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The Navy Role in Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)

We previously wrote that the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is perhaps the most important program in DoD today. All of DoD will embrace JADC2 – resistance is futile.  The Air Force is the main architect, and the Army is gratefully climbing onboard, seeing an advantage to jumping in early and adopting lessons learned for Army advantages.  Meanwhile, the Navy has been doing “JADC2-Like” operations for decades.  Navy will make sure all their existing and future programs can operate in the JADC2 Environment; however, Navy is already confident that their existing “function oriented C2” can work in all-domains.  They have been doing it for years, constantly testing the envelope of various sensor-to-shooter scenarios.  Navy’s uniquely distributed force has always required this type of C2 environment.

Don’t expect a radical change in Navy architecture because of JADC2, however…. Navy is looking closely at their Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) and their Navy Tactical Grid (NTG) with an eye towards JADC2-like improvements.  Navy knows how to do this from decades of operating with disparate deployed, often disconnected forces.  NTG is a software-defined network-of-networks that already integrates C2 systems, sensors, shooters, platforms and weapons.  Used by both Navy and USMC, it enables C2, sensor connectivity, and integrated fires between distributed nodes.  Navy is always testing out new ways of doing this with unconventional means or nontraditional partners.  NTG will become the pillar of the JADC2 Joint Tactical Grid.

Navy is also leading the way on the Fires Concept.  Integrating Fires across DoD is complicated.  There are so many existing point-to-point solutions across DoD (especially in the Navy), fixing them would be expensive and time consuming.  Navy has a well-established Operational Architecture (OA) for DMO, consisting of networks, infrastructure, data architecture and tools and analytics.  Navy’s OA focuses on providing actionable information to/from humans/machines across both the tactical and operational domains. Navy intends to align their Naval OA to Air Forces Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) under the JADC2 construct.  Both rely on digital design, DevSecOps and prototyping and demonstration to ensure all the pieces that are brought along can still function as designed.

The Maritime Operations Centers (MOC) of today fuses platform/sensor unique data from various fleet units and processes the information, creating “kill orders” that can be transmitted to forward deployed Naval forces around the world.  Adapting to JADC2 may require some of these disparate sensors and effector networks to be updated or reconfigured to ensure compatibility with JADC2 standards.  Additionally, JADC2 should provide the MOC’s with better multi-domain kill webs that can cross all domains.

Navy and Marine Corps clearly understand the need for all-domain command and control.  The Navy’s existing DMO and the USMC’s Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concepts already envision this type of distributed network.  They must connect ships, submarines, aircraft, satellites, manned and unmanned.  They need to process information from a distributed array of joint, coalition, other-agency sensors.  And they need to quickly make decisions from all this information, while at the same time challenging the adversaries C2 capabilities and defending their own networks.  USMC is not well resourced to make great strides under JADC2, so they will seek JADC2 partners to adapt their capabilities to USMC needs.

Last month, we saw two recent urgent pushes from Navy that will inform the JADC2 project:

Navy’s Project Overmatch, by direction of a memorandum from the Chief of Naval Operations on 1OCT2020, recognizes that he is concerned that Navy is building the best OA possible to connect and enable the advanced capabilities inherent in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and orders Naval Information Warfare Systems Command to bring forward initial plans ASAP that would enable these tools and integrate fully with JADC2.

On that same day, he ordered OPNAV N9 (Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, aka: Navy’s Future Force Architect) to look at the unmanned developmental efforts and explore ways they can more coherently team with manned systems.  He calls this “A Novel Force”.  With the same timeline as Project Overmatch, he asks for a CONOPS to test, evaluate and exploit these capabilities so an integrated any-sensor/any-shooter kill chain can enable long-range fires.

JADC2 is already impacting the Navy by kicking up the pressure to integrate AI and ML and unmanned systems, and to improve the NTG, such that it can be used across DoD.  Additional impacts from JADC2 will be seen as current programs of record are either made compatible or expired.  Future programs will be required to conform to JADC2 concepts. This will result in welcomed Navy-wide warfighting improvements, especially in speed-to-decision making.

Other reports of interest:

The Air Force Role in Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)

The Navy’s Defensive Cyber Operations Solution – Sharkcage

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.