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Military commanders work within stressful and fast-changing circumstances and need to understand the complexities of decisionmaking in intricate networks. New concepts such as network-centric operations and distributed and decentralised command and control have been suggested as technologically enabled replacements for platform-centric operations and for centralised command and control in military operations. But as attractive as these innovations may seem, they must be tested before adoption. This report, conducted by a joint US/UK team, proposes a theoretical method to assess the effects of information gathering and collaboration across an information network on military decisions taken by a group of local decisionmakers. The authors use the Rapid Planning Process and previous work on the effects of network-centric warfare to analyse the quality of decisions in an alternative structure. Specifically, they assess the effects of collaboration across alternative information network structures in carrying out a time-critical task, identify the benefits and costs of local collaboration using a relationship based on information entropy, and look at how a multitude of unneeded information, or ‘information overload’, affects a system.

A joint US/UK study team conducted the research described in this report. In the US, the research was carried out within RAND Europe and the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division, which conducts research for the US Department of Defense, allied foreign governments, the intelligence community, and foundations. In the UK, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) directed the work and participated in the research effort. The RAND Corporation has been granted a licence from the Controller of Her Britannic Majesty’s Stationery Office to publish the Crown Copyright material included in this report.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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