Command and control

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The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (April 2012)

This article is about command and control in the military. For command and control in the context of civilian organizations, see Command and control (management).
Outline of war

Older versions of U.S. Army FM 3-0 state: Command and control, or C2, in a military organization is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commanding officer over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. The term may also refer to command and control systems within a military system.

The 1988 NATO definition: Command and control is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated [individual] over assigned [resources] in the accomplishment of a [common goal].

The Australian Defence Force definition is similar: C2 is the system empowering designated personnel to exercise lawful authority and direction over assigned forces for the accomplishment of missions and tasks. (The Australian doctrine goes on to state: The use of agreed terminology and definitions is fundamental to any C2 system and the development of joint doctrine and procedures. The definitions in the following paragraphs have some agreement internationally, although not every potential ally will use the terms with exactly the same meaning.)

Canadian defence scientists Ross Pigeau and Carol McCann discuss the issues and uncertainties related to the definition of command & control in their article in the Canadian Military Journal.


U.S. perspective[edit]

The U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. defines command and control as: "The exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. Also called C2. Source: JP 1".

Command and control functions are performed through an arrangement of personnel, equipment, communications, facilities, and procedures employed by a commander in planning, directing, coordinating, and controlling forces and operations in the accomplishment of the mission.[citation needed]

Commanding officers are assisted in executing these tasks by specialized staff officers and enlisted personnel. These military staff are a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units.[citation needed]

The purpose of a military staff is mainly that of providing accurate, timely information which by category represents information on which command decisions are based. The key application is that of decisions that effectively manage unit resources. While information flow toward the commander is a priority, information that is useful or contingent in nature is communicated to lower staffs and units.[citation needed]

Computer security industry[edit]

This term is also in common use within the computer security industry and in the context of cyberwarfare. Here the term refers to the influence an attacker has over a compromised computer system that they control. For example, a valid usage of the term is to say that attackers use "command and control infrastructure" to issue "command and control instructions" to their victims. Advanced analysis of command and control methodologies can be used to identify attackers, associate attacks, and disrupt ongoing malicious activity.

Derivative terms[edit]

There is a plethora of derivative terms which emphasise different aspects, uses and sub-domains of C2. They include:

  • C2I – Command, Control & Intelligence
  • C2I – Command, Control & Information (A less common usage)
  • C2ISR – C2I plus Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • C2ISTAR – C2 plus ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance)
  • C3 – Command, Control & Communication (Human activity focus)
  • C3 – Command, Control & Communications (Technology focus)
  • C3I – 4 possibilities; the most common is Command, Control, Communications & Intelligence
  • C3ISTAR – C3 plus ISTAR
  • C3ISREW – C2ISR plus Communications plus Electronic Warfare (Technology focus)
  • C4, C4I, C4ISR, C4ISTAR, C4ISREW – plus Computers (Technology focus) or Computing (Human activity focus)
  • C5I – Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat systems and Intelligence

and others.