Information dominance: the implications of the digital transformation of armed forces
The digital transformation of defence is profound and ongoing. For forces, allies and adversaries alike, data is a new weapon. The MoD’s Digital Strategy for Defence is to enable the exploitation of data to deliver end-to-end advantage, with an agile Digital Backbone that is critical for multi-domain integration across sea, land, air, space, cyber, as well as with partners in Government and allies across the world.
The evolution of this 21st century Digital Backbone is secure by design and based on common standards and architecture. The infrastructure cloud-based, uses software capabilities to exploit data as a strategic asset, and means that leading-edge apps can be rapidly adopted and scaled.
Yet as early as the 1990s in the United States, the concept of Network Centric Warfare emphasised the need to network combat forces to better exploit data for gaining the upper hand over adversaries.
On 20 March 2003, with the support of the British, the United States invaded Iraq and defeated a modern, well-equipped army with three times the number of soldiers in less than a month. The Pentagon cited superior control of information as critical to success.
A year later, France launched the development of its own battlespace digitalisation programme designed to conduct ‘info-centric’ operations. Today, one of the most telling French illustrations of this strategy of information superiority is the Scorpion programme implemented within the French Army. This is based on a unique information system called SICS (Scorpion Combat Information System). Developed by Atos, it contributes directly to the sharing of real-time tactical information, reinforces interoperability and provides decision support for all players on the battlefield.