September 10, 2021
JADC2 is navigating uncharted waters in a complex effort to make a quantum leap in how the U.S. military operates. The concept is still in the beginning stages but has a ground swell of support from the operating forces who recognize the national imperative to regain the technical initiative from our pacing threats. How can industry help?
The most recent U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) states that, “Without sustained and predictable investment to restore readiness and modernize our military to make it fit for our time, we will rapidly lose our military advantage, resulting in a Joint Force that has legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people.” In the years since the 2018 NDS was released, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made great strides in military modernization, with mission-critical solutions across air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.
At the forefront is the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), DoD’s concept to connect sensors spanning the military services and the intelligence community to a single network, creating a decision advantage for our warfighters and unified command and control across all domains in great power military engagements.
However, JADC2 is much bigger than connecting sensors to shooters. The concept is also about creating resilient, adaptable lines of communication across the entire Joint Force at every tier—from the strategic level to the tactical edge. This protected and hardened network will power the ubiquitous flow of relevant information across all domains around the globe. As a result, it will enable U.S. and allied commanders and senior leaders to make quick decisions and direct actions better and faster than adversaries in order to deter their actions and intentions and, when necessary, defeat them outright.
JADC2 is intended to enhance mission planning, command and control, and situational awareness across multiple systems and platforms to enable the warfighter to operate in a holistic manner. The JADC2 network will be system and solution agnostic, agile, and scalable.
There is not a singular, tangible solution to enable JADC2 though. Modernizing current DoD systems to enhance decision-making across interagency command and control networks will involve innumerable enterprise networks, components, and systems. As U.S. Army executive Michael Moneleone, founder of the Joint Systems Integration Laboratory, said to Breaking Defense during a JADC2 experiment exercise, “There’s capabilities out on the bench, on the floor, sitting out back in the parking lot.” These capabilities must be identified, improved upon, and more comprehensively integrated in pursuit of JADC2 goals.
What Does This Mean for Industry?
While government experts have acknowledged the desire to incorporate experimental and emerging technologies, it’s important to develop a shared understanding of how such prototypes and innovations can be harvested from all partners, sectors and sources. That is where industry can play a role: helping to identify relevant government-owned intellectual property and technologies across all domains, and advocating for rapid, on-going funding to support JADC2 experimentation and development, as well as continuous, multi-year funding for core, extended enterprise programs and capabilities.
Emerging technologies for JADC2 include 5G, artificial intelligence , microelectronics, quantum computing, cross-domain solutions, and edge platform technology, data fabric, network health, cloud technology, zero-trust architecture, and public key infrastructure architecture. This is not only a question of creating new technologies, but also advancing, maturing, and hardening these emerging capabilities to deliver mission-critical services that work at scale in complex, real-world operational environments.
The DoD will most likely use an agile acquisition approach for compiling JADC2 capabilities from robust requirements, scaled agile development methodologies for software and hardware development, and DevSecOps for rapid deployment of operational capabilities.
As the JADC2 concept matures, the DoD must invest and test new technologies in collaboration with industry. As Air Force General Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, said to Defense One during a data integration exercise, “We can't go slow for the legacy processes that take years to field capabilities.” Much to the same effect, the Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown released a strategic document in August 2020 entitled “Accelerate Change or Lose.”
To achieve JADC2’s conceptual objectives, the DoD must collaborate with industry to experiment and quickly field capabilities that can be matured while in operational use. We must identify and implement the creative solutions for modernizing and integrating technologies. It is time to begin.
This article original appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Service Contractor Magazine.