Joint Force Coordination for Full Scale Operations

Reinventing C2 Systems to Support JADC2

Our adversaries are waging a new kind of war with sophisticated capabilities that threaten our freedom of action and erode our 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 an integrated 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.

As DOD moves to synchronize the joint force across domains to dominate the digital battlespace, it is crucial that it reinvents C2 systems. Today’s C2 systems were built by each branch separately, with unique and often proprietary data architectures and application programming interfaces. With data locked in silos, warfighters cannot quickly access information across classification levels and service platforms to create a common operating picture or link sensors and effectors for rapid action. This, in turn, prevents joint forces from powerfully executing multidomain engagements at scale in a coordinated, integrated way.

As the services build new C2 systems and networks while modernizing existing ones to connect with JADC2, it is crucial that new capabilities be developed and fielded—but not the way they’ve been built in the past. A new approach is needed. True joint operations at the scale and resiliency needed to combat peer adversaries require C2 capabilities built with a data-centric approach to connect systems across domains and enable coordinated theater-wide battles. 

Realizing Next-Generation Data Fusion

Modern C2 capabilities begin with the data itself. Today, vital data and information are locked in disconnected systems, sensors, and weapons platforms, depriving joint force commanders of critical intelligence. Compounding the problem, U.S. partners and allies also have their own incompatible systems and networks.

To share data across these legacy systems, network infrastructures must be specially bridged and configured, and the data must be in specific standards or formats. And data-sharing permissions must be incorporated for new participants. Achieving all of this takes more time than today’s fast-moving threat environment affords.

The connected operating environment of the future depends on C2 systems that can fuse and share data and intelligence in real and near-real time from enterprise to edge, across domains and countries. Networks must be flexible enough to discover and utilize data on their own, so that all data is usable, regardless of source, format, or original intended use. The path forward requires DOD to move from a network-centric to a data-centric approach, and it requires next-generation fusion technologies to realize interoperability and interconnectedness.

Consider this comparison of conventional and next-generation data fusion involving tracking aircraft in theater. With conventional fusion capabilities, relatively simplistic data from multiple radar systems on the same network can be correlated to show where high-altitude aircraft are flying. But introduce small low-altitude drones and commercial traffic to the battlespace, and data fusion needs change. If tactics involve reconnaissance or weaponized drones flying just above ground level, through the forest, or right behind moving vehicles, they may evade high-resolution, low-altitude radar, electro-optical infrared, or radio-frequency signature detection. To identify, track, and target these unique adversarial objects in motion, additional sensors are needed. And because their data output will be different from one another, next-generation data fusion techniques need to integrate all the different pieces of the spectrum, including data from nontraditional sources,  and to provide consensus and correlation.

Modern C2 systems provide the connective tissue to achieve this for joint operations. They ingest and fuse data from traditional and nontraditional sources—regardless of data type or classification. But bringing together dispersed data isn’t enough. Data analysis is just as essential. In other words, data is only useful if it can be acted upon.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) power advanced analysis to enable complex engagement decisions at scale and speed in support of multidomain engagements. At the edge, AI and ML catalyze computing embedded in sensors for improved object detection, identification, and tracking. At the server level, these technologies provide greatly improved data fusion for automated operations, including data correlation, consensus, and multiple-intelligence capabilities.

AI and ML can also be employed to increase scale and resilience. As systems become compromised in battle, these technologies enable data to use the optimal path available at the moment, faster than a human can comprehend. They deliver the richest data possible given the network conditions and capabilities and move data around the tactical network dynamically and intelligently. This distributed capability provides the scale and resilience needed to contend with peer adversaries pursuing multiple attack vectors simultaneously. 

Enabling Coordinated Asymmetric Warfare

New C2 capabilities are critical to empowering the joint force to meet the asymmetric threat of modern conflict with an asymmetric response of its own. The United States, its partners, and its allies need to be able to fight as a network to create a web of effects to deter and defeat adversaries in both the conventional and gray zone battlespace. Modern C2 systems fuse data and intelligence from legacy systems in novel ways to support military decision-making and enable interoperability and integration.

For example, in a conventional force-on-force battle, the engagement response is joint, requiring the on-demand orchestration of myriad sensors, platforms, and systems. Air Force sensors identify and confirm a target for an Army long-range precision fires weapon. But the airspace in between is congested with aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, and munitions from multiple service branches, each with sensors of their own.

C2 systems with next-generation data fusion capabilities provide commanders with a continuously updated, real-time view of the battlespace, including friendly force and adversary locations and activities. They also provide access to effects producers from other domains, such as the ability to use non-kinetic effects in conjunction with the joint and combined kinetic options. This orchestrated response increases the complexity of what the adversary must deal with, achieving joint force overmatch.

To further increase the challenge for adversaries, tactical C2 capabilities are dispersed across the battlespace yet connected through redundant independent communications paths, which enhances resilience. A cloud-native common data fabric provides the backbone for connecting disparate C2 systems, data platforms, and tactical networks. Open architectures and secure connections ensure data from diverse sources is shared, protected, and secured. And AI and ML techniques inform decisive action faster than possible with human analysis.

Solution Spotlight: Modular Detachment Kit

Booz Allen’s Modular Detachment Kit (MDK) is an integrated software/hardware system-of-systems that accelerates sensor-to-shooter effects by enhancing battlespace awareness, sensing, connectivity, and data fusion across multiple warfighting domains, networks, sensors, and weapon systems. The overarching goal of MDK is to integrate remote and local sensors, datalinks, and radio assets into a tactical battle management C2 environment to provide near-real-time C2 of geographically dispersed assets.

MDK uniquely addresses today’s in-theater C2 needs unlike any other solution, making it easier for commanders and warfighters to get their job done today while providing a robust platform to build out future capabilities. Leveraging modular, tailorable, scalable, decentralized C2 and sensor nodes, MDK builds, fuses, and distributes a common operating picture across the joint all-domain spectrum. It also establishes remote voice and data communications to positively control any military operation from any location. 

At Project Convergence 2022, the capabilities and practical application of MDK were demonstrated in both the maritime- and land-centric-scenarios. Highlights included:

  • Integrating data from multiple sensors, including remotely piloted vehicles, and injecting tracks and targets into the common operational picture
  • Sending specific targets digitally to U.S. Army Pacific AFATDS on classified networks for forwarding through to the mission partner network for fire mission processing at both the Army’s multidomain task force and fires cells
  • Facilitating network and cursor-on-target links to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA’s) system-of-systems enhanced small unit (SESU) team—the first time it’s been able to connect outside its system
  • Providing interface/message format diagnostics for DARPA SESU to ensure proper automated data exchange
  • Extending classified and unclassified networks for airfield connectivity

Booz Allen Is the DOD’s Joint Forces C2 Systems Partner

“Joint” is the operative concept in the digital battlespace of the future. Booz Allen brings deep mission understanding across all military domains and branches, making us uniquely positioned to deliver on JADC2 goals in support of joint force objectives. We understand the DOD’s emerging missions and challenges, and we bring to that understanding our expertise in advanced technologies and ability to deliver and field engineering solutions.

DOD is rapidly making progress across critical JADC2 priorities. With transformative advances such as next-generation data fusion, data-centric approaches, and powerful AI and ML technologies, the DOD can accelerate that progress to stay ahead of potential adversaries now and in the future.



Khalid Syed is a leader in Booz Allen’s global defense sector driving next-generation command, control, and communications (C3) battle management (BM) technologies through the firm’s Digital Battlespace platform.

Booz Allen can help your organization realize the potential of modernized C2 systems to excel in the digital battlespace.