Battlefield Automation:

Army's Digital Battlefield Plan Lacks Specific Measurable Goals

NSIAD-96-25: Published: Nov 29, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1995.

Additional Materials:


Louis J. Rodrigues
(202) 512-4841


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Army's plans to digitize its battlefield operations.

GAO found that: (1) as part of its battlefield digitization plan, the Army plans to conduct a series of costly experiments from 1995 to 1997 to demonstrate the utility of a digitized force; (2) risks that the Army faces in implementing its digitization plan include integration, software development, hardware costs, unknown quantity requirements, communications, and interoperability with other command and control systems; (3) specific and measurable goals are needed to evaluate the achievements of each experiment, and these goals should be met before proceeding to the next experiment; (4) the Army is risking investments of almost $400 million for digital systems needed to conduct increasingly larger scale experiments through fiscal year 1999; (5) the investment required to digitize a 10-division Army could be as high as $4 billion; and (6) since Congress has directed the Army to include the Marine Corps in its digitization plan, the Department of Defense must identify funding for the Marine Corps to ensure its participation and success in the digitization program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As stated in its comments to the report, DOD recognized the challenges and risks associated with the digitization effort and has increased its oversight to ensure that an assessment of each Advanced Warfighting Experiment supports future decisions. As part of the increased oversight, the ADO Director is submitting quarterly updates to the ASD C3. The Army will implement the GAO recommendations as determined appropriate and continue with risk mitigation efforts. DOD maintains that the experimental approach is the best approach as a cost-effective method and as a process to lessen the operational risk of downsizing the Army through the rapid acquisition of highly effective systems to enhance combat power.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that resources are directed appropriately and the Army has the data it needs to determine whether it should buy additional appliques and proceed to the next level of experiments, the Secretary of Defense should require the Secretary of the Army to develop specific, measurable goals and exit criteria for each phase of digital battlefield experimentation. Further, the Secretary of Defense should independently verify the goals' attainments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the GAO report findings, DOD recognized that there was a funding issue that must be addressed and stated that it was working with each of the Services to resolve the shortfall. It went on to state, though, that the Army's digitized battlefield was not a Joint Program and, thus, did not include funding for other services' participation. In closing its response to this recommendation, DOD did comment that, though, that it would make every effort to identify near term funding to assure the level of participation desired by the Marine Corps.

    Recommendation: To carry out congressional direction, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Secretary of the Navy and the Commandant of the Marine Corps identify resources to support the Marine Corps' participation and success in the Army's battlefield digitization effort.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Nov 20, 2020

Nov 19, 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Nov 5, 2020

Oct 29, 2020

Oct 21, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here