Exercising command and control of battlegroups supporting fast-moving combat units on a far-flung, asymmetric battlefield is one of the greatest challenges facing the services. Units operating in a digital environment must have the proper Battle Command systems to provide the commander with a view of the battlefield.
The system supports the warfighting command and control and battle management process by rapidly processing large volumes of logistics, personnel, and battlefield information. It facilitates quicker, more accurate decision making by providing an effective means for force-level commanders and combat service support commanders to determine the sustainability and supportability of current and planned operations.
Success of the ABMS experiment ultimately rides on a makeshift control center displaying a digital picture of the battlefield that seems mired in the past, with operators manually watching data feeds, making phone calls to correlate information with other troops watching different data feeds, and producing endless PowerPoint slides to convey information from stovepiped systems to higher ups.
“It takes this huge staff to be able to come up with a solution. And if you’ve ever worked in a large organization or huge staff, decisions don’t happen quickly because it takes a long time to get that information together.”
The whole point of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System is to speed up that cycle, allowing potentially life-saving decisions to be made more quickly.
Digital Twin Simulations are mostly applied to the case where more insight is obtained from a physical operating product and a network platform. To improve the model’s functionality, the digital twin network is integrated with enterprise and shop floor management systems. Fetching contextual operational data the digital twin could predict how a pump will function under varied external conditions.
The digital twin-based predictive network takes in real-time sensor records about the working conditions of a pump and analyzes it against historical data about the pump’s failure modes and their criticality, and contextual data fetched from enterprise and shop floor management systems e.g., pump’s maintenance data.
A neural network detects abnormal patterns in the incoming sensor data and reflects the patterns in predictive models, which are then used to predict failures. This way, if a pump’s current configuration is likely to lead to a failure, the digital twin network localizes the issue, assesses its criticality, notifies technicians, and recommends a mitigating action.
Advances in the business of battlefield network connect potential means combat effects can now occur anywhere with widely distributed production lines near the warfighter, transportation hubs or for protection in case of attack.
The service conducted its first ABMS experiment, testing a total of 28 different capabilities, including connecting the SpaceX Starlink constellation to an AC-130 gunship, and testing a mechanism that allows F-35 and F-22 fighter jets to stealthily exchange data.
The cruise missile attack was represented by six BQM-167 target drones which simulated the flight characteristics of a cruise missile.
If all went well, a collection of networked sensors — some legacy systems that have been in place for years, some developmental and some never before seen — would be able to see the missile coming, and artificial intelligence embedded into the military’s command-and-control system would precisely identify the missile, track it and almost instantaneously present a menu of options to a commander who will chose how to defeat it.
“It’s really important on on-ramps that we have a healthy combination of successes and failures, and today really struck a balance. One major success was the first-ever kill of a surrogate cruise missile threat by a high-velocity projectile fired by an Army M109 Paladin, a 155mm howitzer.
“The fact that a very inexpensive, high-density round was able to do that forebodes wonderful things for point defense for the nation’s future base defense and national defense as well.”
“But that wasn’t the star of the show. The star of the show was that the data that enabled its kill chain to take effect was enabled by data going into a cloud, being transported over 4G and 5G communications at machine speeds, to culminate in a kill chain that took seconds, not minutes or hours to complete.
Among the suite of technologies that facilitated the rapid sharing of data were five contenders for what the Air Force calls OmniaONE, which provides a single picture of the battlefield using multiple feeds that are merged through a system called FuseONE. Another technology, SmartONE, is layered over the top of that picture and uses artificial intelligence to cue the user to potentially helpful information, like a major reduction in the number of bombers that can be observed at an adversary’s installation.
But one of the most critical leaps was the introduction of CommandONE, developed to send commands over the Link 16 network to tactical users in the field, but not all systems performed perfectly.
“We did have things go down on the range — different links — as we were connecting all of the different centers that were participating. “There’s a silver lining to that because that forces us to show we can reestablish those points.”
The system experienced challenges with bandwidth in the days leading up to the exercise. “What you’re doing is you’re trying to take things that were designed for an unclassified, optimal, cutting-edge technology, and then you’re cutting it in through SIPR [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] feeds, designed to be optimized for security. Those two things don’t match up very well. “We were having five minutes of latency in some cases with the feeds that were coming into here.”
The artificial intelligence software, though very promising, needs more work before it is mature enough for fielding, but it helped provide commanders formulate potential responses to the incoming cruise missile threat.
“With the artificial intelligence and machine-to-machine capabilities, it’s important to point out you can be skeptical of those capabilities, but we are less skeptical after this exercise.
“What we saw as it took a look at the threat over and over, it digested more of what that threat capability looked like and gave us a higher percentage of competence. “And so as a combatant commander, that is very appealing to get a system like that — that will learn and provide an additional capability.”
“When we did our dry run, some things weren’t working. They would literally run over, they break open the code. They then repackage it, they push a patch out and then the thing would work. And that would happen over the course of about a minute to be able to do that.”
“You’re taking cognitive burden off of the operator when it comes to understanding the environment, ruling out false positives and finding objects that the user has said that they care about. So in the case of this exercise, it’s cruise missiles. “It’s the ability to fuse those[indicators into objects, classify them as such, and then provide that alert to a human being so that they can make a decision about it.”
“Ultimately where we’re going is really automating that decision support to the user to say: ‘Considering what’s available, here’s what is recommended you use, based on an optimal target/weapons pairing.’ And that’s capability that we’re building right now.”
The Air Force could be getting close to more broadly fielding some of the capabilities featured in the ABMS experiments, such as the cloud-computing environment. But it will be up to combatant commanders to make the call on what is ready and of most use to operators.
Air Force leaders are very confident that multiple ... things that we demonstrated today will be transitioned to combatant commands in future. “We had five combatant commands sharing the same cloud environments, seeing the same picture, collaborating with the same tools, which is so much better than what we have today.”
ABMS systems will connect sensors and weapons from ships, submarines, ground troops, aircraft and commercial satellites to take down simulated enemy bombers, cruise missiles and unmanned vehicles. Systems will be used to enable location- and platform-agnostic command and control and information sharing.
The main focus of the events will be to prove that ABMS can enable the service to move at internet speeds as well as share machine-to-machine data through the cloud.
Commercially, that type of connectivity is ubiquitous and already available. Data on your phone is shared machine-to-machine going through the cloud but that is not how our military works. Most of the data that we share is via radios — people talking with each other and classified chat capabilities.”
During the first ABMS “on-ramp” event, the Air Force was able to demonstrate it could use a combat cloud to share information, including classified and unclassified data, without chat functions or human-to-human radio calls.
“We now need to show that we can do that on a broader scale and start putting data analytics and artificial intelligence in the cloud. The service hopes to bring AI capabilities that have developed machine learning systems to analyze reams of drone footage — to bear so data can be fed into algorithms during the exercises.”
Air Force also wants to prove that the technology can be successful across domains. While every service has unique needs, they all share a requirement to have information at machine speeds. That means not just raw data from a sensor, but actionable information that has been synthesized and processed.
The fact that the services “have specialized needs should not drive us to higher costs or higher development times. A successful ABMS program does not depend on every piece of technology working as hoped.
“If we succeed in everything we try to do, we’re not taking enough risk. Leaders want for ABMS is that we have about a 50/50 pass rate.”
While the service has taken steps to create an ABMS management structure, the authorities of Air Force offices to plan and execute the program’s efforts are not fully defined,
Critics maintain, that unless addressed, the unclear decision-making authorities will hinder the Air Force’s ability to effectively, but did not have access to the program’s classified work.
“That makes it challenging because if the technology that you’re moving forward, if a lot of it is in the classified realm … and investigators don’t have access or clearance to be able to look at it, then the report is going to be on just a very small portion of what Advanced Battle Management System really is.
There is a great need for a robust and agile ‘sensor-to-shooter’ network to meet the challenges of future operating environment with support for broad principles of ABMS, but there are several weaknesses within the current ABMS program that must be addressed before they can agree to the budget growth for the program envisioned in the future years defense plan.
Air Force needs to articulate a strategy for transitioning technologies that are developed by the program into existing weapon systems.
“It is unclear how the costs of fully integrating elements of the ABMS family of systems will be accounted for through their lifecycles across multiple programs without simply being handed down as unfunded mandates to individual program managers.
While Air Force has been making progress on ABMS, it needs to firm up the program’s requirements. “You don’t want to start pulling money into something to then just keep changing the requirements, changing the acquisition strategy, changing the expectations for what kind of capabilities it’s going to provide.
The service needs to solidify what the Advanced Battle Management System will be in terms of platforms, sensors, payload and communication links sooner rather than later.
One challenge the program faces is getting the other services to buy into the Air Force’s vision of joint all-domain command and control. “The question is, where are the other services? Because this is not something that only the Air Force is going to benefit from. There needs to be top-down emphasis on buying into the overarching concept of seamless sharing of information.”
If the other services don’t get onboard with JADC2 and the Advanced Battle Management System, there is a risk they won’t be able to connect together in the future.
ABMS is a high enough priority for the Air Force that it should be able to move forward. However, “it will probably suffer from a downturn in defense spending, flat defense budgets … similar to just about every other program.
FY 2021 will bring the “first test of radar testbed, expansion of multi-level secure tablet to additional security levels, first operational test of edge processing hardware for disconnected/disadvantaged operations, laboratory test of wideband radios and apertures, initial design of sensor payloads for attritable aircraft, and additional technology development and integration based on emerging technology and warfighter needs.”
1. Accelerate Adoption and Integration of AI-Enabled Capabilities to Achieve Mission Impact at Speed/Scale Objective
2. Initiate Operations Strategy Element to ensure State-of-the-Art AI Capabilities
3. Develop and Sustain the Enterprise Infrastructure Technology Stack to enable AI Capability
4. Deliver AI-Enabled Capabilities to Address Key Component/Automation mission Initiatives
5. Assure /Certify the AI Algorithms, Data, and Models Developed for JAIC Implementations
6. Deliver a General-Purpose Enterprise Cloud for Compute and Store Capabilities i.e., Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI)
7. Identify Common Niche Capabilities to Inform modernisation of Fit for Purpose (F2P) Cloud Application Development
8. Develop and Deploy a DevSecOps Environment that Enables Application Development and Accreditation at Speed and Scale Integrated with network resilient Operations Strategy
9. Modernize Warfighter tactical Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4) Infrastructure Systems product Strategies, Roadmaps, Plans, and Architectures
10. Implement DoD Global Enterprise Mass Warning & Notification (EMWN) Capabilities
11. Execute the Satellite Communications (SATCOM) control Modernization Activities Driven by Protected Satellite Communications Services (PSCS) , Wideband Communications Services (WCS) and Narrowband Satellite Communications
12. Define a Minimum Essential Set of Enterprise Data Tags Infrastructure Required to Make Data Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Trusted, and Interoperable
13. Improve Tactical Communications Waveform Export Processes and Develop a Standardized Method to Address CCMD Connection Requests
14. Ensure End-to-End Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) Interoperability at Appropriate Assurance Levels for the Information Being Shared
15. Rationalize Coalition C2 and Intelligence Information Sharing Capabilities deliver MPE Capability and Services
16. Ensure Command Capabilities (NLCC) Assured Connectivity Capability Improves Secure, Survivable Conferencing
17. Enhance the Security of the Supply Chain for Continuity of Operations and Command, Control, and Communications System (SLC3S) Communications Programs
18. Enhance the Delivery and Protection of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) capability Implement Modular Open Systems Approaches and Collaborative Modeling and Simulation (M&S) Approach
19. Track and Assist in Modifying Plans for Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Development and Production
20. Modernize Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) optical Transport Infrastructure
21. Enhance Mid-Point Security by Implementing JRSS and Joint Management System (JMS)
22. Build Out Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Router Network with Quality of Service and Performance Monitoring
23. Eliminate Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Low Speed Time Division Multiplexed (TDM) Circuits
24. Modernize and Optimize DoD Component Networks Consolidate Service Desks into a Single Service Support Environment
25. Provide End-to-End Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (AISR) Data Transport (DT) from Multiple Platforms/Sources
26. Build Tactical Relays for Sensor Platform Connectivity to Local Users and the DISN
27. Provide Global Satellite Gateways for Direct Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Connectivity Between AISR Platforms and the DISN
28. Establish Network Operations to Support End-to-End Situational Awareness and Proactive Network Management
29. Improve 5G Mobile Device Security architecture risk management Policies, Processes, and Procedures to Ensure Applications of Tactical Mobility
30. Establish Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) Multi-Tiered Architecture Capable of Sharing EMS Data Between All Services and Agencies at All Classification Levels
31. Shift from Component-Centric to Enterprise-Wide Operations and Defense Model Enable Global and Regional Operations Centers
32. Migrate DoD Applications and Systems that Cannot be Hosted in Commercial Cloud Environments to Enterprise Data Centers Optimize for Performance First, Then Cost
33. Re-designate Installation Processing Nodes in Accordance with Current Data Center Optimization Approach
34. Define and Deploy an Optimized Enterprise Voice and Video Solution across the Department (e.g., ECAPS Capability Sets 2 and 3)
35. Define and Deploy an Optimized DoD C2 Voice Solution Eliminate Legacy Analog Phone Switch Infrastructure
36. Improve IT Category Management Objective Description: Category management
37. Continue to Establish ELAs for IT Software, Hardware, Services, Telecommunications and security
38. Transform the DoD Cybersecurity Situational Awareness Architecture through Big Data Analytics to Increase Agility and Strengthen Resilience
39. Improve Endpoint Security and Continuous Monitoring Enhance Enterprise Perimeter Protection Capabilities
40. Establish Enterprise Comply-to-Connect Capability Deploy Insider Threat Detection Capabilities
41. Deploy an End-to-End Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) Infrastructure Implement Automated Account Provisioning
42. Implement Support for Approved Multi-Factor Authentication Capabilities Enhance Enterprise Identity Attribute Service (EIAS)
43. Implement a Data Centric Approach to Collect, Verify, Maintain, and Share Identity and Other Attributes
44. Improve and Enable Authentication to DoD Networks and Resources through Common Standards, Shared Services, and Federation
45. Enable Consistent Monitoring and Logging to Support Identity Analytics for Detecting Insider Threats and External Attacks
46. Protect Sensitive DoD Information and Critical Programs and Technologies on Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Unclassified Networks and Information Systems
47. Support Development of Consistent Procedures to Assess Contractor Compliance with Cybersecurity Pathfinder Requirements for Threat Information Sharing to Non-Cleared Defense Contractors
48. Strengthen the DoD Cybersecurity Portfolio Management Process Expand the Use of Proven Software and Hardware Assurance Methods
49. Implement the Functional Community Maturity Model for the IT and Cybersecurity Categories of the Cyber Workforce Identify/Target Work Role Gaps of Critical Need for Cyber Workforce
50. Enhance Cyber Workforce Recruiting, Retention, Education, Training, Professional Development Update Curriculum Requirements and Maintain Continuous Learning Capabilities