JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash.--The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and T-Mobile partnered to host the AFCEA Pacific Northwest Chapter October Luncheon to discuss enabling distributed command-and-control, Oct. 5, 2022, at the McChord Club Ballroom.
The discussion panel consisted of U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, the commanding general of the Army’s First Corps, and Army Chief Information Officer, Dr. Raj Iyer as the keynote speaker, and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John W. Morgan III, an IBM consulting/Army DOD account lead, served as the moderator.
Iyer compared the impact certain civilian companies have had in their respective markets to his vision of what he and his partnerships can bring forth within the innovations of technology and the digital transformation of the Army.
“You can go back to how Uber disrupted the taxicab market; you look at Airbnb and how they disrupted the hotel industry; I can go down the list, they all entirely disrupted the market with new operating models,” said Iyer. “For us in the Army, multi-domain and JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command and Control) is how we’re going to disrupt the warfighting market.”
In an overview written by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, the JADC2 is the initiative to replace the current domain and control systems with one that connects the existing sensors and shooters, and distributes the available data to all domains (sea, air, land, cyber, and space) and forces that are part of the U.S. military.
The goal is to move to a system that connects every sensor and shooter, providing the necessary data to respond to threats in an optimal way. It is a joint effort that seeks to bring in input from every service branch and operates in a bottom-up fashion by allowing for the transfer of data from one domain to another.
Iyer mentioned that near-peer warfare would involve division-sized elements, contrary to the brigade-sized elements that the Army has deployed for the last two decades. Data being shared at this echelon, between all domains, needs to be quick and in a distributed fashion; and is the key driver behind the digital transformation in the Army.
“This is now a whole new world, this is not what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years where we have gotten used to having some very robust, resilient capabilities in our brigade combat teams,” said Iyer. “A large-scale combat operation means that we now have to have complete integration of data in a distributed way, all the way from the foxhole to the fort.”
According to Brunson, the current way of doing things is too slow. He stated that the Army needs to improve its agility by updating its existing technology.
“It's not fast enough, we need to be able to see and understand things first so that we can act before the adversary can,” said Brunson. “A lot of what we talked about here today is about improving our speed so we can get to a decision before our enemy does.”
The distributed command and control concept is how Brunson said he plans to win battles in the Pacific. He recently employed this strategy during a biennial training event for the corps and division echelons known as ‘Warfighter’.
“This nodal concept allows us to be in the contact layer, to be present and distributed in the theater, so that we remain agile, resilient, survivable, and scalable,” said Brunson. “What this does for our Army is it gives it a command-and-control headquarters that's going to survive first contact with the enemy because we’re distributed.”
Iyer mentioned this new command philosophy will make us more effective on the battlefield, and more importantly, will strategically position the U.S. military to deter its adversaries.
“Let’s not make our adversaries feel 10 feet tall, because they are not,” said Iyer. “What we have going on for us as a nation, as an Army, and as a Joint Force, is that we have the best people, the best Soldiers in the world coupled with the best technology that will get us to the level of established deterrence needed.”
Brunson knows that people are the driving force that will solve this specific problem set and hopes this discussion brings to light what the focus really is.
“Moving forward, we have more people looking at problems that we’re trying to solve,” said Brunson. “There is an interested community of people with purpose that was just in that room together and all of them heard from the Army chief information officer and from an operational commander about what the future can look like.”