[ By Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch ]

In the wake of speedy tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence (C4I2) sys­tems pro­vide ster­ling op­por­tu­ni­ties for the de­fence and se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment act­ing as im­por­tant force mul­ti­plier for com­man­ders at all lev­els. The tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenge in­volves in mak­ing C4I2 sys­tems in­ter­op­er­a­ble, sur­viv­able, in­ex­pen­sive, re­li­able, and main­tain­able on the bat­tle­field. With such sys­tem, our forces will have that nec­es­sary edge to emerge win­ners in fu­ture con­flict sit­u­a­tions. Add sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance (SR) to C4I2 and you have the acro­nym C4I2SR im­ply­ing a group of func­tion­al­i­ties and ap­pli­ca­tions of a de­fence sys­tem that in­te­grates mul­ti­ple com­mand in­clud­ing troops, tanks, weapon plat­forms, air­craft, sur­veil­lance sta­tions and the high­est level of tac­ti­cal and strate­gic in­for­ma­tion avail­able to back up mil­i­tary de­ci­sions and ac­tions.

We need C4I2SR to cre­ate pos­i­tive asym­met­ri­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­pre­hen­sive com­pet­i­tive edge over ad­ver­saries plus trans­form­ing its cur­rent per­cep­tion and think­ing. Tech­nol­ogy pro­vides nu­mer­ous op­tions to build au­to­mated C4I2 sys­tems for ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship in the mod­ern bat­tle­field. Suc­cess in com­bat de­pends greatly upon fused, tai­lored in­tel­li­gence which is com­mu­ni­cated se­curely and rapidly. Speed is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent. The crit­i­cal el­e­ments of sen­sor grids and en­gage­ment grids are hosted by a high-qual­ity in­for­ma­tion back­plane. Th­ese are sup­ported by value-adding com­mand and con­trol pro­cesses many of which need to be au­to­mated to achieve speed. This in essence per­son­i­fies the es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics of a C4I2 sys­tem.

An im­por­tant re­lated is­sue is the in­creased role of in­for­ma­tion war­fare (IW) due to the ex­cep­tional growth in tech­nol­ogy over the past few decades. IW there­fore at­tempts to in­flu­ence the first three ac­tiv­i­ties of the ob­serve, ori­ent, de­cide and act (OODA) loop by dis­rupt­ing enemy’s ob­ser­va­tion and sur­veil­lance sys­tems, cor­rupt­ing enemy’s ori­en­ta­tion and mis­guid­ing his per­cep­tion, fi­nally in­duc­ing him to ar­rive at a wrong de­ci­sion. This as­pect of IW has sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for any C4I2 ar­chi­tec­ture. In­for­ma­tion in­tegrity, in­for­ma­tion as­sur­ance and in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity there­fore are key fac­tors. SR tran­scends space, air, sur­face and sub­sur­face means. Satel­lite and space sur­veil­lance apart, smaller and smarter un­manned air­craft are trans­form­ing spy­ing and sur­veil­lance.

The na­ture of air power and the no­tion of air su­pe­ri­or­ity in Iraq and AfPak Re­gion was trans­formed by mas­sive de­ploy­ments of un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) that are dras­ti­cally cheaper than fighter jets. The data they gather can then be sent in­stantly via wire­less and satel­lite links to an op­er­a­tions room half­way around the world and to the hand-held de­vices of sol­diers. C4I2SR en­ables op­er­a­tors to ma­nip­u­late bat­tle­field weapons in­clud­ing armed UAVs from con­trol rooms. C4I2SR is the crit­i­cal path to trans­for­ma­tion but de­pends on how well it can be se­cured and its re­li­a­bil­ity. Se­cu­rity, ro­bust­ness and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity will be key fac­tors. The abil­ity to pro­tect our in­for­ma­tion, sys­tems, pro­grammes, peo­ple and fa­cil­i­ties in a risk man­age­ment en­vi­ron­ment di­rectly im­pacts our abil­ity to suc­cess­fully pros­e­cute the mil­i­tary mis­sion. The C4I2SR sys­tem must be ro­bust with suf­fi­cient con­nec­tiv­ity and band­width. Ac­cess to ad­e­quate ra­dio fre­quency spec­trum for data trans­port like satel­lite links, wire­less net­works, and mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems would be es­sen­tial for the sys­tem to op­er­ate ef­fec­tively. In­ter­op­er­abil­ity is a key pa­ram­e­ter in all mil­i­tary op­er­a­tional and sys­tems ar­chi­tec­tures. Ab ini­tio joint and com­bined sys­tems, achieved through engineering in in­ter­op­er­abil­ity at­tributes from the start, will pro­vide the needed ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Our abil­ity to in­te­grate across a num­ber of di­men­sions will de­ter­mine how suc­cess­ful we are in bring­ing all of the avail­able in­for­ma­tion and all of our avail­able as­sets to bear in any given sit­u­a­tion or cir­cum­stance. Th­ese di­men­sions in­clude time, ech­e­lons, func­tions, ge­og­ra­phy, agen­cies and coali­tions. There is a need to as­sem­ble “sys­tems of sys­tems” (SoS) (with co-evolved or­gan­i­sa­tions, doc­trines, pro­cesses, and in­for­ma­tion flows) that will en­able this in­te­gra­tion to oc­cur. We need in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity, de­ci­sion su­pe­ri­or­ity, dom­i­nant ma­noeu­vre, pre­ci­sion en­gage­ment, fo­cused lo­gis­tics and full di­men­sional pro­tec­tion, C4I2SR hav­ing a di­rect bear­ing on the first four. When look­ing for tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions in re­spect of C4I2SR, we should ex­am­ine the re­quire­ments of col­lec­tion, ex­ploita­tion, stor­age, re­trieval, dis­tri­bu­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tive en­vi­ron­ments, pre­sen­ta­tion, in­for­ma­tion op­er­a­tions and in­for­ma­tion as­sur­ance, and the tech­nolo­gies that help ex­tract knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing from data and in­for­ma­tion. Our fo­cus should ad­dress con­nec­tiv­ity, tech­ni­cal in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, se­man­tic in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, in­te­grated pro­cesses, in­te­grated pro­tec­tion and net­worked bat­tle-space en­ablers.

We should un­der­stand that the po­ten­tial value of the de­fence force is the sum of the po­ten­tial value of its en­ti­ties, which in turn is heav­ily de­pen­dent on the na­ture C4I2SR that con­nects them. The ul­ti­mate goal of the C4I2SR trans­for­ma­tion must be to trans­form into NCW ca­pa­bil­i­ties; the de­vel­op­ment of a force that pro­vides the com­man­der with the ca­pa­bil­ity to dom­i­nate across the spec­trum of op­er­a­tions within the con­text of fu­ture se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment.

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