Today digital technology pervades the world’s militaries. Their lifeblood is now digitised information circulating through their force structures and used for warfighting and force management.

As part of this process, military forces have built up tightly integrated, theatre-wide battle networks.  These battle networks are used to detect what is happening on the battlefield, process that data into actionable information, decide on a course of action, communicate decisions among forces, act on those decisions, and assess the effectiveness of the actions taken. Todd Harrison asserts: “they are widely acknowledged as an increasingly important element of modern warfare.” A future major war will involve opposing battle networks fighting each other.

John Boyd’s well-known Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action (OODA) loop is the principal idea animating current battle network operational constructs.  For Boyd, winning at any level of war requires working the OODA sequence faster than an adversary. The crucial quality necessary for greater OODA loop speed is rapid orientation.  Success lies in friendly force commanders having an accurate mental image of the battlespace more rapidly than those of an opponent.  The intent of a battle network is then to see farther with greater clarity and to act faster with more precision than one’s adversary. 

Chinese Battle Network Ideas

Chinese military thinkers expect a future major war between peer competitors will be a battle between networks; it will be a “systems confrontation” between “opposing operational systems.”  For the People’s Liberation Army PLA, its war-winning force is envisaged as an operational system of systems composed of five sub-systems: the command system, the reconnaissance intelligence system, the firepower strike system, the information confrontation system and the support system.

Please click here to read the full “How credible are the casualty figures coming out of Myanmar” article published at Real Clear Wire, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.