1.7 CHALLENGES TO THE EXPLOITATION OF
THE MILITARY LEVERAGE OF C4I
While the complexities and uncertainties of the future produce a major set of challenges to the development, integration, and fielding of the "right" set of C4I systems and processes, the U.S. military faces another set of challenges in implementation. These challenges are of both a technical and management nature, and most are specific to the military system. They are challenges that can be, and indeed are being, addressed now. The remainder of this report is devoted to the committee's view of the nature of these challenges, the state of progress in addressing them, and the actions that must be taken to deal with them more forcefully and effectively. This report addresses challenges in three areas: (1) achieving interoperability, (2) ensuring security and systems availability, and (3) evolving the military culture and business processes to enable what is required in tomorrow's world.
First, C4I systems must be interoperable so as to support joint and combined operations and the necessary interaction with government and non-governmental organizations in an environment in which the sophistication of C4I systems available to various units (or coalition partners) will surely span a spectrum of capability. Achieving this level of interoperability poses technical as well as cultural and process challenges. Significant technical dimensions include design tensions between immediate and future needs; tensions between applications-specific needs and the needs of the entire system of systems; inability to anticipate all relevant scenarios for use, resulting in an inability to anticipate which systems need to interoperate; extent of backward compatibility to be designed into systems; difficulties of anticipating a sustainable technology environment; inherent difficulties of system integration; and synchronization of interdependent programs. A number of cultural dimensions also affect efforts to achieve C4I interoperability, including the profound differences between peacetime and wartime missions, rapid management turnover that is characteristic of most government organizations, use of service-based acquisition, doctrine for interoperating with heterogeneously equipped forces, a lack of resources to pursue C4I integration as a high-priority budget item, line-item budget accountability, and the need to operate in coalitions that are quickly assembled and cannot be anticipated.
Second, C4I systems must be secured against information attacks. With increased reliance on C4I systems as well as an increased use of commercial technologies to build these systems comes a new and increased set of risks associated with the vulnerability of these systems to attack. Here, too, there are technical and cultural dimensions. Technical dimensions include the need for good automated tools for checking and inspecting network and system configurations and tools that allow the rapid and high-confidence identification of a cyber-attacker and retaliation against such attackers. A distinction must be maintained between the attacker whose intent is to disrupt or corrupt the C4I system and one whose intent is to monitor and collect information from one. Cultural dimensions include the need to promulgate a defense-wide awareness of information security (ranging from accountability to providing good information security support) and a legal constraint and military tradition of refraining from involvement in domestic security affairs.
Third, the base technologies of C4I evolve at such a rapid rate that cultural and technical challenges arise with respect to how, when, and what aspect of the technology can best be exploited to significantly increase the leverage of information systems in military operations. Infusion of technical skills in the military workplace will be required along with bringing doctrine abreast of the advances in technology. Also, leadership skills will need to be honed to take account of the technical and doctrinal shifts brought about by the potential inherent in advanced information technology. Indeed, the very fact of revolutionary changes in military operations brought about by advanced C4I systems poses enormous leadership challenges for the U.S. military, which as an institution practices well-justified conservatism. Finally, it is important to highlight the challenge to the whole acquisition process, which must take into account the rapid pace of change in information technology and the dominant role of the commercial sector in driving technological advances. The challenge is exploiting the rapid advances in information technology at a time when many, if not most, of these technologies are available through the commercial market with an acquisition system not designed to exploit rapid acquisition. Each of these three challenges, then, is discussed in the following chapters.