The Army along with our Joint partners are working hard to leap forward and dominate the future warfare domains: Air, Space, Cyber, Land and Maritime.
Our near-peer adversaries’ progress in the five domains has left the U.S. military challenged to respond swiftly and decisively to different types and levels of aggression. For example, in response to hostile maneuvers in the South China Sea, would the U.S. military have the Multi-Domain capabilities and capacity to regain stability in the region? Given outright aggression, could the U.S. reach convergence to suppress or defeat air, space and maritime defenses to reach the objective? China has spent the past 18 years advancing its ability to fight in the air, space, cyber and maritime domains. Along with Russia, they have invested heavily in ways to mitigate U.S. capabilities in the five domains. This could place the U.S. in a disadvantaged stand-off situation, unable to effectively counter exploitation in the operational environment.
To change that, the U.S. Army is embarked on a modernization effort to achieve a better posture to deal with threats from increasingly lethal near-peer adversaries. The foundational element of Multi-Domain Operations is the ability for commanders at all echelons of the Joint, Interagency, Inter-organizational, and Multinational force to conduct Joint All-Domain Command Control, converging Strategic, Operational, and Tactical resources simultaneously across all domains. JADC2 is a multifaceted concept that requires near and long-term integration and modernization efforts to empower Joint MDO-capable forces by 2028, said Brig. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, commanding general of the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command.
“In the future, true overmatch and dominance occurs when all DoD service components and Multinational partners share the same common operating environment,” Davis said.
JADC2 is a combination of new technology, processes and new organizations that will enable the joint force to converge effects from all five domains. The Army has several on-going modernization efforts to increase interoperability, situational awareness and lethality that will enable any shooter, with any sensor, through any command and control node, in near-real time to employ joint and mission partner effects.
The Air Force is the executive agent for this first-year Joint All-Domain Command and Control campaign and series of experiments. Army Futures Command, Futures and Concepts Center, JMC, and Mission Command Capability Development Integration Directorate were brought in to lead the Army’s effort.
The Air Force Warfighting Integration Center established three experiments. The first two have been completed, with the third put on hold while the U.S. and its allies deal with the COVID-19 virus.
Experiment 1 was the first attempt to connect all Service Components in a distributed manner. With the lessons learned from that experiment, Experiment 2 was able to connect all the services, share information via mission command and battle management systems, and display the data to inform decision makers.
Experiment 2 connected a number of Army nodes, including JMC and the Fires Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate Battle Lab at Fort Bliss, Texas; the Mission Command Battle Lab at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; the Regional Hub Node Experimental at Fort Gordon, Georgia; as well as the Intelligence and Security Command using their cloud initiative intel tool at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. All those Army nodes used JMC’s network to tap into the Air Force Shadow Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base. The Navy and Marines also used JMC’s network to tie into the experiment.
Experiments 1 and 2 exposed gaps the joint services will need to overcome to successfully implement JADC2. One of those gaps is a common network, said Lt. Col. Jeremy Conner, Network and Cyber Branch Chief in JMC’s JADC2 division. For instance, Conner explained, the Army typically operates on a tactical network, using satellites to come into a regional hub node. Some of the other services commonly work on strategic SIPR. Between tactical and strategic networks, not all that traffic flows freely, requiring a communication bridge.
In Experiment 2, JMC’s network was used to bridge the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines at their home locations sharing a simulation to stimulate Joint mission command systems and display all the constructive elements of a warfare simulation across the network. The next step, Conner said, is a persistent experimental environment with the flexibility and authority to operate and experiment with systems without having to jump over the usual operational hurdles.
“If we have a network that is up and available, we don’t have to wait for a big exercise like a Joint Warfighting Assessment to see if message traffic can flow between partner services and nations,” Conner said.
In order to really get after the JADC2 experimentation needed to inform the future force, accreditation policies and other hurdles in experimentation should be modified, said Col. Bert Shell, chief of JMC’s JADC2 division.
“Right now, the majority of networks have a bureaucratic process that people must go through that makes it very cumbersome for experimentation,” Shell said. “An experimental network — particularly for capabilities that are at lower maturity levels — if we don’t allow them to come on a controlled environment and experiment, then we’re not going to learn the lessons needed to enable Multi-Domain Operations as quickly as we need,” Shell said.
To that end, JMC has started work on building the persistent experimental environment needed to assess JADC2 capabilities, concepts and authorities. JMC will build off what the command has already established for the network and continue to provide the backbone to connect the services’ control nodes.
Conner noted that once a persistent experimental environment is available, partner services and nations will be able to quickly assess if their new concepts and capabilities are on the right track.
“If the United Kingdom comes out with a new system and wants to make sure that it’s compatible, we’ll have that capability to test it immediately,” he said.
Another gap that will need to be bridged on our way to a JADC2 initial operating capability by 2028 and full operational capability by 2035 is a common operational picture. Experiment 2 showed that the services have not yet reached being able to see and use a COP, said Maj. Brett Gilbert, Plans and Integration Officer in JMC’s JADC2 division.
“In JADC2 Experiments 1 and 2, we discovered that we can invent a story, as well as play the marionette and puppeteer. The collective whole proved that we can pass data among the joint systems and execute a variant of machine learning command and control,” Gilbert said. “However, adlibbing and drifting off script we quickly proved that we were not as good as we thought we were. This was one of the major gaps identified, the script. Another gap was the common operational picture that was insufficient to conduct operations across all domains. Most of the service-specific COPs were only good at forming an understanding in that service commander’s domain. When attempting to cross the different domains, multiple COPs or command and control systems were necessary to achieve the desired effect. If JADC2 Experiments 1 and 2 were real, and there was a JADC2 Commander, the ineffectiveness of the COP would have prevented the JADC2 Commander from driving the operations process.”
Each service has developed multi-domain command and control concepts and solutions in recent years, and their efforts are gradually converging. As the Joint services continue work on their own mission command systems, having a persistent experimental environment will allow checks to see how well those systems can communicate with each other, Conner said.
“To reduce the time from sensor to shooter, we have to work to close all those gaps and get our mission command systems working directly together,” he said. “That’s the way forward, to get this joint experimental network up to where we can get some repetition in working with our joint partners as well as our multinational partners.”
As Army Futures Command works to refine what the MDO force will look like, these JADC2 experiments will help leaders understand the roles and responsibilities of formations like the Multi-Domain Task Force. For instance, in Experiment 2 there were simulated cyber and space formations to help commanders at either a MDTF or a Combined Joint Task Force understand if they had the requisite authorities to create effects.
“One of the things we tried to get after in Experiment 2 is, when you look at the all shooters, all sensors, all command and control paradigm that we’re trying to get after, what authorities do those command posts have in multi-domain operations?” Shell said. “Do commanders at all echelons have the right authorities that have been delegated from national assets to have impacts in the cyber domain? Do they have the authorities and tool sets to understand space and be able to leverage the space assets that are available to them to create converged effects? So, it’s understanding how to take those authorities that are held at higher levels and make them available to the requisite command and control node.”
There are several coming demonstrations and experiments where the modernization community will continue to push forward on JADC2. Project Convergence, scheduled for the fall, is a series of learning experiments that will, in a multi-domain environment, demonstrate artificial intelligence, science and technologies that augment human decision making to improve the warfighter’s lethality. The date of the Advanced Battle Management System Onramp 2 experiment is to be determined after being delayed by COVID-19, but is expected to happen in the fall. ABMS Onramp 2, led by the Air Force, will tie fighter jets to Army ground systems and Navy ships in a real-world example of Multi-Domain Operations. And the Bold Quest 2020 Coalition Interoperability Demonstration is planned for late 2020.
During the Joint Warfighting Assessment in 2021, JMC and the Army will be focused on several JADC2 initiatives. JWA 21 will serve as a JADC2 culminating event for units from brigade through combatant command. The way forward on Multi-Domain Operations will be to continue to integrate the joint and multinational services into the efforts, Shell said.
“From an Army perspective, we experiment very well with a lot of our multinational partners because we’ve been focused on it, but in many cases we’re trying to get back to where we integrate with our joint team better,” Shell said. “This is a venue as part of this whole JADC2 campaign where all the services can come in and experiment with our current and future mission command systems. It gives us an opportunity to synergize on that. That’s a good news story.”
JADC2 will enable the joint force to maintain situational awareness and converge all-domain effects faster. Though Experiment 3 has been delayed by COVID-19, JMC’s efforts to create a persistent JADC2 experimental environment continue. As the joint services and multinationals experiment together, JADC2 will continue to make leaps forward.