WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense this week released a public version of its Joint All-Domain Command and Control strategy, offering a fresh peek at the Pentagon’s plans to revolutionize battlefield communications and data digestion.
The eight-page document, shared March 17, lays out definitions, principles and long-range goals while also pushing JADC2 as more of a philosophy than a technology, more of a means than a product.
“As an approach, JADC2 transcends any single capability, platform, or system; it provides an opportunity to accelerate the implementation of needed technological advancement and doctrinal change in the way the Joint Force conducts” command and control, the summary states.
Joint All-Domain Command and Control is meant to give the U.S. military an advantage, especially against the likes of Russia or China. By connecting disparate systems, seamlessly passing data and improving communication, the hope is to act more quickly and appropriately.
“This is about dramatically increasing the speed of information sharing and decision making in a contested environment to ensure we can quickly bring to bear all our capabilities to address specific threats,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in a March 17 statement.
The unclassified summary document’s release comes almost a year after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the fuller JADC2 strategy. Speaking to reporters Friday, Director of Command, Control and Communications for the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall said having that strategy in place over the last year has helped clarify the “end state” of JADC2 and ensure that ongoing planning aligns with that mission.
“The strategy laid out clear lines of effort — specifically, what it was we needed to accomplish and really those large bins and buckets,” Crall said.
Exactly how the strategy is implemented falls to the JADC2 Cross-Functional Team, chartered by the deputy secretary of defense. The services are chipping in, as well, with their own experiments and investments: The Army has Project Convergence, soon to include allies; the Air Force has the Advanced Battle Management System, which Congress and watchdogs have scrutinized; and the Navy has Project Overmatch, perhaps the most hush-hush of the bunch.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks signed an implementation plan March 17, which defines plans of action, milestones and resourcing requirements — who is responsible for what. Details on the resourcing piece have been been hazy, as it spans many programs and agencies and dips into classified areas, and Crall said today an overall price tag for JADC2 hasn’t been formulated.
However, the department’s fiscal 2023 budget request was informed by the implementation plan and will shed some light on near-term funding, he said, despite the plan being signed just weeks before the request is set to be unveiled.
“Even though this document, the ‘I plan,’ was recently signed, we’ve been in constant battle rhythm events with our leadership on where we saw this forming up,” he said. “We have a solid plan, I think, or at least a good recommendation, maybe, on how that’ll land for ‘23.”
Over the next year, Crall said, a primary focus for the department’s JADC2 efforts will be making progress on delivering two key minimum viable products, or baseline capabilities: implementing DevSecOps and a creating a mission partner environment.
The DevSecOps work will primarily involve working with the services to develop a number of common, secure applications and integrate them with the JADC2 network. Crall said the team will also work to redevelop and reformat “misbehaving applications” so they can operate within the network.
The mission partner environment is being designed to allow international partners to better share and receive information. Crall said the department has done some testing with partners around things like data exchange, security and waveforms. This year’s focus will be more on making sure DoD’s own systems are able to share data to partners through the mission partner environment.
Crall noted U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command have had some success in this area that the JADC2 team wants to replicate.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its NNSA — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET's space and emerging technology reporter. She previously covered the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force for Inside Defense.