Interoperability: A Necessary Means Towards Operational Success in NATO   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the thesis abstract: "Interoperability is the ability of services and allies to commingle systems, units, or forces which will enable them to operate effectively together. Interoperability should provide NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] commanders the necessary flexibility to concentrate sufficient combat forces at decisive points on the battlefield to deceive and surprise the THREAT while seizing the initiative. The corps seems to be the unit best organized to plan and execute an interoperable operation in NATO because the corps links tactical operations and strategic aims and is flexible enough to performs missions at the tactical and operational levels. This study uses a historical analysis of German Army operations in North Africa and on the eastern front during World War II. These operations are indicative of the successes and failures of interoperable operations amongst Germany and her allies. NATO operational commanders must seek certain imperatives of interoperability at the operational level to be successful. These imperatives are: (1) harmonious unit organization, (2) standardized equipment and training, (3) compatible tactical doctrine, (4) unified command, control, communications, and information systems, (5) coordinated liaison and staff planning, (6) mutual understanding /simplicity, (7) cooperation, and (8) adequate sustainment and logistics. The study also examines the characteristics and capabilities of US and German modernized heavy corps to assess the feasibility of establishing an ad hoc US/German corps. The conclusion of this study indicates the need to practice interoperability at the operational level. Without interoperability, the practice of operational art is inhibited. Escalation across the nuclear threshold because of the inability of NATO operational commanders to achieve the conventional initiative is a dilemma that NATO policy makers must address if national interests continue to impede efforts towards more effective interoperability."

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