Doctrine update

Battlefield information management

Knowledge is power – a truism we’ve all heard a hundred times. It’s applicable to politics, business and the battlefield.

Modern military operations are characterized by complex and intricate interplay among military elements, political entities, government agencies, non-government organizations and civilians. Modern military operations span the entire range of activities from disaster relief to peacekeeping to major theater conflict. All operations require the exchange of information and knowledge for effective coordination and synchronization. Battle command has as its foundation the efficient exchange of information, knowledge and understanding – not just any information and knowledge, but complex, fast-paced and increasingly distributed operations require relevant information.

The proliferation of sensors, data processors and automated applications is producing an explosive growth of information within all echelons of the Army. At the same time, the introduction of faster, more pervasive communications means is providing a degree of connectivity never seen within the military environment. The increasing levels of connectivity provided by modern tactical-communications networks are combining with the explosion of information to create conditions of information overload within operations centers and within commanders’ consciousness.

Army leaders recognize that successful operations, now and in the future, will require something new. They’ll require the deliberate and effective management of information to enable Army forces to see and understand the battlespace faster and better than an adversary, allowing decisions to be translated into more effective operations, leading to operational success.

The emerging discipline of information management will be the catalyst that enables the synergistic interaction of the various battlefield functional areas to create new levels of effectiveness within the force. IM’s purpose is to get the right information to the right person or place at the right time in a usable format to facilitate situation understanding and decision-making. IM uses procedures and information systems to collect, process, store, display and disseminate data and information. IM will turn knowledge into power and put the means to succeed into the commander’s hands.

The Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., is the Army’s proponent for IM. IM is intricately related to the other facets of command, control, communications and computers operations. The following table shows the component functions that constitute C4 operations.

C4 operations=IM + NETOPS
C4 = key enabler of decision superiority
IM = infosys + RI
Netops = NM + IA + IDM

The key concept is that IM and the various aspects of providing and protecting the Army’s communications networks are so closely linked that they’re interdependent. Just as the various members of a football team perform individual functions skillfully but are only fully effective when working in concert, IM and network operations combine to contribute different, yet joined, aspects of the Army’s information environment.

IM’s elements are RI and infosys. The interconnected nature of communications networks and IM is apparent when these elements are examined.

RI. RI is simply defined as all information of importance to commanders and staffs in the exercise of command and control. The key word is “relevant.” An ocean of information must be filtered to extract just the information required for awareness, understanding and decision. Of course, the term “relevant” is relative. For example, information relevant to the execution of a breaching operation may not be relevant to the establishment of a logistics support area.

Leaders at all echelons determine their specific information requirements. They’ll recommend, and the commander will approve, appropriate commander’s critical information requirements. Information relevancy is determined by applicability to information requirements and CCIRs. RI’s delivery will be supported via new capabilities provided by the developing field of information-dissemination management.

IDM will be an automated function that manages information delivery according to content and end-users’ stated needs. IDM applications will match information content with users’ requests and automatically deliver it to support planning, decision-making and mission execution. IDM will achieve its full capabilities through four basic functions: information awareness, information access, information-delivery services and support services.

Information awareness will enable users to see what RI is available and to see information changes. Information access will enable users to state their information needs and access RI without knowing its exact location. Information-delivery services will optimize use of communications-transport systems by managing priorities, file size, access and format. Support services will provide interfaces to directory, security and operations functions.

INFOSYS. Infosys is defined as the equipment and facilities that collect, process, store, display and disseminate data and information. This includes computers – hardware and software – and communications, as well as policies and procedures for their use. This definition is correct given that management functions occur from data collection through decision-making. Users’ infosys won’t be regarded merely as user terminals connected to a communications conduit. Current and future infosys will interact vigorously with the network. Infosys will rely on the network for processing support and, in turn, will support the network with connectivity applications. The information network, or grid, won’t attain its fullest information-processing functionality without both the users’ systems and the communications linkages present.

Managing information is captured in a four-step process as depicted in the figure below. The first step is to identify the information requirements for planning and conducting operations. The second step is to collect and process information to obtain the information relevant to the user’s needs. This leads to the third step of building a depiction of the situation with RI, usually referred to as the common operational picture.

IM cycle

Information-management cycle.

When pertaining to a maneuver action such as a deliberate attack, COP is composed of terrain features, including blue-force situation information, threat-force situation information, airspace-management information or graphic control measures. COP may take a different form to support other operations – for example, a maintenance facility may use an interactive data matrix to depict the maintenance status of unit equipment, availability of parts and so on.

Whatever its form, COP supports the last step of developing understanding. While the display provides awareness, it requires judgment to extract inference, recognize patterns and anticipate consequences. It’s understanding that leads to decisions that spur action. This simple IM process occurs throughout the depth and width of an organization and supports all action.

Within the four-step management process are five distinct tasks associated with IM. These are collecting, processing, storing, disseminating and displaying data and information. These tasks will become more and more integral to the communications networks as time goes on. Whereas today’s user devices simply connect to Signal transmission paths and pump data through them, developing technologies are leading to user applications and transmission systems that cooperate in prioritizing, routing, scaling, caching and formatting data. More processing functions will occur automatically within the networked infosys to provide greater efficiencies. As the Army moves down the path of modernization and transformation, IM processes, tools and communications systems will become faster, more powerful and more automatic.

Signal staff elements will support Army commands via an organizational structure that reflects the C4-operations construct depicted in the new Field Manual 6-0, Command and Control. The figure below shows the elements of a C4-operations section. C4 operations tie the battlefield functional areas together to enable synchronized battle command within an information environment.

C4 operations in information environment illustration

C4 operations in the information environment.

Signal staff will coordinate all aspects of C4 processes and will manage the critical interface between infosys and the communications network. While IM processes and systems are, and will continue to be, inherent to all functional areas, the Signal community will provide the overall staff coordination and integration of the widely disparate functional-area IM processes and products to provide commanders and decision-makers with the awareness and understanding required for effective battle command.

As IM specialists, Signaleers will assist commanders in managing information resources. As an example, communications bandwidth is, and will remain, a finite battlefield resource. The information manager will assist the commander in determining priorities for data communications, the content of digital reports and the format for collaborative interactions to maximize the value of communications capabilities. The “digital rules of engagement” the information manager establishes will form the construct for information exchange within a command.

As the IM proponent, the Signal Regiment is producing a doctrinal field manual to explain the processes and procedures associated with IM at tactical levels. It will explain the roles, responsibilities and organization of Signal elements relating to IM and will describe the planning functions associated with IM support during the military decision-making process. The field manual will include principles applicable to both current and future forces and will provide the basis for IM operations applicable to the Army’s transformation.

Acronym QuickScan
C4 – command, control, communications and computers
CCIR – commander’s critical information requirements
COP – common operational picture
IDM – information-dissemination management
IM – information management
Infosys – information systems
Netops – network operations
NM – network management
RI – relevant information

dividing rule

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