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The key operational requirement driving the implementation of the Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN) was to improve the way in which HQ ISAF, HQ IJC, RCs and lower levels of command share information. Since the implementation of the AMN, information sharing has significantly improved within the military C2 structure but not between ISAF and non-ISAF relevant actors, as this specific requirement was left out of the scope of the AMN.
All of this has resulted in a good degree of situational awareness on ISAF military activities among the AMN users. However, the situation is not the same when considering situational awareness on non-ISAF actors’ plans, activities and achievements. The need to synchronize diplomatic, development and security efforts in order to achieve the final mission is an unquestionable must for future operations. Within this context, AMN could be considered as an initial model for a Future Mission Network (FMN) when dealing with information sharing requirements within the military C2 structure, but it will not fully support in-theatre commanders unless the FMN addresses the complex CA environment. The establishment of an unclassified network on which military and non-military actors can operate and share information should be considered as a critical FMN requirement.
At the same time, although AMN has significantly mitigated the issue of having mission related information on different networks (NATO/ISAF and National), the existence of national systems, mostly intelligence related, still hampers in some degrees the information sharing. Although procedures are in place to overcome this situation, the issue is still recognized as a problem by COMISAF who has repeatedly stated his intent for all ISAF members to use AMN as the exclusive command and control network.
Regarding information sharing tools available in AMN, coalition headquarters at higher echelons were, for the most part, satisfied with them but some do not fully meet the requirements of the subordinate units.
The success of training on AMN information sharing tools varies widely among the levels of command, with a clear tendency that the lower you look in the ISAF chain of command, the fewer opportunities there are for staff officers to receive appropriate training.
There is a general and positive understanding among AMN users that information is a corporate resource. At the same time, there seems to be a pretty good balance in the processing of information when discriminating between “need to know” and “need to share”. However, when dealing with non-ISAF actors this positive balance generally doesn’t apply as Staff officers revert to their traditional mindset of the “need to know” principle, even when dealing with informationthat is both unclassified and non-sensitive
In general, the current information security policy is considered to be appropriate to support information sharing within the ISAF C2 structure and within the constraints imposed by the current security situation. However, current policies do not seem to completely address the complexity of information sharing with non-ISAF actors. Security policy should be more flexible to cope with the variety of information sharing requirements.
Information Management (IM) policies and structure are in place, although there is a wide degree of variation between the different levels of command. At the higher levels, there is a clear set of policies established and an IM structure present to support the staff. At lower levels, there is need for a coherent and dedicated IM team, working for and answering to the command element (COM/COS/DOS), and focused specifically on IM issues within the entire headquarters. At the same time, there are shortfalls in official guidance regarding IM policy and procedures.
Information management awareness (how leaders and staff personnel see IM) is still a challenge. There are different levels of awareness of the purpose and importance of Information Management exhibited within the various echelons of command. IM is currently not addressed as a theatre-wide issue but rather as a singular issue for each HQ. There is insufficient amount of leadership emphasis on the importance of IM, and staff officers do not fully understand the importance of their contribution to achieve effective IM.
IM tools are in general positively assessed by HQ staff officers, although they are not yet used to the maximum extent. There are varying levels of familiarity with them among the different HQs, and a theatre-wide document search capability has been identified as a key requirement for a FMN.
In sum, the information sharing capabilities that AMN has made available to the ISAF community have placed information management at the cornerstone of current and future military operations. Information management must be one of the focus areas addressed within the FMN Concept.
The report that follows provides various recommendations in support of the development of the FMN Concept.