HumanSystems Integration (HSI) and the Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs), Part 2: A Deeper Dive into Mission Command Complexity and Cognitive Load

Report No. ARL-TR-7238
Authors: John K Hawley
Date/Pages: March 2015; 46 pages
Abstract: This report is the second in a series discussing Human-Systems Integration (HSI) within the context of the Network Integration Evaluations (NIEs). The focus of these reports is the impact of complexity and cognitive load on mission command performance in digital Command Posts (CPs). Cognitive load is defined as the aggregate mental load placed on battle-staff personnel by a complex mission command work setting. NIE results suggest there are 3 primary contributors to excessive cognitive load in NIE CPs: 1) design, 2) integration, and 3) training. These factors combine and act to increase the aggregate level of perceived complexity and cognitive load for CP personnel. The mission command role itself is intrinsically complex and demanding. However, a work setting with a large number of design-related "rough edges" will give the impression of being more complex and intimidating than one that has been better designed and integrated. While some of the cognitive load associated with mission command in NIE CPs is intrinsic to role, high levels of extraneous cognitive load are needless consequences of insufficient attention to HSI in component design and integration coupled with inadequate training for both individual system users and for battle staffs operating as a team.
Distribution: Approved for public release
  Download Report ( 0.310 MBytes )
If you are visually impaired or need a physical copy of this report, please visit and contact DTIC.

Last Update / Reviewed: March 1, 2015