The U.S.’ adversaries are waging a new kind of war with sophisticated capabilities that threaten citizens’ freedom of action and erode America’s historical overmatch in every operating domain. To counter this threat, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is transforming how it protects vital national interests with its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept. JADC2 aims to connect sensors, weapons, C2 systems, and intelligence data from all military services into a single network to enable faster, better decisions and more effective engagement against adversary threats. It will enable the joint force to converge effects from all five domains—land, sea, air, space, and cyber—and even operate in concert with partners and allies.
For the U.S. Army, JADC2 means developing new ways to increase situational awareness, interoperability, and integration with joint forces to connect any sensor to any C2 node to any shooter, to defend against threats and execute fires in a strategically relevant timeframe.
For example, the Army’s long-range precision fires (LRPF) weapons systems provide essential options in deterrence and conflict. But for even cutting-edge LRPF weapons systems to be a superior capability in tomorrow’s complex, joint warfighting environment, they must have robust “kill chains”—the military concept of the structure of an attack—to neutralize their targets. That’s why all-domain integration of intelligence, sensors, C2 systems, and weapons is needed.
But realizing this level of connection and coordination is complex and requires boosting the capabilities of current tactical Army C2 systems, such as the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS). These systems are bogged down by several interrelated challenges, including:
- Complexity. Current systems are incredibly complicated. Each system has its own data store, servers, visualization, and more, making them incompatible with one another and hindering information exchange not only among Army systems but also with other branches, allies, and partners. For example, even if information can be moved from one system to another, the receiving system may not have the right geospatial product to display the information on a map. This complexity—along with system architectures that tend to be standalone, closed, and proprietary—hamper both integration and the introduction of upgrades and new technologies.
- Duplication. Individual systems have traditionally been developed in relative isolation to meet too many requirements. Then when the systems are fielded, it’s discovered that many capabilities are irrelevant because they duplicate capabilities that are native to other systems.
- People. System complexity also affects human resources. Because systems are overly complicated, people have a hard time using them, and training people to use systems upgrades and new systems takes too long.
- Insufficient analytic capabilities. The availability of so much data has made timely, relevant data integration and analysis a significant challenge. One problem is the vital step of ensuring data is clean and accurate. In addition, current analytic capabilities are challenged to understand what data is important and what is not, and to prioritize the important data.
- Inadequate data visualization. Current systems lack clear data visualization capabilities, so those who need to act on data have a hard time accessing and understanding it. Visualization capabilities must also work with new data types that may show up on the battlefield in the future.
The threats of today and tomorrow can only be countered if the entirety of U.S., allied, and partner systems work as a unified capability. For LRPF, this means moving from myriad complicated, decentralized systems to a place where the Army has a cloud of data from every fielded system that can also be combined with non-Army data. And the command post computing environment that depends on that data needs to be scalable and expandable via software—not built on unique baked-in communications requirements and architectures.
In other words, what matters most is data access and the ability to move data to where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Realizing this vision begins with modernizing three components of Army C2 systems: connectivity, edge systems, and battle management.