WASHINGTON — The U.S. and the U.K. agreed to jointly improve command and control while focusing on data compatibility and lessons learned from the Project Convergence networking experiment involving both nations that wrapped up this month.
Director of the Joint Staff J6 Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien and Deputy Director of Strategic Command Lt. Gen. Tom Copinger-Symes signed a formal agreement Nov. 4, the Pentagon said Thursday, describing the move as a “step in achieving collaborative C2.”
The arrangement comes as Washington pushes Joint All-Domain Command and Control, the Pentagon’s vision for seamless, secure data flows across the battlefield, and London pursues its similar Multi-Domain Integration Change Program. Both strategies are meant to foster seamless connectivity across disparate forces, weapons and databases, no matter the national affiliation.
The links are needed, officials say, to counter technologically advanced adversaries such as China and Russia, and ensure smoother international collaboration. JADC2 and MDICP will be bridged via shared standards and principles, U.S. and U.K. officials said.
“I’m a huge believer in the strategic partnership that we have with the U.K.,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters Nov. 9 during a Project Convergence briefing. “The U.K. has been with us in all of our most important operations over the last 20 years, and I would expect they will be with us as we go forward.”
The services each have their own entries or contributions to JADC2, a multibillion-dollar endeavor now facing scrutiny from Congress. The Army has Project Convergence, the Air Force has the Advanced Battle Management System and the Navy has Project Overmatch.
Project Convergence — a weekslong test of technology in remote and demanding locations — this year directly involved soldiers from the U.K. and Australia, who brought with them an array of gear to test alongside U.S. assets. The U.K. Ministry of Defence specifically touted the deployment of long-range fires, uncrewed aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles and advanced sensors as well as the creation of a “complex multi-national network” used for information-sharing. The experiment wrapped Nov. 9.
Different scenarios, known as “alpha” and “bravo,” at Project Convergence focused on maritime issues expected in a fight for the Indo-Pacific and land-based challenges anticipated in a battle for Europe.
Defense Procurement Minister Alex Chalk earlier this month told reporters the U.K.’s participation in U.S. testing is “absolutely essential.”
“Warfighting in the future is going to require collaboration, particularly collaborating across countries, but also across domains and across technologies,” Chalk said. “This is all about making that happen, ultimately, to make sure that we’re more lethal, more agile, and better able to stand up for our national security and the security of our allies.”
The two countries fought side by side in the Middle East and have a long history of cooperation. British foreign policy is closely coordinated with the U.S. Both are founding members of NATO, as well.
Some 500 British troops and 200 members of the Australian Defense Force participated in Project Convergence this year, according to the U.S. Army. Observers from Canada and New Zealand were also in attendance.
“What I would underscore is: It’s a series of experiments, but we are each year increasing the complexity, increasing the scale,” said Wormuth, who has made digital fluency and data centricity her No. 2 objective for the service.
“Of course we want the U.K. armed forces to be as strong as they can possibly be,” she added. “The fact that we’re able to experiment and operate together here in Project Convergence, I think, will help us make the most” of available resources.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.