Information is a weapon. With timely, accurate and comprehensive information, the operational commander can anticipate and counter the actions of an increasingly networked, dispersed and agile opponent. Commanders need to make sense of huge amounts of data flooding in from sources as diverse as sensor networks, satellites, individual soldiers, human intelligence and NGOs. What information is critical? Will it reach them in time? In turn, decision-makers need to see both contemporary and historical information in formats that facilitate understanding.

The EDS Canada White Paper, “Transforming Information Management for Operational Benefit,” makes the case for transforming DND/CF information systems for the 21st century. This series of six articles seeks to initiate and sustain the dialogue that begins that transformation.

Military forces around the world have recognized the need to move beyond IM systems that deliver intelligence, availability and a common operating picture to solutions that give field commanders at every level the “near-real time” integrated information they need to make decisions, save lives or achieve the objectives: UAV feed; live aerial picture; personnel and resource management; logistical information; maintenance data.

Within any country’s military forces, it makes intuitive sense to deliver that capability through a highly integrated and secure eco-system. The information on administrative systems is not only critical to commanders in the field but it must also be fused in near-real time with battlefield information to provide a complete picture that can be used to take more effective action. The information on command-and-control systems is critical to other decision-makers. Resource savings and improved quality of service argue for this integrated system, but improvement of operational capability dictates this approach.

Perhaps equally important, it creates a structure to build upon when interaction with other departments or NGO coalition partners is necessary. The result delivers the right information – and only the right information – to the right people at the right time. Done well, information becomes a weapon and a tool to fight the enemy, support humanitarian operations or help Canadians in a crisis.

Decision-makers in DND/CF have the urgent responsibility to turn raw data into actionable information. Current and even proposed IT systems are unlikely to help them meet that responsibility. Because information is a weapon, stove-piped legacy systems that cannot communicate with each other deny forces in the field the force multiplier they need to fight. Every hour and every dollar spent supporting obsolete, disconnected systems today is a resource denied to the warfighter tomorrow. Where will the logisticians and the planners and the policy-makers get the information they need to support the warfighter?

The goal is mission effectiveness. It is achieved by network-enabled capabilities that produce information sharing and collaboration; they deliver high quality information and shared situational awareness. The result is better decision-making and collaboration – in other words, mission effectiveness. It is pointless to talk about multiplying mission effectiveness with information management when we cannot manage the information we already have.

As the EDS Canada White Paper states, “Operational benefit will result when dynamic, context-aware information from multiple sources across multiple domains is fused and presented to the appropriate users when, where and how they need it.”

The goal is to enable users at every link of the chain to define, gather and visualize the information they need, as quickly and accurately as possible. The computational, networking, security and analytical tools all exist to create those information products. The “edge” devices like PDAs and computers all exist to deliver them to every user. There is no technological barrier to that goal that cannot be surmounted. The real barriers are institutional structures and assumptions. The real challenge is to create the consensus-building mechanisms and the will to overcome them. This is a huge challenge.

Existing information systems have been created through sizable expenditures of time and money. Existing careers have been predicated on a future that resembles the past. Some of those resources will make the transition to the next environment. New recruits are familiar with the latest technologies and expect the same when they join the armed forces. It will take leadership both inside and outside DND/CF to move ahead. Decision-makers must anticipate future requirements and match them with anticipated opportunities, while maintaining a consistently high level of support to operations today with present resources.

The next articles in this series will look at Transformation, how it has been done elsewhere, and Lessons Learned, how Canada can do it better. Your ideas are critical to this transformation. We encourage you to read the White Paper and send us your comments. “Transforming Information Management For Operational Benefit” is available online at under White Papers. To comment, please contact Emile Lindsay ( or 613-787-4613 or Vanguard at