Long Cycle Times for Complete Upgrades Leading to Heterogeneously Equipped Units
DOD procurement budgets usually make it infeasible to deploy a given generation or version of technology widely before that technology increases significantly in capability. Such budgetary limitations have two significant consequences:
- Because the time needed to equip an entire service is
long compared to the time scale on which information technology changes (e.g.,
processor power improves by a factor of 10 in 5 years, but it takes on the
order of 15 years to fully equip the Army with modernized tanks), the
technology underlying a new C4I system will be much more capable at the end of
the procurement cycle than in the beginning. Backward compatibility of new
generations with preceding generations thus becomes an important issue to
- While a new C4I system is being installed, and perhaps throughout the system fielding cycle, different units may have different capabilities. The division selected to be first equipped may have Version 2 of a system, while all others have Version 1. Or, the initial division will have Version 1 (as will happen in the Army's digitization effort), while the others have nothing. Then too, a given contingency may require digitized and non-digitized divisions to work together. These interoperability requirements--compatibility in doctrine, tactics, training, and ability to exchange information with non-modernized units--place many constraints on modernization efforts.
In short, the C4I systems in use in the individual services will not, and cannot, stay in lockstep. Thus, even a "perfectly interoperable" information system would not solve the problem permanently. The rate of change of both technology and warfare would ensure that such perfection would be at best transitory.