What is Command and Control?

Command and Control (C2) and its intellectual brethren (C3, C4I, etc.) are umbrella terms used to describe a body of research and applications dedicated to preparing all branches of the armed forces for the War After Next. Applications incorporated into the greater C2 framework include, but are not limited to, command applications, operations applications, intelligence applications, fire-support applications, logistics applications, and communications applications. C2 needs are shared by all branches of the armed services. Consequently, applications should be sufficiently flexible to work across services and across allied forces, as needed. In order to be applicable to wars of the future, applications must have the ability to convert a flood of data from a wide variety of sources into information and knowledge in a timely manner.

In preparing for the Command Post of the Future, tools should be developed with the following three goals in mind: rapidly visualize the battlespace, rapidly analyze the battlespace, and rapidly understand the battlespace. When visualizing the battlespace, the prototypical commander wants a variety of information. Emergency information needs to be highlighted so that time-critical decisions can be made. In addition, the location and status of friendly and enemy forces need to be available to the commander. Facility for intelligent alerting and reporting, as well as customizable tactical display elements, needs to integrated into any C2 application.

Any systems developed for C2 applications should keep several general capabilities in mind. The military currently suffers, not from a lack of data but a flood of data. Data arrive from multiple sources and possibly multiple nationalities. Data arrive in visual, verbal, and other sensor formats, and also from historical databases. At the same time, there is a distinct deficiency of information and knowledge. C2 applications should aim at developing decision aids that can turn massive amounts of data into highly useful information and reduce the number of viable options available to the commander at key decision-making junctures. Further, even though there are large amounts of data available, C2 systems must be able to deal with missing and corrupted data. In addition to traditional causes of missing or corrupted data, military applications face the potential problem of hostile corruption. In a war, it should be anticipated that data could be actively intercepted, altered, and destroyed by unfriendly forces.

Given the wide variety of battle scenarios possible in future wars, systems developed for C2 need to be scaleable between large-scale operations and unit tactics. At the same time, these systems need to provide all war fighters with a common picture of any particular battlespace. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, information processing needs to be completed quickly. To the modern war fighter, time is of the essence and it is projected that speed of processing will become even more vital in the future.

Statisticians have a unique perspective on the challenges presented by C2 and thus have an opportunity to contribute to research and applications. Some of the areas that may be of common interest to both statistician and commanders at all levels are discussed briefly here. Consider the area of situational awareness. The statistician might consider probabilistic frameworks, scaleable algorithms, and sequential decision-making. In particular, one might examine methods of estimating and predicting the threat or danger within a particular region. Additional areas of interest are change and anomaly detection, measures of information and understanding, and decision theory. Researchers might examine source data, developing methods to address confidence, accuracy, and completeness of such data. They might also consider the validity of information-processing results and the quality of database information. Further research areas might focus on the representation of uncertainty or confidence in statistical results and algorithms that allow statistical inference to be decentralized. Note that, in addition to providing processing stability in a hostile environment, such decentralization could lead to increased inference speed through using parallel-processing techniques.

In conclusion, Command and Control (C2) is a broad field, providing a wide variety of options for research and applications development. It is the goal of this web resource to facilitate research in probability and statistics for Command and Control, through the sharing of ideas and information, particularly in the area of spatial statistics for C2.

Last modified: Monday, December 10, 2007 11:55 AM.