Battle of Cognition : The Future Information-Rich Warfare and the Mind of the Commander - ISBN 0-313-34995-9 - Praeger Security International Academic Cloth - 2007


Describe in a sentences or two what motivated me to read this book.

Pre-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain before having read the book.


  • Introduction, Alexander Kott
    • description of the encompassing US framework, brief history (DARPA, ...), objectives with the different plans (FCS, FCS D2, MDC2, ...) and description of the content of each chapter.
    • battle command as the interaction of
      • Situation awareness
      • Collaboration
      • Decision making
  • Chapter 1 - Variables and Constants: How the Battle Command of Tomorrow Will Differ (or Not) from Today’s, Richard Hart Sinnreich
    • description of the fix factors (mainly cognition overload) and the changes (distribution of the actors, role of the media and spreading of information) and how networked automation could intervene (advantages and risks)
      • see table of content for detailed description
    • "In short, in training as in actual operations, information technology must be treated as the servant, not the master, recognizing that in battle command perhaps more than in any other human endeavor, the ultimate value of science is to facilitate the practice of art." (p34)
  • Chapter 2 - A Journey into the Mind of Command: How DARPA and the Army Experimented with Command in Future Warfare, Alexander Kott, Douglas J. Peters, and Stephen Riese
    • description of a scenario in 2018
      • central role of new UAVs and "the network" as a way to simulate/organize/collect information
      • Commander Support Environment (CSE)
    • introduction of the central paradigm of "network enabled" warfare (p41)
      • historical evolution going back to 1980
      • arguments in favor (remote, distributed, fast, including advances in technology, ...)
      • critics against (brittle, expensive, not ready, potentially not faster...)
      • overall the authors argue that "the cognitive challenges of information-rich, network-enabled warfare do not depend on the thickness of the armor [...] or the right number of boots on the ground" (p43) but rather that those are orthogonal issues, both fundamental to master.
    • position of key institutions : DARPA and TRADOC (United States Army Training and Doctrine Command)
      • evolution of the MDC2 (Multicell and Dismounted Command and Control)
    • description of a simulation of a situation with 2 teams and multiple connected command centers, applications of orders seem to be delegated to the equivalent of a multi-agent system ("entity-level semi-automated or computer-generated force" p47)
      • once again the double-edged sword being the amount of information made available and the ability to handle it (risk of cognitive overload)
      • the CSE being the key component aiming to solve those problems
        • by providing shared (updated across the system) layered (dimension per own-side, neutral, opposed side) mapped (geolocalized) information
        • translation of high-level command to instruction to robotics warriors
        • tracking and simulations of enemy resources
        • situation specific information trigger (for example reaching a threshold regarding the size of enemy forces)
    • more than 8 of those months-long simulations (called runs) have been executed
      • the structure of the scenario used in runs are explained : mission, enemy, terrain, troops, Civilians on the Battlespace, Time
        • mission planning was allotted 2 hours
        • mission execution was up to 4 hours
      • CSE is described a key advantage "Remarkably, using their respective CSE facilities [they] manage to formulate and coordinate a new plan" but no detail on why and how this is being asserted is provided (p61)
    • Information processing, situation awareness and battle command
      • "situation awareness (i.e., the ability to obtain the necessary information about the situation in which a military force operates)" is describe a key factor, as demonstrated by the runs.
      • technology is playing a key role to improve that very factor
      • reasoning : new conditions of warfare -> both engender and demand more information -> challenges the ability of the old command system to transform it into actionable situation awareness
        • develops or adopts new information- processing technologies with suitable organizations and procedures -> a new battle-command system
  • Chapter 3 - New Tools of Command: A Detailed Look at the Technology That Helps Manage the Fog of War, Richard J. Bormann Jr.
    • description of the BCSE architecture
      • definition of an agent and the 3 types of agents used
        • Commander and staff agents
        • Collective agents
        • Asset agents
        • they all use knowledge model based on facts and heuristics representing the worldview "The knowledge base is made up of a data model representing the worldview as well as the rules that define the problem-solving paradigm." (p67)
      • security through redundancy, the distributed argent architecture is tolerant to the loss of agents
      • degree of autonomy of agents are parameterizable, from full automated action to recommendation only
      • tools at disposal are
        • Planning Missions and Courses of Action (COAs) (p77)
          • looks mainly as a hierarchical time and space distribution of actions
        • Visualization (p78)
          • multilayer indicator reach representation either on a simulated map or symbolically
        • Customization of User Interfaces (p77)
          • using specialized tools and representation
        • Briefing (p77)
          • equivalent of a share whiteboard
        • Situation Awareness (p78)
          • providing a realistic current view of the situation, unlike previous planning tools
          • The Threat Manager in particular study all potential threat with their particularities
          • The Resource Availability gives information on all friendly assets
          • The Collection Management gives a quick way to check the situation of each task
        • Tasking (p79)
          • specialized high-level task management system embedding templates (shortest path, fastest path, ...)
        • Automation of Fires (p81)
          • basically rules based (knowledge base, operator's specification, balancing, ...) actuator
          • I guess that's the ultimate objective, having a fully automated system, Attack Guidance Matrix (AGM) is probably the drive if not the core of the system
          • see also presentation on selecting targets by Carl Burrell for FIRE or slides 19 to 21 of Luftwaffe Targeting
        • Manual Execution of Fires (p81)
          • issuing fast manual extension regarding a target based on templates
        • Intelligence Management (p82)
          • handle data from different sensors and presenting them through different specialized viewers (Picture Viewer, Intel Viewer, Unit Viewer, Detection Catalog)
        • Automation of BDA (p83)
          • "AGM, the Battle Damage Assessment Guidance Matrix (BDAGM) monitors the friendly fires at the enemy targets and automatically issues optimized commands (or recommendations) to send the available sensors to perform BDA."
        • CCIR (p85)
          • Commander Critical Information Requirement or alerts on information to provide
        • Communications (p85)
          • management of explicit communication
          • management of active sensors and verification of lost sensors (through cell destruction)
          • ability to customize bandwidth
        • Logistics (p86)
          • current assets but also trend analysis
        • Maps and Terrain Analysis (p86)
          • using geospatial exploitation tool and recommending paths or potential enemy location based on the most information acquired
    • description of the initial scenario (Chapter 2) using most of the tools just described with emphasis on
      • right-tier information broadcasting
      • instantaneous update with visual cues
      • automated actions
    • technical description of the Viecore Decision Support Framework (VDSF) (p90)
      • based on a production rules engine with Rete Algorithm
      • emphasis on code generation
      • use directly for :
        • "Collecting the data needed to represent the environment (in our case, the battlespace)."
        • "Reasoning about the battlespace data."
        • "Detecting and responding to relevant changes in that data."
      • detailed step by step process for code generation (Figure 3.10 p91)
        • pretty classic domain specific language to low level code
      • detailed architecture description (Figure 3.11 p93)
        • once again, pretty classic layer per layer integration over a supporting processing engine called "DSS Reasoner (KnowledgeBase and Rules Engine)"
    • concluding on situation awareness as the "comprehension of what is happening in the battlespace" thus being fundamental
  • Chapter 4 - Situation Awareness: A Key Cognitive Factor in Effectiveness of Battle Command, Mica R. Endsley
    • "the perception of the elements in the environment, within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future" (Endsley 1988) and be organized in 3 levels :
      • Level-1 SA : Perception of the elements in the environment (listed in Table 4.1, p97-98)
      • Level-2 SA : Comprehension of the current situation (listed in Table 4.2, p99-100)
      • Level-3 SA : Projection of future status (listed in Table 4.3, p101-102)
    • existence of "stressors", basically noise (from fear, weather conditions, ...) that interfere with the construction of a good SA
    • potential risk of overload but also of underload, both stressful situation for the user of the system
    • using SAGAT test to assess the performance of an SA support system
    • ability to share SA across members
      • but maintaining the possibility for each member to tailor the final view to its own needs
    • several visuals are presented in Wikipedia:Situation awareness, including Team SA or Shared SA models by the same author, M. R Endsley
  • Chapter 5 - The Hunt for Clues: How to Collect and Analyze Situation Awareness Data, Douglas J. Peters, Stephen Riese, Gary Sauer, and Thomas Wilk
    • SA technical or SAt as a measure of quantity and accuracy of relevant information available to a command-cell member over time
    • SA cognitive or SAc as a tentative measure of cognitive load and understanding
    • using multiple metrics (SAt, SAc, sensor coverage, and battle tempo) as a function of time in one chart to visually explore relationships between the metrics and underlying phenomena (p136)
  • Chapter 6 - Making Sense of the Battlefield: Even with Powerful Tools, the Task Remains Difficult, Stephen Riese, Douglas J. Peters, and Stephen Kirin
    • Information advantage, and not level of acquired information, is the stronger indicator of tactical outcome.
    • Human tendencies and machine-interface limitations make Situation Awareness (SA) hard to maintain.
    • Gaps and misinterpretations in SA are alarmingly common.
    • Shared information does not necessarily mean shared SA.
      • "confirmation bias = the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions." (p158)
        • that could also be interpreted as theory-laden search for evidences thus potentially highlighting the importance of serendipity
    • The cognitive load of future battle command is extremely high and tends to be disproportionately borne by the most junior leaders.
      • "future leaders [will have] to be proficient in processing vast amounts of information, determining what is relevant and what is not relevant, and making key decisions based on partial information." (p164)
  • Chapter 7 - Enabling Collaboration: Realizing the Collaborative Potential of Network-Enabled Command, Gary L. Klein, Leonard Adelman, and Alexander Kott
    • discussion on collaboration based on case study
      • establishing the CEF (Collaboration Evaluation Framework) (p168)
    • finding different level of description based on the individual and his tasks
    • it is difficult to have the correct granularity (level of abstraction)
    • situation awareness is multi-level and interaction between level can be imperfect (example of the loss of an MCS and the repercussions on Level-2 SA and Level 2 SA
  • Chapter 8 - The Time to Decide: How Awareness and Collaboration Affect the Command Decision Making, Douglas J. Peters, LeRoy A. Jackson, Jennifer K. Phillips, and Karol G. Ross
    • “The history of command can be understood in terms of a race between the demand for information and the ability of command systems to meet it. The quintessential problem facing any command system is dealing with uncertainty” (van Creveld 1985) (p195-196)
    • looking-for-trees behavior (p211)
      • the commander gravitated to a reactive mode: he responded to changes on his display and frequently lost the initiative in the battle.
      • responding to frequent updates on the screen prevented the commander from spending the necessary time thinking about the bigger picture of the situation.
    • "The more often a decision maker shifts attention, the shorter the dwell time on a data element, and the more shallow the cognitive processing." (p211)
  • Concluding Thoughts, Alexander Kott
    • "It helps to think about the human mind not as a user of battle-command technology, but rather as an intrinsic part of such technology—certainly a unique and precious part, but a part nevertheless. The rest of the technology must be built around this unique, predefined component in a way that carefully matches its special strengths and weaknesses." (p217)

See also

Overall remarks and questions

  • this? that?


So in the end, it was about X and was based on Y.


Point A, B and C are debatable because of e, f and j.


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Post-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain after having read the book. Link it to the pre-reading model and align the two to help easy comparison.

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