The Joint All-Domain Operations concept, provides commanders access to information to allow for simultaneous and sequential operations using surprise and the rapid and continuous integration of capabilities across all domains—to try to gain advantages and influence and control over the operational environment.
JADC2 architecture would enable commanders to 1) rapidly understand the battlespace, 2) direct forces faster than the enemy, and 3) deliver synchronized combat effects across all domains.
Communications, including digital processing systems, are only the means through which command and control can be accomplished. They are not command and control itself. That is a behavioural activity. Being clear about the precise meanings of command terms is more than just an excessive concern with minor details and rules.
Department of Defense needs a better understanding of the types and limits of command, as well as an appreciation for what kind of command the military is actually practicing, before it can expect to further modernize the force.
However, runaway acronyms highlight how the concept of command has been hijacked to justify other concepts. Consider how C2 (command and control) becomes C2I (command, control, and intelligence) becomes C4I2 (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, and interoperability) becomes C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), and then multiple types of C5ISR where the fifth “c” stands for, perhaps, cyber, or combat systems, Into this ever-expanding conceptual sea, might we suggest future additions like critical infrastructure, circuits, clouds, computational resources, and cooling systems?
Battle Partners benefit from a network of digital twins with enhanced visibility. If an asset malfunctions during an operation, your digital provider knows it needs to mobilise a team to fix the equipment. If your troops hit a target ahead of schedule, your logistics team knows it can pick up/deliver combat effects early.
Digital twin networks help you glean invaluable insight from your customers. By monitoring how customers interact with your product directives, you can remove underused features from future iterations or direct new products that highlight popular features.
Enabling an open, collaborative environment through a network of digital twins offers you the chance to transform engineering, operations, and everything else in between.
Key drivers are “big data” analysed using artificial intelligence; high capacity connectivity; new human-machine interaction modes such as touch interfaces and virtual reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world.
The model is powered with network data fetched from sensors attached to the pump. With respect to developing products linked to networks, we’re in the early stages.
But soon, some companies are going to want to sidestep development problems they’re experiencing. They’re going to realise months of delay completely undermines their competitive position in the marketplace.
As a result, those companies are going to want to adopt more proven and standardised practices. Virtual firing ranges with Digital Twins are not there yet. But given the rush of companies toward network solutions, you should expect the demand for this practice to only increase.
The Air Force is ramping up its efforts to test and field command and control backbone to seamlessly connect equipment and pool together its data to form a complete picture of the battlespace.
The ABMS vision involves networking every shooter and sensor to a cloud computing environment and using artificial intelligence to ensure that relevant information is immediately sent to whichever platform needs it. In practice, that could look like compiling data from a drone and a naval destroyer to help cue a fighter jet to lock its missile on a nearby target.
“There’s so many people in between information, moving between different nodes in the decision chain. “The idea with ABMS is that the people are no longer the glue. The information flows everywhere all at once. The people are the assessors, the analyzers, the feedback providers that help the analytics that are doing the pushing to get better and better.”
ABMS also includes hardware updates including radios, antenna, and more robust networks that enable unimpeded data flow to operators. Aside from tools and tech, JADC2 also demands a cultural change among troops must embrace and respond to multi-faceted battlespaces driven by information shared across the joint force.
ABMS will require software and algorithms so that artificial intelligence and machine learning can compute and connect vast amounts of data from sensors and other sources at a speed and accuracy far beyond what is currently attainable” as well as hardware updates that include “radios, antenna, and more robust networks.”
Battlegroup stock of radios and other tactical communications systems is slated for an upgrade. Through a series of experiments, soldier feedback is being used to determine what its future communications systems will look like on tomorrow’s battlefields.
The teams are pursuing different types of servers down to the battalion level to increase the mobility of the unit. Typically, battalions need to rely on a brigade headquarters, but integrating new servers would eliminate that need.
“The brigade would have to be out in the field for all the battalions to be able to talk to each other. This breaks that paradigm by moving some of that compute capability down to the battalions … so they can operate
ABMS will lay the groundwork of systems and connectivity through the cloud so the military services can use things like artificial intelligence to process information and deliver important information to troops on the edge.
We have very little artificial intelligence that would go to war today. We haven’t laid in the digital infrastructure to enable it. That means cloud, that means transport, that means software-defined systems that are adaptable.
The Air Force passed data back and forth with the Navy between two fifth-generation fighter jets using a translating link, it pulled in data from a low-earth-orbit satellite for the operation, it used a cloud-based command and control application instead of a local app and, finally, made command and control mobile by working from a tent.
While the Air Force has some big picture ideas of the products that will comprise ABMS — such as cloud computing tools, machine learning technologies and apps — it hasn’t set firm requirements or laid out exactly what products it needs to build out the system.
Digital architecture, standards and concepts: The Air Force is looking for digital modeling and simulation technologies, trade studies and other standards development tools and processes that it can use to map out the entire ABMS architecture virtually and test how it would work in practice.
Sensor integration: In essence, the service wants any hardware or software that will allow different equipment to share data. “A key interest of ABMS is the compatibility and interoperability capabilities through the use of open interfaces to enable improved control of systems and the processing of their data.
Data: The Air Force is also interested in “cloud-based data repositories” that could pass information across domains to the different services. These libraries of data points will be “meta tagged,” analyzed and then fused using AI algorithms to help inform military decision makers.
Secure processing: The service needs technologies that will be able to move the appropriate data across technologies with different security levels, ensuring that classified information stays protected while sharing what is feasible. It also includes deployment, training and support services for all devices and processing environments.
Connectivity: These tools include line-of-sight and beyond line-of-sight communications networks, as well as technologies that can turn a platform into a data node, reduce latency, provide improved anti-jamming capabilities or other functions that improve the speed and breadth of communications gear.
Applications: iPhone analogies have become Defense Department clichés at this point, but the Air Force is hoping to commission the design and development of apps to process, fuse and help present data to different audiences across domains.
Effects integration: These involve networked weapons that can be integrated with existing platforms for a greater combined effect. “This includes, but is not limited to smart munitions and low-cost autonomous platforms” that can carry out functions such as data relay.
Build it and they will come. That, in essence, is how the Air Force plans to get the Army, Navy, and Marines on board with its plan for a comprehensive Advanced Battle Management System to move data at machine speed across the globe — from subs to satellites, from aircraft to ground troops, and from ships to shore.
The catch? This vision is not only extremely ambitious, it’s also still quite vague – and critics in Congress are worried that ABMS, which is running behind schedule, was already too ambitious and too vague even when it was just trying to connect different systems within the Air Force.
ABMS originally stood for Airborne Battle Management System and referred to the mission long performed by the E8-C JSTARS fleet to carry powerful radars for ground and air surveillance, plus the technicians and communications to relay reports of enemy positions across the force. The data JSTARS provides is highly prized, but the aircraft themselves are old, lumbering and highly vulnerable. So the Air Force wanted to exploit modern electronic communications and miniaturization to replace JSTARS with a whole network of different sensors on satellites, manned aircraft, and drones.
That task is hard enough. Trying to pull in data from even more kinds of sensors and transmitting it to an even wider range of customers is going to be much harder.
But if the Air Force can get this ambitious architecture to actually work, it could become the indispensable digital nervous system of the future fight. By connecting all four services’ forces in all five domains of war – air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace – such a Multi-Domain or All-Domain Command & Control (MDC2) system could make possible new kinds of high-speed, seamlessly coordinated combat operations that would give the US a much-needed edge
The Navy talks about Distributed Maritime Operations, the Army about Multi-Domain Operations and the Joint Staff about Joint All-Domain C2. “The nice thing is everybody’s rolling in the same direction.”
“If you’re not established on this environment, if you don’t expose your data in an open manner, that you don’t follow the standards of an open systems architecture, you’re going to find yourself off on the sidelines and not being relevant to the fight.”
Today, troops from different branches can usually talk to one another over the radio, but that’s a slow and error-prone way of relaying detailed data like the locations of friendly forces and hostile targets.
The military has multiple systems for transmitting data directly from one computer to another – machine to machine – over radio and landline, but each focuses on a specific function, like navigation, logistics, or artillery planning, and they don’t connect with other systems in the same service, let alone with those of other services. All too often data has to be laboriously retyped by hand, or simply scrawled on sticky notes and passed from one staff officer to the next.
“We don’t have that machine to machine connection. “So that’s one of the other areas that we will specifically target as we build out this Advanced Battle Management System, which is really the technical engine behind our particular Multi-Domain Command & Control [approach], ensuring that Army systems, Navy systems, Air Force systems speak to each other.”
“The capabilities that we’re building and using, we’re actually designing into it the capability to snap together like Lego blocks, both our Air Force capabilities as well as our sister services and international partners to reinforce the requirement that we all operate on and work from a certain set of standards, and we’re continuing to grow those standards.”
Now, agreeing on a common set of technical standards is just one step towards building something that complies with those standards and actually works. Smartphones working everywhere they go, switching automatically from network to network, and providing everything from the latest music to real-time navigation around traffic jams. But that ease of use is built on top of decades of hard work and heavy investment in an infrastructure of towers, routers, servers, and so on.
“What we have generally not done in the defense tech community is a really focused effort to invest in all the steps that have to happen. “We want connectivity, we want artificial intelligence, but you can’t jump to an end state” without doing all the other steps first.
“The fiscal year 2019 budget request for the Air Force cancelled the long-planned Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System [JSTARS] recapitalization and included a small amount of funding in existing programs as a bridge to a new concept for comprehensive battle management command and control…the Advanced Battle Management System,” the House Armed Services Committee wrote in its report.
But the budget request provided limited programmatic details on ABMS. The committee is concerned with the lack of discernible benchmarks to assess and measure progress.” wouldn’t be ready before the aging JSTARS fleet had to retire.
At the moment, the Air Force has no program to build a new JSTARS aircraft and very little funding to develop ABMS. Now, there is a lot that can and should be done before dumping piles of money into building anything: the highly technical, work to define data architecture and standards.
Unless all five services adopt ABMS it will do little good for the Joint force, no matter how technologically advanced the system is. In building the system, the Air Force faces a basic choice between placing the weight of effort on the top, beginning at the strategic level and working down, or the inverse, beginning at the tactical level and building up. ABMS is more likely to be adopted if our service builds the system from the bottom-up.
When we say “build bottom-up,” we mean that this process of iterative experimentation should occur at the tactical level. The end users of ABMS—Joint sensors and shooters—should be the ones cycling through the new techniques and technologies that will come to form ABMS.
Building bottom-up also does not mean that the DoD should ignore the importance of sound strategy or the skillful pairing of strategic ends with operational means. The justification for building bottom-up is based on the virtues of building from the tactical level, not on any importance inhering in that level during the planning or execution of military operations.
The advantages of building bottom-up come from the checks and balances that such an approach would place on the scope and systematic complexity of future ABMS development. As with any good system of checks and balances, a bottom-up build anticipates counterproductive yet alluring impulses, and then relies on systemic solutions rather than any one person’s good judgment.
A bottom-up build requiring tactical end-users to perform experiments in the first place, would provide a check on this type of requirements change. This brings us to the converse—but still positive—outcome. Some early testing can reveal those things which must be addressed in the system lest they be dismissed by hand-waving over the drawing board during discussion of more lofty outcomes. The baseline features that do not work are equally likely to run the cost train off its track.
Another counterproductive impulse is the tendency towards secrecy. ABMS is so locked up behind classification is part of the problem. The more inaccessible the system, the less attractive it will seem in comparison to legacy technology that is easier to access. An old push-to-talk radio at an operator’s fingertips will seem more appealing than a new C2 system locked behind multiple vault doors.
Experimentation at the tactical level, where operators are less likely than senior Pentagon officials to have access to special programs, would make plain the trade-off between security and usability, forcing hard looks at what absolutely must be classified.
A final counter-productive impulse is the tendency towards service-centrism. Many times, programs are broken apart so that services can have more control and in turn more budgetary influence. One way of checking this impulse is to move development away from the Pentagon and out to the tactical level, where the only imperative is to survive and defeat the enemy.
The importance of widespread adoption is baked into ABMS’s founding concept. The Air Force intends ABMS to be the technical backbone of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), a new command and control philosophy emphasizing decision speed across all the domains—the Air Force in fact defines JADC2 as “the art and science of decision making… [in order to act] faster than an opponent.”
Widespread adoption is fundamental because, as long as people rather than machines are responsible for critical choices, and deciding fast will require the widespread diffusion of decision authority. The only way to make a lot of critical choices fast is to have a lot of people making those choices. If only a few central decision makers can access ABMS, decisions will bottleneck and ABMS will fail JADC2.
Often, new military technologies do not by themselves change the balance of military power. It is instead the widespread adoption and integration of new military technologies that shifts the balance of power. It is only when “a round technological peg” fits into a round doctrinal and operational hole that militaries become more powerful.
No matter the technological promise of ABMS, if the average tactical operator does not think it serves his goals, or he never sees it in the first place because the system has been placed behind a firewall of classification, the impact of ABMS on the military’s ability to coerce or defeat peer adversaries will be lost.
DoD is updating surface force for the information age by inserting the latest weapons, sensors, and command and control systems into weapons to field new information-management systems and networks based on commercially developed processing, routing, switching, and systems-management technologies to enable future sensors, communication systems, and weapons to support long-advertised "network-centric warfare" concept.
These program components address offensive, defensive, and offshore support operations.. Linking operations an integrated architecture of information networks for combat, command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) missions. The network will provide connectivity to joint-service and national sensor and battle-management systems.
A prospective provider can’t begin to map out where your network should be headed until they completely comprehend the details surrounding your current situation. Make sure the exercise reiterates an awareness of the following issues:
1. Do you have an existing network or are implementing one from scratch
2. How many users are expected to utilize the network and in what capacities
3. What is entire scope for your network, including locations and number of buildings
4. What your user profiles/ Priority Levels look like
5. What types of systems and applications will rely on network usage
6. Types of data expected to be transmitted
7. Level of security necessary for your specific operations
8. Storage, scalability and speed requirements
9. Impact on operations if network has an outage
10. Level of ongoing maintenance and support