Staying focused in Afghanistan


A couple of months ago, in The Information (R)evolution, I made comment on an article in the Sept 10 C4ISR Journal, Shifting Terrain. On later reflection, I thought that it might be more constructive to offer a counterpoint to this article in the Journal as a means of furthering discussion and awareness of the nature of the contemporary operating environment. C4ISR Journal was happy to pick up my commentary and have just published it in the November 2010 issue…so, with no further ado, may I present for your professional information and review…Staying focused in Afghanistan

The version published is actually the penultimate version but technology conspired against us while I was on the road last month and neither myself nor Ben Iannotta, the C4ISR editor, were able to close off the last few loose threads before the closure of the publishing deadline. I have a copy of the final version and will upload it here in a couple of weeks so as not to steal any fire from the Journal’s current issue…

I haven’t had a chance to read through the other articles yet except for NATO integrates ISR at all levels which I think is still a largely aspirational goal but at least someone senior is forcing the debate. While the lowest common denominator approach may have been successfully employed in peacekeeping operations in the 90s, where possibly the driving force within the operation is the number of national flags waving at the table, it remains patently unsound for operations to the right of peacekeeping on the spectrum of conflict. More complex campaigns require entry bars to be set across a range of key enablers that might include language, doctrine, technical interoperability in communications, C2 and information systems, and levels of training in selected key skills…

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2 thoughts on “Staying focused in Afghanistan

  1. Great article and I’m looking forward to the updated version. Not only did I enjoy the shout-out to the 8th GA (Geez, I miss those guys.) but I find it fascinating how we seem to be zeroing in on the same problem…

    “Our real weakness in this area is not our ability to collect the data but our ability to process it. If we have adapted our means of collection to support the higher resolution necessary in today’s environment, we haven’t adapted our processing to either manage the sheer bulk of data now collected or fuse and process it into products that contribute to anything other than random tactical gains. In other words, while we may be using this data to get short-term wins, few of these contribute to longer-term and sustainable objectives and measures of success.”

    That’s pure gold.

    • Cheers…with a little luck C4ISR Journal might pick up on some articles on other C4ISR-related findings from our COIN doctrine review…certainly there at least two more that could follow on from this month’s commentary…

      Today I’ve been previewing some of the presentations for the C2ISTAR conference that kicks off here tomorrow…while there is still a strong emphasis on collection, it is heartening to see that there is a growing shift towards analysis, processing, fusion and (user-friendly) dissemination. There’s still a long way to go and a portion of this effort should also be focussed on educating user’s, many of whom, I suspect, still expect traditional intel products in the expectation that these will, somehow, contribute meaningfully to current conflicts…

      I think it is all too easy to shovel blame towards the intel community while not accepting that perhaps the operators involved in direct engagement (perhaps not quite the same thing as direct action) need to have a more clearly articulated vision of what they need from the ISR system…

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