20-12 - Commander and Staff Guide to Multinational Interoperability

By Center for Army Lessons LearnedMarch 23, 2020

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This guide is for commanders and staff who are training for, or operating in a multinational environment. The primary focus is on aiding U.S. Army units to better plan, prepare, execute, and assess multinational operations through improved shared understanding, mutual trust and confidence, and unity of effort with our mission partners. This guide addresses three key areas to provide improved multinational interoperability: introducing a common understanding of interoperability; exploring an interoperability framework encompassing the human, procedural, and technical domain solutions to improved interoperability; and showing how leaders can integrate “planning for interoperability” within the operations process. It includes examples that highlight key interoperability considerations and outcomes across the plan, prepare, execute, and assess phases of an operation.

The Army and joint communities are dedicated to providing the warfighter with an effective concept and technical solution for improved interoperability, as documented in their respective Mission Partner Environment (MPE) concept of operations (CONOPS). The Army MPE CONOPS, published in September 2019, provides desired capabilities, employment considerations, and examples of MPE supported mission threads across Army warfighting functions. At its heart, the MPE provides collaborative tools (i.e., email, text, Voice over Internet Protocol, and filesharing capabilities), information sharing (i.e., common operational picture and intelligence products), and support to digitally enabled processes between mission partners (i.e., call for fire, requests for sustainment support, and requests for air support). However, as repeatedly demonstrated during multinational training exercises, without appropriate human and procedural solutions, a functional technical solution does not guarantee effective interoperability. In addition, without sufficient consideration of how a unit will achieve interoperability, units consistently fail to fully or effectively leverage the potential capability of available technical solutions. This guide is intended to show how the integration of interoperability considerations into existing U.S. doctrine and processes can help the commander and staff address human and procedural interoperability challenges.

As stated by MG Douglas C. Crissman, Director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, in his foreword to the Army MPE CONOPS, “MPE capabilities must be integrated into the Army Mission Command Network to facilitate operations with our mission partners on a ‘releasable’ network with common services (collaboration tools, network operations, data management, and cyber defense) and warfighting applications. We must also address gaps and shortfalls within the human and procedural domains that limit interoperability, informed by interoperability lessons learned and best practices within doctrine, organization, training, leader development, and policy domains. These solutions must drive necessary cultural shifts, development of interoperable processes, and inclusion of partner considerations in the operations process.” This guide is one step toward addressing current human and procedural domain gaps and shortfalls that limit interoperability.

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20-12.pdf [PDF - 6 MB]

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