American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies’ Program
ABCA
“Optimizing Coalition Interoperability”
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ABCA PRODUCTS AND PLANNING

Products

ABCA Products, the prime tangible output of the Program, are formal outputs of data or documentation from the Program that are intended to enhance interoperability amongst the ABCA Armies. Types of ABCA products include:

  • Standard. A formal agreement that has been ratified by two or more of the ABCA Armies and that defines the levels of standardization or interoperability to be achieved and maintained in a specified materiel, procedural or technical area.
  • Publication. A document intended to inform ABCA Armies about materiel, procedural and/or technical interoperability matters. It does not require ratification by or compliance from the ABCA Armies.
  • Architecture. A detailed, hierarchical description of a system that identifies the system’s overall structure, the interaction and interconnection of its sub-components, and its operational processes.
  • Database. A multi-use aggregation of data, relevant to enhancing the interoperability of the ABCA Armies and organized so that its contents can be readily accessed, managed and updated.
  • Report. A formal paper that provides an account of an event, the analysis of data or a problem, or the discussion of a position or an issue.

ABCA Products are owned by respective Capability Groups (CGs) and Support Groups (SGs), who are responsible for their Products’ accuracy, currency, quality and relevance. The CGs and SGs are assisted by the Program Office, who acts as the configuration manager of the Products.

Program Planning

Although tasks can be proposed by CGs/SGs and approved by National Directors at any point in the year, Program Planning is more usually focused on the Program’s Annual Meeting, which is hosted at one of the member nations in the Mar/Apr timeframe. It is at the Annual Meeting that the annual Program Plan is approved, which is the document that authorizes the Program’s work for the year. The cycle of activities, called the Program Planning System (PPS), that leads up to and follows the approval of the Program Plan is as follows:

  • Preparatory Activity. From the end of the previous year’s Annual Meeting until the start of the next one, the Armies consider the coalition interoperability issues that need to be addressed. To assist, the Program Office collates relevant information (e.g., lessons collected from operations, exercises and experiments; outputs from other Joint/ Interagency/Multinational (JIM) interoperability fora) into the Annual Program Report, which is distributed prior to the National Directors’ meeting in Oct/Nov. Armies also bring  their suggestions for Interoperability Requirements to the National Directors’ meeting in Oct/Nov.
  • Strategic Guidance. On consideration of the inputs from the Program/Armies the work completed by the Program and the recommendation of the Board, the Executive Council issues their Strategic Guidance at their meeting in Oct/Nov.
  • Interoperability Objectives. The National Directors translate the Strategic Guidance into a set of more specific Interoperability Objectives, which they issue to the CGs and SGs on the first day of the Annual Meeting.
  • Task Proposals. During the Annual Meeting, the CGs conduct interoperability gap analysis relevant to the Interoperability Objectives and determine possible tasks that will mitigate the gaps they identify. To conduct the gap analysis, CGs rely on their expertise in their Capability Area, are supported by the SGs where appropriate, participate in cross-walks with the other CGs/SGs and are mentored by the National Directors. SGs also determine task proposals for the purpose of providing support to the Program or as a result of any gap analysis that they conduct.
  • Program Plan. At the end of the Annual Meeting, the CG and SG leaders present their group’s task proposals to the National Directors, who approve, adjust, defer or disapprove them based on resources and priorities. The Program Office collates the Strategic Guidance, Interoperability Objectives and approved tasks into that year’s Program Plan, which is signed off by the National Directors, authorizing the Program’s work for the year.
  • Project Teams (PTs). For each task that is approved, a PT is established by the task’s respective CG/SG. Each PT is issued a Terms of Reference (TOR) by the CG/SG Leader and populated, with the assistance of the National Coordination Officers, with national representatives. If authorized, PTs meet physically in the nation that has been authorized to host their meeting(s) during the year.
  • Progress Monitoring. Throughout the year, PT Leaders apprise their CG/SG Leader of the PT’s progress on the conduct of the task. In turn, CG/SG Leaders advise the National Directors of the progress of their PTs at the meeting in Oct/Nov and at the VTCs in Jun/Jul and Jan/Feb. At any of these opportunities or at any time if done secretarially, a task can be adjusted or canceled based on the recommendation of the CG/SG Leader and the approval of the National Directors. Additionally, new tasks can be proposed and approved along the same lines.
  • Task Completion. Upon completion of their task and in line with the deadline stated in their TOR, PTs submit their final Product to the Program Office for dissemination, review, approval and/or ratification, depending on the Product.