This book is intended to describe with analytical rigor the concept of distributed networked operations, which is a refinement of what have popularly been called “network centric operations.” Distributed networked operations envision combat being conducted by large numbers of diverse and small units—rather than by small numbers of generally homogenous, large units. Examples of the latter are sea battles between blue water fleets and strategic bombing campaigns.
In theory and to a significant extent in practice in Afghanistan and Iraq, distributed networked operations involve a mixed bag of naval, ground and air units, none of which is individually as powerful as a fleet, air wing or armored division. Operations of this sort do have advantages that more traditional approaches lack. For example, properly executed distributed networked operations are less dependent on the survival of individual units and thus should be harder for an adversary to disrupt.
The key is how the activities of geographically dispersed and functionally diverse units are orchestrated, or controlled. This is obviously a complex matter that requires a thorough understanding of the concepts upon which distributed networked operations are based.