Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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I Interoperability FORMING THE FUTURE Joint NETWORK LGen André Deschamps, former commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, once described the joint C4ISR initiative as the Holy Grail for networking the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Colonel Jeff Tasseron serves as director of Joint C4ISR, a unit within Chief of Force Development. As he explains, while the Army, Navy and Air Force may not share a unified system just yet, an interoperable backbone is emerging. Q How much of a "joint" network does the CAF have today? That's a surprisingly tricky question to answer, because it depends on what your idea of a "joint" network consists of. On the one hand, if you are of the belief that the ideal form for a joint network would be a single network for all users, regardless of which environment they come from, and which embodies a single set of applications and standards that are used universally, then we are still some ways back from that. The environments each have unique operational requirements that they have addressed through network implementations of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) functionality, according to their roles. At the same time, there is an ongoing convergence in terms of the network backbones that support applications, the applications themselves and the standards to ensure better interconnectivity. For example, active projects such as the Joint Intelligence Information for Command are leveraging technologies and applications developed by our allies to address emerging joint requirements, while other environmental C4ISR players such as the Army are drawing upon their experiences running their internal command and control systems (such as the Land Command Support System) to look for opportunities to eliminate overlapping or redundant capabilities, and to converge on existing standards, such as those exemplified by the Consolidated Secret Network Infrastructure network. 18 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 Right now, I would say that we have a functional joint network that we want to bring more coherence to, but which works well for us domestically. Internationally, we are working with our NATO partners and closest allies to draw upon our experiences building the Afghanistan Mission Network to create and implement the Future Mission Network – a federated environment with the standards and protocols in place to allow us to rapidly create and begin to share services in deployed operations. There has been a great deal of effort and enthusiasm around this concept, and right now it is looking good for Canada to play a contributing role in its formation, particularly with regard to data labeling and security. Q What key pieces still remain? While we need to keep pushing toward a smaller number of networks, and more commonality among the tools being used, the real emphasis from my perspective should remain on creating good, useable rule sets for proposing and evaluating future capabilities, and for fitting those capabilities together in a coherent fashion by design, rather than after the fact. For example, we need common language for describing C4ISR capabilities and requirements. This way, when an operational requirement is identified, we have a way of classifying the capability, and validating the various projects that are ongoing, or proposed. As well, we need a system that allows the merits of various projects to be examined in a systematic way, to allow prioritization against scarce resources, and to enable better monitoring once a given project is underway. We have great ideas, and there are clever people within DND, and among our industry partners who are focused on coming up with sound solutions to the challenges we identify.

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