The Command and Control podcast breaks new ground in taking an independent and pragmatic look at what military command and control might look like for the fight tonight and the fight tomorrow. Join us as we talk through C2 for an era of high-end war fighting. The hypothesis is this: command is human, control has become more technological pronounced. As a result, the increasing availability of dynamic control measures is centralising control away from local command. It is a noticeable trend in Western C2 since the late 1980s. Over that time, blending human decision and cutting edge technology has been evolutionary but not deliberate: how will this change? Will it become dominated by a tendency to hoard power in those with the most computing power, might these factors serve to amplify the role of commanders? Given all the hyperbole about AI in C2 (and we will tackle some of that with AI experts), it's a conversation we need to have.
You Cannot Beat Winter
A discussion with Major General Karl Engelbrekston, former chief of the Swedish Army who retired in Jun 2023. Command and control is clearly different when operating in environmental and geographic extremes; the High North (well inside the Arctic Circle) exemplifies those conditions. How to command and how to exercise control over military forces in those extremes leads to an interesting conversation about the realities of delegation and empowerment. Given Karl's experiences with multi-national forces too, there are some interesting take aways from this discussion that get to heart of modern C2. Most usefully, this conversation allows us to hold a mirror to some of the rhetoric about contemporary and future C2 made in other military circles. Sobering stuff.
The Devolution of Command
Having an intelligent conversation about command and control requires a discussion with the USMC, the same institution that gave us the current C2 taxonomy back in the 1980s. While USMC force design 2030 leans towards a decentralised command structure and an aggregated control hierarchy, the pragmatism of the Corps has nested capabilities at lower levels that would allow a much more flexible approach to C2. In contrast to other forces which retain very structured C2 architectures, the USMC seems to be comfortable with a degree of ambiguity that would make others tremble. Peter talks to Colonel Lester (Ray) Gerber from USMC Pacific Forces Command about the philosophy of C2 in the Corps, about the nature of control now and in the future, and about the centrality of the human component. Much of the latter part of the discussion is focused on partners and allies: should we be ready for less command and more co-operation in a revised C2 dynamic fit for the fight tonight? Much to ponder on here.
Command and control in the air domain has always been very different to that of other domains. Much more control, command execute in differnt ways, at different levels, and all captured in the phrase "Best picture has....". How much has been forgotten from former expereinces of air C2 in major contests and competiton? How much are we willing to relearn? How much of the differences in domain specific C2 will be lost as we amalgamate and integrate structures towards a beautifully informed single commander or system, a la Enders Game? Peter talks to former senior RAF officer, Paul Kendall about our understanding of air power in the Western, Supremacy and Superiority, and a contested electronic environment without the freedoms that have been hallmarks of Western military operations since the 1990s.
NATO C2: How to improve
Having spent the week at the NATO C2 Centre of Excellence in The Hague, talking C2 with some impressive people, this episode captures a ‘hot wash’ between Peter and Colonel Mietta Groeneveld, Director and Commander of the C2COE. Given this was recorded only 90mins after a fairly intense 3 days, we don’t cover all the take aways, but it gives a flavour about some of the themes we talked about and some of Mietta's thoughts too.
JADC2: A primer
In 2019, the Chiefs of Staff of the US military determined that C2 really had to adapt. The decision came after the publication of a report on Russian C2 and counter C2 capabilities: on that basis, the programme on Joint All Domain C2 was initiated. Currently, the US is spending between $1-2BN per year on it, having scoped it and pushed it forward with remarkable speed. It is progressing rapidly through the experimentation phase but has shifted shape over 5 years – moving from a plan to enable the Joint Force Commander with a long screwdriver to something that enables a more dynamic and rapid kill chain. As Rafael Lopez tells us, it may still suffer from “Principle Agent Problems”, but the future looks pretty bright.
In this final episode of series one, Vice Admiral Andy Burns, Major General Zac Stenning and Andrew Graham answered questions from the audience on command and control live at the DSEi event in London. The panel couldn’t get through all the challenges thrown their way so we focused on the big themes: What will C2 look like in the future? How will ML and AI impact decision-making? Will C2 survive in its current form? What does the role of the commander look like in the future? And do we train and educate our future commanders well enough? Lots to digest before we start recording series two…
Useful, focused, thorough
I appreciate the focused thesis for this podcast and the timely necessity of it. Short episodes that spark thoughts and open doors to further research and discussion are what I need. Thanks! Hopefully it continues.