WASHINGTON — Senior officials from the Army, the Air Force and the Marine Corps said this year’s Project Convergence networking-and-tech experiment, going on now in the western U.S. and across the Pacific, should help allay concerns that the Pentagon’s joint all-domain command and control effort lacks coordination and finesse.
Speaking to reporters Oct. 20, Undersecretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Integration and Requirements Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote and the commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Brig. Gen. Kyle Ellison, agreed: The successes of Project Convergence, which kicked off this month and continues through November, show the services are aligned and not disjointed, as others allege.
“This experiment in Project Convergence is not an Army experiment. It’s a joint experiment. And it’s got full and active participation by all of our sister services, as well as our coalition partners, as I mentioned,” Camarillo said in a response to questions posed by C4ISRNET. “The sense, as I’ve seen it over the last year that I’ve been in this role, has really been a convergence of all of the efforts across the Department of Defense to get after this problem set in a very common, consistent way.”
Joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2, is a Defense Department vision of a wholly connected military, in which forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber are speedily and accurately fed the information they need.
The concept is a departure from past and present, times when disparate systems and networks operated by different services hamper the flow of intel. Quicker, tailored reactions are needed to beat technologically advanced adversaries, such as China and Russia, according to defense officials.
“We know that there are standards for data, that there is the need to extract data and to be able to transport the data across the battlefield in operationally relevant ways,” Camarillo said. “All of the services are aligned to making that happen.”
The Army, Navy and Air Force each have their own means of realizing JADC2, a multibillion-dollar affair. The Army has Project Convergence, now in its third year; the Navy has Project Overmatch, the most hush-hush of the bunch; and the Air Force has the Advanced Battle Management System, what Secretary Frank Kendall has deemed an operational imperative.
The different approaches, though, have led lawmakers, analysts and some military officials, including the Air Force’s principal cyber adviser, Wanda Jones-Heath, to publicly fret about coordination.
But Hinote, who helps shape the Air Force of the future, on Thursday said Project Convergence has him “more optimistic than ever.”
“One of the things I have seen in Project Convergence this year is the incredible alignment that we have on the idea and the practical use of distributed battle management. That’s an extremely difficult problem, and we are making real progress,” he said. “That excites me, as I see it move from theory to reality. Now, we’re not there yet. But we are well on our way, and we’re on our way learning together. I think that’s what right looks like.”
This year’s Project Convergence features maritime- and land-centric scenarios colored by threats seen in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. The U.S. services are participating, and, for the first time, so are the U.K. and Australia. Canada and New Zealand are observing.
Some 300 technologies will be put to the test, including long-range fires, unmanned aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles and next-generation sensors, with a focus on international connectivity. An Australian brigadier general, Warren Gould, previously told C4ISRNET the weekslong experiment will allow the militaries to become more familiar with one another while also producing critical information-sharing procedures.
Such an occasion is too good to pass up, according to Ellison. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory boss on Thursday said his team and others were “all in” and will maintain that enthusiasm.
“We saw the need to not only be joint and coalition interoperable, but integrated. And I don’t see how you don’t look at PC 22 as an opportunity, and that’s how we’re looking at it,” Ellison said. “We understand its criticality, we understand that we are part of a joint and coalition force. Therefore, any opportunity to become more interoperable and more integrated is one we can’t afford to not exploit.”
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.