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[infowar.de] Krieg im Infozeitalter
Ein Artikel der Washington Post zur Umstrukturierung des
amerikanischen Milit=E4rs Richtung informationsgest=FCtzte
1's and 0's Replacing Bullets in U.S. Arsenal
Success in Afghanistan Propels Shift to Equipping Forces With
By Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 2, 2002; Page A01
FORT LEWIS, Wash. -- Out on an Army firing range, in a
conversation punctuated by machine-gun bursts, Staff Sgt. Michael
Land describes how he and his
soldiers are preparing to engage and destroy the enemy using an
even deadlier weapon: digital information.
The most obvious difference between his unit -- a new rapid-
deployment infantry brigade -- and conventional ones isn't that their
armored vehicles are propelled by
wheels instead of tank tracks. Rather, Land said, it "is all the
information we're being given" by computers that pull in data from
satellites, drone aircraft and
intelligence analysts far from the front lines.
When even the infantry -- long characterized as "grunts" and "mud
soldiers" -- is focused on moving digits, it is clear a major shift is
underway in the way the U.S.
military fights. What the Afghanistan conflict has brought home to
the armed forces is how much the new way of war is built around an
In Afghanistan, the Pentagon has relied on a global umbrella of new
information systems, ranging from satellites far overhead to
surveillance drones circling the
battlefield to Special Forces troops with laser designators on the
ground, to find targets, transmit information about them and then
attack. Just as important was a
communications network that permitted gigabytes of information to
rocket from Afghanistan to U.S. commanders in Saudi Arabia, on
ships at sea and even as far as
Tampa, where the man responsible for the campaign, Gen. Tommy
R. Franks, spent most of the war at Central Command headquarters.
The military's new dependence on information systems was driven
home Thursday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a
speech aimed at refocusing the
Pentagon's efforts to change the military to better counter the threats
of the 21st century. In robust defense of President Bush's proposed
$48 billion increase in
military spending next year, Rumsfeld called for more funding for
intelligence and more attention to unpiloted aircraft and other
sophisticated reconnaissance systems.
"We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries," Rumsfeld
said. "We need to make the leap into the information age, which is
the critical foundation of our
To be sure, the U.S. military -- despite all its technological prowess -
- has yet to find Osama bin Laden. But the military's success in
routing the Taliban regime that
sheltered the al Qaeda leader has emboldened those at the
Pentagon who favor reshaping the armed forces around more
sophisticated information and weapons
The Bush administration came into office vowing to make major
changes in the structure of the military by eliminating some of the
large, hulking forces designed for
fighting a ground war in Europe and replacing them with smaller,
more flexible units capable of being deployed on short notice to
anywhere on the globe.
The initiative stalled last summer. Rumsfeld ordered dozens of
studies, which led to months of contentious reviews but ultimately
produced no major changes in the
size and shape of the military. By Sept. 10, the widespread view in
the Pentagon was that defense reform was mired in bureaucratic
infighting and doomed to fail.
All that changed when terrorists piloted hijacked airliners into the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,100. The
attack and the war on
terrorism sparked an outpouring of support for the military on Capitol
One problem Rumsfeld confronted last year was that the Joint
Chiefs of Staff feared he would pay for his priorities by cutting back
spending on their priorities, such
as weapons and the number of active-duty troops. But the new
defense budget to be unveiled Monday contains almost $380 billion,
Pentagon officials say, and
should be enough to pay for almost everyone's priorities.
With more than a billion dollars a day available, said William
Schneider Jr., head of the Defense Science Board and a confidant
of Rumsfeld, the course of reform
should flow much more smoothly. "The environment is much more
positive now," he said.
This shift has huge implications for the future shape and
organization of the large parts of the military. The part of the Army
that is built around tanks and artillery
pieces faces renewed questions about relevancy. The Air Force,
having heavily used long-range bombers in the Afghan war, may be
pressed to explain why it isn't
building new bombers and instead is buying more short-range
fighters. Across the board, the ability to move information rapidly is
radically reducing the number of
troops and aircraft the military needs to deploy to fight.
Bandwidth, Not Bombs
The early success of the Afghan war, in which long-range bombers
were directed to targets by handfuls of U.S. Special Forces spotters
on the ground, confirmed
what a lot of people already suspected, said Edward C. "Pete"
Aldridge Jr., undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology
and logistics. "In the war itself,
what has changed is a real strong appreciation of the value of ISR
[intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and the real-time
value of being able to target
rapidly," Aldridge said.
There is talk at the Pentagon that the computer and other
information systems may elbow aside weaponry as the central
component in war. Ask a general or admiral
for thoughts about the Afghan campaign and they are more likely to
talk about "bandwidth" than bombs. In the air, on land and at sea,
the American approach to
combat increasingly focuses on how to get information, move it and
act on it quickly.
Indeed, retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, director of the
new Office of Force Transformation, said the overarching change
occurring in the military is a
transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
It used to be that mass meant military strength. Now, in an age of
24-hour battlefield surveillance and instantaneous targeting, mass
just makes a military unit easier to
find and hit.
"There is no doubt about it -- that is the fundamental transition, and
all other elements of transformation are subordinate to it," Cebrowski
The increasing reliance on precision bombs means fewer bombers
are needed. But it also requires more information about the location
of their targets. All told, the
Air Force has operated fewer than two dozen bombers in the Afghan
war, said Air Force Secretary James G. Roche. "You don't need so
many bombers, because
they carry so many bombs and each one is so accurate," he said.
The ability to gather information remotely and transmit it instantly
around the world means fewer troops need to be deployed and that
military staffs and experts can
operate in a headquarters thousands of miles away. That means the
United States can wage war less obtrusively. The Pentagon has
deployed just a few thousand
troops at bases in Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and about
4,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Pentagon officials said Rumsfeld's approach to his transformation
agenda will be different than the contentious path he took last year.
Instead of raising the prospect
of radical surgery on the military, they said, the emphasis will be on
continuous but gradual change.
"The way you need to do it is incrementally," Schneider said. "That's
much more the way the commercial sector does it."
Drones Here to Stay
In the first half of January, an official "Lessons Learned" panel
traveled to Afghanistan to figure out what in the U.S. arsenal
worked, what did not, and why. Those
results are still being compiled, but officials said some lessons
already have emerged.
The star in the air campaign has been the lethal drone aircraft, or
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), as the military calls it.
More than any other innovation,
the use of a Predator reconnaissance drone to launch Hellfire
missiles is likely to be what the Afghan war is remembered for.
The surprise is who was doing the shooting: the Central Intelligence
Agency, not the Air Force. The CIA borrowed the Predator from the
Air Force, which had been
experimenting with arming the plane, and used it aggressively in
Afghanistan, firing dozens of missiles at Taliban and al Qaeda
In October, just days before the war began, the National Defense
University issued a technical and policy assessment of lethal drones.
"An operational UCAV
capability is not expected to be available to U.S. field and fleet
commanders for 10 years," it concluded.
Now, with the war not yet over, there is new consensus that the
armed drone is here to stay. Never again is the United States likely
to go to war flying only piloted
aircraft. Aldridge predicted the next generation of the lethal drones
will carry larger payloads of bombs and sensors. "That's the right
thing to do," he said.
Keeping the Innovators
At its core, even a warrior drone is a matter of processing heaps of
information. The key to operating one is being able to move enough
data quickly so that it can be
flown and operated by a controller hundreds or thousands of miles
away. Information also promises to be the organizing principle
around which personnel policies
A small but vocal group of change-minded officers argues that the
armed forces must revamp a half-century-old personnel system that
transfers people every couple
of years, encourages generalists and seems to discourage
Indeed, a study on how to transform the military done by the Center
for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments for the Pentagon
recommended the military keep
innovators in place longer. It also said service chiefs should be
picked from areas likely to grow in importance, such as submarines
and space operations.
The study was especially critical of the Air Force, particularly its
leadership structure. The Air Force increasingly is being used for
long-range airstrikes, but of the
service's 17 top officers, only one has a significant background in
bombers, while 10 are fighter pilots, it said. Personnel choices lead
to procurement choices, argued
the study's author, the center's director of strategic studies, Michael
Vickers. While the Afghan war has shown the need for long-range
bombers, he noted, the Air
Force continues to focus its acquisition energy on buying short-range
aircraft such as the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Air Force is already adapting on some fronts. In a symbolic
acknowledgment of the emerging role played by information as a
weapon in and of itself, the Air
Force has given its new advanced command-and-control center a
weapon-like name, the "Falconer."
"When you go back and look at the lessons identified and the
technologies identified from Enduring Freedom" -- the military's
formal name for the war on terrorists in
Afghanistan -- "you will see some wonderful capabilities that we had
not demonstrated before in the ability to kill targets faster," said Air
Force Maj. Gen. Robert F.
Behler, who heads the Aerospace Command and Control and
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center at Langley Air
Force Base in Hampton, Va.
The Air Force hopes the center will help integrate the information
gathered by satellites in space, reconnaissance aircraft over the
battlefield and sensors on the
ground to help commanders make decisions more quickly.
Each of those information "platforms" would play a special role that
makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. For example,
said Behler, a targeting
sequence might begin when a satellite detected a radio
transmission. The satellite would automatically notify a Joint Stars
airborne radar system that keeps track of
vehicles moving on a battlefield. Joint Stars would find the
transmitting vehicle and order a Predator drone aircraft to move in
and take video images of it.
"What we're trying to do is have digits talk to each other, the ones
and zeros talking machine language," Behler said. "You find it and
fix it, track it and target it, and
just before you engage it, you have a human break point that says,
'Okay, that's a good target and all the rules of engagement are
played into it.' "
In Afghanistan, the Predator fed real-time targeting video directly to
AC-130 gunships, which were then able to attack targets. CIA
operatives using armed
Predators achieved the U.S. military's long-standing goal of reducing
the time from "sensor to shooter" to almost zero.
Where Battle Is Fought
Ultimately, what Behler is doing at the Falconer command-and-
control center in Virginia is not that different from the Army
experiment with the new brigade in
Here at Fort Lewis, Capt. J.C. Glicks's infantry company is part of
the Army's effort to be light enough to deploy overseas quickly but
strong enough to survive once
it gets to the fight. To achieve this balance, the new unit has a far
different organization than past infantry brigades. It has its own
military intelligence, signal and
medical detachments, not usually part of a traditional Army brigade.
More strikingly, it possesses a unit not seen before in the Army: A
"Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron"
designed to acquire information
and feed it to other units in the brigade. To help it acquire the
information, the squadron will fly its own air force of four unmanned
One of the biggest training challenges facing the new Army unit is
learning how to surf the wave of incoming information, rather than
drown in it. So, for days at a
time, commanders and troops from the unit hunker down before
rows of computer screens to learn how to understand and use the
battlefield information flow.
"This is where the battle is fought, so to speak," Lt. Col. Kevin
McClung said. "The key in all this is information dominance -- and
we have more information about
ourselves and the enemy, which will make us more lethal when we
There is concern, however, that the ability of computers and
machines to collect information exceeds soldiers' ability to process
it. "We can provide so much
information to you here it will really slow down your decision
process," Behler warned.
As the tense exercises in the Fort Lewis simulation center indicate,
the military's emphasis on information also creates new
vulnerabilities. Growing dependence on
information -- and the machines that gather it -- means it is likely
that future adversaries will attack the information networks,
Cebrowski said. He said the military
should prepare for attacks on reconnaissance planes, on satellites
and their ground terminals, and on the communications systems that
"This is the information age," said the career naval aviator. "The
battle is over the source of power."
Ricks reported from Washington.
=A9 2002 The Washington Post Company
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