Cover of CHQ’s commercial reprint of the MIL-STD-188 Military Standards series

MIL-STD-188 is a series of U.S. military standards relating to telecommunications.


Faced with "past technical deficiencies in telecommunications systems and equipment and software…that were traced to basic inadequacies in the application of telecommunication standards and to the lack of a well defined…program for their review, control and implementation", the U.S. Department of Defense looked to develop a series of standards that would alleviate the problem.[1]

By 1988, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued Instruction 4630.8 (reissued in 1992, 2002, 2004) stating its policy that "all forces for joint and combined operations be supported through compatible, interoperable, and integrated Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence systems. …[and that all such] systems developed for use by U.S. forces are considered to be for joint use."[2] To achieve this the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is charged with "developing information technology standards to achieve interoperability and compatibility…[and ensure that all] systems and equipment shall conform to technical and procedural standards for interface, interoperability, and compatibility".[2]

The MIL-STD-188 standards were created to "address telecommunication design parameters based on proven technologies."[2] To ensure interoperability, DISA made these standards mandatory for use in all new DoD systems and equipment, or major upgrades.

The mandatory use of these standards will aid significantly in achieving standardization and result in improvements in availability, maintainability, reliability, and supportability. This, in turn, will enhance lifecycle configuration management and logistic support with subsequent reductions in life cycle costs.[1]


When first developed Military Standard 188 (MIL-STD-188) covered technical standards for tactical and long-haul communications, but as it was revised (MIL-STD-188A, MIL-STD-188B) it became a document applicable to tactical communications only (MIL-STD-188C 24 Nov 1969[3]).[4] The Defense Information Systems Agency published circulars which announced both standards and engineering criteria relating to the long-haul Defense Communications System and to the technical support of the Worldwide Military Command and Control System.[4] In line with a decision by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, these standards are published in the MIL-STD-188 series of documents. This series is subdivided into "a MIL-STD-188-100 series covering common standards for tactical and long-haul communications, a MIL-STD-188-200 series covering standards for tactical communications only, and a MIL-STD-188-300 series covering standards for long-haul communications only."[4]

The MIL-STD-188 series standards are encompassed by the DoD’s Joint Technical Architecture.[5]

Deviations and waivers

For any manufacturer seeking to deviate from the MIL–STD-188 series standards (prior to the manufacture of an item) they must request to do so with the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) which is constituted under the Defense Communications Agency. For any DoD Agency to get a waiver to receive an item that deviates from the standards they also must apply to the JSC.[1]

Relation to other systems of standards

According to DoD documents, "The MIL-STD-188 series may be based on, or make reference to, Joint Technical Architecture, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards, International Telecommunications Union - Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standardization Agreements (STANAG), and other standards wherever applicable."[2]

Current development emphasis

Currently the DoD is placing its emphasis "on the development of common standards for tactical and long-haul communications (the MIL-STD-188-100 series)."[2]


Note: The following list of documents are those that are presently active. Documents with three digit numbers followed by a letter of the alphabet indicate that they are revisions of an older version of that document.

MIL-STD-188-100 series

According to the DoD the MIL-STD-188-100 series contains "technical standards and design objectives which are common to both the long haul and tactical communications systems."[1]

The current articles in this series include:

MIL-STD-188-200 series

According to the DoD the MIL-STD-188-200 series "contains current tactical communications, technical standards and design objectives…[this series includes] appropriate unclassified design objectives and tactical communications systems technical standards…[and] Appropriate communications-electronics systems standards and design objectives developed under joint projects…[which are] integrated in the tactical communications standards."[1]

The current articles in this segment include:

MIL-STD-188-300 series

According to the DoD the MIL-STD-188–300 Series contains "communications system standards and design objectives applicable to the field of long haul and point-to–point communications in support of the Defense Communications System (DCS) and the National Military Command System (NMCS), and also to provide the necessary interface with non-DCS equipment."[1]

The current articles in this series include:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Mandatory Use Of Military Telecommunications Standards In the Mil-Std-188 Series" (PDF). April 10, 1989. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Department of Defense Interface Standards". September 15, 1988. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
  3. ASSIST-QuickSearch
  4. 1 2 3 "Military Standard: Interoperability And Performance Standards For Satellite Communications". June 15, 1988. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
  5. "Roles and Responsibilities Panel Report" (PDF). November 17, 1997. pp. 31 note 2. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
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