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February 27, 2023

Why Interoperability is Key for Modern Command Systems

*The following article is reproduced with thanks from our sister company Systematic Inc based in the United States.

Communication is the most important aspect of any military operation. This rule applies not just to combat, but to training, planning, logistics and a host of other functions as well. While maintaining effective communication is difficult enough within a single command and control structure, the challenge is far greater in coalition settings featuring multiple language and cultural differences.

US soldier using a laptop

The United States and Japan is one such coalition. The U.S.-Japan relationship is the foundation for the support and protection of stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region, not to mention the territorial integrity of Japan and other nations. In times of increasing geopolitical stress like we are experiencing today, Japan and the United States must continue to work closely to maintain the highest standards of military readiness – and that means continually improving communications at all levels of engagement.

Modern communications, of course, are data-driven and encompass more than just written and verbal exchanges to include a wide range of information-sharing and analytics. 

By nature, this requires a great deal of interoperability between various systems and platforms, which, sadly, does not always exist across multiple organizations. Data infrastructure is often implemented in an uncoordinated manner, with deployment decisions guided by immediate objectives rather than the need to contribute to a wider command structure.

Building Interoperability

There are a number of ways to alleviate this situation and produce greater compatibility across all communications infrastructure. Out-of-the-box platforms, for instance, deliver higher levels of interoperability than proprietary systems. Many commercial, off-the-shelf software solutions have proven track-records for interoperability, which is why they’ve been deployed in numerous militaries around the world.

The use of intuitive interfaces and processes also cut down on training time and lowers overall operational costs, while deploying flexible, open software solutions that integrate easily into legacy environments enable the development of highly customized capabilities.

Overall, however, interoperability must become a core criterion for all future systems design. This is the best way to set the foundation for a common, easily understood view of operational conditions. With full interoperability, information can be democratized and easily shared by all operators, decision-makers and stakeholders, while at the same time preserving the ability to control any data that should not be shared.

An interoperable environment is also more adept at ingesting data from multiple, diverse sources and then analyzing and presenting it in ways that can be easily ingested by others. With information aggregated and displayed under a single pane of glass, multi-domain forces can better understand the tactical picture and implement coordinated responses.

Soldier with a tablet, a picture of a helicopter and someone at HQ

End-to-End Communication

This level of awareness and coordination is necessary across all phases of an operation, from planning to execution. Platforms that support integrated, multi-domain maneuver elements, provide hardware- and signal-agnosticism and are scalable, self-healing and extensible will fare much better in future engagements than the static, self-contained platforms still in use today.

Systematic’s SitaWare system has demonstrated all of these capabilities and more.

To begin with, interoperability between SitaWare Headquarters, Frontline and Edge servers and the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) is available right out of the box using SitaWare Headquarters Communications (SHC) protocols. This instantly brings a high level of shared understanding between all partners – everyone sees what others see.

Systematic showed what true coalition interoperability looks like at the recent 2022 AUSA Exposition last October. The Systematic demonstration used three servers. The first server replicated a Joint Task Force using SitaWare HQ; the second server replicated the 25th Infantry division connected to CPCE; and a third server replicated the Australian 7th division using SitaWare HQ.

Real-time data was exchanged seamlessly between all three servers, connecting both divisions to each other and to the Joint Task Force HQ. In addition, this data interoperability was extended to SitaWare Edge, connecting all three entities to a replicated tank and dismounted soldier in the field.

This sharing capability also extends to legacy systems within the CPCE and can be overseen by SitaWare’s Smart Filters. These allow owners of any particular data set to establish governance policies to determine exactly what they want to share and how.

From an operational perspective, SitaWare HQ allows seamless integration for all coalition partners from planning to execution. Not only can information be shared at all appropriate levels of command, the system provides a metering capability that helps determine what information is appropriate for what group. Numerous add-ons in the SitaWare suite also integrate multi-domain maneuver elements across the coalition to incorporate elements like maritime and fire suppression activities.

Japan has one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world, but it must maintain strong partnerships with countries like the United States in order to maintain the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region. This requires resilient communications at all levels of interaction between our respective armed forces.

Tight integration between the U.S. military and the Japan Self-Defense Force is crucial to this effort, and can best be accomplished through the SitaWare platform.

 

For further information click here, or contact Systematic for a demonstration.

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