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CHIPS Articles: Knowledge Management Insights from Global 2001

Knowledge Management Insights from Global 2001
By Gia Harrigan, Tom Rossi, Nancy Jenkins and Melanie Winters - January-March 2002

For over 110 years, war gaming at the Naval War College (NWC) has provided operational commanders with a test bed to experiment with emerging doctrine. The NWC provides the Navy with an operational laboratory to test command and control doctrine, futuristic platforms and sensor capabilities, as well as a variety of information technology (IT) in various stages of development.

Over a year ago, the NWC teamed up with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and created an Innovation Laboratory at NWC. The mission of the NWC Innovation Laboratory is to look at developing technologies within the Navy as well as technology in development from other Services, for their potential use in future war games and eventual Fleet implementation. The objective is to shorten the original timeline of the product's development cycle by providing a tailored venue of futuristic scenarios for semi-mature technologies. Perhaps the most important factor in this process is the hands-on exercise these products get from senior operational commanders who put these tools to the test and provide invaluable, direct feedback to the technology developers.

One of the key focus area for Global 2001 directly related to Knowledge Management (KM) was "Command and Control in an Information Rich Environment." An important assumption was that the information was readily available; we just had to learn how to effectively use it. The hierarchical command and control (C2) structure formalized by Napoleon and practiced, in part, through today, effectively coordinated military operations across geographical expanses. In Network Centric Operations (NCO), technology spans those expanses in a real-time manner. Consequently C2 is greatly facilitated. An alternative C2 structure was gamed in Global 2001 to take yet another step towards defining the optimal C2 structures for the networked environment.

Using a well known military scenario, senior military leaders from all U.S. Services as well as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom were challenged with an array of IT tools and new doctrinal concepts. The KM preparation for Global 2001 was a seven-month effort, which built on the experience from Global War Games in 1999 and 2000. In past games, the KM teams involvement started much later in the development cycle. The Global 2001 designers were determined, this year, to have the KM effort integrated into the game build process from the very beginning. The KM scheme encompassed everything from the C2 structure of the players, to IT tools used in the game—that is the C2 structure, processes and tools for Global 2001. Some of the key questions considered included:

•What were the information needs of each echelon of the chain of command?
•What technology would be available in 2011?
•How do we maximize shared awareness to gain Information Superiority over our adversary?

Global 2001 KM Team

The Global 2001 KM Team included partners from government-- military and civilian, industry, and academic sectors. The KM approach was to divide the effort into three groups: Knowledge Engineering (KE), Metrics, and Knowledge Sharing Initiative (KSI). KE was the core design of the KM schema, that worked the entire gamut of game design—from determining information flow and command relationships to selecting and developing the IT required to pull it off. The Metrics group was involved in game design, so they could identify information pulse points and analyze of the effectiveness of the network- centric environment. The third aspect of the KM effort, KSI, is an ongoing knowledge sharing effort, in coordination with the DON CIO to disseminate experiences throughout the Navy so that others can leverage from lessons learned, and make other gaming and training evolutions more effective.

Determining information flow and command relationships was a critical early step in the KM process. This involved both the “mechanics”—who was expected to communicate with whom, who would be afloat and/or geographically dispersed, as well as the essence of communication—what information needed to be shared, and what would be the process required to facilitate concurrent planning between all echelons.

Network-centric warfare environments are characterized by collapsed decision cycles and ambiguous time-space dimensions. The consequential blurring of division between functional areas has resulted in numerous aspects of several narrowly defined areas reorganized into a few, broad areas of consideration, and simultaneously, increased the requirement for greater collaboration and coordination between the remaining areas.

Global 2001 defined four functional areas for coordination and planning: Files (identifying targets and discharging weapons); Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); and Logistics and Maneuver, referred to as FILM elements. These functional areas were intended to provide the central axis for the majority of collaboration in the planning phase of the war game.

In NCO environments, command organizations need to be adaptive and responsive. Flatter organizational lines will be the norm in the future. Information flow will need to be less vertical and more horizontal to provide for common awareness among geographically dispersed forces. Operation planning will be collaborative with real-time assessment and coordination—critical to maintaining the advantage of knowledge superiority.

The objective of any military command and control organization is to link the commander’s desired effects (the end state conditions he or she hopes to achieve) to tactical actions in the battlespace. Every action by every unit should directly contribute to the attainment of the commander’s desired effects.

During Global 2001 game design, the vision was that the Commander in Chief (CINC) would promulgate his desired effects to the Commander Joint Task Force (CJTF). The CJTF would begin a collaborative planning process with his subordinate functional component commanders to construct mission plans. Simultaneously, the functional component commanders would be able to build the orders tasking their forces as they became aware of the CJTF’s plans.

Simply stated the KM effort was focused on defining the three overlapping collaborative rings linking the three echelons of the chain of command. The intent is that although wire diagrams illustrated a multi-tiered hierarchy, the chain of command functioned as a flat, collaborative cell. The C2 structure, and the network-centric environment linking it, had to facilitate concurrent planning between all echelons. This concurrent planning, or information sharing, yielded a knowledge advantage over the enemy, which resulted in increased speed of action in the battlespace.

Knowledge Managers at Global 2001

A critical contributor to network-centric command and control is shared situational awareness. The CJTF established priorities for information gathering and reporting by identifying the type of information he needed to better understand the situation. Additionally, the commander prescribed the format (visual, text) for information display.

In Global 2000 and 2001, the Knowledge Wall, developed by SPAWAR, was the centerpiece of situational awareness. During Global 2001, different knowledge managers were responsible for enforcing business rules, understanding the intent of the IT tools available during the game and recommending use of the tools to facilitate decision making.

The CJTF knowledge manager led the KM effort and coordinated KM activities at Global 2001. Each component commander was assigned a knowledge manager. Their focus was on the process of knowledge and information management.

They were responsible for:
- Maintaining full awareness of the commander’s information requirements—so they must possess the authority to coordinate actions and processes to satisfy requirements.
- Enforcing business rules.
- Overseeing the internal/external information flow of their staff to work toward effective processes for information flow.
- Assessing the information flow relative to critical and relevant information.
- Understanding the intent of the IT tools available.
- Facilitating decision-making by monitoring information flow.
- Coordinating additional training required by the staff to support the production of quality information through effective procedures and employment of available IT tools.
- Working closely with the room’s technologist to resolve any IT support challenges.

Each commander was also assigned a knowledge warrior. Their primary focus was on information content. They were responsible for:
- Managing and filtering the information flow by decision makers and support staff.
- Determining content/organization of knowledge displays, including the Knowledge Wall and Battle Watch Logs via Command Net.
- Coordinating horizontal integration for collecting and disseminating information.
- Coordinating vertical integration for reporting up the chain.

Significant Findings

The extensive effort to coordinate data mining, information flow and manage knowledge to a distinct advantage in the battle space was complex and, at the same time, exciting. We learned a tremendous amount about shared awareness, gaining information superiority and a tangible knowledge advantage over an adversary.

A prerequisite identified during Global 2001 was that in order to have information readily available to merge and fuse, there must be an information base that serves as the hub or nexus of all information. In Global 2001, there was much information available from separate functional applications that had to be used independently. It was up to the user to fuse the information into knowledge.

In the future, an information base that forms the nexus of information should be used to maximize the relating of, and integration of, information. However, a strong point of Global 2001 was the ability for each participant to access information, applications, and collaboration tools via the War Gaming Information Grid System. WIGS, which was first introduced in Global 1999, is not only used at the NWC in all war games, but Joint Forces Command and Pacific Command have used aspects of it in their Web solutions to support joint force doctrine. WIGS provides one-stop shopping for all the knowledge needs of war game participants.

As we continue to develop technical solutions we must always be aware of limited bandwidth issues associated with providing shared awareness among geographically dispersed units. As we rely on computers and servers we must ensure equipment redundancy is sufficient to prevent a single point of failure. We learned you can rapidly reach information overload and a significant frustration level with warfighters when too many different IT tools are introduced too rapidly.

Specifically from Global 2001, the lesson learned is that people are the ultimate IT tool. As such, training and familiarity with innovative tools and processes intended to enhance a network-centric environment are critical to success. It is imperative that ramp up speed be diminished. Industry refers to a “time to talent” cycle. This is the time it takes for a person to have familiarity with tools to increase productivity. A lengthy time to talent cycle results in productivity loss.

We can look to the military for some good approaches focused on decreasing ramp up time. One approach is to apply standardized tool sets. The Pacific Command is following this approach by ensuring all participants in the Joint Task Force understand the intended use of each enabling tool through succinct standard operating procedures and business rules.

Another approach is to increase priority on training. For example, consider the emphasis placed in the U.S. Marine Corps on training. In the Marine Corps training instructors are a necessary check point for promotion. This emphasis brings training to the forefront.

A third approach may be to take advantage of the technology and “smart systems” to provide “just in time training.” The application/tool automatically teaches users the salient points as they are needed.


Global 2001 confirmed many of the lessons learned from Global 2000. These themes included the premise that knowledge superiority involves more than just technology; there are human interaction issues that need to be addressed. There are many technological challenges to building the information grid critical to network-centric warfare. There are even significant technical challenges to ensuring the access and availability of the information grid.

However, cultural change is the most challenging issue facing us as we move to this new environment necessary for the success of network-centric warfare. Shared awareness contains two aspects—shared information and shared understanding. While such efforts, such as WIGS, help with the idea of shared information, shared understanding takes time, learning and reinforcement to ensure cultural change. There is a general belief that a knowledge manager or knowledge warrior can help with this process.

Consensus on exactly what this individual’s role should be during the transition to an environment supporting network-centric operations remains to be resolved. It should continue to be explored during future war games and experiments.

One very obvious fact is the significant role the NWC will continue to play in providing the Navy with an operational test venue where emerging doctrine and technologies can be put to the test. Senior level operational feedback to developers provides a significant savings in development time and cost. This use of the war gaming environment also shortens the timeline from design to fleet implementation.

The Global 2001 KM effort allowed us to put many of the network-centric KM efforts to an operational test. Some of these efforts were very successful and some were not. By sharing findings and experiences, future efforts to operationalize KM in information rich environments will continue to develop the infrastructure, tools, and procedures required to fully optimize the tenets of network-centric warfare.

Gia Harrigan is the lead for the KSI initiative within 2001. Tom Rossi is the lead for the KM Global initiative. Nancy Jenkins is the knowledge manager at Andersen Consulting. Melanie Winters is the information management coordinator at PACOM. They were part of the KM war gaming control team at Global 2001.

Determining information flow and command relationships was a critical early step in the K

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