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Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2): Perhaps the most important program in DoD today

When our founding fathers created the first Army and Navy after the Revolution, they began a long tradition of inter-service rivalry which continues today.  The Department of Defense (DoD) periodically makes a concerted effort to force service branches to play better – together.  Usually that occurs after some great and unfortunate example of disconnected operations.

Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines (and now Space Force) recognize how important it is to fight seamlessly as a Joint Force.  The integrating tactics and technologies, however, have long been tailored to service specific needs.  With the recent deluge of unmanned systems, this is getting much more complicated.  The decision cycle (the OODA loop) will continue to shrink as future conflicts require decisions in minutes, or even seconds.  From this was born the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).   JADC2 will be the single DoD network – the one to rule them all.  It’s a monumental effort and the impacts for organizations and companies cannot be underestimated.

Cloud-like environments are essential if a Joint force expects to be able to share intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data quickly.  Single-pipe networks, with the inevitable interfaces and hangers-on, won’t allow data to get where it’s needed fast enough.  When everything is a sensor, and every sensor is connected, and even weapons (kinetic and non-kinetic) ride across the networks, it’s critical that JADC2 be done correctly.  As our adversaries perfect their ability to disrupt our access to this critical infrastructure, we see our military advantages slip away. DoD’s Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) concept addresses the importance of countering Anti-access Area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities and maintaining an all-domain access capability.

JADC2 is a Joint effort, led from the top.  The Vice Chairman of the Joint Staff has direct control over JADC2 efforts.   He has created three main working groups:

  • Joint Tactical Grid (Navy Lead)
  • All Domain Situational Awareness (J6 Lead)
  • Joint Fires (Army Lead)

As JADC2 moves from concept to policies, doctrine, requirements and down to technical standards, we will see each Service align their existing capabilities to the JADC2 structure – or replace them with new capabilities (maybe even some borrowed from other services).  Each service views JADC2 differently.  Future OODA posts on JADC2 will drill down on Army, Navy and Air Force, but at a high level:

  • Army is adopting JADC2 through their Project Convergence and it is the crux of their modernization strategy.
  • Air Force is developing their Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) which they will adopt to provide data across all domains.
  • Navy is adapting their existing Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concepts to interface under JADC2.

Much experimentation is currently being done to demonstrate seamless connections between the sensors and shooters from Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Space Force. It shows the promising impact of forcing Services to align their networks under a common framework.

It’s very difficult to assign a price-tag on JADC2; there are so many sub-parts, all funded under different programs.  But the bottom line will certainly be this:  if you can’t make your system work in the JADC2 environment, it will be phased out.  This will be great for Joint Interoperability.  But Defense Industries need to carefully look carefully at their offerings to ensure they will still be relevant.  Expect JADC2 to dominate all facets of DoD research, development and acquisition for at least the next ten years.

We are continuing our series on JADC2, coming posts will dive deeper into the efforts of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward (Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)) has over 30 years of experience helping the Department of Defense (DoD) solve difficult technology requirements. She has a proven track record of building, maintaining, securing and certifying technology solutions for use within DoD. She works with Industry to identify key opportunities and provides strategic guidance and support. She is a strategic analyst and cybersecurity professional who has deep expertise in improving enterprise cybersecurity.