||C4I: Realizing the Potential of C4I
Present efforts in the DOD interoperability strategy suffer from a
number of weaknesses:
Finding I-2: Even full execution of the DOD strategy
for interoperability will not assure that joint mission needs for C4I will be
- More must be done to prioritize interoperability needs and make the problem more manageable. DOD efforts to construct a
single Joint Operational Architecture are tantamount to specifying the
information needs and requirements for all operations that the DOD believes
it will have to conduct in the future. It would also have to cover an
evolving set of C4I components and systems. Understanding the possible
information exchanges between systems and components is at least an N(N —
1)/2 problem (i.e., the number of possible pairs among N components).
Because a single Joint Operating Architecture would require understanding
how every part of a C4I system could be used in combination with every other
part of any C4I system or component that is fielded, the unavoidable
conclusion is that the ability to understand the entire system of systems
does not scale well as components are added, and is clearly impractical.
On the other hand, an approach that depends on achieving interoperability on a pairwise basis is too narrow in scope. Because C4I systems are likely to grow in number and be synergistic and cooperative in their applications, a pairwise approach is unlikely to keep up with interoperability demands. These considerations suggest that the proper scope of a domain in which to address architectural issues is one that is more limited than "all military operations" but larger in scope than a pairwise system-to-system interaction.
The committee believes that a good organizing principle is that "proper" would be defined as a scope of analysis and concern that has operational significance, that is inherently joint, and that involves multiple systems. The same arguments apply to data standardization efforts and to the selection and use of tools that enhance data interoperability.
- There is insufficient attention to building in interoperability throughout the life cycle of C4I systems. Achievement of
interoperability requires attention throughout development, testing, fielding,
and deployment. The committee believes that current acquisition processes do
not place sufficient emphasis on incorporation of interoperability during
development. Once systems are fielded, a special emphasis is required on
continued testing and verification of interoperability between systems. Even
with such a regime of testing, interoperability problems will arise when units
are actually fielded and systems are interconnected to meet the operational
requirements of particular missions. Field support for commanders requires
personnel who are knowledgeable and experienced in resolving interoperability
problems, and who have a perspective that cuts across the full spectrum of C4I
systems that interoperate.
- There is no system in place to measure the
interoperability state of C4I systems. It is generally accepted that management must be able to measure what they wish to change. Today DOD management does not have in place measures of the current state of interoperability, either for assessing progress in developing and acquiring interoperable systems or for assessing the interoperability component of force readiness.
- The strategy does not provide concrete guidance regarding technology evolution and the role of COTS technology. Because the life cycle of C4I systems is long compared to the rate at which commercial information technology evolves, deployment is not an event occurring in a point in time but rather a process that takes place over years. Thus, architectures should provide guidance regarding strategies for deployment of the various components, both hardware and software, how they may be upgraded as the underlying information technologies increase in power and functionality, and most importantly, how upgraded systems will maintain interoperability with systems based on earlier generations of components.
- Data interoperability efforts are inadequate.
Data interoperability standards referenced in the Joint Technical
Architecture, such as the Defense Data Dictionary System, are mandatory
defense-wide. But commercial experience suggests that because successful data
models are based on an understanding of the interfaces in a system and how
those interfaces are to be used, data models are more properly tied to
operational and system architectures. Without them, an attempt at a data model
will fail. Furthermore, an attempt at a DOD-wide data model seems doomed to
failure as well--too many competing interests need to be coordinated, and it
is likely that the effort will never converge.
The approach taken by SHADE is essentially the "data bus" approach described above. Such tools are potentially useful but require systematic application to operational mission areas for this potential to be realized. The committee's concerns are with regard to management and process rather than the technical approach. The SHADE effort depends on what amounts to voluntary adherence to a data interoperability regime. The committee understands the rationale for a voluntary regime, but remains concerned that persuading C4I program managers to use the SHADE approach will simply take too long to achieve a significant degree of data interoperability.