Lights On


Giving warfighters unmatched superiority over current and future threats.

I magine everything around you suddenly goes pitch black. You blink frantically, but still can’t see anything. You wave your hand in front of your face and see nothing. You quickly spin around, seeking any speck of light but all that fills your vision is a dark blanket of black everywhere you look. Suddenly, your ears fill with the sounds of total and absolute chaos unfolding all around you, but still you see nothing. You know you must find a safe way out right now for fear if you don’t, your life may be in immediate danger. You reach out to feel for a wall or door and touch nothing. You call out for help and get no response. Not being able to see what is going on around you makes you vulnerable. Not knowing who is coming towards you at any given moment makes you scared. And being in this alone is absolutely terrifying.

Now, imagine the lights come back on. You see several different ways out and what obstacles may lay ahead. You find yourself with something you didn’t have before, but desperately needed: situational awareness. Your closest allies are now right by your side and, as a unified group, you quickly make your way to safety.

For our nation’s brave warfighters, situational awareness is vital to mission success. It saves lives. Having all the necessary information in real-time to guide them where they need to go is what helps bring our Armed Forces home safely. 

adopting a new way of doing things

Integrate to Communicate

The US military’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems are essential in providing critical intelligence to military leaders and operations. Unfortunately, many of these legacy systems can be much like the first scenario—inefficient, susceptible to threats, and offering a less than complete view of the full picture. Stovepiped systems—systems that were individually engineered—produce isolated pieces of intelligence. They don’t take into consideration the ability to share information seamlessly with systems outside of their mission space. This makes it challenging and often times impossible to collect, analyze, and communicate critical threat and operations information, or assess the current battlefield environment. Instead, military decision makers and operators must access numerous systems, each with separate logins and displays, while warfighters in the field struggle to operate multiple radio systems. 

“Warfighters and the organizations that support them need a premier intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enterprise system that enables intelligence information to flow seamlessly and securely to and from those serving on the front lines,” said Greg Wenzel, executive vice president and lead of digital solutions/C4ISR within Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategic Innovation Group. “They need integrated C4ISR—where the individual pieces are designed as part of an enterprise system from the start.” Acquiring integrated C4ISR requires the adoption of a more functional approach, one that brings together the disciplines of engineering, operations, and acquisition and their communities. We call this approach Enterprise Integration. Programs will need enhanced capabilities in all three areas to build integrated C4ISR on a foundation of open architectures, agile development, modular construction, and common hardware, software, data, and infrastructure.

providing solutions for the future


Some programs have already implemented many of the essential features of Enterprise Integration. Booz Allen helped the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) program integrate C4ISR solutions that work in sync as a fully interoperable family of systems. To support active military operations we developed the DCGS-A Standard Cloud—a revolutionary cloud-based system that brings together data sets from various sources to be analyzed and shared. Through a user-friendly interface and with a massive processing capability, the system has the power to analyze hundreds of millions of textual intelligence products in less than one second. 

After working with Army intelligence analysts and information specialists to develop the system’s initial requirements, the Booz Allen team defined the infrastructure, acquired the hardware, integrated software, produced test scenarios and training materials, and facilitated deployment and support in-theater. To ensure quality, the team also performed data validation, functional testing, regression testing, and performance testing. The DCGS-A Standard Cloud was accredited, deployed, and fully operational in Afghanistan in record time, and truly transformed the ‘state of the possible’ in tactically deployable cloud solutions. “By removing the previous constraints of stovepiped infrastructure and delivering enterprise, integrated digital platforms, our technology approach connects threat information from every branch of the military,” said Wenzel. “It delivers specific intelligence to those who need it most and need it now.”

Looking ahead to transformational systems of the future, Booz Allen is currently helping the Army and Navy instantiate the next generation multi-Service tactical cloud platform—the Tactical Cloud Reference Implementation (TCRI). Supporting both well-connected and disadvantaged users, TCRI is designed to move the Services towards a fully interoperable architecture for tactical deployments. This new cloud-based ISR capability will improve operations planning, assessment, and execution by utilizing advanced analytics that collect, integrate, and fuse data from multiple sensor and ISR data systems.

Tools that enable our Enterprise Integration approach are also being adopted by US Department of Defense (DoD) programs. Booz Allen’s Attune tool allows our clients to efficiently and effectively make informed decisions by providing a comprehensive view of their Enterprise. Through rich visualizations and conditional analyses, Attune provides end-to-end traceability, linking system enterprise specifications to operational needs. The results are data-driven decisions ranging from future mission operations gap analysis to incremental portfolio road-mapping.

breaking down barriers

The Winds of Change

Helping warfighters gain improved situational awareness and decision making is key to a successful operation. Defense leaders recognize the need to modularize systems, but standing in the way of those efforts are current acquisition processes that can’t keep up with technological change. DoD acquisition programs tend to develop C4ISR systems as individual, stand-alone systems that get integrated after they’re delivered. Attempts to integrate during the development phase are usually stalled by a lack of funding and time. Adding to the challenge can also be the absence of shared, common integration standards, resulting in inconsistent application by the various parties. Acquiring a new system can take years, by which time the technology quickly becomes outdated. Government and military organizations typically use a "big-bang" acquisition approach where large, monolithic shrink-wrapped systems are delivered all at once and often years after development. Sustaining these systems is both a scheduling and financial burden—they take years to field which results in cost overruns.

A shift in ownership must happen in order to see any real change. Government needs to regain control of their systems architecture. Moving away from proprietary, closed, vendor-owned C4ISR systems to a standards-based, open, and government-owned architecture will ensure true interoperability and data integration. Asserting ownership and fostering open architectures allows government organizations to reduce vendor lock-in, eliminate inefficiencies, and encourage innovation across an expanded and agile enterprise.





  • For our nation’s brave warfighters, situational awareness is vital to mission success. It saves lives.

  • Having all the necessary information in real-time to guide them where they need to go is what helps warfighters perform the mission efficiently and effectively.

  • Many legacy C4ISR systems can be inefficient, susceptible to threats, and offering a less than complete view of the full picture.

  • As Integrated C4ISR through Enterprise Integration is introduced across the Armed Forces, Booz Allen is helping to ensure architectures and platforms remain open and agile.

seeing the big picture

No Longer in the Dark

It is Enterprise Integration that prepares our military for the full lifecycle of mission operations. When something happens and a military unit is sent to a specific area to investigate and potentially stabilize an environment or even capture a target, they need specific intelligence to guide them where they need to go. Sensors that are out there can be from many different sources—Army, Navy/Marine Corps, Air Force, satellites. Pre-mission, information is gathered so military decision makers and operators can see and assess what that local environment is actually like at that time. This data could include chatter from a cyber perspective, Short Message Service (SMS) messaging, communications, and a satellite view of the terrain. Now they have a clear common operating picture of what the unit is going into and what to expect upon arrival. Based on that collective information, they construct the mission to determine what the objectives are and how best to operate. 

As the unit is headed to the destination, their systems are continually updating to let them know that the environment has just changed… perhaps new people came in, another vehicle is now present, or someone left. That’s real-time situational awareness—while in route, they still receive updates on what that scenario will be at the location. As they arrive, things may suddenly change again. The individual they were going there for is no longer present or the mission objective has shifted, and then one of two things may happen. The unit can quickly stop and go back. Or, if they determine the objectives can still be met, they’ll go in knowing exactly what to do and the best way to get out. With the sensors providing critical real-time information, warfighters know what the situation looks like both before and during a mission, as well as whether or not they were successful after-the-fact. If the goal was to shut something down, C4ISR battle damage assessment can inform military decision makers and operators whether or not there are still active threats in the environment.

connected forces

Mission: Affirmative

Adversaries will continue to grow and take on new forms. The amount of data out there alone will exponentially boom with more sensors and information. How do we make sense of it all? How do we help government and military organizations differentiate between authentic and irrelevant intelligence? “Booz Allen’s digital solutions initiative is reimagining how this information gets moved around, analyzed, evaluated, and redistributed,” Wenzel said. “It is that holistic view to achieving Enterprise Integration that harnesses all the power here.” Integrated C4ISR will help mitigate risks from ongoing and maturing threats.

As Enterprise Integration is introduced across the Armed Forces, Booz Allen is helping to ensure architectures and platforms remain open and agile. If the Air Force were to develop a new sensor, they will have the capability to plug it in and horizontally share information across the joint services (with the Army and Navy/Marine Corps) so they can interoperate more efficiently across the enterprise. No longer in the dark, warfighters and their allies now have advanced tools to rapidly track high-value individuals, plan and clear travel routes, and perform related mission needs.

The Enterprise Integrator


Traditional c4isr

Stovepiped Systems

Individually engineered systems producing isolated pieces of intelligence. Given the explosion in sensor data, critical pieces of intelligence may be overlooked and security risks can result.

Decision Cycle

Each stovepiped system leads to its own segregated decision cycle, leading to siloed and time- consuming decisions.

Military Decision Maker/Operator

Decisions made across mission domains, informed by stovepiped systems, may result in priority intelligence lapses at the forward edge of the battlefield. Failure to meet priority intelligence requirements may leave the decision maker/operator with less than a complete view of the battlefield that could jeopardize mission success.

integrated c4isr Essential features

1. Government-owned, open architectures that integrate seamlessly into the overall enterprise environment.

2. Agile, incremental delivery of modular systems with integrated capabilities.

3. Collective forums that bring together operators, acquisition professionals, and engineers to support the development of highly tailored solutions to operational and technical requirements.

4. Designed-in cybersecurity to infuse solutions with organic, unified, and multi-layered solutions to operational and technical requirements.

5. Enterprise-oriented culture that promotes connectedness, interdependency, and adaptability.