By Tito Sasaki
Last month I wrote about the survival of man and mankind. Agriculture will survive as long as the human race lives on. But there is no guaranty that my farm will survive. Sonoma County, or even California, could lose its agriculture to foreign competition. It is “survival of the fittest” within agriculture.
One way to be better prepared is to study other industries. The defense industry has a commonality with agriculture as it also serves an essential need, in this case, the survival of a nation. The arms business will not perish as long as human follies stay with us. But within it, some companies die and others survive.
As with agri-business, the defense industry has to satisfy its clients’ needs. Their clients are the military, and their needs change. For over 40 years until 1991, we lived in the Cold War, a high-stake one-upmanship contest between the East and the West. The defense industry delivered jet fighters that promised air superiority with their speed, agility, armament, and stealth. Imagined warfare then had two opposing forces and nothing else. If you saw a fighter heading towards you, you had better have shot it down.
The nature of war has changed since then. We now have to fight wars amidst hostile, friendly, and neutral territories and traffic, against enemies whose moves are often unpredictable. A pilot has to discern quickly if the aircraft he sees is civilian, neutral, friend, or foe. He will also have to ascertain the target and what detection capability and anti-aircraft missiles the enemy has at any given time.
While such intelligence needs multiplied, the technologies of information gathering and communication have also advanced vastly. The military had to come up with a new doctrine, network-centric warfare.
Net-centric warfare is based on real-time sharing of information by all parts of a networked force. It builds shared situational awareness and collaboration, and enables the frontline units to pull pertinent information and make on-the-spot decisions rather than waiting for orders. The end result is increased mission effectiveness through decentralization.
An early contender of the next Sixth Generation fighters, Sweden’s Saab Gripen JAS 39E, is the first fighter designed for net-centric warfare. It is not the fastest, most agile, or stealthiest of fighters, but it is most capable of adopting new software and hardware for networking and gathering and processing the battlefield data. It also accommodates other manufacturers’ components easily, which cuts the overall cost and helps foreign clients’ indigenous industries.
Situational awareness is the most critical tactical element. In a larger sense, too, it is a vital element in business planning of the defense industry. In agriculture our situational awareness should be directed to technology, market, labor, natural environment, government programs, regulations, and a host of other factors. CFBF disseminates legislative news affecting our business. You can get the latest information from any of our board directors, or you can ask our office to put you on the e-mailing list. The Ag Alert and our Farm News also keep you informed of the changes in our business environment.
You may choose your own right way for survival, or the Army way. The only wrong way is to be complacent.