DOD research program seeks IT, doctrine link

Continuing an effort that began in 1995 to study the impact of information technology on military command and control, the Defense Department last month requested research proposals that can help DOD make better use of IT in the battlefield.

The broad agency announcement (BAA) was issued by the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Cooperative Research Program (CCRP), which is managed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASD/C3I).

The CCRP is soliciting research and development proposals from industry that will refine the process of creating what are called Mission Capability Packages. These "packages," which are tailored for specific missions, describe the forces, the command relationships within those forces and an outline of a mission's operational concepts, weapons systems and information systems and architectures. MCPs that span the spectrum of conflict— including humanitarian missions, peacekeeping missions, major regional contingencies and various coalition operations— are being studied.

According to David S. Alberts, director of research at ASD/C3I, which oversees and funds the CCRP, the goal is to improve the department's ability to take advantage of IT by "co-evolving" DOD concepts of organizing, equipping and fighting alongside technological advances.

"The pace of technological advances has quickened to such a degree that current DOD methods of incorporating technology are well behind the power curve," Alberts said.

"This is a program that focuses on the C4ISR requirements of the warfighters. It's about what is important to them," said Margaret Myers, director for performance assessment at ASD/C3I. However, "what we're after is a higher level of research that provides more of a strategic look at how information technology, C4ISR and information superiority can help to improve our strategic military capabilities."

The toughest problems facing DOD have to do with cultures and willingness to change, said Jude Franklin, vice president and chief technology officer with Litton/PRC Inc., which expects to submit a bid on the BAA.

"It is very clear that collaborative computing will be needed to make Joint Vision 2010 work," Franklin said. "You really have to start thinking about architectures and their implications. We feel standardization [across architectures] is absolutely crucial." Joint Vision 2010 is a DOD effort to create seamless battlefield communications across the services.

Known originally as the Command and Control Research Program, the CCRP began in 1984 as a joint project between the ASD/C3I and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a better understanding of the field of command and control. The program later moved to the National Defense University— where a Center for Advanced Command Concepts and Technology was created in 1994— and will be integrated this year into the office of the ASD/C3I.

Anthony M. Valletta, vice president of SRA Federal Systems and former acting ASD/C3I, was the individual responsible for moving the CCRP back to DOD. He said he would have "doubled or tripled" the budget if he had the chance before he left government. "If [ASD/C3I] can find just a million or two [dollars] more, they will see a tremendous return on investment," Valletta said. "We need to have people like Alberts to actually find the time and the energy to think about the future."

Alberts, who was the first professor of computer science at New York University, described himself as a one-man shop, acting as a facilitator of discussion and study throughout the C2 community. The office of the ASD/C3I funds the CCRP with about $2 million per year, which allows Alberts to find the right skills and subject-matter expertise residing throughout industry and government.

The CCRP has expanded significantly since its inception to include cooperating with various government agencies on C2-related projects.

In addition, Alberts and various contributing scholars have published more than 35 books and papers on C2 and information operations. According to Alberts, the books have found their way into the hands of many of today's junior officers who are being tasked to carry out C2 and information operations missions.

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