Combat Identification Systems:

Strengthened Management Efforts Needed to Ensure Required Capabilities

GAO-01-632: Published: Jun 1, 2001. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 2001.

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Friendly fire incidents, or fratricide, accounted for about 24 percent of U.S. fatalities during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Since then, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the military services have been working to find new ways to avoid friendly fire in joint and coalition operations. Preventing friendly fire is a complex and challenging endeavor. It encompasses the development of new technologies as well as new training, tactics, and warfighting techniques. It involves a range of equipment and systems that have historically not been able to effectively interact as well as various military operations. It is a concern among each of the services as well as U.S. allies. Clearly, it is essential to have a blueprint that ties together these elements and provides a comprehensive map for long-term improvements as well as a management framework that is strong enough to implement the blueprint. Although DOD has taken some concrete steps toward both ends, it needs to strengthen these efforts and ensure that they are supported by the services. Otherwise, it may continue to contend with problems leading to friendly fire incidents.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has implemented GAO's recommendation. DOD has completed (end of calendar year 2003) an enterprise architecture (including operational, systems, and technical views) for Combat Identification.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's combat identification system development efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, in collaboration with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Joint Staff's Combat Identification Assessment Division; and the services to develop--in accordance with federal guidelines and relevant DOD policies and guidance--an enterprise architecture for combat identification that reflects the needs of its future warfighting vision. The architecture should define (1) the operational elements, activities, tasks, and information flows required to accomplish the combat identification mission, (2) the systems and interconnections supporting the mission, and (3) the minimum set of standards and rules governing the arrangement, interaction, and interdependence of systems applications and infrastructure. It should also encompass air-to-air, ground-to-air, ground-to-ground, and air-to-ground operations. Once the architecture is defined, DOD should review specific system requirements to determine whether they should be adjusted to address the needs reflected in those architectures or determine if gaps exist and new development efforts are needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has implemented this recommendation. The development of the enterprise architecture (operational, system, and technical views) for combat identification was completed at the end of calendar year 2003. Subsequently, the Joint Forces Command has been given oversight authority of Combat Identification requirements and implementation of the enterprise architecture and the degree of authority the Command will have over budgetary issues is being defined.

    Recommendation: To improve DOD's combat identification system development efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, in collaboration with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Joint Staff's Combat Identification Assessment Division; and the services to develop and annually update a formalized management framework to guide the department's combat identification efforts. The framework should define the organizational structure and procedures to be used in managing those efforts including the structures and procedures to coordinate requirements' and systems' development and funding, and develop and enforce the enterprise architecture. Until an enterprise architecture is developed, the framework should contain interim procedures for the review of ongoing efforts and that allow continuation of only efforts deemed essential or for which risk mitigation mechanisms have been provided. The framework should also provide roadmaps to future developments and define time-phased measures of program performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force provided $10 million to develop the air portion and DOD provided $1.2 million to develop the remainder of the recommended combat identification enterprise architecture. The architecture was completed at the end of calendar year 2003. A capability gap analysis based on that architecture was completed at that time and used in the development of the President's fiscal year 2005 budget.

    Recommendation: To enable accomplishment of overarching combat identification efforts, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that adequate funding is provided to implement these initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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