The effectiveness of the use of troops, the defense capability of Russia as a whole is largely dependent on the automated management processes of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and how fully the capabilities of modern information technologies are used. And over time, this dependence will only increase.
Preparation for war is conducted in peacetime. Consequently, the issues of automating the daily activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are no less important than the actual command and control of troops during combat operations. This determines the relevance of the creation and implementation of automated military systems (AS VN) in the RF Armed Forces.
Undeservedly little attention is paid to problems in this area in the mass media and in specialized publications. Published materials, as a rule, are either too general, theoretical in nature, or are frankly advertising.
In this connection, the articles by the retired colonel Valery Ivanov, published in the magazine Aerospace Defense (No. 4, 2014) and in the weekly Military Industrial Courier (No. 20, 2014 and No. 33, 2015), are of undoubted interest. For the first time, the problem of creating an automated control system of the Armed Forces of the RF is described in such detail in the open press.
There are many systems, but there is no system
Estimates given by Ivanov’s state of affairs in the field of automating the leadership of the RF Armed Forces are mostly fair. However, it is advisable to clarify the subject matter. Referring to the results of activities in this area, it is customary to talk about the implementation and operation of various AS HH AS, including ACS troops. The scale of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is about the ACS of the RF Armed Forces. It is appropriate to ask the question: what is the ACS of the RF Armed Forces? Several existing definitions can be summarized as follows: The ACS of the RF Armed Forces is a set of automated systems of various levels that provide control over the RF Armed Forces.
“ACS, if they were created as components of the AFS of the RF Armed Forces, must be compatible and interoperable”
Is this enough to understand what a created construction is? Probably not. The problem is that well-known formulations can be interpreted ambiguously and cause many questions in practice.
For example, there is an army deployed on the objects of the ACS, built on the same principles as other ACS systems. But it functions autonomously, although it fully implements the requirements that were formulated in the tactical and technical requirements. Formally, it can be attributed to the totality of other structures, allegedly constituting the AF of the RF Armed Forces. It is possible that it rather successfully provides guidance to the troops in its area of responsibility, but does not have a key feature that can truly characterize it as part of a higher level ACS, since the interaction processes between the components must be automated. It makes no sense to call a single automated control system a set of separate tools, between which there is no automated interaction. While in real life quite often this happens - the desired is given for the real.
In addition, considering the actual effectiveness of an autonomous ACS by the troops from our example, one cannot but notice the following circumstance. It cannot be considered sufficiently effective if it is unable to automatically interact “horizontally” and “vertically” of the system.
Suppose this ACS is used to control groups of forces that have their own ACS operating at a subordinate level. How will the information about the composition, condition of its troops, the reconnoitered enemy, and the current conditions for conducting military actions be transmitted from bottom to top? How will the interaction take place horizontally - with the command and control bodies? How will the higher command points get the data? How, finally, to bring the team to the subordinate troops?
If you do not automate processes, then it turns out that we are dealing with a banal exchange of documents, except in a more modern electronic form. These documents will most likely turn out to be non-formalized, that is, understandable only to a person, since nobody thought about automating data transfer and ensuring the necessary compatibility with external systems when creating an autonomous ACS. Well, if the files will be delivered by e-mail, it will speed up the process.
If the exchange of information begins between the ACS from our example, then precious time will also be spent on manually entering the same data into each of the systems independently functioning at its own level. Very often it happens now. The interaction, if it is technically implemented at all, is at best reduced to the exchange of non-formalized documents and layers of electronic maps, which, like old dispatches, can only be perceived by humans.
The pledge of victory in a war is information superiority, which is achieved by a high awareness of the situation on the battlefield and the ability to effectively lead your troops. This thesis is proven by the world history and especially relevant today. The armed conflicts of the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries convincingly demonstrate that the advantage of the one of the opposing sides that most effectively manages the troops. Today it is impossible without the use of information technology.
The main criteria for the effectiveness of automation of management processes include the time required to perform certain actions, the amount of material and human resources expended, the quality of the processed data, including their accuracy, relevance, accuracy, completeness and availability, degree of satisfaction with the information received from the needs of officials .
Conductor must be alone
Automated control coverage of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation can serve as a fairly accurate assessment of the success of work carried out in the interests of creating a promising ACS of the RF Armed Forces, the boundaries of which will extend very widely. To cope with this task is possible only by directly proceeding with the design. It is first required to determine the tasks of the Armed Forces Management, establish all the necessary requirements and assess the available resources necessary for its creation.
At the same time, it is already possible to say now that the ACS of the RF Armed Forces should carry out end-to-end automated control from the strategic to the tactical level.
Obvious evidence of the importance of this requirement is a principle that should be followed in a rationally constructed ACS, namely the principle of a single entry of information. The primary sources of data about their troops, about the enemy, and about the conditions for conducting military operations are at the tactical level. These data should be available within the system in the primary, processed or aggregated form without the need to re-enter them at any level.
In addition, tactical units (aircraft, ships, land combat vehicles) are carriers of weapons of destruction. Planning their use and actual use is the task of command posts at the operational and strategic levels. The possibility of direct leadership of these carriers in the course of performing combat missions from the highest levels of control, including the real-time change of flight missions to means of destruction, is now in demand and quite realizable.
Modern military actions are primarily the actions of interspecific groupings of troops. In order for them to become effective, the ACS of military formations must be ready for automated interaction.
Aware of what has been said, it can be concluded that the ACS of the RF Armed Forces is a complex structure consisting of many components dispersed over vast territories. Considering that parts of this system should solve various tasks, and this in turn will lead to features in implementation, it will turn out to be heterogeneous both in terms of the variety of functions performed and in terms of the technical solutions used.
At the same time, these automated control systems, if they were created as components of the automated control system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, should be compatible with each other and interoperable. And this requirement must be extended not only to the ACS by the troops, but also to the onboard controls of tactical units, if they are included in the corresponding circuit of the ACS of the RF Armed Forces.
It is reasonable to ask the question: is it correct to speak about the ACS in this case at all? Is this term too narrow? Indeed, he does not accurately and fully characterize the subject of discussion, because we are not talking about a separate, fairly homogeneous structure, but about the totality of many heterogeneous systems. That is, it is advisable to choose a more suitable term, giving it a clear definition. American journalists often use the word “skynet” borrowed from the movie “Terminator”. But for clarity, we will leave the well-established term - ACS of the RF Armed Forces.
No step without a project
A prospective automated control system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation that meets all modern requirements cannot be created within one or even several interrelated developmental works. Its development will require the implementation of a long-term target program and high-quality military-scientific and operational support from the Ministry of Defense of Russia.
It is necessary to soberly assess the risks. The objectives of the program and the activities included in it must be realistic, taking into account the available financial resources, time, qualifications of developers, production capacity and the availability of organizational and staff structures that will be engaged in the operation of the system.
You need to start with the development and testing of key technical solutions for the pilot area, and not immediately across the country. And after that you can begin to fully deploy.
Many will probably wonder: what is the novelty of the thesis about the need for a targeted program? Corresponding planning has been going on for a long time; every five years, the State Arms Program is adopted, under which relevant measures are carried out.
That's right. However, to achieve any goal you need to have a clear idea about it, an opportunity to evaluate the real results of the work and, if necessary, adjust the approaches. This is the main problem of creating a promising ACS of the RF Armed Forces.
First of all, the goal. In this case, it is completely obvious. It is necessary to build a complex ACS of the RF Armed Forces, which would meet the specified requirements. Work can be started if they are established, realizable taking into account the existing restrictions, risks are acceptable and the appearance of the system is determined.
Thus, the goal of the program is the implementation of the conceived appearance of the RF ACS. It is necessary to design and document in detail its architecture, covering the description of the functional and non-functional requirements, the structure and interrelationships of the components, technology.
This is an extremely time-consuming, but certainly necessary process, without which the creation of structures comparable in complexity to the prospective ACS of the RF Armed Forces is now unthinkable. Approaches to the development and description of the appearance of such structures are well known and widely used abroad, including in military ministries of various countries.
When talking about standards for specific technical solutions, it is necessary to understand that they can appear only after taking into account all the requirements imposed on the system under consideration, according to the results of designing its architecture, developing or choosing these solutions, standards from among those that already exist.
One of the most common mistakes in the past was the desire of customers to impose strict requirements on the developers of automation tools regarding the mandatory use of so-called basic information technologies, which were created outside the context of the structure of the automated control system of the RF Armed Forces due to its absence at that time. An example is the indication of the ubiquitous use of a geographic information system that is suitable for solving far from all applied problems. The request for the mandatory use of such technologies, apparently, pursued the goal of ensuring compatibility between separate constructions. But this problem can be solved only within the framework of the general architecture of the automated control system of the RF Armed Forces. During the design process, it is necessary to find solutions that ensure the functional, technical and informational compatibility of the component parts, allowing in practice to organize proper interaction.
Of course, a promising ACS of the RF Armed Forces must be built on technical solutions defined by a single architecture. But it would be wrong to hope that the change of generations of the ACS will occur simultaneously. The new automated control system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will have to exist for a long time surrounded by inherited automated systems.
A common mistake is a poorly justified requirement to integrate existing and developed designs. In this case, as a rule, the tasks of interaction are described only in general terms, the amount of necessary improvements is not evaluated, and the organization of work performance is not determined. In most cases, starting to create a new automated control system and making demands on it to ensure interaction with the many existing systems, the need for their refinement is not taken into account.
In conditions when each part defined for integration has its own customer, developer and operator, such requests should be carefully worked out, proving their expediency taking into account the existing possibilities of implementation.
An important feature of the promising ACS of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will be its continuous evolution, manifested in the expansion of the coverage of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation with the addition of new means to it, in increasing functionality and improving technologies. Requirements that will ensure their inclusion in the automated control system of the RF Armed Forces should be made to the newly created and modernized automated control systems, samples of weapons and military equipment. In order to be feasible, an open system should be created.
The main criterion for the success of the implementation of the target program will be the creation of the automated control system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which in practice embodies the developed architecture. Evaluation of its performance on the basis of specified parameters and criteria and, if necessary, adjustment should be carried out continuously. Completeness of the implementation of the established requirements and the coverage of the RF armed forces by automated control can be the main for evaluating the results of the program.
Project management of this level of complexity, an objective assessment of their performance are the most difficult tasks of a primarily organizational nature. We should not expect progress if important automation works with similar goals and tasks will be conducted in parallel, but uncoordinated, and their results will not receive an objective response. Regardless of whether the assessment is positive or negative, the forward movement is feasible only when conclusions are drawn from the mistakes made, continuity and consistency in the implementation of work aimed at achieving a known goal is ensured.
Recently, it has often been said that all problems can be solved by the appointment of a general designer. Perhaps, if he will be able to develop the architecture of a promising ACS of the RF Armed Forces and its implementation within the framework of a targeted program. The participation of all interested parties, representing both the Ministry of Defense of Russia and enterprises and organizations directly performing the work, is necessary.
The statement that the general designer representing a particular enterprise will be able to successfully lead the process of creating the automated control system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation at the required level and achieve significant results is in serious doubt. The experience of the last two decades is not confirmed. Such primacy is incompatible with the principles of a market economy, no matter how we relate to it, does not ensure effective management of the complex of works, undermines healthy competition and ultimately inevitably leads to stagnation.
According to the author’s deep conviction, in modern conditions, only the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation can successfully fulfill the role of the general designer of the ACS of the RF Armed Forces. This provides for the management of the design of the architecture of a promising ACS of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (and its accompaniment), as well as the development and implementation of an appropriate target program. And if today the Russian Ministry of Defense is not ready for this, it means that it is advisable to acquire the necessary competencies as quickly as possible.
Thus, the main problem in the field of automating the processes of control of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, according to the author, is the lack of a clear understanding of the desired goals and objectives, the solution of which will allow it to be achieved.
The first step in this direction should be a concept that gives a clear definition of the automated control system of the RF Armed Forces, establishing its purpose, boundaries, construction principles, main directions and stages of creation (development). The source of the requirements that will be specified in the tactical-technical (technical) tasks for specific jobs provided for by this program can only be the architecture of the prospective ACS of the RF Armed Forces.
The ultimate success depends largely on the focus, consistency and overall organization of the work and on the objectivity of the assessments of the results obtained.
Obviously, there are much more problematic issues arising in the course of practical activities in this area than are covered in this publication. Discussion of ways to solve them by a wide range of relevant specialists, undoubtedly, should contribute to the onward movement towards the intended goal.