Joint Interoperability Review of the Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :




I. Seeking to Define and Understand Joint Interoperability

There has historically been a challenge in attempting to properly understand in complexity in defining joint interoperability. This is related in the work of Faughn (2002) entitled: "Interoperability: Is it Achievable?" published by the Center for Information Policy Research at Harvard University. It is stated by Faughn that: "...the "shortfalls in operability among U.S. forces, first publicized by the press at the time of the Grenada invasion, became the catalysts for legislation and changes in defense policy, guidance, and procedures, and for numerous attempts to ensure joint interoperability. Despite tremendous planning and expenditure of funds, true interoperability, especially in the theaters with the greatest potential for conflict, continues to elude the Department of Defense (DOD)." (Faughn, 2002) Faughn relates that there are seven key factors that: "...hamper the achievement of interoperability." (p.7) These are stated to include: (1) the complex military acquisition culture; (2) the shrinking defense budget; (3) the effect of rapidly changing technology on maintaining our interoperability among multiple generations of command and control (C2) and weapon systems; (4) the changing nature of operations; (5) the new emphasis on multinational operations. (p.2) Faughn (2002) states: "Despite the many programs and activities that have been instituted to achieve interoperability among the U.S. services, finding a concise document dedicated to the issue is nearly impossible." Faughn reports that the "Joint Publication 1-02 of the DOD Dictionary of Military Terms, serves as the core document to which services and agencies refer for official definitions." The definition of 'Interoperability is stated to be: "Interoperability -- 1. (DOD-NATO) the ability of systems (units, or forces) to provide services to and accept services from other systems, units, or forces and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together. 2. (DOD Only) the condition achieved among communications-electronics equipment when information services can be exchanged directly and satisfactorily between them and/or their users. The degree of interoperability should be defined when referring to specific cases." (Faughn, 2002; p. 16)

II. Fundamental Challenges

In 1999, the congressionally mandated study "Realizing the Potential of C41: Fundamental Challenges" clarified these definitions relating to the terms operational and technical interoperability stating: "Operational interoperability addresses support to military operations and as such, goes beyond systems to include people and procedures, interacting on an end-to-end basis." (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, December 1999; as cited in Faughn, 2002) Faughn additionally states: "Technical interoperability stops at the systems. If two or more systems can exchange data, then they are considered technically interoperable. By contrast, operational interoperability adds the user and assumes that the information exchange is between two or more users (senders and receivers), who must be able not only to exchange information but also to understand it. "Understand" is the key word." (2002) Faughn states that often the terms "compatibility" and "integration" occur so frequently in discussions of interoperability, they are sometimes considered synonymous with interoperability and can confuse the discussion." (2002; p.16) Integration, in the view of Admiral Nutwell, deputy secretary of defense for command, control, communications, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, is "generally considered to go beyond mere Interoperability to involve some degree of functional dependence." (Faughn, 2002; p. 17) it is noted in Newell's statement that "Compatibility is something less than Interoperability" and that integrated family of systems must of necessity be interoperable, but interoperable systems need not be integrated." (Faughn, 2002; p.17) Newell goes on to state that "Interoperability lies in the middle of an 'Integration Continuum' between compatibility and full integration. It is important to distinguish between the fundamentally different concepts of compatibility, interoperability and integration, since failure to do so sometimes confuses the debate over how to achieve them." (Faughn, 2002; p.19) Faugh reviews U.S. joint operations in the decade of the 1980s and 1990s stating that this reveals "the importance of interoperability." In Grenada Faughn relates that a short-notice decision for deployment of forces jointly into Grenada in 1983 was due to a crisis being perceived resulting in no time being left for the military to "develop mechanisms for communicating with the other services." (2002; p. 19) These joint forces, which were on an "ad hoc basis..." (Faughn, 2002; p.19) are stated to have understood the need for achieving interoperability among the various service branches "essentially on the fly." (Faughn, 2002; p.19)

III. Lack of Fully Integrated Interoperable Communication Systems

Hillman Dickinson states in the work entitled: "Planning for Defense-Wide Command and Control": "The final challenge to invading forces was the lack of a fully integrated, interoperable communications system.... Communications was to have been the glue that would tie together the operation of the four independent United States military service elements. Unfortunately, communications support failed in meeting certain aspects of the mission.... For example, uncoordinated use of radio frequencies caused a lack of interservice communications except through offshore relay stations and prevented radio communications between Marines in the north and Army Rangers in the south. As such, interservice communication was prevented, except through offshore relay stations, and kept Marine commanders unaware for too long that Rangers were pinned down without adequate armor. In a second incident, it was reported that one member of the invasion force placed a long distance, commercial telephone call to Fort Bragg, N.C., to obtain C-130 gunship support for his unit which was under fire.... Commenting overall on the issue of interoperability, Admiral Metcalf [the CINC of Atlantic Command and the overall commander for the operation], wrote, "In Grenada we did not have interoperability with the Army and the Air Force, even though we had been assured at the outset that we did." (Faughn, 2002; p. 19-20)

IV. Problem for Military Joint Interoperability Spans Decades

This problem continued on for the military and it has been reported by former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin as well as former Representative William Dickinson, in the work entitled; "Defense for a New Era, Lessons Learned of the Persian Gulf War' that a pervasive lack of interoperability exists even yet as they state: "Operation Desert Storm demonstrated that tactical communications are still plagued by incompatibilities and technical limitations. At CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] corps and wing levels, a significant portion of the war was conducted over commercial telephone lines because of the volume and compatibility limitations of the military communications system.... Communications were worse in the field.... Faughn relates that in the 1990s the African operations...illuminated the difficulty in interoperability among multinational forces, especially with those of developing countries and international organizations associated with the changing nature of military operations and operations other than war. Lessons learned from Operation Restore Hope (Somalia, 1991) emphasized such challenges." (Faughn, 2002; p. 23)

V. Network Centric Warfare Plays a Prominent/Dominant Role in Emerging Joint Operations

The work of Major David W. Roberts (USAF) and LCDR Joseph a. Smith (USN) (2003) in the work entitled: "Realizing the Promise of Network-Centric Warfare" state that "One look at the Secretary of Defense's transformation plan, at recent defense authorization figures, or at any of the emerging joint and Service operational concepts will confirm that NCW plays a prominent (if not dominant) role in the reshaping of the military." (2003) Roberts and Smith note that history is "littered with good ideas poorly executed" and they state specifically that this is "sometimes with catastrophic consequences." (2003) Noted for having been "instrumental in sparking the dialogues on the future of warfare" is Retired Vice Admiral Cebrowski who stated: "Network-centric warfare...{grows out of and draws}...power from the fundamental changes in American society. These changes have been dominated by the co-evolution of economics, information technology, and business processes and organizations...." (p.4) it is stated by Roberts and Smith to have proliferated and call information technology (it) "the impetus of this 'new age'." (2003; p.5) Roberts and Smith additionally note the statement of U.S. Joint Forces Command in the work entitled: "Toward a Joint Warfighting Concept: Rapid Decisive Operations" (2001): "The Concept for Improving Interagency Operational Planning and Coordination is supported by a Joint Interagency Coordination Group in each combatant command headquarters that is linked to the interagency community. This reduces the ad hoc nature of the interagency community involvement in political and military coordination and enables...collaboration to integrate all elements of national power to more effectively engage the enemy." (2003; p.9) Roberts and Smith state: "Thus, in both these it-enabled trends (reachback and interagency), authority is migrating to the level…

Sources Used in Documents:


National Research Council, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, Committee to Review DOD C4I Plans and Programs, Realizing the Potential of C4I: Fundamental Challenges (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, December 1999), Chapter Two, 1, 2, [Online]. URL:

Hillman Dickinson, "Planning for Defense-Wide Command and Control," in Seminar on Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Guest Presentations, Spring 1982 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Program on Information Resources Policy, I-82-3, December 1982), 23, [Online]. URL:

Snyder, Frank M. (1993) Command and Control: The Literature and Commentaries (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1993), 111.; as cited in Faughn (2002) p. 19

VADM Arthur K. Cebrowski, and John J. Garstka, "Network-Centric Warfare -- Its Origin and Future," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, January 1998, pp. 28-35. VADM Cebrowski has since retired and is currently the Director of the Secretary of Defense's Office of Transformation; as cited in Roberts and Smith (2003) p.4.

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