Netcentric Warfare Revisited (NCW): It's Origin and Its Future ... Revisited
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It has been a decade since Cebrowski and Gartska, and Alberts, Gartska, and Klein published their watershed Network‐Centric Warfare (NCW) Naval Institute Proceedings article and book, respectively. Through the lens of hindsight, this paper examines how their theories and predictions have held up. The authors find that the tenets of NCW have proven valid. Despite pro forma policy to the contrary, the US Defense community has substantially eschewed Cebrowski et al. in actual practice. Ironically, Al Qaeda has implemented the principles and achieved an advantage from them. Meanwhile, lessons learned in the 21st Century suggest two subtle improvements to the original NCW theory. First, success at NCW requires instantiating “smart push” of valued information at the right time (VIRT) as a key tactic. Second, success at NCW requires rapid, agile, “network‐centric” acquisition conducted literally within the commercial ecosystem of the World Wide Web.
Chris Gunderson is a Research Associate at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is the principal investigator of the Open Enterprise Information System (OEIS) research initiative. This project sponsored by the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and executed in the Northern Virginia. The project objective is to help the government improve its flawed information technology acquisition process through four key activities: Establish a collaborative network of government, industry, and academic experts who have succeeded at some aspect of OEIS; Study Internet successful stories and distill the lessons learned; Embed lessons learned into familiar government acquisition artifacts; Work with early adopting pilot projects to verify, validate, refine, and document best practices