Battlefield Automation

Performance Uncertainties Are Likely When Army Fields Its First Digitized Division Gao ID: NSIAD-99-150 July 27, 1999

The Army plans to field dozens of new and improved battlefield systems during the next decade through its "digitization" initiative. Digitization involves the application of information technologies to acquire, exchange, and use timely information through the battlescape. Use of digitization on the battlefield is expected to increase the Army's survivability, lethality, and tempo of operations. The Army plans to equip its first digitized division with high-priority equipment by December 2000 and its first digitized corps by the end of fiscal year 2004. This report reviews the Army's progress in fielding a digitized division by the end of 2000. GAO (1) identifies the high-priority systems needed to accomplish the digitization fielding goal, (2) determines the acquisition status of these high-priority systems, and (3) identifies any performance uncertainties that could confront the Army after its first digitized division is fielded.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army's first digitized division will be the 4th Infantry Division; (2) while the Army's overall digitization initiative involves over 100 systems, its December 2000 digitization goal is to field 16 high-priority systems to 3 of the division's 4 brigades; (3) these 16 systems can be described as command, control, and communications systems, the majority of which will support decision-making by commanders located in tactical operations centers at battalion, brigade, division, and corps levels; (4) one system represents an entirely new capability that is intended to accomplish an important digitization objective of sharing battlefield information with the thousands of soldiers operating outside tactical operations centers; (5) this system is the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system and is the critical component of the digitization initiative; (6) fielding of the Forward Area Air Defense Command, Control, and Intelligence system, with the first digitized division objective software and upgraded hardware, was completed in fiscal year (FY) 1998; (7) the delivery of the Global Broadcast Service Transportable Ground Receive Suite terminals was delayed because the contractor's initial design required too many terminal transit cases; (8) although the high-priority systems are being acquired independently of each other, the Army is coordinating and synchronizing individual fielding schedules to enable it to meet its goal of fielding the first digitized division by December 2000; (9) there are four key performance uncertainties that the Army will confront when the division is fielded at the end of 2000; (10) because the Army has recently restructured the system's test and evaluation program, a determination of the operational effectiveness and suitability of FBCB2 will be unknown; (11) the operational performance of other fielded systems may be unknown because the results of scheduled operational tests will not be complete by December 2000; (12) the capability of automated sharing of Army Tactical Command and Control System data within tactical operations centers will not have been conclusively demonstrated; (13) insight into the resolution of this issue is not likely to occur before April 2001 when a digitized brigade participates in an exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California; and (14) it will be uncertain whether digitization, with the expected interoperability of related information systems, has achieved the expected increases in lethality, survivability, and tempo of operations.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Team: Phone:

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.