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In this paper we introduce XLayer, a cross-layer communications substrate for tactical Information Management Systems which enable nodes on a radio network to seamlessly communicate with nodes on different heterogeneous networks. While conventional cross-layer strategies for tactical environments tend to focus on the localized optimization between neighbor layers of the communications stack, our approach focuses on the interface between middleware and the underlying communications infrastructure. The XLayer communications substrate leverages native information and services available at the tactical communications infrastructure to improve the functionally and capabilities of overlay applications and middleware. The XLayer also provides the necessary interfaces and mechanisms to enable application-driven requirements to parameterize and regulate the operation of the underlying communications infrastructure. After a brief description of the target environment and system requirements we will introduce the proposed design for the cross-layer communications substrate, highlighting specialized controllers and adaptors for communication interfaces and tactical radios. We will then introduce new cross-layer strategies for discovery, routing and transport targeted to Information Management System (IMS)-support, followed by our NS-2 simulation results, analysis, and conclusions.