A Comparison of the Capabilities of Four Command and Control Systems at the Platoon Level and Below

Report No. ARL-TN-217
Authors: Bruce S. Sterling and Cheryl A. Burns
Date/Pages: June 2004; 34 pages
Abstract: This report examines the capabilities of four command and control (C2) systems, as perceived by users of these systems at platoon level and below. All four systems were used in a virtual and constructive simulation run at the unit of action maneuver battle lab (UAMBL). Each system was assessed on ability to perform certain critical functions (e.g., view the common operational picture, understand the situation, war game plans, control fires); fulfill critical information requirements (CIRs), based on mission-enemy-terrain-own troops-time availablecivilians; situational awareness; and workload. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) future C2 (FC2) system, judged by far the best on critical functions and CIR, had the best rated situational awareness (SA) and lowest rated workload. The system seen as next best was the surrogate communication, command, control, and computer (SC4) interface. However, it was rated far below the DARPA FC2 system on critical functions and CIR, with most critical functions and CIR rated as poor, but still having relatively few ratings of very poor. The reported SA was slightly below and workload was somewhat above the DARPA system. The maneuver C2 (MC2) and force XXI battle command brigade and below (FBCB2) systems were both assessed even lower on critical functions and CIR, with participants often reporting that certain functions and CIRs were ?not applicable? to those systems. The SA for those systems was somewhat lower than SC4, with workloads comparable to SC4. The FBCB2 had the highest number of ratings in the very poor range. These findings are similar to an independent assessment by UAMBL. Participants rated the DARPA FC2 as effective in displaying information, the SC4 as relatively neutral, and the MC2 and FBCB2 as ineffective to very ineffective. Also, participants rated the ability to perform battle command as easy in the DARPA FC2, neutral in the SC4, and difficult to very difficult in the MC2 and FBCB2. Perceived differences among the systems are assessed in terms of differences in participants? level of training and experience with the systems; differences in the common operating pictures, differences in battle damage assessment and attack guidance matrix, or calls for fire. Conclusions concern test conditions necessary to conduct a valid user assessment of future systems.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: June 1, 2004