Digital transformation is never easy, but it provides a valuable opportunity to move away from manual processes and to automate key areas like sensors, command and control, and fires and effects. These advances shorten processing time on actionable information—something particularly important in the era of joint all domain command and control (JADC2). In addition, digital transformation helps organizations keep up with emerging warfighter demands and compete in an environment in which technology is constantly changing.
Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) has several ongoing modernization efforts to increase interoperability, situational awareness, and lethality to take on our near-peer adversaries. The efforts also enable the joint force to coordinate effects from all domains through the joint warfighting concept, connecting distributed sensors, shooters, and data in all domains. This enables distributed command and control at the scale, tempo, and level to accomplish the commander's intent—agnostic to domains, platforms, and functional mission lanes.
JADC2 demands a modular open-system approach (MOSA) that keeps up with evolving threats. Modular approaches and flexible, open-system architectures allow system components to evolve in response to changing technologies, threats, and interoperability needs.
MOSA facilitates government-owned and adaptable system architectures, such as Advana and Rainmaker, which have open application programming interfaces (APIs) and enable legacy data systems to work with current and emerging technologies. Additional elements may include:
- Decentralized data nodes to mitigate single points of failure
- Democratization of data
- Improved user experience
- NexGen identity credential access management (ICAM)
These elements make up a government-owned data architecture framework that allows for the governance and protection of national security data. This is critical because private industry cannot be expected to self-regulate to a sufficient degree to protect against hostile nation-state intelligence activity.
The digital transformation conversation must focus on bringing truly open architectures to life. We must move away from commercializing national security by avoiding black box and vendor-locked technologies. MOSA architecture is flexible and embraces all types of software—commercial off-the-shelf, open source, and government off-the-shelf. The DoD's MOSA Strategic Directive of May 2020 underscores not just the value of the software's interoperability, but more importantly, the data that flows through the systems.