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Why Mission Threads Aren't Good Enough,
ARMY RESEARCH LAB ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD
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For many years military command and control systems have been evaluated by the use of mission threads. Mission threads arise from operational requirements and are designed so that a systems response to a series of selected scenario events can be quantified. They may be used to answer timeline and routing questions such as How long does it take to complete a mission How can information be more effectively routed Where are the delays in the mission threads occurring While these descriptive data are sufficient for the decision maker to judge a prototype command and control system on a passfail basis, they do not convey information about the performance of the communications subsystem in particular, they do not allow the accurate determination of throughput and delays. Mission threads do not allow human effects to be satisfactorily decoupled from the communications effects, thereby inhibiting the characterization of the types of delays a system may be experiencing. An in-house solution has been to generate messages that are simply character strings of a specified length and arrival rate. Test and evaluation software inserts the message strings into the communications system, and allows network statistics to be made accessible to the decision maker in an accurate and timely fashion. This paper describes the nature of mission threads, problems encountered with their use, and the effective use of message strings in experimentation.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE