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In the United States, transformation to a networked force is being pursued mainly to preserve and bolster the ability to prevail decisively in major expeditionary war. But can networking solve common operational challenges in nonpermissive contingencies short of war? The authors describe the capabilities of networked forces and examine their utility for meeting the challenges of these lesser contingencies. They then analyze ten possible hypothetical scenarios to assess the value of networking capabilities for each scenario. The authors conclude that the ability to gather, fuse, and share information is important for overcoming nearly all operational problems associated with nonpermissive contingencies other than war. In addition, networking has particular advantages in finding, distinguishing, and destroying resistance; pursuing distributed objectives, controlling wide areas, and seizing critical points; rescuing, evacuating, and protecting noncombatants; eliminating residual threats and restoring order; and minimizing damage and casualties while accomplishing those tasks.

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND’s donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

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