Cover: Understanding Commanders' Information Needs

Understanding Commanders' Information Needs

Published 2000

by James P. Kahan, D. Robert Worley, Cathy Stasz

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 17.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Based on observations of Army Group, corps, and division command posts in action over 12 different exercises and on interviews with a variety of military experts (including doctrine writers and former commanders), this report discusses the information needs of commanders of higher-echelon Army units. The authors attempted to determine the reasons commanders and staff communicated information and to clarify the intended uses of that information. They identified three different modes of command-post-level communication — pipeline, alarm, and tree. Each mode is indicative of a different communication relationship between a commander and his staff, and each places different demands on the command-and-control operating system. To fulfill commanders’ information needs, the authors recommend a number of education and training measures: (1) institutionalize back-briefing, (2) teach process as well as procedures, and (3) train unit command staffs to share images. As for the design of information systems, they recommend that the Army (1) identify means of more direct image sharing, (2) build a hybrid information system, and (3) establish an end-user to end-user communications orientation. Originally written in 1989, the information remains timely and useful; new edition includes a foreword by General Gordon Sullivan (USA-Ret.).

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND report series. The report was a product of RAND from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.