Joint Vision 2010 is compelling, but unrealized. The evidence to support it comes from a host of sources, including analysis, simulation, experiments, and experience from the private sector and DOD. These sources suggest that information technology, and by extension C4I systems, can enable entirely new modes of military operation with much greater military effectiveness, just as they have radically changed how many businesses operate. These possible new modes include greater freedom of action for small, decentralized forces and the massing of firepower rather than massing of forces.
However, the vision is as yet unrealized, because it is not yet known how to exploit information technology across the full spectrum of military operations. Realizing the benefits of new C4I technologies may well require trade-offs between the C4I systems acquisition and other force investments, as well as requiring major changes in doctrine. DOD's goal must be improved military effectiveness, not simply improved capabilities. In addition to sound military judgment, careful analysis of results from well-instrumented simulations and exercises is needed to evaluate the impact of information technology, and to drive budget trade-offs between C4I and other systems.
A related issue is that new C4I systems are based on rapidly advancing computing and communications technology, driven primarily by the commercial sector. Rapid advances usually mean rapid obsolescence, so technology exploitation must be a continuous process if superiority is to be maintained vis-à-vis potential adversaries who have access to the same underlying information technologies. Both military doctrine for C4I and the budget mix of C4I versus weapons must be periodically reevaluated.
DOD policy and strategy clearly recognize the potential value of C4I technology in enhancing military effectiveness, and a number of activities and initiatives under way, both within the services and, to a lesser extent, in the joint arena seek to realize this potential. Most prominent, of course, is Joint Vision 2010.
The committee sees three major challenges to the effective exploitation of the potential offered by C4I technology--interoperability, information systems security, and DOD processes and culture involving C4I. This report is focused on these three challenges. While all three challenges are important ones for DOD to address, the committee calls attention to the security challenge (including related process and culture issues) as posing a high level of current risk. In contrast, failure to fully exploit the potential leverage of C4I represents a longer-term risk; success depends on meeting the challenges of interoperability and DOD processes and culture with respect to acquisition and effective use of C4I technologies.
DOD has recognized the importance of these challenges in
various directives and initiatives. But the totality of the DOD response to
these challenges is not adequate to fully exploit C4I technologies. Furthermore,
it is unrealistic to expect to address these challenges "once and for all."
Rather, meeting these challenges will demand continuous attention and effort
over time. (In more colloquial terms, each of these areas can be regarded as a
partially filled glass. The level of water in the glass represents the extent to
which DOD goals for C4I have been achieved.3 Today, the glass has both some leaks (representing matters becoming worse and failures to make progress) and a faucet putting water into the glass (representing DOD efforts to make progress). One could also argue that the glass is growing larger, representing the rapid increase in the capabilities that the technologies afford. A one-shot effort, no matter how massive, will eventually leak out. Thus, the challenge is to close up existing leaks (even as new leaks open up), and open the spigot on the faucet wider.)