US forces will have the advantage if they face a mutual disabling of battle networks during a future conflict with a near-peer adversary, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Friday at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C. “Our assumption is that a young man or woman who grows up in a democracy in the iWorld, will have an inherent advantage over young men and women who grow up in an authoritarian regime because we expect the network to disassemble, and we rely on our people under mission-type command to continue to operate,” he told the audience. On the same panel, Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Western military forces generally use datalinks to network their forces and allow each other to see what everyone else sees. “In a country that shall not be named, datalinks are used to issue orders to individuals. So central leadership, believing that they have the best view of the battle space, issues individual orders to individual portions of the maneuver element, using a similar system of datalinks,” he said. “And so in the case of the Western network, it actually degrades gracefully. In the case of the competitor network, if you can shut down the network, their forces don’t know what to do because they are conditioned to react to orders.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.