Notes on Command and Control
I am almost done with Ken Allard’s Command, Control, and the Common Defense.
It’s a very useful book (dated, to some degree—a chapter discusses the “growing modernization of the Soviet ground forces”) but there is a very acute understanding of the ways that new technology (which today is “old” technology, like the idea of standoff ground platforms and deep attack helo missions interfering with Air Force tactical and operational areas of responsibility) problematizes existing command and control relationships.
Allard discusses what was then an emerging paradigm of command and control warfare and asks how it will fit into the existing joint set of command relationships. I wonder what he would make of the current struggle over the command of tactical cyber forces.
Allard’s central argument is that service autonomy is rooted in American political culture, and joint approaches only paper over the ways in which services developed fundamental identities and approaches (realized in different styles of command and control) during times in which “mutual cooperation” rather than jointery was the norm. His recommendation to focus on joint doctrine development and testing is very prescient too in light of the closing of Joint Forces Command. For better or worse, we’ve lost a space for that kind of gap-bridging and haven’t done much to replace it.