Internetted Nodes and C2 Structures
by Robert J. Bunker, Ph.D.
In the article "Center of Gravity" (Military Intelligence,
April-June 1995), Captains Bruce Niedrauer and Lisa Bennett
succinctly emphasized the concept of understanding the center of
gravity and why it is critical to intelligence personnel. This
concept, based upon Army doctrine, has been published in FM 100-5,
Operations. Since the publication of FM 100-5 in June 1993,
however, a number of doctrinal concepts and premises have become
obsolete in the rapidly changing environment in which the Army
conducts operations. Questions of "conceptual obsolescence" have
already been raised toward the former concept of operations other
than war (OOTW) and, more recently, toward unidimensional
definitions of battlespace.
Given this concern, the utility of the center of gravity
concept for military intelligence (MI) practi- tioners should be
reexamined. It is only through such reexamination and continual
questioning of basic ideas and warfighting doctrine that the Army
can attain its Force XXl vision, assured of its dominance on the
emerging information battlefield.
The MI community faces a major challenge due, in no small part, to
emerging forms of advanced informational technologies. These
technologies provide the impetus for development of new
intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) doctrine and new changes
in organization to successfully exploit it. One significant area of
impact these technologies will have on the future battlefield is
that of battle command.
Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)'s Pamphlet 525-5, Force
XXl Operations, discusses the impact of technology on battle
command. The pamphlet also highlights the development of
nonhierarchical, force management structures. The impact of this
new form of force management will more than likely "alter, if not
replace, traditional, hierarchical command structures with new,
The physical basis of such internetted structures can be found
with the creation of the Advanced Research Project Agencies Network
(ARPANET) in 1969. An experiment conducted by the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency, the ARPANET ex- periment sought to
explore technologies for the networking of remote research sites.
ARPANET sends independent digital packets over networks
"internetted" together to pass information.
This informational structure is analogous to the functioning of
the human brain, with it's network of synapses, axons, and
dendrites. Such a networking scheme is robust because if part of it
sustains an injury, the digital packets can be rerouted to other
still- functioning networks. The dynamic property of internetted
communications technology received recognition early. Internetted
communications technology was advantageous because of the threat of
a potential nuclear exchange(and the resulting communications
destroying electromagnetic pulses) during the Cold War.
Although the Cold War is over, TRADOC has not forgotten the
advantages that internetted structures provide to military forces.
In fact, such structures will likely form the basis of what are
being called complex, adaptive armies. These high-technology
armies will qualitatively outclass the Force XXI Army. This Army,
although smaller in size than some late-20th-century century
armies, is posturing itself to be the dominant force on tomorrow's
Complex, adaptive armies will dominate the 21st century
battlefield. These armies will be of concern to MI professionals in
the future, both to support the tactical warfighter in the Force
XXl design effort and to aid that warfighter in the defeat of an
opposing, high-technology force. The development of complex and
adaptive armies will be problematic for intelligence personnel
because determining an enemy's center of gravity will be impossible
when such a center no longer exists.
Such a perception is directly at odds with the center of
gravity definition found in FM 100-5:
The hub of all power and movement upon which everything
depends; that characteristic, capability, or location from which
enemy and friendly forces derive their freedom of action, physical
strength, or the will to fight.
The fact that internetted structures function in a
fundamentally different way than more traditional hierarchical ones
provides the basis for this perception. This robustness means that
internetted armies will be far more difficult to defeat on the
battlefield because of their advanced battle command structure. No
longer can a unit mass its efforts on a single element to defeat an
As an example, a decapitation strike against the center of
gravity of a hierarchical structure can paralyze its decisionmaking
capability. Such a
strike would have almost no effect on a nonhierarchical structure.
In fact, as can be seen in the bottom right part of the Figure, it
would require three precision strikes to effectively degrade the
information flow between the two halves of the nonhierarchical
structure. Even that would not guarantee decisionmaking paralysis
within its remaining warfighting units because that function is
As a result, the concept of "command and control (C2) nodes"
will need expansion as will the parallel massing of an Army unit's
combat potential toward an enemy force.8 One can speculate that
only a simultaneous strike against the C2 nodes of an opposing
internetted structure can rapidly secure defeat of the enemy. MI
practitioners should thus consider the feasibility of an
operational concept based on that of a "C2 nodal strike" to help
the commander defeat an opposing high-technology force. While such
opposing forces may not exist for at least a decade or two, their
future development based on an internetted battle command is
inevitable. Trends also suggest it will be very difficult to
isolate the C2 nodes of opposing forces because of
counter-informational developments based on Stealth and other
Furthermore, development of internetted structures is likely
within societal institutions. Isolating national will, public
opinion, or even key individuals as a likely center of gravity will
no longer be feasible. Prior to the start of operations,
intelligence must identify a cluster of important nodes
representing the C2 centers of such internetted structures. These
structures will probably gain protection from counter-informational
developments; they will result in new challenges which Ml must
As noted in TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, internetted structures will
have a significant impact on 21st century battle command and, as a
result, will likely form the basis of complex, adaptive armies.
These armies, and potentially the societies that they mirror, will
be informationally robust in nature. Consequently, this article
argues that the current center of gravity concept found in FM 100-5
will not apply to them.
The professional contribution to MI in their discussion of Army
doctrine by junior officers such as Captains Neidrauer and Bennett
is praiseworthy. At the same time, however, we encourage them to
take a risk in their writings and actively participate in the
development of new doctrinal concepts. For MI to successfully
support the Force XXl vision, it must now begin to develop new
concepts, such as that of C2 nodes, and determine their potential
utility to future IEW operations.
Dr. Robert J. Bunker is an adjunct professor in the National
Security Studies Program at California State University, San
Bernardino, and an associate professor with American Military
University. His research focus is on technology's influence on
warfare and political organization, and on the national security
implications of emerging forms of warfare. Readers can contact Dr.
Bunker via E-mail at [email protected]