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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Research Council. 1995. Commercial Multimedia Technologies for Twenty-First Century Army Battlefields: A Technology Management Strategy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5036.
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Research Council. 1995. Commercial Multimedia Technologies for Twenty-First Century Army Battlefields: A Technology Management Strategy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5036.
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Research Council. 1995. Commercial Multimedia Technologies for Twenty-First Century Army Battlefields: A Technology Management Strategy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5036.
Page 11

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1 Introduction This chapter discusses the background that led to this study, including a snapshot of the multimedia communi- cations problems facing the Army. It also sets forth the statement of task and describes the way in which the committee carried out the task. BACKGROUND The U.S. Army is currently pursuing its modernization vision for the Army of the late 1990s and the next century. The vision recognizes that information and its effective use will be key to tomorrow's military victories. Specifi- cally, the Army will have to gather, transmit, process, and distribute information on friendly and enemy forces while at the same time denying the enemy similar capabilities. Under Army modernization initiatives, future battle- fields are slated to become large digital networks. These networks will carry vast numbers of information packets at high speeds from sources such as sensors and proces- sors to commanders and soldiers. This information will be shared in near-real-time by Army units throughout the operational zone. One end result will be a common view of the battlefield, to include continuously updated loca- tions of friendly and enemy forces. The digital sensors and processors will create an explosion of information that must be integrated and communicated almost instantaneously if it is to be useful. The goal is to provide the right data, at the right place, at the right time. However, melding, screening, and disseminating huge quantities of digital information among friendly units engaged in battle are not within the U.S. Army's current capability. Commercial multimedia information technologies, which exist and are emerging in the civilian sector, could help the Army develop such information-han- dling capabilities. These technologies could be consid- ered for application throughout all echelons of the battlefield. STATEMENT OF TASK Recognizing the information management and com- munications problems and opportunities facing the Army, and the potential use of commercial multimedia tech- nologies to assist in their solution, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology asked that the National Research Council conduct a study. The study would examine the applicability of commercial multimedia communications to Army command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) needs. For the purposes of this study, multimedia communications means the capture, transport, storage, processing, deliv- ery, and presentation of information consisting of digital representations of combinations of text, sound, images, video, and data structures for applications in real-time collaborative work, messaging, and access to information. This interpretation of the terminology "multimedia com- munications" was based on discussions between the chairman of the committee and the sponsor of the study prior to the commencement of the study. The statement of task for the study was established as follows: Review the Army's current and projected functional requirements (mission requirements) for C3I for echelons at the corps level and lower. Gather information through such means as litera- ture reviews and workshops to ascertain relevant multimedia hardware and software technologies that are currently available, or likely to be devel- oped, for commercial applications. Based on these reviews of Army requirements and commercial multimedia technologies, recommend technical approaches for meeting the Army's current and projected C3I needs at the corps level and lower with systems based on technologies originally de- veloped for commercial markets. Technical ap- proaches may include, among other things, direct use of commercial products, adaptation of products or production methods, and cooperative efforts. · Describe potential battlefield capabilities, advanced concepts, or operational impacts that might result The word 'transport," as used above, refers to the movement of information through transmission paths (e.g., radio or fiber), switches, and other equipment to allow geographically separated entities to exchange information with each other. 9

10 COMMERCIAL MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOG1~FOR ~~-FIRSTCE~Y~YBA~1~S . from application of advanced communications and that are not reflected in current or projected Army C3I requirements. Recommend a technology management strategy by which the Army can most successfully use or adapt commercial multimedia technologies for Army C3I applications. Elements of such a strategy may in- clude, among other things, requirements definition, simulation, test and evaluation methodologies, ac- quisition, and fielding. STUDY APPROACH The committee focused initially on requirements as articulated from the point of view of those who would apply technologies, embodied in systems and applica- tions, both in battlefields and in operations other than war. This represented a "customer" perspective that focused on the anticipated benefits of the technology, rather than the technology itself. Senior Army officers and other Army personnel discussed C3I needs and systems currently in use. In addition, the committee reviewed numerous documents that expressed Army C3I needs. The results are summarized in Chapter 2, which repre- sents a customer-driven articulation of requirements. Next came the points of view from representative com- mercial suppliers of technology that could be used to satisfy the customer's needs. The committee reviewed the status of and trends associated with key multimedia communications technologies, drawing on invited pre- senters and its own experts. The committee configured a generic layered architecture as a basis for identifying building block technologies needed to meet Army re- quirements. Summaries of these building block technolo- gies, as well as some commercial applications and important lessons learned, are found in Chapter 3.~ Chapter 4 contains recommendations from the com- mittee regarding the applicability of existing and evolving commercial multimedia technologies to Army needs. To create these recommendations, the committee proceeded as follows: · The committee combined the needs of the Army, as articulated in Chapter 2, with its understandings ~ The committee concentrated on building block technologies that were selected on the basis of a generic layered architecture. The building blocks ranged from lightweight, hand-held appliances to generic enabling applications like multimedia information filtering but excluded device technologies like microchips. These building block technologies allow one to do things such as capture, store, move, and recall information (i.e., they are application focused). . of commercial multimedia building block technol- ogy capabilities and trends developed in Chapter 3. · The committee assessed the likelihood that com- mercially driven advances in each of these building block technologies would occur faster than any reasonable levels of Army-specific development. · The committee also assessed requirements that would be unique to the Army, that is, needs that the Army would have that might not be met by technologies driven by large commercial markets. From these assessments, the committee judged whether the Army should (a) adopt commercial off-the-shelf technology, (b) adapt commercial off- the-shelf technology, or (c) pursue Army-specific development to meet its unique needs. The net result was a set of recommendations about how the Army should acquire multimedia technolo- gies and a strategy for meeting its requirements. In Chapter 4 the committee also examined how battle command in a typical Army corps combat operation might be affected by the multimedia capabilities enabled by the building block technologies. The chapter con- cludes with an analysis of the prognosis for realization of the capabilities in the operational example. In Chapter 5 the committee reviewed macro-level experiences that have been obtained from applications of multimedia technologies in the private sector (e.g., financial institutions). This review offered perspective with respect to both the use of these technologies and overarching lessons learned regarding how to success- fully incorporate them into large, information-intensive organizations. This perspective formed the basis of com- mittee discussions concerning the need for the Army to "reinvent" itself in order to gain the full benefits of the use of multimedia technologies. Specifically, the commit- tee considered changes at the corps level and below that go beyond quantitative improvements in the ability to acquire, process, and communicate information. For example, changes in organization, doctrine, and tactics may occur. Chapter 6 addresses a strategy for technology manage- ment. The chapter contains recommendations specifi- cally targeted to the leaders, administrators, and managers in the Army who will lead the transition from today's Army to the Army of the future. While some of these recommendations have appeared elsewhere, the committee wants to add its weight to them. These thoughts derive both from the preceding chapters and the considerable expertise of the members of the com- mittee in the application of commercial information technologies. Finally, Chapter 7 is a compilation of the committee's conclusions and recommendations resulting from this study.

IN7RODUC77ON The committee determined that the time frame of its study would extend approximately 15 years into the future (i.e., from 1995 to 20109. The earliest impact of the new multimedia technologies, beyond experimental and ad hoc applications, is expected to occur around the year 2000 as they are first deployed into operational units. The Army Enterprise Strategy3 envisions widespread deploy- ment of applications associated with digitization of the battlefield by the year 2010. The committee believes that multimedia information technologies and applications are evolving so rapidly that it is not realistic to project 3 The Army Enterprise Strategy is the single, unified vision for the Army command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence community. The document that describes this vision outlines the strategy and the principles by which we will exploit current and future information technologies, adopting new systems and using executive decision making as a means to advance the capability of the Total Army Force." (Department of the Army, 1993) 11 their nature and specific implications for Army battle- fields more than a decade into the future. However, the committee also believes that its recommendations on technology management apply today and will continue to apply beyond the time frame of the study. REFERENCES Department of the Army. 1993. Army Enterprise Strategy The Vision. July 20.

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This book responds to an request by the U.S. Army to study the applicability of commercial multimedia technologies to command, control, communications and intelligence needs on future battlefields. After reviewing Army's needs and discussing relevant commercial technologies within the context of a generic architecture, the book recommends approaches for meeting the Army's needs. Battlefield potential is illustrated, and—drawing on lessons learned from the private sector—a technology management strategy consisting of specific recommendations to the Army is provided. The key to future benefits is for the Army to accommodate the rapid changes taking place in the commercial world of multimedia technologies.


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