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This paper presents conceptual approaches to the synthesis of switching functions in future military networks. The special requirements of military communications are shown to favor the implementation of integrated networks which provide all services (voice, data, imagery) within a single unified network structure. Transparent and transactional methods are defined as contrasting approaches to the realization of the required switching functions. The conceptual approaches to switching in future military networks are presented in the context of cultural differences which appear to exist between the differing perceptions of the adherents of circuit switching and packet switching. Special consideration is devoted to the issue of software engineering and the impact of current trends in DoD procurement policy.