WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said he is encouraged by the Department of Defense’s push to align military networks and improve information-sharing between services, amid rising concern about Joint All-Domain Command and Control coordination.
“When I was in the Army, the saying was: shoot, move and communicate. Now, I think it should be: communicate so that you can shoot and move,” Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Sept. 7 at the Defense News Conference. “I’m encouraged by the department’s efforts on Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, which would be a force multiplier in this regard.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a draft of the national defense bill this year, recommended an additional $245 million for JADC2 and the creation of a related joint headquarters alongside U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, based in Hawaii.
The House in July passed its version of the bill, which included provisions for a review of JADC2 progress and costs. The Senate has yet to pass its version. Reed said he’s advocating for a vote this month.
JADC2 is meant to give the U.S. an advantage over technologically advanced adversaries, such as China and Russia, by ensuring battlefield information is quickly collected, analyzed and fed to the best positioned force across land, air, sea, space and cyber. Defense officials have painted the end product — a flexible and seamlessly connected military — as an ecosystem, not any one piece of hardware or technology.
“A critical aspect of the new National Defense Strategy will be strengthening deterrence and crafting new operational concepts based on jointness, all-domain operations and experimentation, especially with regard to communication,” Reed said at the conference. “Underpinning the department’s ability to transform the way the joint force fights in the coming decades will be its ability to manage and control data.”
The senator’s comments come on the heels of reservations expressed by both Army and Air Force officials as well as Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.
Of particular concern is how the services are coordinating with each other and if their respective efforts will coalesce to break down the walls currently impeding the sharing of information. To realize JADC2, the Army has Project Convergence, the Air Force has the Advanced Battle Management System and the Navy has Project Overmatch.
“Neither the secretary nor I are satisfied with where we are in the department on advanced command and control. We see it as incredibly promising, in terms of the decision advantage it can provide,” Hicks told reporters whom she was traveling with on Aug. 18. If you ask “any two people what they think JADC2 is,” she added, “you’ll probably get different answers.”
A JADC2 cross-functional team, strategy and implementation plan are meant to guide and inform the ambitious endeavor. Officials have also pointed to the relatively new Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office as a key player.
The office, led by former Lyft executive Craig Martell, is billed as an overseer, an expeditor and an enabler of digital initiatives, subsuming what were the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service, the Advana data-and-systems integration platform and the chief data officer. Hicks in August said the CDAO is “going to be really focused on creating” an “integration layer at the software level.”
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.