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Mr Schneider's comments about coalition and multinational information sharing hit the mark, especially when he refers to "...but it does not always ensure effective information sharing with all because of incomplete processes or lack of trust". Working with CENTCOM back in 2008/2009, we identified that there would definitely be both technical and operational interoperability issues once the AMN went IOC. Primarily because US and coalition systems/capabilities had never been placed into an environment where they would be required to exchange information directly, with no guards or translations devices in place. In response, we created the Coalition Interoperability Assurance and Validation (CIAV) Working Group to start addressing the interoperability shortfalls and fleshed out the CIAV mission based methodology to apply to the AMN. From a CIAV perspective, we focus purely on the ability of the operator to accomplish his or her mission, given the enabling architecture. Obviously, technical shortfalls came into play during our assessments and analysis which were addressed to the system owners for mitigation, but the majority of issues we found were with process and training. To date, CIAV has been successful in getting both technical implementation (MINIMP) and minimum operational requirement (MOR) synchronized for many of the top mission threads in theater, to include implementation of a change management requirement to ensure new fieldings and patches/upgrades don't negatively affect the current levels of interoperability. However, there's still a long way to go, as the current fight is mostly a ground-based COIN effort. If the next engagement is fought on multiple levels, we need to have a reasonable assurance of operational interoperability with our coalition partners on day 1, vice repeating the same mistakes we've made in the past. To this end, CIAV is developing a repository for coalition mission based data that will allow future planners and commanders to get ahead of that curve by going through a web front end directly to CIAV data stored in a relational database that can be queried based on the data that the individual wants to see. It's still a work in progress, but once this repository is populated, it will be a very valuable tool for our force elements in the future. We owe it to them to work diligently to ensure they understand their capabilities, limitations, and the associated operational impacts PRIOR to them finding out on the battlefield...

By Jeff Phipps