Improving Command and Control by Assessing the Common Operational Picture
Walk into any military command center and you will likely see large wall-mounted screens and rows of laptops showing colorful symbols moving across digital maps. As in a bygone era, when real maps were spread over large tables and markers (reminiscent of Monopoly tokens) denoted unit positions, today’s high-resolution displays are meant to provide commanders with a schematic depiction of the operating area or battlefield, locations of friendly units and, when intelligence is available, the sites of enemy units.
The difference between then and now is dramatic. The “Monopoly tokens” of old were moved around the map based on (hopefully) periodic reports from the battlefield. But as the time between reports increased, so did positional errors. Today, in an era of continuous communications from the front and when the positions of individual soldiers are reported via global positioning system every few minutes, commanders enjoy “omniscient,” near real-time situational awareness of the battlefield.