Combat Identification Systems

Changes Needed in Management Plans and Structure Gao ID: NSIAD-95-153 September 14, 1995

The Army and the Navy have failed to fully consider how to integrate their independently developed systems to identify friend from foe on the battlefield and thus reduce fratricide incidents. Moreover, these systems, which could cost more than $4 billion, are limited to identifying "friends" equipped with compatible identification systems. GAO recently learned that the Army plans to acquire more near-term millimeter wave cooperative identification systems without analyzing whether the system can be integrated into the mid- and long-term solutions--as GAO recommended in an October 1993 report (GAO/NSIAD-94-19). The Army plans to acquire another 115 near-term systems at a cost of more than $23 million. The Defense Department and the Army are concerned about the affordability and cost-effectiveness of the near-term system, and it may never be fully fielded for these reasons. The Army's plan risks wasting millions on a system that may never be procured.

GAO found that: (1) the Army and Navy do not have a cohesive management plan and structure for the development of their cooperative combat identification systems; (2) the lack of cohesiveness reflects the division in the services' responsibilities for developing systems for different combat modes; (3) the two services have based their system development plans on different technologies and have not fully addressed how and at what cost these systems will be integrated; (4) the lack of a cohesive management structure could lead to development and deployment delays by allowing the services to prioritize their efforts differently; (5) the Navy has developed a cost and operational effectiveness analysis (COEA) for its system, but the Army is just beginning to develop its COEA; (6) the development of separate COEA risks wasting resources because of duplication and delays in system development and deployment and does not address the need for interoperability; (7) the DOD proposal for a single funding line for system development would help ensure better cooperative systems development; and (8) the Army plans to procure more near-term identification systems than it needs for its planned field demonstration and without knowing if the systems are affordable and can be integrated into long-term solutions.


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