Historical approaches to interoperability by the DOD have ranged from dealing with interoperability issues program by program to making limited-scope efforts on a joint, community-wide basis (e.g., the Joint Interoperability of Tactical Command and Control Systems activity to address joint message standards) or a functional community basis (e.g., air defense). In addition, some programs to develop defense-wide infrastructure, dating back to at least the 1960s, have been followed more recently by a few sizable, centrally managed application development programs (e.g., the Global Command and Control System as a replacement for the Worldwide Military Command and Control System).
In recognition of the leverage afforded by C4I and the
importance of interoperability in realizing this leverage, over the last 3 or 4
years a more centralized, inherently joint/defense-wide strategy for promoting
interoperability has emerged, comprising two major elements: a triad of
interrelated architectures and a common defense-wide infrastructure, the Defense
Information Infrastructure (DII) with a common applications platform, the Common
Operating Environment (DII-COE, discussed in more detail below) as a key
ingredient.18 Responsibility for interoperability is distributed across DOD, and each of the major players has at least one entity charged with responsibility for interoperability issues. For example, the Defense Information Systems Agency has the Joint Interoperability Test Command, the U.S. Atlantic Command has the Joint Battle Center, the Joint Staff has the Military Communications and Electronics Board, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for C3I has the Information, Integration, and Interoperability Directorate. Today, DOD is just at the beginning of refining and even establishing the processes and organizations to respond to future needs for C4I interoperability.