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Miscommunications and Context Awareness

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1 Miscommunications and Context Awareness
Steve Poteet (Boeing, US) Cheryl Giammanco (Army Research Lab, US) Jitu Patel (Dstl, UK) Anne Kao (Boeing, US) Ping Xue (Boeing, US) Iya Whiteley (Systems Engineering & Assessment, UK) International Technology Alliance Conference September 22-24, 2009

2 Overall Study Goal To discover effective ways of minimizing miscommunication and to discover how communication of contextual knowledge can improve mutual understanding during coalition operations. Examine and identify categories & patterns of miscommunication due to variations of language use Examine and identify categories & patterns of miscommunication due to background and cultural differences Examine and identify categories & patterns of miscommunication due to contextual differences in general

3 Study Aim Collect additional data on miscommunication between coalition partners Refine our previously identified categories of miscommunication due to variations in language and language use Examine and identify categories of contextual knowledge that are essential for successful communication

4 Omni Fusion 2008 Distributed, federated simulation based experiment conducted at BCBL and other US Battle Labs (Sept , 2008) Over 230 participants from US, UK, Australia, and Canada Purpose: study division-level issues involving use of the network and network degradation Objective: Determine how commanders use the network to understand, visualize, describe, direct and assess full spectrum operations How commanders do so if network is degraded or absent

5 Research Design Participants Method of Data Capture Questions Asked
ABCA (America-Britain-Canada-Australia) military personnel who were participants of Omni Fusion 2008 Simulation Exercise (OF08 SIMEX) at the Battle Command Battle Laboratory (BCBL) in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, US Participation is completely voluntary Method of Data Capture Questionnaires distributed to them during the exercise – 116 responses One hour follow-up interviews with 4 Questions Asked Nature & source of the miscommunication When it was identified The effect of the miscommunication on performance How and when it was resolved

6 Miscommunications Reported
14 reported one or more 1 reported more than 3 5 reported 2 or 3 8 reported 1 Most common medium (7), VOIP/Audio (5), IWS/Chat (4), face-to-face (4) Most miscommunications were identified immediately Most problems were resolved in a few minutes, but 2 took a few hours and 1 was not resolved until end of the day

7 Additional Survey Results
Type of Impacts on Miscommunications 27 responses 22%: loss of efficient use of time 22%: loss of accuracy (increase in human error) 19%: loss of situation awareness Non-linguistic factors of miscommunication 23 responses 29%: lack of a Common Operational Picture (COP), and Shared Situation Awareness

8 Suggested Methods of Prevention
22 responses 32%: use a standardized language (e.g. NATO or DoD dictionary) would help 27%: multinational combined training prior to operations, exercises or experiments Sample is too small to draw conclusions

9 New Evidence Supporting Prior Hypotheses
Standard terminology not used UK used NATO and US used CENTCOM While basic concepts were shared, they are often expressed in different terminology E.g. acronyms, jargon, slang Acronym use caused confusion More ambiguous because the length is shorter E.g. AI (Air Interdiction) was mis-typed as IA (Influence Activities – e.g. PsyOps – in UK, or Information Operations in US) E.g. NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations) was mistook to mean OGA (other [non-military] government organizations

10 More on Jargon and Slang
Besides US-UK differences, these were compounded by different uses in Navy, Marine etc. E.g. “leaving 16 and a buff” was not understood Means B52 for US Air Force E.g. “coming in hot” To Air Force: coming in fast To ground force: coming in shooting E.g. Commander said “burn the brief” Burn it on the CD, not set it on fire

11 New Findings Important to look at miscommunication in ‘context’
Crucial to have a shared common understanding of the ‘context’ In a network centric environment, use of language must take on a bigger role in establishing and maintaining shared context or common ground

12 Examples of Context in Iraq War
1st pilot talked to controller about one group, and controller confirmed it was hostile Controller broke off radio contact 2nd pilot spotted another group of friendly vehicles and spoke to 1st pilot about it; controller did not know Controller came back, 1st pilot asked to confirm if there is friendly force there (referring to 2nd group); controller thought he was referring to the 1st group and said no A fatality occurred as a result

13 Examples of Context in Omni Fusion Exercise
Organizational structure UK Information Operation – a sub-concept of Influence Activities (including PsyOps) Brigade in UK is smaller, though in same position as in US hierarchy Not recognizing this can lead to mistakes in assigning tasks to units during planning Differences in doctrines and TTP (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) UK uses NATO and US uses CENTCOM Differences in unit size is a factor Differences in ‘media’ used Different interviewees expressed different opinions on what media (face-to-face, , chat) is most effective face-to-face, because can recognize and clear up misunderstandings immediately , because can read (and re-read) it at one’s own speed

14 US - UK Team Communication Differences
Differences in language and language use Differences in concepts including differences in doctrine and conceptual mismatch Differences in procedures such as planning process Differences in organization structure

15 Potential Mitigation Strategies for Coalition Miscommunication
Multinational combined training prior to operations The more people work together, the more they understand each other Cultural awareness and communication training Encourage questions Be aware of the interlocutor’s context Standardized terminology Only with limited use in certain situations Glossaries and other communication tools Electronic tools will be useful in some situations

16 More Study of Context What major contextual elements are critical to communication during coalition operations How do these elements interact with the use of language to contribute to successful communication or lead to miscommunication How can knowledge of these contextual elements can be captured and provided before an operation, such as in training or in the form of information tools.

17 Summary Confirmation of previous findings
Importance of context and shared context awareness in understanding Potential strategies for minimizing miscommunications

18 Questions or Comments?

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