, C2 and information infrastructure.

Here, in this paper, I will call censor and shooter platform, the other C2 and information

infrastructure network. In NCW, the information on enemy and friendly forces

collected through the information gathering systems such as reconnaissance satellites,

and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be shared through the network. This will

allow command post in a distant location to command its forces in a very short time,

and can direct attacking forces to the targets in a swift, precise, and flexible way.

Further, by gaining a better situation awareness of battlefield, a military force can

employ its forces much more effectively.

The Transformation Planning Guidelines (TPG) issued after the 2001

Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) has proposed the following four pillars.

1) Strengthening joint operations

2) Exploiting U.S. intelligence advantages

3) Experimenting in support of new warfighting concepts

4) Developing transformational capabilities.

The TPG says that the first step toward forces with these attributes is to invest

more now in these four transformation pillars. 2

Currently, each service has

developed the milestones that it will use to gauge its progress in its transformation to

meet these new challenges. Now, US military has been steadily building up

network-centric forces through its transformation.

Dr. Yves Boyer, Assistant Director of The Foundation of Strategic Research in France,

in describing European view of US military transformation, said, “US views on future

warfare epitomized in the notion of “network centric warfare”, is supposed to become

the standard views in Europe as well.” 3

If that is indeed the observation among US

2 The Transformation Planning Guidelines(DOD,Apr.2003, pp10)

3 Yves Boyer “Security Problems in a Global Age and the Future Course of the Transformation of the

Military: French view”(The National Institute for Defense Studies , International Symposium on


allies in Europe, US allies in Asia, including Japan, will also have to regard the NCW

concept as their standard-setter for future warfare.

3. The limit and restriction of NCW


There are some restrictions in building up units for NCW. One of them is the

budget. To provide the military with NCW capability requires a large budget. In fact,

the costs for next generation aircraft, submarines, and aircraft carriers with high-speed

data links used for NCW have been skyrocketing. In addition, the estimated cost for

updating so-called “legacy system”—the systems that have been used up to

present—might be just as expensive as, or more expensive than purchasing new

NCW-capable systems. For example, the cost to upgrade a cruiser with NCW

capability is just as expensive as purchasing a brand new one.

At present, US military wants to acquire new types of fighters and submarines.

With US government’s apparent desire to keep the cost for such new purchases below a

certain level, a serious negotiation is underway in order to determine an appropriate

balance between these new purchases and providing US forces with appropriate NCW


In Japan, a similar challenge exists. For instance, the Japan Air Self-Defense

Force (JASDF) has to upgrade their F-15s’ avionics system with a Multi-Information

Distribution System (MIDS) that will allow linkage with Link-16. 4

It will cost more

than 5 billion yen 5

per aircraft for this type of upgrade. Because high performance is

expected from the new platform itself, maintenance cost for such a system will likely be

Security Affairs 2004)p.44

4 Link 16 is a military inter-computer data exchange format of NATO. With Link 16, military aircraft

as well as ships and army units can exchange each other their tactical picture in real time.

5 It is equivalent to 45 million dollars, If 1 dollar is calculated for 110 yen.


very expensive. Similarly to the United States, Japan has to consider what an

appropriate balance should be between cost for purchasing new platforms, renovating

legacy systems, and investing in command, control, communications, computers,

information, and reconnaissance (C4ISR). The failure to strike a right balance among

these three factors may result in exposing deficiencies in NCW capability at a critical

juncture in operations.

(Limitation in technology)

One of the biggest technical challenges in introducing the NCW concept in

actual force structure is how to come up with a way to evaluate, to select, and to

combine the information from different sensors into one common picture. The staff at a

command post needs much time to analyze this and might not be able to act on time.

Some analysts have pointed out the risk of an error in the content of information caught

by sensors because information is transmitted to the forces on a front line through many

systems and converted repeatedly in each system. Transmitting accurate information in

real time to systems and units that can act on it immediately is the challenge. The other

serious problem is the existence of an enemy who tries to manipulate the NCW system

to provide misinformation.

For instance, well-experienced enemies may falsify

activities and hide themselves from our sensors using everything on the ground.

Terrain affects the usefulness of the censors as well.

Capturing accurate information in

forests, where they can avoid the detection from air very easily, is a lot harder than

doing so in a desert where there is nowhere to hide.

Electronic waves might not

penetrate well in an environment like a forest.

(Vulnerability in network)

Information on a network is transmitted mainly by radio waves through

computers and communications equipments with high technologies in a vast operational

theater or outer space. The vulnerability of a network can be summarized into the next

three problems; configuration management of the equipment, control of frequency


usage electronic waves, and the enemy’s jamming of communications.

Today, configuration management of weapons and systems has become more

complicated both in hardware and software. In today’s weapon development

environment, applying modern technologies that have been progressing day bay day

while making appropriate corrections to their deficiencies is a necessity. If we fail in

managing configuration of weapons, it is impossible to maximize their capability, let

alone connecting them to a network.

In the future, a network system in a battlefield will further depend on electronic

waves from communication satellites. There are two aspects in the information

warfare. One is to prevent enemies from interruption communications, and the other is

to actually utilize electronic waves used by enemy forces. Therefore, maintenance of a

network system will become much more important. For example, the Electromagnetic

Pulse (EMP) is a quite effective weapon to disrupt systems of enemy forces by using

electromagnetic waves and to destroy them electronically. If a military force is not

prepared for enemy forces’ attempt to jam communication, it will leave the force

vulnerable to enemies’ disruption of its network system by the enemy.

A military force’s dependence on electric waves in battlefield communication

brings another problems as well. For instance, its interference with radio waves causes

a communications blackout. This affects not only the military system but also civilian

communication facilities and systems in the theater. In order to avoid such situation,

managing (and sometimes restricting) the frequencies that can be used by for our

friendly forces will become necessary.

From now on the US forces are going to introduce “Commercial off the shelf”

(COTS) equipment in order to apply the latest civilian technologies in a timely manner.

But the introduction of COTS into military operations is quite risky. US forces have

already learned that they cannot get the best performance out of COTS under a harsh

operational environment with minor modifications. The front line does not have well


air-conditioned headquarters. Members in charge of logistics have to supply the front

line with the weapons which can endure very severe environments such as sandstorms,

strong wind, rain, low temperatures at high altitude, hard vibrations etc. Procurement

of COTS with good cost bearing with its limited performance is a current trend. But

the unbalance with the military specification leads to a dangerous situation for our

members on the front line. They might not be able to turn on their computers and

connect the network due to the outrange of equipment’s usage condition.

(Difference in culture)

Arguably, the biggest challenge for introducing and successfully implement the

NCW concept is difference in cultures of each military service. While the United

States have been promoting “jointness” since the 1980s, and its effects were seen in the

Iraq War, there are still a lot of cultural clashes among military services. Currently,

there is neither a consensus on the necessity of NCW nor the common vision for the

requirements for the NCW system among four services of the US military. This is

because of different cultures among the services. For example, the top management

and leaders at all levels in the US Marine Corps may think that leadership is much more

important than NCW, while Army commanders on a front line may be more skeptical of

the effectiveness of NCW, including the credibility of information transmitted through

the system. They have stressed that so-called the “fog in a battlefield” will not clear

up. In the meantime, navy and air force, because of rapid technological progress in

improving situations awareness of aircrafts and ships, they seem to be more open to the

NCW concept from the beginning.

In the budget process, each service is most concerned with increasing their share

in the defense budget. While such a sentiment is understandable, hard lobbying by the

military for a larger budget create problems in allocating appropriate resources for

NCW which is essentially a joint capability. This would lead to different levels of

NCW capability in each service, which would present serious problems in actual


combat operations.

4. The present status of Japan SDFs

Based on new NDPG which emphasize the need of “jointness”, the JSDF are

going to transition to a Joint Operations System at the end of our current fiscal year,

which ends on 31 March next year 6 . In 2004 Japan began to introduce the Ballistic

Missile Defense(BMD) as one of the JSDF’s new capability which deal with new threat,

stated in NDPG. While this BMD consists of the sea-based midcourse defense system

by Aegis ships and the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile

system, the new joint structure which can operate these two systems effectively and can

command by one commander is truly needed. BMD is at the vanguard of the JSDF’s

“jointness”. Indeed, the introduction of the BMD system has been driving the efforts

toward establishing the Joint Operations System.

(The 2004 National Defense Program Guidelines)

New NDPG defines Japan’s national security objectives much more clearly

compared to the previous ones. With the three basic principles 7 , the NDPG sets the

two goals for Japan’s national security policy: defense of Japan and improving

international security environment. To achieve these goals, the NDPG envisions three

missions for the JSDF—effective response to the new threats and diverse situations,

preparations to deal with full-scale invasion, and proactive efforts to improve the

international security environment

To this end, the NDPG dictates that the JSDF should try to develop its

capability first by enhancing its joint operation capability as well as intelligence-sharing

capability. But beyond that, how should Japan develop its defense forces to meet these

6 DEFENSE OF JAPAN 2005(SUMMARY/Tentative Translation) Chapter II Section 4, p29

7 1 Japan’s own efforts, 2 cooperation with the international community, 3 cooperation with the United States


goals? How can the JSDF introduce net-centricity to adapt to future operational and

tactical environments? As Japan continues to develop its defense capability, the

clarification of the role of defense capabilities in order to achieve national security

policy goals must continue. In this process, outcome of the debate over constitutional

issues, particularly the one surrounding its Article 9, is critical.

(Joint Operations)

By centralizing the operational functions of each SDF service to a

newly-established Joint Staff Office (JSO) 8 , the JSDF aims for a more timely

decision-making by JDA Director General and a more effective operations.

The new JSO will take over the operational control of the JSDF forces, which

currently belongs to each service’s Staff Office. The Ground, Maritime, and Air Staff

Offices will continue to manage training/education, personnel, force build-up and so on.

For the time being, each service will maintain control over logistics, although in the

long run, the JSDF will need a joint logistics capability for effective operations. In other

words, JSO will perform a function to operate troops (force user), while each service’s

Staff Office will perform a function to build troops (force provider). This transformation

is focused on the strengthening joint operations. We cannot conduct a swift military

operation with only operational forces. In addition, the JSDF are currently reviewing

the new doctrine based on joint operation has yet to be reviewed.

(Ballistic Missile Defense)

The mid-term defense build-up program adopted in December 2004 states:

“Strengthen Japan-US bilateral efforts to enhance ballistic missile defense (BMD)

capabilities, and promote cooperation with the US from the fields of defense policy,

operations, and equipment and technology” to strengthen the tie with US for security.


Current Office to be reorganized into New Joint Staff Office has the same English translation but

the Japanese word for it (Toubaku-Jimukyoku) literally means “Secretariat of Joint Staff Council” and

has limited functions compared with those of the New Staff Office.


When ballistic missiles targeted at Japan are launched, the Maritime

Self-Defense Force (MSDF)’s Aegis ships, together with the ASDF’s radar, Patriot

missiles, and C2 systems will make initial efforts to engage and intercept the missiles.

Should the interception effort fails and missiles hit Japanese territory, Ground

Self-Defense Force (GSDF) will have to handle consequence management. In order

for the JSDF to conduct there operation seamlessly, the JSDF needs to build the BMD

System as a joint capability between Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces.

In addition, close coordination with US forces in Japan and the US government will also

be essential.

In 1995 Japan Defense Agency started to review our air defense system. In

1999, we started the joint technical research on future equipment and in 2004 we began

to introduce the BMD. After Japanese government decided to introduce BMD, we

have held meetings regularly with the US to strengthen cooperation for BMD between

the two countries. The new radars have been developed, and old systems have been

upgraded. At the same time, ASDF is also developing the Japan Aerospace Defense

Ground Environment (JADGE), which will be the C2 system for BMD. In 2006 we

will have a partial BMD capability.

(C3I capability)

The 2004 NDPG emphasizes the significance of improving command, control,

communications and information (C3I) capability. Due to stovepipes among the

services, the linkage between each and among service’s staff office and major

commands, particularly in the area of C3I, is inadequate today, both at the operational as

well as tactical levels. Currently, the JSDF has been developing the Defense Information

Infrastructure (DII)—a new secure communication network—in which classified

information can be communicated at the command level of each service from April


But the DII doss not resolve problems at operational and tactical levels. Today,


the MSDF and the ASDF already have separate guidelines for developing C3I with the

NCW concept. Based on these guidelines, MSDF has already acquired a new C2

system and deployed it to some units. Currently, however, it is difficult to share

information and have a common recognition of battle fields between the two services’

units in real time except between Aegis and the ASDF’s AWACS. While the

introduction of BMD has been driving the efforts for joint operations by developing

communications infrastructure and C2 system to cope with ballistic missile threats,

there are still some challenges remaining in the development of communication

infrastructure by which we share information such as the detection of a missile launch.

(The need of NCW concept for JSDF)

For the following reasons, I believe it is indispensable for the JSDF introducing

NCW concept which will improve the operational capability and “jointness” of JSDF.

1) The way of US Force’s new warfighting based on NCW concept was demonstrated

successfully in Iraq War. Considering strategic environments and use of IT technologies

in the battlespace, the JSDF should move to introduce NCW.

2) NCW concept need the highly “jointness” itself and promote more effective joint

operation, enable to use the power of military. The essence of joint operations is to

employ military forces and use the power more effectively and swiftly depending on the

situation of the battle. For that purpose, we have to establish a network of military

forces at all the levels of command.

3) NCW concept contributes to enhance the interoperability between the JSDF and the

US forces. In order to ensure interoperability with the US forces in operation, the JSDF

has to understand the concept of NCW and have the connectivity with the US Forces

through developing NCW capability.

5. Implication for JSDF

(Challenges for GOJ and JDA)


The capability that the JSDF should have depends on whether Japan can

exercise the right of collective self-defense or not. Generally, it takes for long period to

build up a certain military capability. The present and future efforts for building the

joint capability would be neither efficient nor effective if Government of Japan (GOJ)

couldn’t solve the issue of collective self-defense at an early date. Indeed, this issue has

significant impacts on the JSDF’s future efforts in developing defense capability with

NCW concept. I hope GOJ solve the issue of collective self-defense as soon as possible.

On the other hand, although the authority to operate troops is transferred to JSO,

each service still holds authority to build up troops. It may be expected that the negative

effect, such as budget battle by the difference in culture of each services limit to build

up the joint capability properly. Therefore, to do appropriate budget allocation to each

service, JDA and JSDF should consider taking in a system like Joint Requirement

Oversight Council (JROC) which has been adopted at the U.S. DoD.

(Balance of investment to network capability and platform)

The introduction of NCW is quite essential for the JSDF to strengthen the joint

operational capability. We have to establish the network (C2 and information

infrastructure) in such a manner that we can ensure interoperability in operations with

US forces.

To this end, the JSDF first has to understand the concept of NCW and tenets of it

in the JSDF’s joint operation. However, the JSDF have not come to fully recognize the

necessity of introducing NCW concept. This may be due to the skepticism about the

benefit of NCW. But it also may come out of budget concern that still lingers in the

JSDF. My sense is that although most in each service’s Staff Office may recognize the

necessity of network capability, they may be unwilling to commit too much resource to

network capability because of the limitation of budget. I assume that the JSDF still need

to upgrade the capability of its major platforms. It is obvious that investments into both

network and platform will become immense expenditure. While it is important to invest


in NCW capability as much as new platform or upgrade of platform, we should still

keep a balance to invest in defense capability.

(Developing doctrine and operational concept with NCW)

There are other challenges, however, for the JSDF to introduce for the NCW

concept to its force structure. But such challenges are not uncommon when a military

force tries to develop a new concept or new military doctrine.

An immediate challenge for the JSDF is to establish a common doctrine and

operational concept. Once new doctrines and operational concept for a new way of

war are established, the JSDF needs to intensify training, experiments, and exercises.

Throughout this process, a close coordination with US forces will be extremely

important. In this process, it is most important to clarify the operational concept, and the

NCW concept is introduced to the JSDF with a clear direction and methodology.

Effort toward that end should start in each JSDF service. While it takes many years to

build up defense capabilities, formulating a shared operational concept among three

services is quite an urgent matter.

(Difference between offense and defense)

If an offensive force has problems in a battle because of the disruption of its

network system, or inability to obtain actionable information on its targets, it has an

option of suspending their attack. However, a defensive force, such as the JSDF, does

not have that option. For a defense force, in fact, the shutdown of a network system

might create risks that are critical for our forces. For example, our command post may

not get important information (e.g. information on the locations of target) in a timely

manner and deploy necessary forces. This is why it is critical for the JSDF to establish

a robust network system.

(Effects on the acquisition system: Impact on defense industry)

The introduction of NCW will have a great impact on JSDF’s acquisition system

and organization as well as the defense industry in Japan. Although the JSDF cannot


avoid the use of COTS as necessary in order to quickly introduce the latest technology,

good balance with the military specification needs to be struck.

For instance, if considering interoperability with the United States, one can

argue that the best way to achieve that is procure the US equipments and weapons. In

fact, with the start of a joint operations system, we will need more interoperability for

newly acquired equipment.

But it is also quite important for our strategy of national

defense to build up the basis of our defense industry. That means that Japan has to

change its weapon procurement system from the one our, in which each SDF service

buys its own equipment to a more of a joint procurement process.

But such an acquisition reform may bring some pain for the industry, and

therefore will not be easy. However, as Japan revises its process of defense capability

build-up, similar revision needs to take place on the acquisition side as well.

6. Conclusion

Introducing the NCW concept to the JSDF’s posture, there are many challenges

such as a technical issue, budget limitation, budget battle between each services, and

acquisition reform. However, the impact of introducing NCW capability on the

operational effectiveness of the JSDF is immeasurable. All services can share the

information of battlespace at all (shooter)’s action quickly with full and swift

understanding of a commander’s intention. This will allow the JSDF to operate jointly

with a greater efficiency, which can only contribute to defense of Japan. So the JSDF

should not hesitate to introduce NCW concept. In the hope that relevant political issues

such as the right of collective self-defense will be solved quickly, the JSDF should

tackle introduction of NCW concept earnestly in order to build up future defense



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