Combat Identification Systems:

Changes Needed in Management Plans and Structure

NSIAD-95-153: Published: Sep 14, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1995.

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GAO reviewed the Army's and Navy's development of combat identification systems to reduce the occurrences of friendly fire incidents, focusing on the services' management plans and structures for the systems' development and integration.

GAO found that: (1) the Army and Navy do not have a cohesive management plan and structure for the development of their cooperative combat identification systems; (2) the lack of cohesiveness reflects the division in the services' responsibilities for developing systems for different combat modes; (3) the two services have based their system development plans on different technologies and have not fully addressed how and at what cost these systems will be integrated; (4) the lack of a cohesive management structure could lead to development and deployment delays by allowing the services to prioritize their efforts differently; (5) the Navy has developed a cost and operational effectiveness analysis (COEA) for its system, but the Army is just beginning to develop its COEA; (6) the development of separate COEA risks wasting resources because of duplication and delays in system development and deployment and does not address the need for interoperability; (7) the DOD proposal for a single funding line for system development would help ensure better cooperative systems development; and (8) the Army plans to procure more near-term identification systems than it needs for its planned field demonstration and without knowing if the systems are affordable and can be integrated into long-term solutions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress reduced program funding by $8 million, based on the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to use the 70 near-term systems on hand or currently under contract for the Task Force XXI digitized brigade experiment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that the Battlefield Combat Identification COEA is a joint effort that will consider numerous alternatives that appear to have some potential for providing the needed performance and interoperability. DOD added, however, that aircraft identification system COEA has been overtaken by the results of a combat identification task force. DOD does not intend to implement the recommendation for development of a joint Cooperative Aircraft Identification/Battlefield Combat Identification COEA.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to develop a joint COEA for their BCI and CAI efforts giving due consideration to the problem and costs of obtaining the systems' interoperability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD has stated that a cohesive management structure already exists, and noted that "creating new organizations or altering the make-up of existing organizations ... would add little value to the management structure already in place." DOD does not intend to take action on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to develop and institute a cohesive management structure and plan in line with the Process Action Team's recommendation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its final comments on the report, DOD stated that it believes that establishing a single funding line for executing DOD's numerous combat identification projects would be impractical, given the wide range of technologies and applications at different stages of development and levels of effort.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should create a single Office of the Secretary of Defense funding line for the Army's battlefield combat identification (BCI) and the Navy's cooperative aircraft identification (CAI) efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action has been completed and is consistent with the intent of GAO's recommendation. An accomplishment report documenting the actions taken has been filed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to not acquire more near-term systems than necessary until the Army determines whether the near-term technology is affordable and will be fielded and, if determined desirable, it can be integrated into the mid- and long-term combat identification and aircraft solutions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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