The U.S. Department of Defense has achieved a basic version of Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, its long-promised vision of connected sensors from all branches of the armed forces into a unified network, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

“The minimum viable capability for CJADC2 is real and ready now,” she said Feb. 21 at the Defense Data and AI Symposium in Washington. “It’s low latency and extremely reliable.”

There is still more work to do, but recent progress on implementing advanced communication and information-sharing processes has made the concept a reality, at least in a limited capacity, Hicks said.

“For security reasons, I can’t say where or what that capability is for, but I can tell you it was no easy task,” she said.

The achievement is an outgrowth of the Global Information Dominance experiments, or GIDEs, led by the Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, or CDAO. The office revived the GIDE series in 2023 with the intent of advancing coordination across the military, as well as to get a better understanding of AI’s role. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command previously led them.

“CDAO and its partners have used a series of Global Information Dominance experiments to set a blisteringly fast pace for this work,” Hicks said. “Every 90 days we’re iterating on capability development and delivery, and we’ll be keeping it up in 2024.”

Future GIDEs will tie into the Army’s Project Convergence as well as exercises with Indo-Pacific Command, whose remit includes China and North Korea. U.S. lawmakers have pushed the Defense Department to prioritize INDOPACOM’s long-range networking and intelligence-relaying needs.

Defense officials want to digitally tether forces across land, air, sea, space and cyber in order to outwit and outmaneuver tech-savvy adversaries of the future. The quicker battlefield information can be collected, analyzed and disseminated, the quicker and more precisely targets can be taken down. Folding in AI and other pattern-recognizing programs to tackle tides of data will be critical.

“That’s the beauty of what software can do for hard power,” Hicks said. “Delivery doesn’t take years or decades. Our investments in data, AI and compute are empowering warfighters today.”

The Defense Department’s fiscal 2024 budget blueprint allocated $1.4 billion for CJADC2. Budget documents described the connectivity campaign as transformative to the way the military operates, especially alongside foreign partners.

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.

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