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Almost every weekday morning, the three things I do before leaving the house are 1) download the prior evening’s e-mail, 2) strap on my pager and, 3) check the battery level in my portable cellular telephone. Each day, and with very little effort, I become part of the network-centric ethos of the modem workforce. It is, as Admiral Cebrowski noted, the second major sociological trend that has been radically influenced by communication technology when he said that; “networking, utilizing the Internet, intranets, and extranets, is rapidly becoming a principal organizing force in the world”.

This network-centric lifestyle has become so common to me that I was amused to reflect on the fact that only about half a generation has passed since the emergence of this capability to personally connect anywhere and at anytime-fixed or mobile. Consider the fact that the first communication satellite experiments, Score and Courier occurred only 41 years ago in 1958 and 1960, the first successful passive communications test occurred with Echo in 1960, and the world’s first commercial satellite capability, INTELSAT! was launched in 1965–only 34 years ago. The first UHF service to the U.S. naval fleet, MARJSAT, will celebrate its 23rd birthday this year.1 Direct Broadcast, Digital PCS, Internet, and Multi-mode Internetworks have all been commercially introduced only within the last 15-20 years.

One gets the sense that we have moved very fast in realizing a truly global Network Centric environment. But, if the current trends continue, we will realize that we are only just beginning to push off the starting blocks. According to the Harvard Business School, “In the next decade, some 1, 700 satellites will be launched into space, creating the potential for more than 3 billion people to view CNN, make a phone can, tap into the information super-highway, or watch reruns of Seinfeld and the X-Files. Assimilation will be swift. Our modern communications system is the result of more than a half a century of planting copper wires in the ground, over our heads, and in our walls. The 21 “century’s infrastructure of satellites, ground stations, and wireless networks are being put in place in a fraction of that time.”‘ John Patrick, Vice President of Internet Technology at IBM predicts; “we are on the verge of a global area network with billions of users. Our cars, appliances, pagers, and homes will transmit information from their own Internet addresses. Your car is going to send you an e-mail message telling you it is time to change the oil.”

Connectivity is one dimension of capability when describing the Network Centric infrastructure. Bandwidth, the ability to convey information, or data bits, is another. For that metric, the future also appears to be unlimited. As Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, observed; “you think computer prices are plummeting while capacity increases. Wait until you see what happens to bandwidth”.’ The following table presents that point. Moore’s Law argues that processor power, roughly measured as the number of transistors or gates on a single chip, doubles every 18 months. As can be seen in this table, backbone and available user bandwidth are expected to increase by an order of magnitude every 24 months.

Table 1. Explosive Growth in Available Bandwidth

Year Backbone Home Users Equivalent (if Moores Law)
1996 45-155 Mbps 28.8 kbps 28. 8 kbps
1998 500 Mbps 288 kbps 48.0 kbps
2000 5 Gbps 2.88 Mbps 76.8 kbps
2002 50 Gbps 28.8 Mbps 115.2 kbps
2004 500 Gbps 288 Mbps 192.0 kbps
2006 5 Tbps 2.88 Gbps 307.2 kbps

The realization of this future Net-Centric capacity was noted by a CNO tasked, and National Research Council (NRC) sponsored Panel on Information in Warfare completed in 1997. The panel, whose charter was to review current and emerging information technologies relating to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps missions concluded; “information distribution and command and control in the 2035 time frame will provide a completely transparent and seamless medium for transfer of information to users”. The panel envisioned that in 2035, problems associated with the availability or connectivity, capacity, and coverage would be largely solved. Further, commercial network infrastructure will provide connectivity to the naval forces, and access will be obtained through lease or outsource arrangements.

Let me highlight what I just stated: connectivity, capacity and coverage will exist, Fixed and Mobile, but with a reliance on commercial network infrastructure.

Inter networking is so commonly practiced in the commercial world that we sometimes forget that the Navy is not fully Inter-networked in its tactical infrastructure. For example, a specialized converter translates between Link 11 and Link 16 formats, but there is no way to address an arbitrary packet from outside the network to a member.7 As the U.S. Navy prepares itself to become a Network Centric fighting force of the 21″ century, it is faced with a very modem dilemma: whether, how, and when to invest in the development of network technologies? The service cannot compete with the pace of the information revolution taking place in the commercial sector and thus must learn to exploit, purchase or lease, these capabilities. At the same time the Navy and the U.S. government in general, cannot afford to allow the reliance on this commercial infrastructure to create vulnerabilities that might lead to an incapacitated war-fighting machine.

In this afternoon’s session, we will focus on the roles, missions, and technology requirements for one of the Navy’s principal weapons platforms, the submarine, as it prepares to participate in this Network Centric environment of the future. The session is broadly divided along with two major themes; 1) How will the submarines missions and Command and Control doctrine change as a result of access to mobile broadband networked communications infrastructure, and 2) What are some of the technology challenges and approaches for exploiting this capability specific to submarines in the 21st century?

We start this session with an invited keynote paper presented by Rear Admiral William Holland who will address the history of submarine command and control and how C2 will be affected by communications and information technology in the future.

Carl Siel, of the Submarine Communications Office, PMW 173, will then present an overview of the current submarine communications programs and requirements to support Network Centric Warfare addressing the challenges of providing enhanced connectivity while maintaining stealth and affordability.

Then we will hear two papers on the changing roles and mission of the submarine force. First, Captain Jim Patton will present emerging missions of submarines against a backdrop of the history of submarine communications. This will be followed by a presentation by Ed Anderson on a concept for submarine-launched and controlled UAVs to support Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Targeting roles.

The final segment of the day will focus on technologies that can provide ubiquitous connectivity with increased bandwidth needed to support these future missions. We will hear two papers related to future concepts for providing high bandwidth antenna designs; the Large Aperture Mast Antenna, presented by Bill Craig of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport; and, the so-called DARPA and NRL “bake-off for the Buoyant Cable Antenna Array” presented by Gary Somers and George Thompson of MIT and APL.

Finally, Captain John Polcari of DARPA will provide a presentation of current DARPA work related to future submarine payloads.

With that brief summary, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our first speaker, Rear Admiral William Holland.


1-VADM A. K Cebrowski: Sea, Space, Cyberspace: Borderless Domains, Feb 1999
2- “Technology for the US Navy and Marine Corp, 2000-2035, Volume 3 Information Warfare, National Academy Press, National Academy of Sciences, 1997
3- Regis McKenna; “Real-Time”, Harvard Business School Press, 1997, p27
4- John Patrick (VP- Internet Tech, IBM), “Internet World”, Newsbytes News Network article, March 1997
5- Andy Grove; Intel CEO, “Life after Television”, Forbes ASAP, Feb 1994
6- Jack Rickard; “Bandwidth Arithmetic and Mythology”, Board-watch Magazine, May 1996.

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