Development of Fire Support Command and Control Systems by the Army and the Marine Corps

NSIAD-84-15: Published: Oct 19, 1983. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1983.

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GAO reviewed Army and Marine Corps efforts to automate their fire support command and control functions. Each service is independently developing computer-based systems to provide more accurate and timely information for use in effectively employing artillery, naval, and air support. These systems are estimated to cost billions of dollars over their life cycles and will help to manage combat resources. In fiscal year 1984, it is expected that $40 million will be spent to develop these systems.

GAO found that, although their missions are similar and their fire support systems need to intercommunicate, the Army and the Marine Corps are developing individual systems. GAO feels that the services are not examining the potential of a common command system because they perceive their requirements to be unique and they lack central direction from the Department of Defense (DOD). The services' major arguments against a common system are mission differences and system preferences; however, neither service has explained why systems with totally unique hardware and software are required. GAO found that, even though DOD has written policies promoting standardization, it has not provided the services with the necessary direction regarding a common command system. Two separate offices within DOD are monitoring the services' major systems and a limited amount of time is spent by these offices on the program. GAO concluded that achieving commonality will be complicated, but the issue should be addressed now while the second generation systems are being developed. Failure to explore its potential could mean costly duplication of development efforts and continued interoperability problems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The follow-up review has been started. These issues will be handled as part of the follow-up.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should consolidate responsibility in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for fire support command and control systems to enhance central direction in pursuit of common and interoperable systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The follow-up review has been started. These issues will be handled as part the follow-up.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should assess, independently of the services, the potential for common fire support command and control systems in the Army and the Marine Corps. This assessment should quantify the costs and benefits of joint programs versus those of unique developments and identify the most cost-effective combination of systems. It should also consider how systems now being developed can be accommodated by a joint program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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