As the character of warfare shifts away from countering violent extremist organisations towards engaging with high capability peer adversaries, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is implementing a programme to update existing Command and Control (C2) structures.
As stipulated in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the US DoD faces potential adversaries who have developed ‘sophisticated anti-access/ area denial (A2/AD) capabilities’, including electronic warfare systems, cyber weapons, long-range missiles and advanced air defences.
As described in a Congressional Research Service report on Joint AllDomain Command and Control (JADC2), published on 16 November 2020, adversaries continue to pursue A2/AD capabilities as a means of ‘countering traditional U.S. military advantages,’ including the projection of power and ability to win quickly and decisive.
According to the report, JADC2 comprises the DoD’s concept to ‘connect sensors from all of the military services into a single network’.
“DOD officials have argued that future conflicts may require decisions to be made within hours, minutes, or potentially seconds compared with the current multi-day process to analyse the operating environment and issue commands. They have also stated that the Department’s existing command and control architecture is insufficient to meet the demands of the NDS,” the CRS report suggested.
In response, the DoD envisions JADC2 as providing a ‘cloud-like’ environment for joint forces to ‘share intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data, transmitting across many communications networks, to enable faster decision making,’ the CRS report described.
According to the report, ‘JADC2 intends to enable commanders to make better decisions by collecting data from numerous sensors, processing the data using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify targets, then recommending the optimal weapon—both kinetic and non-kinetic (e.g., cyber or electronic weapons)—to engage the target.’
To date, the DoD has commissioned a Joint Cross-Functional Team to consider multiple JADC2 concepts, one of which includes the integration of 5G networks. This covers concepts, policy, doctrine, and emerging operational requirements, all of which will be aligned with the Joint Warfighting Concept.
As part of the effort, the USAF continues to develop the Air Battle Management System (ABMS), a next-generation network tasked with the sharing of critical mission data across every domain of the battlefield in near real-time.
Concurrently, US Army efforts in the area of JADC2 and multi-domain operations are being led by the Futures Command and Project Convergence. As Asian Military Review went to press, the army disclosed it had already conducted multiple exercises demonstrating similar concepts to encourage greater access to joint and coalition networks.
Finally, the navy’s Project Overmatch supports the JADC2 requirement following its launch in October 2020. Overmatch will develop fleet architecture, supposed by machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous technologies to enable ‘Distributed Maritime Operations’ at sea.
However, it is the US Air Force which has been designated the ‘executive agency’ for JADC2 technology development in coordination with support from industry. Over the course of 2019/2020, the USAF conducted three ABMS demonstrations with partner forces in the U.S. Army and Navy.
In December 2019, the DoD held its first major JADC2-related exercise at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which focused on a simulated cruise missile threat. Comprising the first demonstration of ABMS, USAF and U.S. Navy F-22 and F-35 jets collaborate with a surface vessel; U.S. Army Sentinel radar system; mobile artillery system and space assets to collect, analyse, and share data in real-time to provide a fuller picture of the operating environment.
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