Published Aerospace Power Journal - Winter 1997
Dominant Battlespace Knowledge: The Winning Edge edited by Stuart E. Johnson and Martin C. Libicki. National Defense University Press, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. 20319-6000, 1995, 149 pages.
The authors of this monograph examine what has been billed as the third revolution in military affairs-namely, information warfare. However, even that term does not adequately describe what battlefield dominance encompasses. The ability of sensors to work with precision weapons to strike at a wide range of targets before the enemy can react is the essential goal of battlefield dominance. However, achieving this revolution in military affairs requires significant developments in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; command, control, communications, computer applications, and intelligence; and precision force. Merging our increasing capacity to continuously gather realtime, allweather information with our ability to process and make sense of this voluminous data builds the realm of dominant battlespace knowledge.
Utilizing contingency scenarios (Southwest Asia and Korea), one chapter points out that this new capability permits the shifting of war-fighting assets from strategic to more immediately effective tactical targeting; flattening hierarchies; and changing the planner's role from strategic allocator to resource assembler. Operating inside the enemy's decisionmaking loop is the key to dominant battlespace knowledge.
Examining the concept of dominant battlespace knowledge from all aspects, the authors explore the changes the United States might have to undergo and the degree to which the enemy can adapt or attempt to subvert this new strategy. Although no foe is capable of doing so at present, the authors argue that the United States must push forward in this revolution and bring about the technological and strategic innovation necessary to ensure that it remain a world leader. The book is thus also an argument that the military continue to receive the investments necessary to achieve these goals. As the revolution continues, formal changes in the structure and training of the US military will have to occur. It is here that institutional resistance causes military revolutions to pass to other countries, since some cannot realign themselves to take advantage of certain changes.
Dominant Battlespace Knowledge is a must for any strategist and information warrior. It illustrates that there is more to information warfare than computers and that structural changes to allow the United States to exploit these changes and revolutions in military affairs are very far reaching. New acronyms and concepts that require some background knowledge make the book slow reading. The importance of dominant battlespace knowledge, however, requires military officers to grasp and implement this concept.
Capt Gilles Van Nederveen, USAF