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					                                      Net-Centric Operations:
                                 Defense and Transportation Synergy
                                                                                              COL Kenneth L. Alford, Ph.D., and Steven R. Ditmeyer
                                                                                                                           National Defense University
                The Department of Defense (DoD) is actively working to transform platform-centric operations into net-centric operations.
                Net-centric railroading could provide DoD’s Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) with unified operations in
                which positioning systems, sensors, computers, advanced mathematical models, and digital communications could be used to col-
                lect, process, and disseminate information to improve the safety, security, and operational effectiveness of our nation’s railroads
                in support of national defense. As both departments pursue net-centric operations there will be numerous opportunities to
                share technology and experience.

A     dmiral Jay Johnson, Chief of Naval
      Operations, apparently coined the
phrase net-centric warfare in 19971. Net-cen-
                                                             tems for command, control, communica-
                                                             tions, and information (C3I), as well as for
                                                             braking systems, grade crossings, defect
                                                                                                                  organizations. For the DoD, self-syn-
                                                                                                                  chronization means the ability of a well-
                                                                                                                  informed force to organize and synchronize
tric warfare has been defined as an informa-                 detection, and planning and scheduling               complex warfare activities from the bottom
tion superiority-enabled concept of operations that          systems. These technologies can prevent              up. … Self-synchronization is enabled by a
generates increased combat power by networking               collisions and overspeed accidents, pre-             high level of knowledge of one’s own forces,
sensors, decision makers, and shooters to achieve            vent hijackings and runaways, increase               enemy forces, and all appropriate elements of
shared awareness, increased speed of command,                capacity and asset utilization, increase reli-       the operating environment [1].
higher tempo of operations, greater lethality,               ability, improve service to customers,            7. General benefits that result due to
increased survivability, and a degree of self-syn-           improve energy efficiency and emissions,             increased connectivity. Net-centric com-
chronization [1].                                            increase economic viability and profits,             puting is governed by Metcalfe’s Law, which
    Rapid and significant advances in                        and enable railroads to measure and con-             asserts that the power of a network is pro-
information technology hardware and                          trol costs and manage the unexpected [3].            portional to the square of the number of
software during the past two decades have                         Intelligent railroad systems could              nodes in the network. The power or payoff
made it possible to fundamentally change                     enable railroads to improve their quality of         of net-centric computing comes from informa-
the way information is gathered, stored,                     operations on the DoD-designated                     tion-intensive interactions between very large
processed, and used. As the DoD Chief                        Strategic Rail Corridor Network4                     numbers of heterogeneous computational
Information Officer (CIO), John G.                           (STRACNET), enhancing their respon-                  nodes in the network [1].
Grimes, recently noted:                                      siveness to military deployments. They
                                                             would also enable railroads to respond
    … We must recognize that it is all
                                                                                                               Net-Centric Railroad
                                                             with flexibility and agility to rapid changes
    about information, and we must                           in the transportation marketplace. These
    view information as a strategic                                                                            Like the DoD’s concept of net-centric
                                                             systems could alleviate the need for a divi-      warfare, the DoT’s concept of net-centric
    asset. Timely, accurate and trusted                      sion commander to call railroad executives
    information lies at the heart of net-                                                                      railroading is a system of systems. Twenty-
                                                             late at night to find out the location of         nine key technologies, programs, and sys-
    centric operations. [2]                                  railroad cars for loading their division’s        tems, either developed or under develop-
                                                             heavy equipment – like Maj. Gen. David            ment, have been identified which could
The concept of net-centric operations,                       Petraeus had to do during the 101st
though, is not limited to warfare and the                                                                      help create a net-centric railroading sys-
                                                             Airborne Division’s deployment to partic-         tem. (For a complete list, please see the
DoD. The DoD is not the only large gov-                      ipate in Operation Iraqi Freedom [4].
ernment organization that is considering                                                                       sidebar entitled Railroad Net-Centric
moving to net-centric operations. The                                                                          Technologies.)
Department of Transportation (DoT), for
                                                             Benefits of Net-Centric                                Here are 10 of the many technologies
example, is seriously evaluating and                         Operations                                        that are being considered for incorpora-
encouraging net-centric railroading.                         Proponents of net-centric operations – in         tion into a net-centric railroading system.
                                                             government, industry, and academia –              Some, or all, of these systems may have
                                                             claim many benefits. Here are some of the         direct application for the DoD, as well:
                                                             most frequently claimed benefits that             • Positive Train Control (PTC) sys-
Net-Centric Railroading
Intelligent railroad systems were first
described in the Secretary of                                should apply to the DoD, the DoT, and                  tems are integrated C3I systems for
Transportation’s report, The Changing Face                   the railroad industry:                                 controlling train movements with safe-
of Transportation2, published in 2000, and                   1. Increased operational flexibility.                  ty, security, precision, and efficiency.
their description was expanded in the                        2. Increased decision-making speed.                    PTC systems would improve railroad
Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA)                      3. Cost savings through increased effi-                safety by significantly reducing the
Five-Year Strategic Plan for Railroad Research,                  ciency of asset usage.                             probability of collisions between
Development, and Demonstrations3, a March                    4. Improved support to geographically                  trains, casualties to roadway workers
2002 congressional report.                                       dispersed elements.                                and damage to their equipment, and
    The FRA, railroads, and the railroad                     5. Increased visibility and a better under-            overspeed accidents. The National
supply industry have been working on the                         standing of operations.                            Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
development of intelligent railroad sys-                     6. Self-synchronization of subordinate                 has had PTC on its most wanted list of

20 CROSSTALK The Journal of   Defense Software Engineering                                                                                            January 2007
                                                                                             Net-Centric Operations: Defense and Transportation Synergy

    transportation safety improvements
    since 19906. PTC systems are com-                              Railroad Net-Centric Technologies
    prised of digital data link communica-
    tions networks, continuous and accu-
    rate positioning systems, on-board
                                                    The accompanying article highlights several of the key technologies, programs and

    computers with digitized maps on
                                                    systems that can be incorporated in net-centric railroading. The following is the com-

    locomotives and track maintenance
                                                    plete list:

    equipment, in-cab displays, throttle-           •     Digital data link communications           •   Vehicle-borne track monitoring sensors.
    brake interfaces on locomotives, data-                networks.                                  •   Car on-board component sensors.
    link connections at switches (both              •     Nationwide Differential Global             •   Car on-board commodity sensors.
    powered and manual) and wayside
                                                          Positioning System.                        •   Intelligent grade crossings.
    detectors, and train control center
                                                    •     Positive train control systems.            •   Intelligent weather systems.

    computers and displays.
                                                    •     Electronically controlled pneumatic        •   Tactical traffic planners.

•   Crew alertness monitoring systems
                                                          brakes.                                    •   Strategic traffic planners.

    promote on-duty alertness and vigi-
                                                    •     Knowledge display interfaces.              •   Yard management systems.

    lance of train crews through the use of
                                                    •     Crew registration and time-keeping         •   Work order reporting systems.
                                                          systems.                                   •   Locomotive scheduling systems.
    non-invasive technology applications.           •     Crew alertness monitoring systems.         •   Car reservation and scheduling
    Real-time monitoring and feedback of            •     Track forces terminals.                        systems.
    individual alertness levels would allow
                                                    •     Automatic equipment identification.        •   Train crew scheduling systems.
    crew members to modify their behav-
                                                    •     Wayside equipment sensors.                 •   Yield management systems.

    ior and reduce their risk of unsafe per-
                                                    •     Wayside track sensors.                     •   Security systems.

                                                    •     Locomotive health monitoring systems.      •   Emergency notification systems.

•   Crew registration and time-keeping
                                                    •     Energy management systems.                 •   Traveler’s advisory systems.

    systems would use identification tech-              tion on track profile and conditions,        railroading with intelligent railroad sys-
    niques such as the Department of                    speed limits, train length and weight,       tems is not without impediments – the
    Homeland Security’s proposed Trans-                 locomotive engine fuel performance           competition for capital within railroad
    portation Worker Identification Cre-                characteristics, locomotive health           companies, for example. Railroad compa-
    dential (TWIC), other electronic card               monitoring systems, etc. Conceptual          nies need to understand, though, that a
    keys, passwords, or biometrics such as              work has been done on EMS, but a             well-executed investment in intelligent
    fingerprints and/or retinal scans to                prototype system has not yet been            railroad systems should reduce the capital
    ensure that only authorized crew mem-               implemented.                                 needed for locomotives, cars, and tracks.
    bers are permitted to control locomo-       •       Car on-board commodity sensors                    Net-centric railroading should enable
    tives and track maintenance vehicles.               are being installed on freight cars to       railroads to manage unexpected situations
•   Locomotive health-monitoring sys-                   monitor the status of the commodities        by providing real-time information about
    tems consist of sensors mounted on                  being carried – measuring, for exam-         current operations and the current envi-
    engines, traction motors, electrical sys-
                                                        ple, temperatures, pressures, vibra-         ronment. The DoD, as well as commercial
    tems, air systems, exhaust systems, and
                                                        tions, load position, radiation, gases,      railroad customers, could benefit signifi-
    fuel tanks on locomotives. Most new
                                                        and biohazards.                              cantly from improvements in visibility,
    locomotives are equipped with most of
    these sensors. In the future, the data      •       Intelligent weather systems consist          running time, and service reliability result-
    would be transmitted over the digital               of networks of local weather sensors         ing from the implementation of net-cen-
    data link communications network to                 and instrumentation – both wayside           tric railroading.
    train control centers, maintenance                  and on-board locomotives – combined
    facilities, and motive power distribu-              with national, regional, and local fore-     Increasing Capacity
    tion centers to permit real-time moni-              cast data to alert train control centers,    Today there is a capacity problem in rail-
    toring of locomotive performance and                train crews, and maintenance crews of        roading. During the past 25 years (follow-
    efficiency, improved diagnosis of                   actual or potentially hazardous weath-       ing the deregulation of the railroad indus-
    problems, and more effective assign-                er conditions.                               try), American railroads have physically
    ment of locomotives to trains.              •       Security systems consisting of closed-       downsized – tracks, locomotives, train
•   Wayside track sensors are installed                 circuit television cameras and infrared      cars, and employees – while, at the same
    to identify a number of defects that                presence detectors are being deployed        time, overall rail traffic has increased. With
    occur on and alongside the track as                 at bridges and tunnels, and even on          a growing economy and growing imports,
    well as identify conditions and                     some locomotives, to provide detection       railroads face congestion on many of their
    obstructions along the track. Among                 of intruders and obstructions.               lines. The last time the nation faced a sim-
    the conditions and defects that could               Appropriate information would be             ilar crisis was during World War II.
    be detected are switch position, bro-               transmitted via data link to train control        Net-centric railroading will provide an
    ken rail, misaligned track, high water,             centers and train and maintenance            effective increase in capacity. It enables
    rock and snow slides, excessive rail                crews in addition to security forces.        railroads to handle different types of traf-
    stress, misaligned bridges and trestles,    •       Emergency notification systems               fic (such as coal, grain, container, and even
    blocked culverts, and earthquakes.                  installed at train control centers pro-      passenger) that have different service
•   Energy management systems                           vide for the automated notification of       requirements, enabling them to co-exist
    (EMS) are installed on locomotives to               all involved organizations following         on the same facility. Different types of
    optimize fuel consumption and emis-                 railroad accidents, incidents, or threats.   trains can each be managed according to
    sions. An EMS would receive informa-                The implementation of net-centric            their individual requirements.

January 2007                                                                                                               21
Software Engineering Technology

    These net-centric systems will enable                       Freedom. On April 2, 2003, Army                micromanagement. Recent experience
control centers to know the location of all                     LTC Ernest Rock Marcone (a battalion           in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown that:
trains and the status of their performance,                     commander with the 69th Armor of
whether they are on schedule, behind                            the Third Infantry Division) led an                …another consequence of our
schedule, or ahead of schedule. The tacti-                      armored battalion of almost 1,000 U.S.             expanded global connectivity
cal and strategic planning systems will                         soldiers to seize Objective Peach – a              was that reach-back, a desirable
enable railroads with flow control – similar                    key bridge across the Euphrates River              capability when used with dis-
to what the Federal Aviation Administra-                        and the last major obstacle before                 crimination, metamorphosed
tion is able to currently do with aircraft –                    American forces would reach                        into reach-forward as rear head-
to anticipate the location of trains (two                       Baghdad. That night, Marcone’s battal-             quarters sought information…
hours from now, four hours from now,                            ion was surprised by the largest coun-             and then used that information
etc.) and to initiate actions to reduce or                      terattack of the war. All his net-centric          to try to influence events from
remove congestion problems before they                          sensing and communications tech-                   the rear. [5]
actually occur.                                                 nologies failed to warn him of the
                                                                attack’s scale. He did not realize that        It is ironic that net-centric operations
                                                                between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi troops          enables both reach back (providing
                                                                with about 100 tanks and other vehi-
Sharing Insights
As the DoD continues to shift to net-cen-                                                                      increased information for local leaders
tric operations, there is no reason that                        cles were about to attack his position:        to make decisions) and reach forward
insights and lessons learned from work                                                                         (providing rear headquarters with addi-
done thus far should not be shared with                                                                        tional information and an increased
other federal agencies. The authors pro-                            “Twenty-nine key                           temptation to micromanage). There
pose several concepts that may be benefi-                                                                      must be a balance reached between cen-
cial to the railroad industry as they begin a                  technologies, programs,                         tralized planning and local execution.
net-centric transformation:                                                                                 9. Be patient. The DoD has been active-
1. Have a thorough discussion with                                and systems, either                          ly working on net-centric warfare for
    the railroad industry regarding                                                                            several years, but as John G. Grimes,
    which information should be                                  developed or under                            DoD-CIO, recently noted:
    pushed to users and which infor-
    mation should be pulled by users.                             development, have                                Unlike designing a tank or
    The answers to those two questions                                                                             launching a satellite, our trans-
    are not necessarily disjointed data sets.                   been identified which                              formation to net-centric opera-
2. Information security and informa-                                                                               tions is traversing new ground.
    tion assurance must be part of                                 could help create                               We stand at the brink of an era
    every net-centric discussion.                                                                                  when networked capabilities
3. Do not underestimate the tension                                   a net-centric                                will increase efficiency, enhance
    that exists between continuing invest-                                                                         mission success, save lives and
    ment in legacy systems and the                               railroading system.”                              potentially reduce force struc-
    upfront costs of replacement net-cen-                                                                          ture… [2]
    tric systems that offer a higher rate of
    return.                                                         Next to the fall of Baghdad,
                                                                    says Marcone, that bridge was
4. Technological changes will affect                                                                        The DoD is in the process of transforming
    the companies within the railroad-                              the most important piece of             to net-centric operations. Net-centric rail-
    ing industry in unforeseen ways.                                terrain in the theater, and no          roading could be the key to making rail-
                                                                    one can tell me what’s defend-          roads safer, reducing delays and costs, rais-
        …we must change how we                                      ing it. Not how many troops,            ing effective capacity, increasing reliability,
        train, how we organize, and                                 what units, what tanks, any-            improving customer satisfaction, improv-
        how we allocate our resources                               thing. There is zero informa-           ing energy utilization, reducing emissions,
        … Because a net-centric force                               tion getting to me. [5]                 increasing security, and making railroads
        operates under a different,                                                                         more economically viable. At the same
        more modern rule set than a                          6. Understand that your organization-          time, these efforts should provide numer-
        platform-centric force, we must                         al culture will be affected by these        ous opportunities for sharing hardware,
        make fundamental choices in at                          changes. One of the major lessons           software, and experiences.
        least three areas: intellectual                         learned is that without changes in the          Grimes recently summarized:
        capital, financial capital, and                         way an organization does business, it is
        process. [1]                                            not possible to fully leverage the             Net-enabled operations, while
                                                                power of information [1].                      clearly complex, can actually be
5. The importance of redundant and                           7. Maintain realistic expectations.               described quite simply. It is all
   back-up capabilities cannot be                               Metcalfe’s Law is really about potential       about ensuring timely and accurate
   overstated. A pessimistic look at his-                       gains; there is no guarantee that simply       information gets where it’s needed,
   tory shows that failures often occur at                      hooking things up will make the results        when it’s needed and to those who
   the worst possible moment. The                               better [1].                                    need it most. [2]
   November issue of Technology Review                       8. Recognize that net-centric opera-
   provided an in-depth review of one                           tions are not a panacea. Increased           This is equally true for the DoD, the
   such challenge during Operation Iraqi                        asset and data visibility may encourage     DoT, the railroad industry, other modes of

22 CROSSTALK The Journal of   Defense Software Engineering                                                                                       January 2007
                                                                                  Net-Centric Operations: Defense and Transportation Synergy

transportation, and other government            843-2004Mar6&notFound=true>.
agencies. Reasonable sharing of plans,       5. Lambeth, Benjamin S. “The Downside
research, experience, and lessons learned       of Network-Centric Warfare.” Avia-
regarding net-centric operations should be      tion Week and Space Technology 11
in everyone’s best interest.N                   Feb. 2006.                                       Get Your Free Subscription

References                                   Notes                                                  Fill out and send us this form.
1. Alberts, David S., John J. Garstka, and   1. Address at the U.S. Naval Institute
                                                                                                       517 SMXS/MXDEA
   Frederick P. Stein. Network Centric          Annapolis Seminar and 123d Annual
   Warfare: Developing and Leveraging           Meeting, Annapolis, MD, 23 Apr.                           6022 Fir Ave
   Information Superiority. DoD C4ISR.          1997.                                                      Bldg 1238
   Washington: Cooperative Research          2. Available online at <                   Hill AFB, UT 84056-5820
   Program (CCRP) 1999.                         publications/the_changing_face_of_              Fax: (801) 777-8069 DSN: 777-8069
2. Grimes, John G. “A Chat with John G.         transportation/>.                             Phone: (801) 775-5555 DSN: 775-5555
   Grimes, New Defense CIO.” Defense         3. Available online at <
   Systems Jan./Feb. (2006): 14+.               us/content/225>.                              Or request online at
3. Weick, Karl E., and Kathleen M.           4. Available online at <
   Sutcliffe. Managing the Unexpected.          mil/DODProg/RND/default.htm>.                     ____________________________________
   San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.         5. Cebrowski, Arthur K., and John J.
4. Atkinson, Rick. “The Long, Blinding          Garstka. “Network-Centric Warfare:                      __________________________
   Road to War: Unexpected Challenges           Its Origin and Future.” Proc. of U.S.
   Tested Petraeus in Iraq.” The Wash-          Naval Institute, Jan. 1998.                 POSITION/TITLE:_________________________
   ington Post 7 Mar. 2004: A1 <www.         6. The NTSB’s most wanted list is found               at the NTSB Web site <
   pagename=article&contentId=A36               Recs/mostwanted/rail_issues.htm>.                         __________________________

                             About the Authors                                                       ________________________________

               COL Kenneth L. Alford,                         Steven R. Ditmeyer                         ________________________________
               Ph.D., is a professor and                      joined the Industrial
               department chair at the                        College of the Armed                     ______________________________
               Industrial College of the                      Forces as the DoT Facul-
               Armed Forces at the                            ty Chair in 2003. He                 _____________     _________________
               National Defense Uni-                          served his Army active
versity in Washington, DC. He has            duty tour with the Office of the Special                     ___________________________
served 26 years in the Army as a person-     Assistant for Strategic Mobility in the
nel, automation, and acquisition officer     Organization of the Joint Chiefs of                        ______________________________
in a wide variety of duty assignments,       Staff, and in the Army Reserve he served
including his previous position as an        with the Military Traffic Management                   _________________________________
Associate Professor in the Department        and Terminal Service and Head
of Electrical Engineering and Computer       Quarters, 3rd Transportation Brigade           CHECK BOX(ES) TO REQUEST BACK ISSUES:
Science at the United States Military        (Railway). Ditmeyer’s civilian career has      SEPT2005       TOP 5 PROJECTS
Academy, West Point, NY. He has a doc-       been in a number of transportation-            OCT2005        SOFTWARE SECURITY
torate in computer science from George       related positions in both the public and       NOV2005        DESIGN
Mason University, masters degrees from       private sectors. He received a bachelor’s      D EC 2005      TOTAL CREATION OF SW
the University of Illinois at Urbana-        degree in industrial management from           JAN2006        COMMUNICATION
Champaign and the University of              the Massachusetts Institute of                 FEB2006        NEW TWIST ON TECHNOLOGY
Southern California; and a bachelor’s        Technology, a masters degree in eco-           MAR2006        PSP/TSP
degree from Brigham Young University.        nomics, and a Certificate in                   APR2006        CMMI
                                             Transportation from Yale University            MAY2006        TRANSFORMING
       Industrial College of the             where he was a Strathcona Fellow in            JUNE2006       WHY PROJECTS FAIL
       Armed Forces                          Transportation.                                JULY2006       NET-CENTRICITY
       National Defense University                                                          AUG2006        ADA 2005
       Washington, D.C. 20319                     Industrial College of the                 SEPT2006       SOFTWARE ASSURANCE
       Phone: (202) 675-4408                      Armed Forces                              OCT2006        STAR WARS TO STAR TREK
       Fax: (202) 685-4175                        National Defense University               NOV2006        MANAGEMENT BASICS
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