Military services ‘not aligned’ on JADC2 efforts, Air Force official warns

A network engineer at U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command, works on creating the Project Convergence Mission Partner Environment during a Risk Reduction Event in February at JMC on Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Koester)

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The various efforts the military services are undertaking to achieve a more connected way of warfare are disjointed and need more guidance, according to a top Air Force adviser and other observers.

The Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept seeks to connect sensors and shooters, and provide battlefield commanders with the right information to make faster decisions. But each of the military departments have their own JADC2 initiatives: the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, the Army’s Project Convergence and the Navy’s Project Overmatch.  

“Every service has their own interpretation of JADC2. The Department of Air Force is ABMS, the Army is Project Convergence and I think the Navy and Marine Corps … [Project] Overmatch. All different. I’ve looked at all of the documentation associated with all three. We are not aligned with what we need to be to be interoperable to be able to fight together,” Wanda Jones-Heath, the principal cyber adviser for the Air Force and Space Force, said Tuesday at the annual Air Force Summit hosted by the Potomac Officers Club.

“Someone needs to just push us where we need to go because we are way out here, everybody’s doing their own part. We’re investing tremendously in those capabilities, but we just need to take step back, we need some leadership to push us in the right direction,” Jones-Heath said.

Industry partners are voicing similar concerns.

“A lot of the capabilities between them are not matching up. We’re beginning to find that out,” Joe Sublousky, vice president for All Domain Command and Control at SAIC, said at the same event Tuesday regarding ABMS, Project Convergence and Project Overmatch. “I’d rather find that out before we get to actual conflict with a near peer or peer adversary.”

Sublousky did note that the best example he’s heard for how to connect data and sensors was from the Department of Defense chief information officer’s discussion surrounding data cloud transport from the edge.

“Those are the components that we’re trying to focus in on to help understand a better way of looking at the JADC2 capability and architecture of the future,” he said.

There have been efforts to better integrate the services in their respective JADC2-related events. For example, last year’s Project Convergence exercise included systems and platforms from all the services. This year, the exercise will also include international partners — both as participants and observers.

“It’s not only just data, we’re talking about sensor data off of our mission systems to ensure we can share it not only with our joint partners, but also share it with our coalition partners,” Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the Army’s network cross-functional team, told reporters in May. “Can they tie into our Patriot missiles and then share the data and then the best system shoot? That’s what we’re going to try to find out about the integration piece of data.”

Earlier this year, Pentagon leaders submitted their classified JADC2 implementation plan to Congress. However, lawmakers are still worried about a lack of coordination.

“The committee is concerned about the Department of Defense’s progress in implementing the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept,” the House Armed Services Committee wrote in the item of special interest in its version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Such items aim to prep continued legislation upon merging the House version of the NDAA with the Senate’s version.

“The committee recognizes the Department has made progress on JADC2 planning, but each of the military services has a separate effort to address the Department’s JADC2 requirements concept, and it is unclear what capabilities will be delivered to the warfighter, how much they will cost, and when they will be delivered,” the item stated.

The item also calls for a Comptroller General review of the initiative.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, for its part, has a provision in its version of the bill requiring “mission-critical effects chains” and an implementation plan for the establishment of a joint force headquarters that will be the operational command for certain JADC2-related capabilities, functions, missions and tasks.

“The committee believes successful implementation of JADC2 requires constant, long-term attention of the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the support of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, and commends them for their leadership on this issue,” a report accompanying the Senate’s bill states.

“However, it will take years to achieve universal common data standards and system interfaces across the Department of Defense (DOD) to support JADC2,” it added. “Therefore, it is critical that the Department enable interoperability and joint operations across domains, services, and systems by emphasizing experimentation and demonstration of novel kill chains that do not currently share common standards.”

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Advanced Battlefield Management System (ABMS), Air Force, Army, HASC, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Navy, NDAA, Project Convergence, Project Overmatch, SAIC, SASC, Wanda Jones-Heath
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