Achieving and maintaining an adequate level of
interoperability pose significant challenges. Indeed, given the large number
of C4I systems that are increasingly expected to interoperate and given the
increasing rate at which new hardware and software versions are being fielded,
especially as the spiral development model is adopted, the state of
interoperability in fielded systems requires ongoing attention.
Recommendation I-3.2: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff should establish a process to incorporate C4I interoperability into
To help in assessing progress toward meeting these challenges, C4I interoperability should be built into readiness reporting. It must, however, be done in a way that recognizes the characteristics of current combat readiness reporting, which emanates from the combat unit (i.e., a battalion, squadron, or ship) and reports on the status of things controlled directly by the unit or supported directly by its parent command (e.g., training, manning, availability of spare parts, in-commission rates for combat equipment).
The level at which C4I interoperability readiness can be measured and reported differs from the level of the factors included in current combat readiness reporting. Individual combat units are not necessarily in a position to ascertain the status of C4I systems external to their own units--the key issue in determining the ability to conduct joint combat operations. It is at echelons of command above combat units, particularly those with a joint perspective, where there is today no formal combat readiness reporting system, that the readiness of C4I systems can best be assessed. Also, C4I is a more indirect contributor to combat power than factors that can be directly tied to a particular units' combat readiness.
The system that the Joint Chiefs of Staff develops must focus on assessing the readiness of forces to conduct end-to-end missions. The readiness reporting must be based on a realistic set of scenarios for how units are to be employed. It may be appropriate to focus assessment efforts in the same mission slices as those in which the activities proposed in Recommendation I-1 are conducted.
The joint force provider, the U.S. Atlantic Command, is in a unique position to provide cross-service visibility of the contribution of interoperability factors to readiness. Its ability to do so would be enhanced if it were to preplan which forces would be expected to be deployed in a given contingency, an approach that would also enable better assessment of interoperability as an element of readiness for that contingency.