The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance system, or C4ISR has come to dominate the cutting edge of military technology and doctrine at all levels. With the ability to enable independent and flexible operations, this new technology is ideal for modern military operations, especially given the emphasis on counterinsurgency, counter terrorism, and law enforcement activities on the part of national militaries.
In order to continue to meet the needs of military units, next generation command and control architectures must focus on the ability to effectively distribute information to those who require it. This will demand that they be able to function as a series of distributed systems, in order to avoid the danger of accidental or deliberate interruptions of service.
Due to these requirements, next generation systems will be heavily dependent on distributed wireless services, rather then relying on a few central communications nodes. With the increasing emphasis on various forms of information warfare, it will be vital that these systems be protected from physical and wireless interference, while nonetheless allowing easy access by authorised personnel.
In addition, the ability to effectively filter information in order to ensure that personnel are neither deprived of vital information, nor inundated with unneeded data, will be one of the greatest challenges facing next generation systems. With the integration of strategic and tactical data, ranging from satellite-based information to the direct observations and reports from units in the area, determining what information is important for any given group will be critical to the effectiveness of command and control systems.
Finally, the integration of these systems at the tactical level demands that the architecture be as responsive as possible. The growing emphasis on counterinsurgency operations has resulted in the use of smaller, widely distributed combat formations, which may require immediate information in order to complete their mission. By providing them with a responsive network, it can be possible to dramatically increase their effectiveness while reducing the danger to soldiers in the field.
The C4ISR field continues to be a dynamic and fast changing area of military technology which has come to dominate thinking about command, control and intelligence systems in the post Cold War era. By continuing to invest in developments in this field, the effectiveness of military operations can be radically improved. In addition, the nature of modern operations, which are increasingly focusing on small, independently functioning units, make continued progress in this field imperative.