...the reality is catching up with the ideas projected by Admiral Owens! Battlefield communication, AirLand Battle and Operational Maneuver From the Sea are all part of the revolution (and that is no exageration) of the future that is now upon us and detailed in this book. How all this battlefield communication can be carried out are discussed, but picture it a bit this way - the Borg are here.
The American military have always operated on the idea that the individual private soldier (airman or Marine) is an archtype of the larger unit from the squad to the entire nation. A bit like fractals - each component looks like the larger unit. If the upper command are destroyed, each soldier knows what he is to do to accomplish the mission. How many times do we read of battles where companies are led not by captains but by the surviving corporal who knows the mission and takes over when required?
By lifting the fog of war thru extensive battlefield communication, each soldier, tank, fighting vehicle, attack helicopter, strike aircraft, mobile artillery piece, and commander knows what is happening, where, when, to whom. In the first Gulf War, a mobile gun would get 3rd- to 5th-hand data about a target and fire away hoping that the good guys had not moved onto the target area. Now, the good guys talk right to the gun crew and call in artillery as they need it. The same with aircraft and helicopter strikes.
The downside is that all these data are two-fold; first, the shear volume is overwhleming and available to too many levels of command. Like Nixon telephoning in a football play (yes, he did), the direction of the field can be shifted too high in the chain of command. A division commander in the field will usually be able to make a better decision than a general in Ft. Bragg, but each can now view action in real time via drones buzzing around the battlefield. It is the well controlled rear echelon general who can keep his yap shut when the action gets hot and heavy and offer help rather than opinion disguised as orders. (Oh the stories I have heard!) People can become saturated with the amount data and must learn to filter out the important from the interesting from the useless.
Second, the gear is sometimes trecherous. In Afghanistan, a trooper used his GPS to call in an airstrike. No big deal, easy as pie. Except that the batteries began to run low as he entered the target's coordinates. He popped out the old batteries, popped in new ones and sent the coordinates to the strike aircraft. Very cool - direct communication from the field to the strike! Except that he forgot, or was never told, that changing the batteries reset the GPS to HIS coordinates...Oops! You probably saw that one on CNN or Fox. "Incoming shrapnel!" Troops ducking behind mud walls, dead Americans and Afghans.
Still, the revolution means that the military of Viet Nam was as different from that of Desert Storm, as that of today is from Desert Storm. Glad to see it.