Panel: Joint Command-and-Control Plan Over Pentagon’s Domain Is “The Internet of War”

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The easiest way to see the Pentagon’s vision of Joint All-Domain Command and Control is to see it as the “internet of warfare,” akin to the “internet of things” available to every smartphone user, the technology chief said on Tuesday Northrop Grumman officer.

During a American Enterprise Institute eventScott Stapp said services and the intelligence community within the Department of Defense lack the ability to communicate through their own “cylinders of excellence.”

A shorthand description of JADC2 is providing “the right data to the right shooter,” he added, as well as “who actually makes the decision to fire that weapon.”

Marine Maj. Gen. James Adams, deputy director for joint staff requirements and capabilities, said, “We don’t have the doctrine that [would cover us] globally against an opponent;” the approach is now through regional combatant commanders.

JADC2 attempts to fill this gap on several levels, the panelists said.

Furthermore, the need for this level of command and control demonstrates that “it’s more than hardware. It’s the people; it’s technology [leveraging from defense industry and the commercial sector]; it’s the process and the politics,” Adams said.

From a technology perspective, to meet the JADC2 goals for 2027, Stapp said thinking needs to shift from being platform-centric to data-centric. He also acknowledges that there will be no major new programs between now and 2027. That means “duct tape and plaster” to make progress.

“We already have 80 percent of the platforms we’ll have to fight 10 years from now” in inventory, said Steve Walker, Lockheed Martin’s chief technology officer. But there’s still room to look at ways to incorporate smaller systems like unmanned systems moving forward to truly operate together and cover all domains in the future. “JADC2 will allow us to better understand the data,” he said.

Adams suggested that a starting point might be to have someone from the defense industry, an acquisitions specialist, and a military guy in the same room from the beginning to see how they can connect while trying “to get something militarily useful” for the fighters as quickly as possible.

Responding to a follow-up question, Walker said that “we need an acquisition path” for defense industry and smaller technology companies to turn a profit to stay in business. The question they have is, “how is this going to happen” inside the Pentagon and how it’s going to sit on the appropriations committees of Congress.

It also means understanding the limitations of technology now. Stapp used the example of artificial intelligence applied to a specific topic, such as winning the strategy game go but not being able to use that same knowledge to win at checkers or chess.

The industry “can sort of see how that fits in,” Walker said because it works with all services. This gives the defense industry a bigger picture of what is available, as well as what these systems, software and platforms can do.

“Services [and the defense intelligence community] I really don’t understand all the tools that the other services have” for the fighter, Stapp added.

While the policy “is paper only” and can be changed relatively easily, Adams said, “there is a manpower issue” in getting JADC2 to work that would require changing the laws.

He said looking at his contract strength, they are recruited “to fill a specific role” and the Defense Department needs to get approval on Capitol Hill for that approach to fill its uniform ranks with men and women who have “a very special background”, such as in cyber, electronic warfare and artificial intelligence.

These recruits would enter service as O-3s, along with doctors and lawyers.

Adams said “we’re a long way from” taking humans out of the decision-making loop. “The human role in warfare is immutable,” she added. Adams said he didn’t foresee a time when artificial intelligence and machine learning would replace field commanders. These advances in JADC2 will allow field commanders to make decisions faster and exercise “command control all the way to corporal [and] up to the commanding general,” he said.