Yet with mounting efforts to make this ideal a reality – the biggest hurdle appears to be getting agencies to move away from a system of complete secrecy. During a recent interview at the Future ISR conference, LT Gen (ret) Johan Kihl stated: “We are not used to sharing information. On the agencies we are used to building walls and not sharing information.”
An apt description to describe not only different countries policies but even agencies all operating within that country.
Peter Grogan, Head of C4ISR UK Ministry of Defence - British Defence Staff Washington, said recently: “Few nations will have enough sovereign collect assets; hence the need to 'share' but those who have invested in their own collect platforms will understandably want those on task supporting their own troops, not someone else's!”
With this as a basis it seems coordinating training of multiple forces on one system may be the only way that MoDs may be able to agree to trust.
Grogan added: “Not convinced that we need any separate networks for anything. One homogenous network with multiple and dynamic routing to take advantage of transiting platforms such as UAVs, fast air and land based will be as good as it gets. The challenge is to be able to minimize, prioritise and manage the data.”
Grogan’s comments lead to another crucial challenge that the Future ISR communities are working to overcome – how to disseminate the huge quantity of data that is received.
Different ideas suggested stem from creating a standard for all data collection methods which can be uplinked onto one network. When in that network the idea is to have a unique and agreed methodology for data tagging to be stored in a common coalition area. However this approach requires a huge platform with an even larger bandwidth, potentially supported by one unique satellite, to ensure that all the data would be stored securely.
Simon Rees, A6-Air, Communications and Information Systems at Royal Air Force said: “However, a larger problem seems to be bandwidth, the J6 arena is one that people will always moan about but there is no point having Tera/Petabytes of intelligence stored if an asset cannot call upon it. The future of ISR has to be OTH Bandwidth, almost certainly through satellite means. Even if this involved multiple connections combined to give the required effect.”
“Having a system built on Meta-data is a must in terms of having intelligence catalogued and searchable by an asset.”
While it is widely understood what the issues are – providing workable solutions and finding the right providers is what will truly make the network the most powerful tool. At the joint C4ISR conference – Future ISR - NATO will be delivering their requirements on information protection, platform and system interoperability, architecture and networks, analysis and exploitation tools, policy and governance and dissemination methods.
Given the central importance of ISR capability to future operational effectiveness, the goal for government attendees at Future ISR 2012 is to identify new ways to achieve interoperability through improved industry partnerships.
Find out more about the Future ISR conference by visiting www.futureisr.com