The Case for Consolidating Tactical and Operational Systems

September 7, 2005

The list of applications used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for tactical and strategic military operations is an alphabet soup of acronyms that would fill a small book. The overall purpose of these systems is the same as the business applications used by todayís corporationsóto achieve the greatest possible competitive advantage over the opposition. Information technology (IT) has proven to be an effective and dynamicschanging component for the business community and the United States military. The militaryís new force structure depends upon IT proving itself to be a force multiplier. If it fails, there will not be enough Soldiers or Marines to fight a more old-fashioned and conventional war.

These days in DoD, there are multiple applications for every job specialty, just as there were in the beginning of the business worldís digitization. In business today, these applications have largely been consolidated into a single application or a suite of applications, reducing cost and improving ease of use. The typical case study for business application consolidation begins with a multinational corporation that has more applications than it can count and no idea what the total cost of ownership (TCO) amounts to. A consultant comes in, consolidates these applications, improves the companiesí productivity and saves money in the range of millions of dollars.1 There is much room for a similar consolidation in DoD, and in the Army in particular. This paper will examine the background of the major applications used by the military, how they are duplicated in functions, and how they are unnecessarily divided between tactical and strategic systems. The reader will come to understand why it is not just a good idea to make this change to a consolidated system, but why it is required for DoDís transformation to Network-Centric Warfare (NCW). While this may appear as a theoretical argument, how DoD will conduct and manage this thought-provoking change will be explained in detail. At the conclusion, the reader should understand that this new concept is not such a far-fetched rhetorical ideal, but rather a practical solution that is both cost-effective and logical.