C4I2SR – Is this get­ting ad­e­quate at­ten­tion?

While Ser­vices are pro­gress­ing in­di­vid­u­ally to­wards NCW ca­pa­bil­i­ties, an in­te­grated C4I2SR struc­ture to link the strate­gic, op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal do­mains needs to be es­tab­lished To re­spond to 21st cen­tury bat­tle­field re­quire­ments, the de­fence forces ne


The in­creas­ing im­por­tance com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, com­put­ers, in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence (C4I2SR) is un­ques­tion­able. Bat­tle­field re­quire­ments have changed with long-range pre­ci­sion weapons, in­creased lethal­ity and high mo­bil­ity. Space and cy­berspace have added new di­men­sions. Bat­tle­field trans­parency, tech­no­log­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity, in­for­ma­tion ad­van­tage, tele­scoped sen­sor to shooter link and de­ci­sion cy­cle are of vi­tal im­por­tance. We must ex­ploit tech­nol­ogy to boost com­bat po­ten­tial at strate­gic, op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal lev­els tran­scend­ing the phys­i­cal, in­for­ma­tion and cog­ni­tive do­mains of war. Op­ti­mis­ing C4I2SR en­ables de­fence forces trans­form into net-cen­tric warfare (NCW) ca­pa­ble forces. Net-cen­tric­ity re­quires a re­li­able and ro­bust com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work that en­sures in­ter­op­er­abil­ity within the ser­vices, en­tire se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment and con­cerned govern­ment agen­cies.

C4I2SR can mould pub­lic opin­ion and as­sist in per­cep­tion man­age­ment. While ser­vices are pro­gress­ing in­di­vid­u­ally to­wards NCW ca­pa­bil­i­ties, an in­te­grated C4I2SR struc­ture to link the strate­gic, op­er­a­tional and tac­ti­cal do­mains needs to be es­tab­lished. Roadmaps of in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions must con­verge into an in­te­grated in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy (ICT) road map, which has yet to take off. Un­der the elu­sive ded­i­cated de­fence band. Ser­vices need to fo­cus on spec­trum man­age­ment and tech­nol­ogy to tele­scope band­width. Re­sis­tance to change apart, se­nior of­fi­cers, es­pe­cially those in de­ci­sion-mak­ing hi­er­ar­chy deal­ing with the C4I2SR net­work, need to make ex­tra ef­fort to un­der­stand tech­nol­ogy. In­tran­si­gence and in ser­vice bu­reau­cracy is not per­mit­ting the much needed C4I2SR net­work to progress with the de­sired mo­men­tum.

Adding to th­ese neg­a­tive fac­tors is the govern­ment ap­a­thy to­wards ap­point­ing a Chief of De­fence Staff de­spite strong rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee a decade back. Im­por­tance of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity in­creases man­i­fold ow­ing to fu­ture joint op­er­a­tions and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness to en­able co­he­sive ap­pli­ca­tion of joint forces. Chal­lenges that need to be over­come are fre­quent changes in re­quire­ments, se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture, con­nec­tiv­ity matrix and points of ex­change of in­for­ma­tion, in­te­gra­tion, legacy sys­tems, stan­dards and pro­to­cols, func­tion­al­i­ties and pro­ce­dures, time sen­si­tiv­ity, hu­man re­source is­sues, train­ing of users and man­age­ment of trained man­power. Im­ple­men­ta­tion strat­egy should in­clude op­er­a­tional in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, joint doc­trine, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of in­for­ma­tion re­quired and its form, time frame in which in­for­ma­tion is re­quired, joint train­ing stan­dards, tech­ni­cal in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and in­ter­face re­quire­ments of var­i­ous sys­tems. Ar­chi­tec­ture of the sys­tems must have a com­mon data­base, com­pat­i­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ap­pli­ca­tions stan­dards. Mid­dle­ware tech­nol­ogy should be de­vel­oped to achieve in­ter­op­er­abil­ity. In­te­gra­tion of legacy sys­tems needs to be taken care of af­ter eval­u­at­ing the resid­ual life and vi­a­bil­ity of such sys­tems. Strate­gic sur­veil­lance can be en­sured by fus­ing data from all strate­gic sources such as satel­lites and then fused data be­ing made avail­able in real time. A de­sign of com­mon ap­pli­ca­tions for in­te­grated C4I2SR is also re­quired.

C4I2SR sys­tem can be viewed as the fi­nal state which would act as a force mul­ti­plier. Be­sides, more re­sults would ap­pear like in­te­gra­tion of var­i­ous sen­sors, weapon plat­forms and lo­gis­tics op­er­at­ing in var­ied en­vi­ron­ments of the three ser­vices in a seam­less man­ner. Ro­bust­ness im­parted to the sys­tem should en­able its sur­viv­abil­ity dur­ing op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing nu­clear con­tin­gen­cies. The sys­tem should be op­er­a­tional from land, air and sea. Syn­ergy in warfare can only be achieved if there is in­ter­op­er­abil­ity be­tween dis­parate sys­tems of the ser­vices. Some of the is­sues re­lated to in­ter­op­er­abil­ity con­cern the or­gan­i­sa­tion/en­vi­ron­ment where de­vel­op­ment takes place, while oth­ers are re­lated to the ac­tual de­vel­op­ment process it­self. Com­mand and con­trol func­tions have to be re-scripted. The bat­tle­field needs to be ‘flat­tened’ and hi­er­ar­chi­cal set ups in var­i­ous sys­tems and sub­sys­tems in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion have to be ad­justed ac­cord­ing to the re­quire­ments of chang­ing times. Fi­nally, while in­dige­nous sys­tems are very much de­sired the govern­ment must en­sure a level play­ing field al­low­ing equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to the pri­vate in­dus­try, draw­ing in the best tech­nol­ogy.

To re­spond to 21st cen­tury bat­tle­field re­quire­ments, the de­fence forces need to usher in change. Through this tran­si­tion to NCW ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the re­quire­ment of in­for­ma­tion su­pe­ri­or­ity and in­for­ma­tion as­sur­ance will re­main dom­i­nant. Our present sta­tus is that: Army’s Tac­ti­cal Com­mand Con­trol and In­for­ma­tion (Tac C3I) Sys­tem is inch­ing for­ward at an ex­cru­ci­at­ingly slow pace; Pro­ject Army Strate­gic Op­er­a­tional In­for­ma­tion Dis­sem­i­na­tion Sys­tem (ASTROIDS) and the Tac­ti­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem (TCS) are yet to see the light of the day; com­mon soft­ware for the De­fence Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Net­work is yet to be de­vel­oped; our map­ping is 30 years be­hind, to name a few. The bot­tom line is to ask our­selves have we re­ally ac­knowl­edged in­for­ma­tion as a strate­gic as­set? The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the au­thor.

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