information technology-driven transformation of strategy and operations similar to what is occurring across almost every segment of society. Information superiority, indispensable to dominance in the full range of military operations, is central to Joint Vision 2010,1 the conceptual template guiding Department of Defense (DOD)2 efforts to leverage technological opportunities and structure innovations by military personnel to achieve new levels of effectiveness in joint military operations. As this report discusses in detail, in realizing this vision for C4I the U.S. military faces a fundamental set of technical and management challenges.

1.1 What Is C4I?

The acronym C4I stands for "command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence" (see Box 1.1 for DOD definitions of each of these terms). Command and control is about decision making, the exercise of direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of a mission, and is supported by information technology (the computers and communications part of C4I). The United States is aggressively exploiting these technologies in order to achieve information superiority, with the objective of achieving better and faster decisions,3 and continually projecting, albeit with uncertainties, future desired states and directing actions to bring about those future states. (Box 1.2 describes some major C4I systems; Box 1.3 describes elements of the defense information infrastructure.)

One important capability that C4I systems provide commanders is situational awareness—information about the location and status of enemy and friendly forces. A necessary component of achieving superiority in decision making, it does not alone guarantee superior decision making. Commanders must take relevant knowledge and combine it with their


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. 1996. Joint Vision 2010, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.


According to Department of Defense Directive 5100.1, promulgated September 25, 1987, the Department of Defense is composed of "the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Military Departments and the Military Services within those Departments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the Joint Staff, the Unified and Specified Combatant Commands, the Defense Agencies and DOD Field Activities, and such other offices, agencies, activities and commands as may be established or designated by law, or by the President or the Secretary of Defense." This report adopts this convention, and the use of the term "DOD" without other qualification refers to all of the constituent elements described in this directive.


Such decisions can range from those at the theater level (e.g., deciding which forces should be deployed in what locations) to the tactical level (e.g., deciding which specific weapons should be allocated against which targets).

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