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Communications, Command, and Control (C3)

Communications, Command, and Control (C3) technology encompasses the capability to acquire, process, and disseminate information across force elements (including international coalition forces). The capability must be reliable, provide secure multilevel access, and be protected from enemy attacks. This will require advances not only in computing hardware and software but in the interconnecting fabric of communications. The goal is seamless and effective integration of capabilities for planning and preemption, integrated force management, and effective employment of sensor-to-shooter system-of-systems.

As reflected in the Army command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) technical architecture and the interoperability objectives of the Army Digitization Office, digitization of the battlefield is expected to rely largely on the effective use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment. While this may provide many of the building blocks, integration and demonstration of the technology in the field remains a significant challenge. Widespread mass market availability of low-cost computers of unprecedented power and global connectivity over the Internet has led to rapid expansion and proliferation of information system technologies.

Seamless communication means robust, survivable, multilevel secure communication systems that provide the warfighter access to mission-essential information over the entire operational continuum without requiring user intervention to achieve connectivity across heterogeneous networks. Seamless communication includes the technologies associated with networks, network management, and advanced radio communication systems. The technical challenge is to provide local area networks and ground mobile radio networks that will survive the hostile and demanding environment of the modern battle and that are capable of being interfaced to fixed-backbone or space-based wide area networks.

France, Germany, and the U.K. are major players in all aspects of communication networks and in battlefield interoperability. Canada also has significant capabilities in tactical interoperability. Part of the Army's strategy for international digitization is to establish a joint testbed facility to conduct R&D to demonstrate and evaluate interoperability and implement new procedures and functions required for a digitized battlefield. Initial efforts involve Germany but it is envisioned that this testbed will accommodate joint testing between U.S. and other multinational forces. In addition to traditional NATO allies, Japan also offers significant capabilities in networking and high-speed communications. Of particular interest is its world-class work on fuzzy logic. This area of technology is expected to play an important role in future automated and autonomous systems.

Information management and distribution provide the backbone infrastructure to allow near-perfect, real-time knowledge of the enemy and the ability to automatically disseminate that information to dispersed forces and command centers. Technical challenges relate to heterogeneous distributed computing environments, distributed database management, multilevel information security, advanced human-computer interfaces (HCIs), and automated information distribution.

France, Germany, and the U.K. have significant capabilities in information management and distribution. In addition, Canada has strong capabilities in advanced data display. Another NATO country with noteworthy capabilities is The Netherlands, which has particular strengths in natural language processing as well as knowledge base and database science. South Korea and Canada have significant efforts ongoing relative to data fusion and the underlying technology applied to military intelligence. Cooperative efforts with these countries would be beneficial in applying state-of-the-art technologies to address the data fusion problem.

Applications of distributed intelligent systems to real-time data fusion and combat battle management. The objective is to incorporate AI into large synthetic computing environments to handle networking and process management automatically and transparently for the network user. France has extensive experience and a sound information technology infrastructure combined with strong capabilities in battlefield communications. To increase information flow to and from the land forces (Army) commander. Advanced asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) switching promises many advantages to the next-generation information infrastructure for commercial as well as military tactical and strategic applications. France has significant capabilities in this area of technology.

For information exchange between U.S. and allied forces in combined operation. Military communications offer a promising area for implementation of machine translation because of the relatively limited and specialized military lexicon. Two areas are of special interest, one with Germany and one with France. The German Army has developed a prototype translation system consisting of a 16-channel recorder, a server, two workstations, and an electronic military lexicon. They are interested in further development of this capability in the areas of language and speaker identification. World-class research in machine translation is being done in Germany at Siemens and the University of Karlsruhe. A French-English interlingual-based machine translation system, capable of high-quality translation of complex sentences in the domain of military free text messages, is being developed under a 4-year effort between France and the U.S.. Using corpus material from the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) and STSIE DGA (formerly Research Institute for High-Energy Physics, Finland (SEFT)), the system will contain semantic lexicons of both French and English each having 1,000-3,000 root word form entries, graphical user interface tools, and wide coverage grammar parsers and generators. Finally, Japan offers world-class capabilities in high-speed switching and networks that could be a valuable contribution to this area.

Decision making or battle command remains a combination of art and science. The nonhierarchical dissemination of intelligence, targeting, and other data, facilitated by seamless communications and effective information management and distribution, will replace the current hierarchical command structure. Units, key decision makers, and commanders will be more independent and dispersed. Information will be voluminous, nonsynchronous, ambiguous, partial, and at times erroneous. To support this revolution in battle command, dispersed command units must be able to share a common, accurate picture of the battlespace. To take advantage of this information, a multilayered reasoning environment is required to aid the warfighter and commanders in making battlefield decisions.

Technical challenges include developing an environmental and force structure database and reasoning mechanisms that are scalable, dynamic, extensible, and robust. In addition, the system must be affordable and offer real-time response. The decision making and planning aspects require improved machine learning and reasoning paradigms coupled with intelligent agents or aids. France and the U.K. have special capabilities in the area of fuzzy logic technology that offer opportunities for potential cooperative efforts.

The French are doing world-class research on automated mission planning and decision making. Automated mission planning systems require evaluation of potential paths based on a perception of the current true situation. In virtually every case this is based on vague or uncertain data (e.g., data on enemy positions, weapon ranges, reaction time, efficiency). Conventional rule-based approaches do not work well with this type of data. Fuzzy logic approaches for data collection, aggregation, and potentially deaggregation are being integrated into an automated system to allow manipulation of vague data to increase realism of simulation and, ultimately, of decision making.

The U.K. is investigating the potential payoff from incorporating fuzzy logic techniques into a large-scale battlefield decision making simulation. Intelligent command aids could be extremely important in simulation and computer-generated forces (CGFs). A common problem is the fact that it is far too expensive to have human controllers "command" the CGFs. Rather than using large rule-based systems to construct "command agents" that attempt to model individual decision making entities, fuzzy logic and fuzzy inference engines are an approach that can enhance current intelligent command aids and provide more realistic and effective simulations. The GeKnoFlexE system developed by the U.K. (Ft. Halstead) will be the testbed system. The current rule-based inference structure will be "fuzzified" by augmenting or replacing it with fuzzy rules and fuzzy inference mechanisms. Since the current system is nonfuzzy, direct comparisons of complexity, behavior, and other performance parameters will be possible. Israel also has strong capabilities in automated battle management that could offer an important contribution to this effort. Japan has world-class capabilities in fuzzy logic. Most Japanese work is related to control of industrial processes or consumer products, however, it is also applicable to military decision making and mission planning.

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