WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s tech-centric campaign to overhaul military communications and better handle streams of data will not succeed if the human side of things is neglected, a top official recently warned.
Without the right people and without the right recruitment and retention considerations, Joint All-Domain Command and Control will fall short of its true potential, Director of Command, Control and Communications for the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall told reporters March 18.
“Data is the element that we’re pursuing, and data-centricity has three parts to it. The first, really, is people. We hardly ever speak of this because we are so focused on the second tenet, which is technology,” Crall said. “And then the third piece is process or policy. If you want to capture data-centricity, you’ve got to line all three of those up.”
The general spoke to media days after Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks signed a JADC2 implementation plan laying out milestones and defining who is responsible for what and after the Pentagon unveiled an unclassified summary of its JADC2 strategy.
Among the summary’s highlights is an effort to establish the so-called JADC2 human enterprise. The endeavor hopes to reform the workforce as well as address “the professional development needed to train and educate leaders to be proficient in operations across all warfighting domains.”
Joint All-Domain Command and Control — more a philosophy than an actual product, the summary suggests — would enable the military to take data from any domain and service and quickly process and feed it to the correct people, who could then take action.
“We must maintain continued focus and momentum on these initiatives and programs, which enhance department capabilities to face current and future threats,” Hicks said in a March 17 statement. “Command and control in an increasingly information-focused warfighting environment have never been more critical. JADC2 will enable the DoD to act at the speed of relevance to improve U.S. national security.”
While Crall is confident the technical pieces of JADC2 will fall into place, he is less so about the human element, meaning changes are necessary.
“I really appreciate the question in the sense that we’ve got to take a look at people as strongly as we do technology,” Crall said. “Otherwise, this enterprise, the JADC2 experiment that we’re going through now in attempt to delivery, will not be successful.”
“There’s a whole smattering of things that we need to look at that would attract the right workforce,” he continued, “and recruitment is a key piece of this because it directly impacts our ability to execute JADC2.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved the full JADC2 strategy in May 2021. Officials, including Crall, at the time suggested the approval would really get the ball rolling.
“Planning is good. Talk is good,” the general said. “Now it’s delivery time, and we’ve been given a clear signal to begin pushing these outcomes to the people who need them.”
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.