International Standardization 

The aim of the Defense Standardization Program Office (DSPO) International Standardization Program is to promote the use and implementation of standardization as one of the essential elements to ensure interoperability with allies and partners. Generally, this program focuses on International Standardization Agreements (ISAs) generated by military treaty alliance organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the American, British, Canadian, and Australian Armies (ABCA); the Five Eyes Air Force Interoperability Council (AFIC); and the Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom and United States Naval C4 Organization (AUSCANNZUKUS). DSPO supports, and participates in the development of, standardization policy, training, and interagency coordination of standardization efforts of the cited treaty organizations as follows:

  • Policy and Procedure Development. Plan, direct, coordinate, manage and review policies and procedures within the purview of the DSP that impact DoD use of international standardization agreements. Also, provide staff support to the Defense Standardization Executive in reviewing and commenting on domestic and international standardization policy.
  • Interagency Coordination. Coordinate with Military Departments and Defense Agencies to support the development, review, and ratification of materiel international standardization agreements, and initiatives that impact materiel standardization. Also, help determine--or support the development of--the US position on standardization with materiel implications.
  • Conduct Studies. Initiate and participate in studies and on ad-hoc working groups to determine the best solution to fulfill standardization, logistics and interoperability requirements for multinational operations.
  • Civil Standards Activities. Facilitate cooperative work among military and civilian practitioners by participating in activities that support the development and use of the most suitable civil standards to satisfy multinational military standardization requirements.

Guiding Principles

Now more than ever, there is a reliance on multinational military forces to operate effectively together in accomplishing evolving missions and addressing shifting security requirements. This further emphasizes the need for interoperability between the United States and its allies, and effective U.S. participation in working groups (committees) that develop international standardization agreements (ISAs) is essential.

  • It is important to ensure that standardization requirements critical to coalition operations are identified and documented in the form of international standardization agreements, and made easily available for implementation.
  • ISAs increase the ability of joint and coalition operations to achieve information technology superiority, improve logistics support, and enhance technological sophistication.
  • Establishing an International Standardization Agreement is not an end in itself, but one strep to enhancing interoperability among coalition forces. Interoperability is the primary aim of standardization, and standardization agreements should be developed in support of this objective.
  • The underlining principle of participating in the development, ratification and implementation of international standardization agreements is to enable military forces of the United States and its allies to operate together in an effective and economical manner.

Policy and Guidance

While many DoD directives and instructions deal with ISAs, these are some of the essential policy documents relating to material ISAs:

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Allies and Coalition Partners

There are many multinational treaty or alliance organizations that develop ISAs; but, most are developed under the auspice of the five organizations listed below:

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is an alliance composed of 28 member nations from North America and Europe; and  Partnership for Peace countries. The fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 2457 states that it is the policy of the U.S. that equipment procured for U.S. forces employed in Europe under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty shall be standardized to the level or degree required for interoperability with equipment used by other NATO members for similar purposes. Since its conception in 1949, NATO has taken on additional roles outside of its original purview, to include crisis management and humanitarian relief efforts when there is consensus among the member countries to do so. This has led to the fundamental premise that standardization is not a means within itself, but rather a tool used to enhance interoperability among multinational force operations.
  • American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand (ABCANZ) Armies Program. ABCANZ is an international program that promotes interoperability and standardization among the armies of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The focus of the ABCANZ program is on interoperability, defined as: the ability of Alliance Forces, and when appropriate, forces of Partner and other Nations, to train, exercise and operate effectively together in the execution of assigned missions and tasks. The Program Office for ABCANZ is the United States Army. ABCANZ Products, the prime tangible output of the program, are formal outputs of data or documentation from the Program that are intended to enhance interoperability among the ABCANZ Armies. The types of ABCANZ Products are standards, publications, architectures, databases, and reports. With the assistance of the Program Office, these products are managed by Capability Groups, and Support Groups, who are responsible for their Products’ accuracy, currency, quality and relevance.
  • Five Eyes Air Force Interoperability Council (AFIC). Five Eyes AFIC is an international organization which includes the air forces of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its mission is to enhance current and future air and space warfighting capabilities through joint and coalition interoperability. The AFIC mission and objectives are realized through standardization of doctrine, procedures, materiel, and equipment.
  • Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom and United States Naval C4 Organization (AUSCANNZUKUS). AUSCANNZUKUS consists of five nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its mission is to foster knowledge sharing that enables the warfighter to complete missions successfully across the spectrum of joint and combined operations. A series of documents under the Network Working Group addresses concept of operations, standard operating procedures, and technical operating instructions.
  • Combined Communications-Electronics Board (CCEB). The CCEB is a five nation joint military communications-electronics (C-E) organization whose mission is the coordination of any military C-E matter that is referred to it by a member nation. The member nations of the CCEB are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The CCEB Board consists of a senior Command, Control, Communications and Computer (C4) representative from each of the member nations.