Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the Italian Army, General Salvatore Farina, has called for a, “more active approach,” to network centric warfare (NCW) in order to better counter emerging threats and challenges across both current and future operating environments.
In a keynote address to colleagues from the army, international partners as well as industry representatives at the NCW conference in Rome on 4 February, Gen Farina discussed how such an approach required emphasis on training and experimentation; multi-domain manoeuvre and simulation capabilities; as well as Improvements in human-machine interfaces.
Describing the role of net-centric solutions in support of the Italian Army’s strategic objectives, Gen Farina urged how such capabilities would, “improve information sharing; enhance situation awareness; enable collaboration, self-synchronisation, speed and command, as well as increasing mission effectiveness."
“We need to network our system and we should be fully connected to be aware of what’s going on and what is in front of us. Real-time awareness is what we should be looking for,” he stated.
“We should be precise and this is why we should be fully networked and digitised to avoid collateral damage and mistakes which could jeopardise operations. For network connectivity, control is paramount when we are moving, fighting and operating,” Gen Farina continued to illustrate while emphasising the integration of social, cognitive, information and physical domains in modern warfare.
Also highlighting emerging cyber threats around the World, Gen Farina warned how previous freedom in time and space was being increasingly challenged: “We cannot operate with the freedom we think against enemy far from us, which can allow us not to have superiority. If we are networked together, this is something we can overcome.”
Seeking to upgrade its NCW capabilities, the Italian Army continues to develop its Forza Network Enabled Capabilities (NEC) concept in collaboration with Leonardo. Both Pinerolo and Aosta Brigades underwent Operational Integration Sessions in 2018 with Forza NEC technology.
“We must create a force multiplier with high degree of collaboration between machines, people and connecting architecture. Technology can allow us to do more and more and we must update ourselves in technology development very fast,” Gen Farina continued.
However, he also discussed how concept development processes were too long, warning: “Don’t wait until the next century for the perfect solution.”
With this in mind, Farina called for emerging and ground-breaking innovations such as unmanned aerial and ground vehicles; counter-drone; and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to be connected into wider NCW efforts.
“The new frontier is present already in many activities. I believe for a commander, [AI] is important more in the planing phase and the conception and in the decision-making process of some kind of plan. But I don’t think there is any software or machine that is better than [the soldier]."
Concluding, Gen Farina also warned industry to keep any relevant solutions as simple as possible: “Whatever you develop as an industry element; commander or soldier; try to keep it simple. Simplicity is the best thing. Keeping it as close to the human feature makes it the easiest way.”