Framework development for maritime training interoperability

Problem: Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) requires a better understanding of how to quantify and manage the human-related risks, issues, opportunities and benefits relating to maritime training capabilities and their interoperability.  This led to the definition of three research questions:

  • What is training interoperability?
  • What are the levels of training interoperability?
  • How should the definition and levels of training interoperability be used to ensure the effective integration and interoperability of legacy and nascent training solutions?

Approach: The project consists of an initial study and a main study, of which the initial study has so far been completed.  The aim of this first phase was to develop an initial definition and framework of maritime training interoperability, together with a methodological plan to test and develop a framework for use by FOST to assess the risks and benefits of interoperability when developing training systems and policies.

Methodology: The team carried out an initial review of the literature to explore interoperability and existing definitions and frameworks.  A series of expert workshops involving the study team and subject matter experts were used to examine the existing approaches, identify their applicability to the problem in hand and use them to inform the development of a solution specific to the problem of maritime training interoperability.

The workshops made use of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) (Checkland and Scholes 1993) which was effective in drawing together knowledge and expertise from a wide variety of different areas to provide a joint view of the problem under consideration.  A Rich Picture of the system was developed and a series of potential root definitions identified.  These were then used to develop the definition of maritime training interoperability that was subsequently adopted by FOST.  This definition was further developed in subsequent workshops into an initial framework for assessing the levels of maritime training interoperability in the context of particular training needs.

Outcome: The initial study has developed a definition of maritime interoperability that has been accepted by FOST and an initial framework for assessing interoperability that relies upon the identification of barriers to interoperability in meeting a particular training need.  This allows the requirement for interoperability to be explicitly linked to a training need.  This in turn allows the evaluation of potential improvements to the system in terms of the resulting effectiveness gain from meeting the training need.

The outcome of the study will inform future maritime training capability design, management and delivery, the development of support solutions for future platform concepts and associated manpower strategies including, but not limited to:

  • Unmanned platforms and autonomous vehicles;
  • Modular platforms and capability modules; and
  • Carrier strike, carrier enabled power projection (CEPP) and Maritime Task Group.

A framework for training interoperability could also potentially be adapted to consider more general problems of interoperability if it is made sufficiently flexible.  As military operations become increasingly joint and multi-national, problems of interoperability between systems, people and processes are an increasingly significant barrier to effectiveness, and a system for characterising these issues would be of wider potential utility.

Client comment: “This is a well written and readable piece of work which sets the context for the Main Study. The research has benefited substantially by the on-going inclusion of the Dstl/DHCSTC and NC team during their workshops.” – Dstl/DHCSTC Review of Initial Study Report.

Benefits: The experience of this study has shown how expert opinion from a wide range of different subject areas can be effectively integrated to allow a systematic assessment of effectiveness in an area that is dominated by human-related factors, which normally makes quantitative assessment difficult.  The use of SSM was effective in achieving customer buy-in to the programme and allowing different points of view to be brought together into a single coherent framework.

Contact: John Medhurst