Kevin Coleman ends an interesting post on the difficulties facing the new Cyber Command with the observation that:

As everyone knows C4ISR stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. It appears the time has come to add collaboration and coordination to C4ISR and update it to C6ISR. If that happens, we must make every effort to streamline the decision making and authorization process to ensure decisiveness measured in minutes.

Actually, C4ISR seems to have been replaced by C4ISTAR, with the “TA” standing for Target Acquisition.

In any case, it has long since transformed from acronym to mnemonic device.

Once upon a time, we had “Command and Control,” which was sometimes expressed as C2.  We ultimately added a third C, for communications.  Subsequently, it has been Katie bar the door on additional letters with various constituencies lobbying to have their niche specifically represented.  Oddly, none of them really improves on “Command and Control,” which naturally covers all the aspects of C6ISTAR.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    Aw, James, “command and control” is, to use an expression long gone out of currency, too beige. Reminds me of a story I heard once:

    Newly-minted 2d lieutenant, pointing at map: “So, we’ll put three self-contained, mobile fighting units here…”

    First Sergeant: Ok, sir, you want three Marines there…”