Defence & Intelligence

NATO Federated Mission Networking

This is a synopsis of my presentation to the NATO C4ISR Conference in Bucharest on 26th March 2014.  NATO is keen to learn the lessons from networked operations in the Afghan theater, and build these into their mission networking plans. Table 1 provides context as my summary of NATO’s Federated Mission Networking (FMN) Plans:

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Drawing on IBM’s experience in defence projects, NATO concept developments and recent exercises, our key learning points & recommendations can be summarized as:

Effective coalitions through Open Standards-based integration.

  1. All future NATO missions will be coalition based, with other nation’s militaries, security forces, non-Government Organizations and/or other Government departments.
  2. Open Architectures will underpin mission success, bringing collective coalition information superiority.  Enabled by Open Standards these loosely coupled and reconfigurable solution elements come together to execute a common workflow – or mission, in military terms.
  3. Selected NATO members share intelligence collection assets through the MAJIIC initiative. Through various MAJIIC projects and exercises, IBM has shown that Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) work well for military operations and can facilitate the integration of existing (non-SOA) assets.

“Cash poor” procurements can be commercial technology rich!

  1. Whilst austerity has forced even the largest militaries to tighten their belts commercial technology development continues at a pace, investment fueled to meet the needs of industry and consumers.
  2. There are many examples of successful commercial technology usage in military projects (e.g. IBM’s UK Air Defence System, UCCS) and forward-looking collaborations (such as the International Technology Alliance) that can clearly contribute to sustained military advantage.
  3. Commercial technology is increasingly leveraged by military in their push towards “Smarter Defence” through information superiority.

Uncertain future demands flexible, modular mission design & development.

  1. Future NATO missions will be unpredictable.  Federated network instances must match mission need, and the dynamic nature of coalitions demands flexibility.
  2. Through MAJIIC, IBM has learnt that it’s possible to capture the mission threads in software tools traditionally used for Business Process Modeling.  This engenders clarity (through discussion) and can form the basis of through lifecycle traceability of software & systems.
  3. If future NATO missions are modeled in this way, this will support adjustment over time and the rapid and efficient building of mission specific Federated Mission Network instances to address an increasingly complex & unknown future.

My presentation can be found on at this link.

Please leave me a comment with your viewpoint, suggestions & feedback.   I’m very interested in an active debate on this topic!

Director - Blockchain | National Security - CTO Team Europe

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