Jan 1, 2004
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The United States conducts air operations with other willing NATO allies, including non-NATO members. The objective of this background research for a larger RAND study, Interoperability: A Continuing Challenge in Coalition Air Operations, is twofold: (1) to help the U.S. Air Force identify potential interoperability problems that may arise in coalition air operations involving the United States and its NATO allies, as well as non-NATO countries, over the next decade and (2) to suggest solution directions to mitigate those problems. The study focus is on command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems and out-of-NATO-area operations. The authors present a data-based historical overview of the U.S. experience in coalition operations with NATO allies up to 1999 and seek to provide a deeper understanding of interoperability through the answers to several key questions: For what missions is interoperability required? With which NATO allies is interoperability required? For what capabilities and services is interoperability required? Detailed case-study analyses of coalition operations in Southwest Asia, Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda identify key interoperability challenges and workarounds (short-term solutions) at the strategic, operational, tactical, and technological levels, and provide relevant lessons for meeting these challenges and improving the interoperability of U.S. and NATO air and C3ISR capabilities.