A Platoon-Level Model of Communication Flow and the Effects on Operator Performance

Report No. ARL-MR-0656
Authors: Patricia W. Kilduff; Jennifer C. Swoboda; Joshua Katz
Date/Pages: November 2006; 78 pages
Abstract: The Future Combat System (FCS) initiative is at the center of the Army?s Objective Force Vision. The Army Vision (2010) states that U.S. forces must have ?information superiority: the capability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary's ability to do the same.? In other words, the Future Force will be empowered by dominant situational understanding. To predict how proposed systems and displays will impact situational understanding and thereby decision making, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory?s Human Research and Engineering Directorate used the tool C3TRACE (command, control, and communication: techniques for reliable assessment of concept execution). C3TRACE is a modeling environment in which one can develop multiple concept models for any size organization, staffed by any number of people, using any type of information technology, performing any number of functions and tasks, and under various communication and information loads. Among the performance measures tracked are Soldier utilization, the number of messages received, dropped, and interrupted, and the degree to which the information is available to support Soldier decision making. C3TRACE was used to develop a platoon-level model of an FCS conceptual configuration in support of the situational understanding as an enabler for the unit of action maneuver team Soldiers Army Technology Objective. The platoon model assumed wrist-mounted displays for the dismounted Soldiers and laptop-type displays for the mounted Soldiers. In general, the Soldiers using the laptop-type display were able to fully process more of their incoming messages and made no decisions with poor information quality. On the other hand, the majority of the Soldiers using the personal digital assistant had high utilization, higher numbers of dropped and interrupted messages, and decisions made with poor information quality. Specifically, the squad leader and team leaders exhibited the highest levels of utilization and decisions made with poor information quality. This was not only because they received more messages than those Soldiers in the mounted phase but also because of the technology being used.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: November 1, 2006