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Research Questions

  1. Projecting from current global societal and technology trends, what is the likely nature of the operating environment for both Defence and partners where constant competition and multi-domain operations are likely to be in play?
  2. Based on this projected view of the future, what is the likely nature of the complexity that future C2 systems and organisations will face; i.e. what are the likely sources of the complexity and what characteristics will they have both individually and collectively?
  3. Given this characterisation of the future operating environment, what will this demand of future C2 systems and organisations, how will this differ from today, and what will need to change?
  4. What sorts of new capabilities and properties will be required for future C2 systems and organisations to respond effectively to these demands?

This is the first in a series of four papers examining how Command and Control (C2) will manifest in the future. This first paper sets a baseline for the subsequent research by exploring the future operating environment in which C2 systems will need to operate in the future. Specifically, it explores the drivers, manifestations and implications of the complexity that prior research has shown is likely to characterise that environment. To this end, it discusses definitions of key terms such as C2 and complexity; presents some of the drivers of complexity in the future operating environment and discusses how these create new pressures on C2 systems and organisations; examines possible methods for analysing and understanding complexity; and outlines some of the practical considerations that are likely to result in the 2030s and beyond. As it is intended to feed into the subsequent three papers in the series, it stops short of providing fulsome coverage of all aspects of thinking about C2 in the future, including the development of concrete recommendations. 

This publication was revised in February 2024 to correct minor errata.

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This research was prepared for the Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre and conducted within RAND Europe.

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