Navy will push ahead with Project Overmatch, even without extra money

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The vice admiral overseeing the Navy’s implementation of Project Overmatch — the military’s concept for the future networked warfare — says the department will continue to push ahead on the project, even with a declining budget.

Initial projections of the fiscal 2022 budget show a flat defense appropriation. Taking into account inflation, that would give the military less actual dollars to work with. But that’s a scenario that will not impact the Navy’s most important modernization goals, Vice Adm. Douglas Small told a virtual audience during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event Friday.

“Where the budget moves in top-line is not going to affect how we deliver in Overmatch if I have anything to do with it,” Small said.

Project Overmatch is the Navy’s attempt to create a maritime network of ships, sensors, weapons and platforms that will allow the service to connect its operations and give commanders broader insight in real-time. And it won’t just be for the Navy: Any service, ally or partner operating at sea will eventually be able to link into the network, using the data-sharing capabilities to enhance their field of vision and coordination of operations, Small said.

It’s all part of the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) military-wide concept of operations where everything gets connected through networks carrying data from air, sea, land, space and cyberspace and artificial intelligence helps sift through it. The hope is that by linking together sensors and shooters, commanders will have more options and be able to converge different operations to achieve greater impact.

“The power of the platform is everything; that’s what we are trying to bring to the Navy,” Small said.

Small leads a team in San Diego building the technical capabilities of Project Overmatch. Those technical capabilities will fulfill the new naval strategy for distributed maritime operations and support the integration of unmanned systems. To build those capabilities, he said his team is working on a unified platform that will host suites of applications designed both in-house and by contractors.

“Overmatch is about connective tissue — we provide links and we provide applications for decision advantage,” he said. “Our job is to make sure that those links and those tools work across any part of that continuum of conflict.”

That technology will continue to be built no matter the budget, Small said.

“If you look at it by any metric, we have a lot of money, and I think what we are trying to do is go after this with more of an abundance mindset, not a ‘gosh I wish I had this much more,” he said. “What that leads to is we are starting with what we have, that’s starting with the people that we have, with the funding that we have, with the technical expertise that we have, which is eye-watering.”

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Department of Navy, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Navy, Project Overmatch
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