These needs demand that the Navy’s C4ISR systems support not only interoperability (both joint and within the Navy)—which is the current Navy emphasis on transporting information coherently between machines, that is, the ability to share information to enable cooperative action—but also composability and adaptability, which this committee defines as follows:

  • Composability—the ability to create new work flows dynamically by reconfiguring the integration of existing subsystems to serve current operations and, in the longer term,

  • Adaptability—the ability to rapidly augment and use existing subsystems for missions for which they were not originally intended.

The achievement of composability and adaptability requires interoperability, but in a form that goes beyond currently envisioned interoperability initiatives.


A major objective of the new naval strike group construct is the ability to assemble and employ tailored capability packages to make optimum use of limited resources in circumstances involving simultaneous, ambiguous, and dynamic operational contingencies. Being able to meet this objective implies the availability of organizational and behavioral attributes that can be addressed in terms of composability and adaptability as defined above. Achieving this transformational capability demands an architectural foundation—including operational, technical, and system views—that is supported by a mature, robust, scalable, self-managing, and network-centric information infrastructure. Composability embraces entire strike groups, individual platforms, systems hosted by platforms, and combinations of components and functions within systems; composability is to be used at the operational as well as the tactical level of war.

Navy goals require composability both at the operational and the technical architectural levels. Operational composability is the ability to combine units and resources into tailored packages possessing specific capabilities for particular missions or tasks. This process happens in the context of an organizational hierarchy in which a given level can be decomposed into the entities at the next lower level and a tailored package can be composed from those entities. A representative hierarchy is as follows:

  • Enterprise (e.g., joint task force),

  • Subenterprise or community of interest (COI),

  • Node or platform,

  • System,

  • Subsystem, and

  • Component.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement