Tension Between Immediate and Future Needs
Operational units (in the DOD context, the CINCs as the warfighting authorities) in an organization often have a perspective very different from that of the planning units (in the DOD context, e.g., the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the service chiefs as the policy makers, allocators of resources, and providers). Operational units are concerned with the capabilities of today's systems in the short term, whereas planning units are concerned with the capabilities of tomorrow's systems, over the longer term.
- For the planner, interoperability is a capability that must be designed into a system. For the operator, interoperability is often achieved by working around problems, e.g., deciding what parts of a system to use or not use, creating patches, and modifying policy or doctrine associated with its use.
- For the planner, changes in system capability (i.e., changes in feature and function) are important. To the operator, changes in operating capability (perhaps enabled by changes in deployed system capability) have greater significance.
- For the planner, operational doctrine and tactics are driven by what can be imagined when the force is fully equipped and the new technology or system is deployed. For the operator, they are driven by deployment (perhaps partial) of a system and the resulting capabilities of the unit.
Large organizations recognize that operational considerations (e.g., training, doctrine) must be an integral part of system acquisition. But maintaining such a focus is difficult when operators believe (with some justification) that planners are not rapidly responsive to their immediate needs, and the planners believe (with some justification) that an overemphasis on immediate needs will not enable operating units to fully realize the benefits of new capabilities.