Mapping and Analyzing NSW Blue Network to Leverage Insights for a Competitive World

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Everton, Sean F.
Cunningham, Daniel T.
Callaghan, Christopher J.
Naval Special Warfare Command
social network analysis (SNA)
social capital
blue networks
resource generators
exponential random graph models (ERGMs)
great power competition (GPC)
informal networks
multilevel networks
social processes.
Date of Issue
Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School.
This study’s purpose is to examine Naval Special Warfare Command’s (NAVSPECWARCOM) “blue network” and evaluate its structural strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide recommendations as to how the command can improve its ability to leverage its network and draw insights from it. This paper examines this topic from a social network perspective on social capital. Guided by extant social network research, it maps and analyzes the network’s structural patterns and assesses the extent to which it has access to critical resources and expertise from outside networks (e.g., academic and private industry). It finds that both close personal and colleague relations contribute substantially to regular communication patterns among personnel. Blue network members tend to form communication clusters as well, which can permit information and resources to transmit efficiently across them, especially in its relatively decentralized form. In fact, the command can rely on many network members to gain access to capital within the structure rather than depend heavily on a few well-connected individuals. However, about a quarter of respondents do not communicate regularly with the command, which indicates that capital may not reach the command. Furthermore, the type of capital to which the network has access varies. While it appears relatively strong in technology-based areas (e.g., innovation and artificial intelligence (AI)), it can make improvements in key substantive areas pertaining to great power competition (GPC), such as cultural and language expertise. This paper offers two broad categories of recommendations: namely, practices and information collection and storage procedures. Recommendations include maintaining an entrepreneurial mentality but improving formal communication, facilitating the creation of “short-cuts” among affiliated institutions, tasking personnel to target key resource gaps, immediately establishing contacts with experts in key areas, collecting blue network and resource data, and leveraging information systems for information storage.
Technical Report
NPS NRP Technical Report
Defense Analysis
Naval Research Program (NRP)
NPS Report Number
Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM)
N7 - Warfighting Development
This research is supported by funding from the Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Research Program (PE 0605853N/2098).
Chief of Naval Operations(CNO)
Distribution Statement
Approved for public release. Distribution is unlimited.
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.