Senior leaders from across DoD arrived at the command and control hub for an ABMS overview and abbreviated exercise. All at once in a well-secured room, they watched real-time data pour in, and out of, the command cell.
They observed information from platforms and people flowing instantly and simultaneously across air, land, sea and space that provided shared situational updates as events occurred whether the information originated from jets, or passing satellites, or from sea and ground forces on the move.
Then, the group transitioned to outdoor tents to continue the exercise in a rugged environment, where senior leaders could also inspect first-hand and learn about high-speed equipment and networks that enabled the exercise.
Mission command is in part command empowering subordinates to act based on local initiative. Yet, there remains conflicting conceptions of what command and control means and what mission command even is. The military needs to reestablish a shared understanding of command and control.
The military decision making process is accomplished by members battle staff and participants from the different processes and occurs as needed. The output from this process is a division order. It is followed by a separate military decision making process that results in the commanders order for its subordinate units.
Command is what commanders do. Command and control is how they do it. Communications are the means by which they do it. These are simple facts about the nature of military leadership, but the fact that they are almost always used in conjunction leads to confusion about the difference between them.
In fact, command, command and control, and communications are frequently conflated, sometimes ignored, and oftentimes confined alongside a collection of unrelated concepts. This results in broad confusion about what the necessary elements of command and control are, and leads to people mistaking those same elements for the means of command and control (like communications and computers).
Command and control is a way of describing how commanders exercise authority over the military forces they lead. It can achieve a few things: First, it can mitigate, but never eliminate, the inherent uncertainty of war. Second, it is a way to manage friction, another timeless characteristic of war. Third, it allows commanders to make decisions based on an evolving situation. Fourth, effective command and control prevents surprise while enabling commanders to seize opportunities as they unfold. The degree to which command and control performs any of these functions depends on how it is exercised.
Digital Twin simulation system architecture integrating well-known simulation tools provides virtual testbeds for the simultaneous simulation of a network of different Digital Twins interacting with each other, ie, network of different systems, their components and their working space. This approach has proven useful for the simulation-based optimisation of parameters, system structure etc.
Digital twins allow you to access large amounts of data in real time. But you don’t have to keep all that data to yourself. In fact, you’d be wise to share it. Creating a digital twin network makes it easy to share data with internal team members, external supply chain partners, and even members of a warfighting customers squad. With access to the same insight, you, your partners, and your customers can collaboratively improve products and processes.
To develop Digital Twin Simulation with a smart connected product, one that hooks up with a network platform, just build it. Just piece it together. Throw some sensors on a product. Wire that to some kind of embedded system. Wire that to your antenna. Start sending data to network platforms. You and your organisation can actually learn a lot from going through that exercise.
While that needs to be done, you will quickly run into limitations on the experiments you can conduct with physical prototypes. Swapping out a sensor isn’t easy when it’s soldered in place. There might not be room, physically, for the sensor you really need for accurate measurement. You might run into too much electromagnetic interference for the antenna you planned to use or the pump’s performance, condition and environment e.g., temperature, voltage, inlet pressure, etc.
Key goal is to demonstrate the real-world value of the hard-to-describe effort in tangible, understandable ways. JADC2, previously named multi-domain operations command and control, relies on ABMS to develop 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.
“It is the core of adversaries warfighting strategy to gain an advantage in terms of their ability to affect decision-making at strategic, operational and tactical level. “The way we can counter that is through our own capabilities — call them ABMS, JADC2 allow us to maintain an advantage in terms of information.”
While modernizing command and control architecture certainly affects all aspects of the defense enterprise, which operates at the forward-most stages of conflict, needs this capability as much as any component.
Services need to vector away from current paradigm of warfighting and re-align itself for great powers competition, which requires a command and control capability that enables both the initial introduction of special operations, as well as supports the facilitation of mass conventional forces into denied operational environments and the broader strategic defense architecture.
Air Force has spearheaded critical efforts to upgrade the dated Department of Defense’s command and control systems. These efforts are better known as the Advanced Battle Management System [ABMS) under Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). In short, the Advanced Battle Management System aims to fuse information sharing across the full spectrum of warfighting, from the fighter pilot's cockpit to the echelons of maneuver commanders down to the tactical-level operators.
The critical factor going forward is to create a failsafe system that gets – and shares - real time information across multiple spaces and platforms simultaneously. Achieving this will remove barriers that can keep information from personnel and units that need it. For example, once in place, the new command and control ability will allow F-16 and F-35 pilots to see the same information at the same time in the same way along with a submarine commander, a space officer controlling satellites and Special Forces unit on the ground.
The reality is that this endeavor to create a centralized, data-sharing command and control system that supports a joint, decentralized fighting force may fall victim to the same flaws of predecessor command and control systems. This is inevitable if the systems requirements' determination remains at the strategic level, without end-user input in the system capability development process
Despite the recent on-ramp successes, highlighted by sensor-linking and simulated hypersonic missile intercepts developing a command and control system driven by top-down strategic requirements will not serve the end-users who will rely on its capabilities most in the next conflict.
Comprehensive information sharing, communication channels, and real-time mission data sharing up and down the chain of command is the warfighter’s ideal. However, operating beyond the bubble of battlespace supremacy will undoubtedly be the construct of a great power conflict. The department of defense has grown accustomed to battlespace dominance in all domains, and the next conflict is all but guaranteed to feature denied battlefields. The United States will not determine the time, place or speed of the next conflict, and it certainly will not have battlefield supremacy as in recent years.
Expecting a command and control infrastructure to meet uncontested is all but certain to drag the outcome of any Joint All-Domain Command and Control into the depths of services-driven proprietary requirements.
Past battlefield realities have inevitably fostered an increased dependence on technology. “Officers grasping for more certainty instead of comfort operating in uncertainty.” Command and control systems should not dictate or inhibit warfighting. Such systems should serve as a tool for decision making and enable decentralization.
By the induced artificiality of command and control dominance, the enterprise became inherently technologically centralized. As such, any effort to create a command and control system that replicates this technological dependence will place the defense department well behind the curve in any future conflict.
The Advanced Battle Management System needs to function as a tactical resource that fuses tactical components in a denied battlespace while providing comprehensive situational awareness at operational and strategic levels of command. It must do this without curtailing the battlefield flexibility of the tactical actors. In short, the small-scale connection bubbles of data-sharing for command and control are far more critical than the top-down, reach back data sharing, and the ABMS architecture should develop in this manner.
End-user requirements development: Even if they have not yet begun, the special operations enterprise is already linked to potential conflict with power competitors. Whether the command and control systems are prepared now is irrelevant, which is why determining requirements for the Advanced Battle Management System belongs in the hands of those who will need it soonest.
When escalatory incidents, liminal confrontations or potential for open conflict emerge from the theoretical and draw the United States into the fray, special operations will be the first to close with whoever the enemy might be. The battlespace will be a denied environment, and the piecemeal, individual-service driven mess of command and control systems will fail in the attempt to curb the potential for fire storms.
In a similar way, a command and control system built around strategic networks that fails to support the lowest-level, end user components of warfighting in a denied environment will be equally unsuited to the task of conflict in power competition.
In order for the Advanced Battle Management System to realize its potential as the all-domain control system for the future, special operations should drive the requirements for its minimum capacity. Additional capabilities and tailored, modular requirements to suit the greater defense architecture can expand the family of systems following special operations-driven proof of concept.
But to truly effect a modernized, capable command and control network that supports the defense endeavor, it needs to be driven by the end-users who will need it soonest, and certainly the most
The Special Operations Command has a long, established history of innovating against rapidly changing battlefield requirements. The Joint Special Operations Command has not ridden luck to the top of the global crucible of warfare. Rather it has adapted to enemies, environments, available/constrained resources to meet threats abroad in service to the national security of the United States.
The appeal of the Advanced Battle Management System as a truly user-fused yet decentralized, secure system of systems, which enables comprehensive situational awareness, is too important of an opportunity to be squandered by the malingering of services in dictating another piecemeal solution during budgetary squabbles.
Unique capabilities for complex problem-solvingAt this phase of development, the Air Force’s sibling services are either undermining roles and responsibilities in long-range, multi-domain capabilities or the program itself remains too broadly arrayed against the nebulous of what “multi-domain” is, or the ways and means of achieving it.
In short, other than recognizing a joint all-domain concept, the Advanced Battle Management System is no closer to bringing the fused capability to the defense enterprise, and all of the agile approaches to funding empty concept exercises won’t prevent congressional budgetary reviews from strangling limited progress to date. In order to ensure this endeavor is capable of reaching validity as a command and control system, the requirements generation belongs in the hands of the members who will need it to function effectively and immediately.
Special operations have exclusively lived the joint paradigm learning lessons from missions about effective command and control via an established joint paradigm were crucial for the enterprise capabilities to prepare for a global arena of rapidly changing threats. Adaptation, integration, and innovation have been the special operations special mark for decades. The special operations enterprise is less about doing spectacular things commonly, but they do common things spectacularly well.
Developing a functional, user-capabilities driven, secured battlefield management system requires a common-sense approach, done spectacularly well. Through these adaptive, exhaustively rehearsed principles, no component of the department of defense is as well suited for determining how the Advanced Battle Management System can support the national security architecture, and what this system needs to be able to do.
To make the Advanced Battle Management System work for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, the Air Force needs to utilize the Joint-force expertise of end-user special operators to define baseline system requirements. While plenty of interested customers are intrigued by and committed to the program's success, scope creep within the life cycle of program development is already threatening the system that could make or break the department of defense’s success in a great powers confrontation.
The challenge of restructuring these modernization efforts lies in the overall responsibility of the program's success, calling for end-user representatives from the Joint Special Operations community to become key test and evaluation participants, and given the preponderance of requirements determination to meet battlefield realities.
Simple, logical solutions most often resolve the answer to a complicated and modular problem. The nature of special operations as joint experts provides the defense department with a collection of experts who are uniquely capable of dictating what is needed now, and down the line, from a joint command and control system
Once that system is demonstrated to work at the tactical level and incorporated into secure domain architecture, it can expand to the remainder of the defense enterprise as needed on the strategic, global services scale. Development from the bottom-up prevents the failures of previous attempts at joint command and control and sets the Advanced Battle Management System up for future success across the various user levels of the department of defense.
- What is the relative priority for JADC2 compared with other major DoD programs?
- Have all of the military services embraced the JADC2 concept?
- Is there some resistance within DoD?
- The Army and Air Force have announced programs to implement JADC2; what are the Navy’s plans to implement this new command and control concept?
- What personnel, equipment, facilities, and training resources would be required to achieve JADC2?
- What is the estimated cost for force-wide implementation?
- What are the costs of lifecycle upkeep of JADC2?
- When could the network become operational?
- What role would AI have in JADC2 development?
- How much human-in-the-loop is necessary if sensors are linked to shooters in real-time?