Passive inactivity, because you have not been given specific instructions to do this or to do that, is a serious deficiency. – General of the Army/Secretary of State/Secretary of Defense George Catlett Marshall
Decision making ability is the defining characteristic of an effective leader. From the Duke of Marlborough to Seal Team Six, leaders have sought improved means to collect intelligence to inform their decision calculus. One of the roles of technology throughout military history has been to improve access to greater quantities of higher quality information and a more effective ability to communicate that information across a widely dispersed force. The airplane was initially used as an ISR platform before it evolved into the lethal weapon system it is today. Computer networks are used to communicate information around the world at the speed of light. Innovation continues the quest to provide more perfect information and decrease the risk of making an incorrect decision.
Big data analytics and machine learning, discussed here previously, will attempt to synthesize all of the data collected and turn it into information that can satisfy the information requirements of commanders in the field. Similarly, the combat cloud is envisioned as a repository for all of this data and information that can be pushed out to provide a common operating picture for joint forces. However, the knowledge that the US is highly dependent on high-tech solutions to both ISR collection and communication all but guarantees that our adversaries will target our ability to access this information. Over the coming weeks, OTH will feature articles that focus on decision making and communication in the future operating environment.