The ability to make informed, fast decisions on the battlefield is critical for warfighters’ maneuverability, operations and survivability. The Defense Department (DOD) has been making strides to harness the power of digital transformation and data to build and improve communication networks and create decision support tools that provide commanders with information at their fingertips. This ensures that the information available to them is operationally relevant by covering all potential blind spots. The key to preventing blind spots is through seamlessly incorporating various systems into one operating picture. Systems and capabilities communicating with each other and working together to provide situational understanding will get actionable information to the joint force faster.
The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) is ensuring that CBRN capabilities and hazards are integrated into existing user systems across the services through its CBRN Support to Command and Control (CSC2) program. This will allow a common operating picture that includes both CBRN and non-CBRN enabling data and provides commanders the ability to integrate CBRN expertise and knowledge into all echelons to make informed decisions, regardless of whether there’s a CBRN subject matter expert within their ranks.
Led by the JPEO-CBRND's Joint Project Lead for CBRN Integration, CSC2 will provide integrated situational awareness about potential CBRN hazards to inform decision making. CSC2 will link sensors together to develop networked tools that communicate and share information to achieve integration of CBRN capabilities and data with existing user systems across the services. Sensors have various purposes like providing information on meteorological status, GPS, or can be specific chemical, sensors, or radiological sensors. Each of these sensor types provide a complete representation of the threat and additional sensor data analytics can be provided to enhance the data and or decisions. The interoperability of CBRN and non-CBRN data will help create a holistic picture that includes all needed CBRN defense information for commands prevent overmatch by our near-peer adversaries.
From there, the goal is for the networked sensors to be transmitted or “plugged into” service-specific computing environments and ultimately, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)-compatible CBRN Common Operating Environment. This will leverage existing enterprise Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) efforts to provide continuous and iterative delivery of CBRN defense capability to the joint force through a unified software solution.
CSC2 is executed through the Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) using requirements from the services and combatant commands. The program was approved to begin its planning phase in March 2022 and began execution in May 2022. The SWP supports agile acquisition development so programmers can rapidly provide incremental capability releases to warfighters getting them the tools they need, while still creating software improvements that can be pushed out as frequent software updates.
Rolling out an adequate solution while still working on improvements gives developers the ability to easily make changes and rapidly respond to real-time needs. The traditional DOD acquisition pathway, mandates that solutions can only be fielded after they are complete, which works well for defense gear and hardware that require different development processes, and often do not need frequent changes to be effective. Especially with the frequent nature of software and IT updates, the traditional acquisition pathway for hardware capabilities does not lend itself to the needs of iterative software product development. To adapt to these needs, CSC2 uses a modular contracting approach by using Other Transaction Authorities and indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity to meet agile software objectives of continuous development, integration, delivery, and engineering.
JPEO-CBRND had an opportunity to demonstrate some of CSC2’s capabilities and gain valuable feedback from the user community during a Warfighter Touchpoint in August 2023. JPEO-CBRND successfully demonstrated a proof of concept for transmitting CBRN sensor data from the field to service-specific common operating pictures. The touchpoint included warfighters from Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the National Guard Bureau. The demonstration allowed the JPEO-CBRND CSC2 team to gather value direct feedback from CSC2 end users, buy-down technical developmental risk, and improve their understanding of the path forward for inclusion into higher-level Service environments.
“The touchpoint gave us a chance to understand our next steps in developing the program and hear feedback that can prevent us from making costly decisions,” said Drew Murphy, Joint Product Lead for Integrated Early Warning.
While pushing iterative updates may be more amenable in a software program than with physical equipment, JPEO-CBRND looks forward to also incorporating agile acquisition principles across its portfolio, including in its medical portfolio. JPEO-CBRND’s Medical Strategy includes working to get safe, effective, FDA-approved medical countermeasures out into the field faster through leveraging Emergency Use Authorizations, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning technology, and other measures to deliver an effective and safe solution quickly, while still making improvements to the product. This style of deliver, iterate, deliver, etc. all within a short timeframe is game changing for the DOD.
“We are actively moving at the speed of need and breaking barriers in terms of delivery time, and staying ahead of the threat,” said Paul Gietka, Joint Project Lead for CBRN Integration. “This is the next step in our evolution. We are building a ready, active, modern joint force.”
The CSC2 Program is one important part of JPEO-CBRND’s larger strategy to transform and modernize acquisition, taking advantage of analytical tools and technology to identify and deliver the best solutions to the joint force.