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Chapter 5

Investigation Recommendations

The architecture described in this paper cannot be for air power only. Realizing the goal of Wisdom Warfare requires the integration of all knowledge sources and core competencies of each service. In a word, it must be joint. The architecture must serve the needs of all service components and unified commands. It must be developed and fielded as one common system, providing knowledge and wisdom to the warrior across all levels of war and through the full spectrum of conflict. It must also permit easy integration of coalition or alliance partners, when necessary. This will obviously place a greater burden on the system's security feature, but it should also force reconsideration of the way information is classified and released to foreign military leaders.

The continuing revolution in information technology makes the capabilities described in this architecture possible. However, a revolution in military affairs is not complete until the new technology is applied in combination with new doctrine and organizational changes. 1 They are needed to achieve the synergistic effects of combining intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, weather, navigation, communications, and computers. They will also provide the proper environment to train and grow "info-warriors."

New doctrine and organization will have to overcome institutional biases and orchestrate the development of a common architecture across service, government, and commercial sector lines. The DOD must leverage the commercial market's lead in information technology development. The DOD will not need to invest substantial sums to achieve the desired capabilities as the US completes its transition to a Third Wave society. 2 This is not to say the DOD should passively accept whatever information technology the commercial market produces. Rather, the DOD should be an active participant in influencing the direction of certain information technology research and development.

Knowledge and Wisdom Recommendations

The exponential growth of communications and networking technology in the commercial sector will provide the military with cost-effective connectivity around the globe. 3 The military must invest in providing secure, reliable communications links between ground nodes and fast moving platforms. Lightweight, multibeam, broadband, phased-array antennas and small, low-power communications packages are two specific areas requiring further development.

Security must be integrated throughout the architecture. Cryptography and multilevel security operating software can provide high levels of security to individual systems; however, new techniques must be developed to ensure the survivability and assurance of the architecture itself.

New approaches in computing such as DNA-based and optical computing offer the potential of revolutionary advances in processing speed and parallelism.

Advances in storage capacity are required to manage the billions of bits flowing through the architecture. Emerging storage technologies such as holographic memories, vertical block line storage, and data warehousing offer possible alternatives. 4

Fusion research is important in the infosphere. High-impact artificial intelligence applications require coordinated efforts of research and development across several areas of computer science. Building these systems will require combining AI methods with non-AI approaches and embedding AI technology within larger systems. 5

DOD should research military applications of AI, intelligent software agents, neural networks, fuzzy cognitive maps, chaos theory, and Markov chains. Additionally, the DOD should concentrate on information technologies that encourage open systems, dual-use defense and commercial technologies, software advances which improve on object-oriented code, adaptive algorithms, pattern recognition, and automatic target recognition.

Human System Integration Recommendations

The technologies needed in the human system integration component will require the Air Force to focus research on areas unique to military missions while maximizing its leverage on the advances in the commercial world. Supporting technologies in this area are improvements to human sensory capabilities and technologies that improve the human cognitive capabilities. These technologies will allow the human and system to work with one another to maintain the best situational awareness possible. The Air Force must also pursue an effective training program for humans and systems to achieve good integration and provide the best environment for making decisions. Interactive and learning displays will be a key component of the information operations systems of 2025. To improve the ability of the decision makers to receive the information necessary to make decisions, the Air Force must continue to advance the capabilities of HSI technology.


The most cost-effective options will likely follow the advances in commercial development and application of technologies in computational, networking, and communications areas. The key technologies in the previous section fall into three general categories. 6 They are depicted in table 1.

The first category includes those technologies developed by the commercial world and not likely to need significant military investment. The second category consists of high-risk technologies with potentially greater long-term payoff but not worth military investment at this stage. The final category contains those with good payoff but which requires military investment at this time.

In addition, the armed forces will need to augment these areas where the military has unique requirements (i.e., multilevel security, high-data-rate encryption, anti-jam, and low probability of intercept communications).

Table 1

Technology Investment Opportunities

Commercial Development High Risk Military Investment Areas
  • Neural networks
  • Massively parallel processors
  • Superscalar processors
  • Pipelined processors
  • Holographic memory
  • Vertical block line storage
  • Advanced data compression
  • Global fiber networks
  • High-capacity satellite communications
  • Optical interconnects
  • Image mosaics
  • Holographic displays
  • Glasses as displays
  • Contact lenses as displays
  • Virtual reality
  • Software agents to sort, filter, and distribute information from a very large number of sources
  • Evolving software to automatically recode itself to achieve user-selected goals
  • Artificial intelligence to provide predictive tools
  • Photonic processors
  • DNA processors
  • Atomic level storage devices
  • Displays that incorporate all five human senses
  • Military applications for intelligent software agents
  • Military applications for artificial intelligence

The topic of cost for an architecture that is as far-reaching as the one described in this paper is a daunting task even for the experienced cost estimator. The trends in technology improvements show the armed forces can leverage commercial technology for most areas and use scarce research and development dollars on those high-payoff areas that have unique military requirements. The trends are clear. The computational, communications, displays, and software technologies will provide the capability required and at costs that will be affordable for the armed forces.

An often-cited reference on the historic and predicted costs of computational power is Hans Morovec's book, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. This reference states computers capable of processing 1014 bits per second will "be available in a $10 million supercomputer before 2010 and in a $1,000 personal computer by 2030." 7 Even these astounding predictions are shown to be conservative when updated with recent computer advances. This supercomputer is almost a reality today and may be found in a personal computer early next century. 8 The computational power predicted to be available in 2025 will be sufficient to handle the needs of the architecture at extremely reasonable costs.

The advances in communication technology will also allow the architecture to be realized at reasonable costs. Fiber networks are growing exponentially. Over the last 15-20 years the carrying capacity of fiber networks has increased about 10,000 fold and is expected to continue to grow in the future. 9 Similarly, direct broadcast service (DBS) has grown tremendously. The current DBS systems can transmit greater than 64 trillion bits of information per day to large portions of the earth. The military has already recognized the benefits of DBS systems and is pursuing the placement of this technology on military communication satellites by the turn of the next century.

Due to competition and advances in technology, costs of information systems are coming down every year. 10 Besides these reductions, costs savings will be realized through transmission protocols like asynchronous transfer mode which allow users to be charged for only the portion of the communication link they use.

Current programs expect to develop military radios in the next four years that require 60 percent less power, are 3-5 times more capable, are one-third the physical size, and cost less than today's models. 11 Given the continuation of these improvements, it is expected that affordable methods to get needed information or to communicate to anyone will be available anywhere on the globe. 12

Two other areas that may be cost drivers are display technology and intelligent software development. It is expected both of these areas will be pushed by effort from entertainment and commercial industries. In his book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte points out: "Games companies are driving display technology so hard that virtual reality will become a reality at very low cost." 13 This statement becomes self-evident when considering the following examples: in 1994 Nintendo announced the $199 virtual reality game called "Virtual Boy" and in 1995 Sony introduced the $200 "Playstation" that has 10 times the computational power of the fastest Intel processor. 14 It is safe to state the necessary display technologies will be available at reasonable costs in the year 2025.

Intelligent software and AI should benefit in a similar fashion. The recent advances in AI provide optimism for the future. 15 An example is a project at the Microelectronics and Computing Corporation where a commonsense knowledge base is being created for computers. 16 The large benefit of this type of system is once the core knowledge base is established it is believed the system can begin to assimilate information on its own-in the ultimate it could reach the point where the system will learn as fast as information is fed to it. 17 Efforts to digitize the Library of Congress have already begun. 18 One can imagine large parts of the library being digitized by 2025 and easily feeding this tremendous amount of information to a commonsense knowledge base at data rates of many trillions of bits per second. Costs will also be reduced through leveraging commercial improvements in systems that create information profiles and "put information at your fingertips." 19

With an understanding of these advances it can be assumed technology advances in intelligent software will provide the capabilities required by the Wisdom Warfare architecture and will be available at reasonable costs.


Given the focus on maximizing leverage of commercial systems, the next few paragraphs describe a three-phase schedule to reaching the Wisdom Warfare architecture.

Planning Phase (present to 2005). Phase I consists of three main tasks. The first task is the systems engineering development of the road map and blueprints for the open architecture that will support Wisdom Warfare. This task includes in the identification and development of the standards for the "open systems" which will allow the architecture to be flexible and capable of rapid change and growth, 20 identification of the unique military requirements that will not be met by commercial practices and ensuring their development does not limit use in the open systems architecture the identification of current and planned systems (military and commercial) that will evolve and migrate into the Wisdom Warfare architecture. This effort will be an extension and continuation of the current DOD and Intelligence Community Intelligence Systems Board migration study. 21

The second task is the development of forecasting tools, which is expected to be a "long-pole" system. 22 This task also includes the development of the initial databases that will evolve into the learning databases the Wisdom Warfare architecture requires.

The third task involves determination of any organizational and attitude changes necessary for success. This is expected to involve a concerted effort at changing service and personal attitudes to allow the architecture to be effective. The personalities and organizational inertia existing today have already caused significant roadblocks to the achievement of an integrated architecture. 23 This task will also address the training requirements needed to successfully develop the human and system integration requirements for Wisdom Warfare, once review commercial industry lessons learned in the control of cost and the use of commercial software products. 24 The goal of this phase is to establish the foundation for the architecture and create the organizations and technologies that will carry out the road map and blueprints through the next two phases.

Phase II: Initial Ascent (2005 to 2015). The first task is the continued evolution of the prototype programs initiated in Phase I. The modeling and forecasting tools will be enhanced with advances in areas such as chaos theory, fuzzy cognitive maps, and AI. Taking advantage of a new understanding about the human decision-making process, the initial attempts at genius ghosting will be undertaken in this phase. The prototypes of advanced fusion systems will be evolved and continue to improve the timeliness and diversity of data fusing. The databases will continue to evolve and develop additional linkages. New display technologies will be integrated into the systems as holographic and virtual reality displays are improved and reduced in cost due to advances in electronic technologies and the personal entertainment fields. 25 This area will also be enhanced through the improved understanding of human cognitive skills to allow focus on the areas that require HSI.

Initial prototypes will be fielded. Peacetime logistics operations will most likely be the best place to start. Commercial development, such as global package delivery, is likely to continue here because of the advantages of the architecture and technologies. The armed forces can leverage this commercial development. The goal of this phase is to continue evolving the architecture and gain momentum to allow the third phase to carry the architecture to the Wisdom Warfare level.

Phase III: Final Ascent (2015-2025+). The first task of this phase is to complete the knowledge level of the architecture. This includes the evolution of the databases and fusion systems to provide the decision makers the ability to understand the information and intelligence that is available. During this phase several things will occur: the architecture will evolve to the point where it truly learns; procedures will be formalized; timelines for planning and execution will be reduced; and the core communications architecture will begin to solidify but will remain flexible for continued change and growth. With this accomplished, the decision makers can successfully employ the decision tools provided at the wisdom level of the architecture-the second task of this phase. The decision tools will mature and become part of the training and education system to allow an understanding of the systems, effective HSI, and improved decision-making processes. Once decision makers are comfortable with these tools and the actions and decisions the systems are making they will have achieved a Wisdom Warfare capability.

Is Wisdom Warfare possible in 2025? The answer is most certainly yes. The continuing revolution in information technology will make the capabilities described in this architecture possible. However, the leaders of today must commit to a common system that provides knowledge and wisdom across all levels of war and through the full spectrum of conflict. Such a system is affordable. By leveraging commercial advances in most technologies and using scarce military research and development dollars on others, the war fighters of the future can have the tools to conduct Wisdom Warfare.


Jeffery McKitrick et al., "The Revolution in Military Affairs," in Barry R. Schneider and Lawrence E. Grinter, eds., Battlefield of the Future: 21st Century Warfare Issues (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, September 1995), 65.
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1993), 64-72.
John L. Peterson, The Road to 2015: Profiles of the Future (Corte Madera, Calif.: Waite Group Press, 1994), 33-38.
"Chip Architecture Removes Signal Processing Bottleneck," Signal, February 1996, 31; Spacecast 2020, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Volume (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University, 1994), 15; Andrew C. Braunberg, "Data Warehouses Migrate Toward World Wide Web," Signal, February 1996, 35.
USAF Scientific Advisory Board, New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century (unpublished draft, the information technology volume, 15 December 1995), 65.
Maj Gregg Gunsch, Air Force Institute of Technology, to Maj Charles Williamson, Air Command and Staff College student, electronic mail, subject: AFIT Assessment of Key Technologies, 22 March 1995.
Hans Morovec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 68.
Sarnoff Research Center, "Exploiting the Consumer Digital Systems (CDS) Revolution," briefing to Lt Gen Jay Kelley, Air University commander, Maxwell AFB, Ala., 24 March, 1994.
Peterson, 35-36; David Voss, "You Say You Want More Bandwidth?" Wired, July 1995, 64.
Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York: Viking Penguin, 1995), 240.
Air Force Rome Laboratory, Speakeasy Program Briefing (Internet address: http://woody.c2tc.rl.af. mil:8001/Technology/Demos/SPEAKEASY), March 1996.
George Gilder, "Gilder Meets His Critics," Internet address: http://www.discovery.org/ critics.html, 29 March 1996, 1-13. This article is a portion of Mr Gilder's book Telecosm to be published by Simon & Schuster in 1996.
Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 83.
Edward A. Feigenbaum, chief scientist, US Air Force, "The Intelligent Use of Machine Intelligence," Crosstalk, August 1995, 10-13.
Peterson, 41-43; Negroponte, 155-156.
Douglas B. Lenat, "Artificial Intelligence," Scientific American 273, no. 3 (September 1995): 64; Peterson, 41-42.
"Library of Congress Opens Digital Library Visitor Center," Library Journal 119, no. 19 (15 November, 1994): 21.
Cable News Network, "CNN at Work," Internet address: http://www.intel.com/comm-net/ cnn_work/index.html, 14 February 1996.
Negroponte, 47.
"INTEL04: Integrate Intelligence Community Information Management Systems," Internet address: http://www.odci.gov/ic/npr/intel04.html, 10 April 1996.
Gunsch electronic mail.
Assessor's comment to Information Operations briefing, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala., February 1996.
Salvatore Salamone, "Control Software Costs," Byte, April 1995, 75-82.
David Pescovitz, "The Future of Holography," Wired, July 1995, 60.

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Contact: Air Force 2025
Last updated: 5 December 1996