Cover: An Analysis of Alternative Approaches to Measuring Multinational Interoperability

An Analysis of Alternative Approaches to Measuring Multinational Interoperability

Early Development of the Army Interoperability Measurement System (AIMS)

Published Sep 22, 2021

by Bryan W. Hallmark, Christopher G. Pernin, Andrea M. Abler, Ryan Haberman, Sale Lilly, Samantha McBirney, Angela O'Mahony, Erik E. Mueller

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Research Question

  1. What alternatives exist for the Army's interoperability measurement system?

The National Defense Strategy (NDS) emphasizes the need for U.S. forces to be interoperable with capable allies and partners. To support the NDS, the U.S. Army develops and executes doctrine and guidelines for how its units can achieve interoperability with partners. The Army identified a need to develop an overarching concept for interoperability that includes explicit links between current Army multinational interoperability doctrine and mission command doctrine. Concurrently, it wanted an enduring and standardized way to measure levels of interoperability achieved as a result of major training events. To that end, the Army asked RAND Arroyo Center to conduct an analysis of alternatives (AoA) of interoperability measurement systems.

Researchers looked at eight different approaches, gathering and analyzing data from a review of materials provided by representatives for each approach and information from multiple rounds of interviews with representatives. No single approach addressed all dimensions identified as important for a future system, so a completely new approach was proposed, drawing on strengths and eliminating weaknesses from other approaches analyzed. The Army decided to develop a new system — the Army Interoperability Measurement System (AIMS), which includes a quantitative instrument for measuring interoperability levels, a qualitative component to enable capability gap analysis, an automated approach to connect and analyze the data, and exploitation panels that convene immediately following a training exercise.

The authors document their AoA, present the supporting evidence for their measurement system recommendations, and details the early development of AIMS.

Key Finding

  • No current option had all the characteristics that would be required by the Army's interoperability system.

Recommendations

  • The new measurement system should draw on strengths and eliminate weaknesses of other approaches, providing a more enduring and integrated interoperability measurement system. This system would fulfill the Army's need for a standardized and repeatable methodology to identify, evaluate, document, and organize interoperability issues with allies and partners; develop solutions; and communicate and execute those solutions with the Army's senior and operational leaders.
  • The new system should be computer- or web-based.
  • The Army should strive to reduce any additional personnel resourcing for the sole purpose of measuring interoperability.
  • Measures in the new system should look very similar to those that are already collected during training events.
  • The system should have both a quantitative and a qualitative data component with an embedded analytic capability that automatically calculates interoperability levels by priority focus area, ties levels to the qualitative data, and provides user-defined output to enable capability gap analysis.
  • The system should have a standardized format for quantitative data that allows them to be analyzed over time and across exercises and a flexible format for qualitative data to capture newly emerging challenges.
  • The system should have a component with measures that are as straightforward as possible, directly map to interoperability, and are aligned with doctrine to foster universal understanding.
  • The Army should develop a measurement, not an assessment system, and work to make sure that users and stakeholders are educated on the differences.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army and conducted by the Personnel, Training, and Health Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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