This is Part II of Is Empowering the Strategic Corporal the Way to Achieve Agility?
The Indian Fisherman
I stumbled over a seemingly simple but very powerful illustration of Transformation via an example in an article about an “Indian Fisherman”; published in the Washington Post,
While the fishing techniques have not changed, the balance of power between the actors has considerably been revolutionized. In the past, fisherman used to arrive at port with a load of fish and hope for the best. The wholesaler on the dock knew that the fisherman’s un-iced catch wouldn’t last long in the fiery Indian sun. So the fisherman was forced to take whatever price was offered without having any idea whether dealers in other nearby ports were offering more.
Today that fisherman (I call him a strategic corporal) is connected via a camera equipped cell phone to a network of fellow fisherman and buyers, he can find fish with greater knowledge and negotiate the catch with various buyers while still at sea.
In essence, agility was obtained by adopting new technology, applying the net-centric concept of operations and a modular organizational structure.
At a CIO conference I attended recently a commodore of the Navy asked the question why an Indian fisherman actually had more network centric capabilitlty by adapting commercial mobile phones than he had on his frigate. He pointed out that they are sailing in the same waters and that the same type of technology is also available to his adversaries when patrolling the sea;
As seen in the “Indian Fisherman”; illustration, agility is elusive without the appropriate infrastructure to support operations in the dynamic defense ecosystem. A great divide still exists between the Battle Management and the Resource Management communities. In most cases this is artificial and amplified by the different security classifications. In the end, it’sreally about the same thing; viewed from different perspectives. Commercial off the shelf mobile phones allowed the Indian Fisherman to transform on the fly and redefine his place in the value chain.
The Mission Capability Package
The Mission Capability Package described by Alberts in Network Centric Warfare is in reality the common ground between these communities. Each community plans and executes their functions based on their perspective of Mission Capability Packages. As such, a common and unified perspective towards Mission Capability Packages is required to fulfill the objective of true interoperability.
Today, IT systems are not designed to work together, data exchange formats are complex and inconsistent vocabulary exists to describe resources. Consequently, misunderstanding of what, where and when resources are needed produce assumptions made on the status of critical resources and lead to inappropriate prioritization of support resources.
In the military world the mission capability package is the fundamental building block for resource management & battle management.
This requires a Capability-Centric perspective of your forces with Organizational Flexibility to enable Defense organizations to tailor forces on the fly and flexibly network forces to meet the mission needs.
The Force Element
The force element ( link to SAP Documentation) of SAP for Defense & Security ( link to Whitepaper ) allows organizations to quickly generate a Defense Force that consists out of sets of Mission Capability packages.
Imagine a military organization that can completely be built up out of Lego type Force Elements. Force Element consist out of Force Elements. All force elements have the same granularity, automatically giving the commander a view on authorized data including “What should be”; versus “What is” (Status) in terms of personnel, material, infrastructure; and ultimately readiness on each level.
Instead of asking for reports on who has what and in which state the force element structure give you the the necessary information (given you have the proper authorization) which allows them to have complete organizational flexibly on the fly. This allows various organizational structures from the force generation view and the force employment view to see tactical groupings at the same time in their system. Planning and execution seamlessly may become one part of the same overarching process transforming the defense forces.
Timedependent Support Relationships
Different time dependent relationships for command & control will define who reports to whom for what and from when to when. Different time dependent support relationships will drive who supports whom for what and from when to when. An example (below) shows a maintenance notification created by a platoon will automatically follow the valid support relationship. The same is valid for supply, medical or whatever other support relationship is defined. Thus changing the tooth to tail ratio by automating what can be automated.
Interacting via a map
The Commander will change the support relationships by interacting with the underlying IT-system via a interactive map ( GIS = Geographical Information System ) from ESRI; like a pilot flying a a new small plane like a Diamond DA 40 with a diesel engine interfacing a Garmin 1000.
Food for thought:
Are our forces ready for a world like this or are we changing to many of the kingdoms?