WASHINGTON — The Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force will be integral in helping shape the service’s approach to managing data and developing data links, a senior service official said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.

“We got some decision from Army senior leaders that we will anchor our operational data initiatives to the Multi-Domain Task Force,” Lt. Gen. John Morrison, deputy chief of staff G6, said during a panel hosted by C4ISRNET, a sister publication of Defense News and Army Times.

“As we build out the all-domain ops center out at Fort Lewis, [Washington], for the Multi-Domain Task Force, we’re going to leverage that as the nexus for how we’re going to implement cloud in support of operations, competition, crisis and conflict. And then we’re going to push those efforts down to the corps and to the division.”

The Army, and military writ large, is swimming in a sea of data collected from sensors and personnel. Understanding all that information and getting the right data to the right person at the right time requires robust architectures and cloud environments to pass it securely.

As the Army will look to develop new architectures to its data, the lessons gain by an operational unit versus one participating in an exercise will be exceptionally better, Morrison said.

“Those operational pressures are going to help us shape our decisions and our path forward for data and then align it, and quite frankly inform what we’re doing with the unified network,” Morrison said, referencing the framework the Army officially released Oct. 8 to link its strategic and tactical networks.

A critical aspect of the Multi-Domain Task Force is to be in constant contact with adversaries during the so-called competition phase of conflict. The first organization, created in 2017, is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and is focused on the Indo-Pacific region, namely China. This means that its constant presence in competition should lend fruitful feedback for how to continually develop and progress data fabrics and architectures.

“We’re drawing up what this data fabric is going to look like in order for us to achieve sharing data with our partners in that zero-trust environment using identity management,” Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the Network Cross-Functional Team, said at the same event.

The Army is beginning to examine how to develop a common data fabric starting at the tactical edge, and it will then scale that bigger, Maj. Gen. Rob Collins, program executive officer for tactical command, control and communications, said during the same event.

One of the ways the Army is figuring this out is through a project called Rainmaker — a government science and technology effort exploring the concept of data fabric.

“It’s not just about code that’s being delivered to transition; it’s really more about the way that we think as a community about a tactical data fabric because as you just talked about in the panel, you need challenges from a network perspective in a tactical environment,” Joseph Welch, director of the C5ISR Center, told C4ISRNET. “The ability of a tactical data fabric to be able to persist through interrupted network states is going to be critically important.”

The Army is maturing this effort at the Project Convergence exercise this fall. It’ll consider what the core components will look like and the level of involvement from the government and industry.

“I think that Rainmaker S&T initiative has been invaluable to helping us understand what that architecture, that blueprint looks like so now we can start to translate it into the procurement phase” and find out where the commercial and government role is, Collins told C4ISRNET. “We want to make sure we continue to drive a common-reference architecture, open standards and a modular construct so we can rapidly innovate” and not be beholden to a single vendor.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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