The future of warfare is rapidly evolving, shaped by advancements in technology and the emergence of sophisticated adversaries with Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Traditional military operations have largely operated in separate domains such as land, air, sea, and space. To counter these challenges and maintain military superiority, the United States is embracing Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), a transformative approach that integrates and networks multidomain capabilities. In this article, we will delve into the critical components, benefits, and challenges of JADC2, as well as the strategies and technologies driving its implementation.
The Multidomain Battlespace
The future operating environment articulated by the NDS, the NDS Commission, and other sources describes how potential adversaries have developed sophisticated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. These capabilities include electronic warfare, cyber weapons, long-range missiles, and advanced air defenses. U.S. competitors have pursued A2/AD capabilities as a means of countering traditional U.S. military advantages—such as the ability to project power—and improving their ability to win quick, decisive engagements.
The evolving battlefield is no longer confined to traditional domains like land, air, and sea. It now encompasses cyber, space, low-intensity conflicts, and information warfare, including psychological and cognitive warfare. Adversaries exploit these domains simultaneously or in combinations, requiring a comprehensive response.
In this multidomain environment, new doctrines, strategies, tactics, capabilities, and training are imperative. Developing air superiority in a highly contested environment by 2030 necessitates a multidomain focus on capabilities and capacity.
What is JADC2?
JADC2, an abbreviation for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, represents a new approach to military command and control that seeks to break down the barriers between different branches of the armed forces and domains of warfare.
JADC2 is the linchpin in achieving an integrated multidomain response to the challenges of modern warfare. It involves seamless integration across air, space, and cyber domains, providing commanders with cross-domain options for rapid decision-making in complex battle spaces.
It aims to create a holistic, real-time, and networked system that provides commanders with a comprehensive view of the battlespace, facilitating rapid decision-making and coordinated action across all domains. JADC2 aims to empower Joint Force Commanders with the capabilities needed to deter or defeat any adversary at any time and place worldwide.
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) concept to connect sensors from all of the military services—Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force—into a single network. Traditionally, each of the military services developed its own tactical network that was incompatible with those of other services (i.e., Army networks were unable to interface with Navy or Air Force networks). DOD officials have argued that future conflicts may require decisions to be made within hours, minutes, or potentially seconds compared with the current multiday process to analyze the operating environment and issue commands.
JADC2 Strategy and Principles
The JADC2 strategy outlines six guiding principles for coherent efforts across the Department of Defense:
- Enterprise-Level Information Sharing: Improvements should be designed and scaled at the enterprise level.
- Layered Security: Joint Force C2 improvements should employ layered security features.
- Common Data Standards: The JADC2 data fabric must consist of efficient, evolvable, and broadly applicable common data standards and architectures.
- Resilience in Electromagnetic Environments: Joint Force C2 must be resilient in degraded and contested electromagnetic environments.
- Unified Development and Implementation Processes: The Department’s processes must unify to deliver more effective cross-domain capability options.
- Faster Execution: Development and implementation processes must execute at faster speeds to meet the needs of modern warfare.
JADC2 Strategy articulates three guiding C2 functions of ‘sense,’ ‘make sense,’ and ‘act,’ and an additional five enduring lines of effort (LOEs) to organize and guide actions to deliver materiel and non-materiel JADC2 capabilities. The LOEs are: (1) Establish the JADC2 Data Enterprise; (2) Establish the JADC2 Human Enterprise; (3) Establish the JADC2 Technical Enterprise; (4) Integrate Nuclear C2 and Communications (NC2/NC3) with JADC2; and (5) Modernize Mission Partner Information Sharing.
In March 2022, Deputy Secretary of Defense (DSD) Dr. Kathleen Hicks officially approved the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) Implementation Plan. This significant step followed the initial announcement of the JADC2 Strategy in June 2021. The JADC2 Cross-Functional Team (CFT), led by the DSD, has been tasked with overseeing the execution of this strategy and the accompanying Implementation Plan.
While the JADC2 Implementation Plan remains classified, it serves as a comprehensive document outlining the specific actions, milestones, and resource requirements essential for the successful realization of JADC2 capabilities. Moreover, it clearly delineates the responsible organizations entrusted with the delivery of these critical capabilities.
LOE 3, or Line of Effort 3, within the JADC2 strategy, focuses on establishing the JADC2 Technical Enterprise.
This effort encompasses several critical aspects:
- Enhanced Situational Awareness: LOE 3 aims to improve the shared situational awareness among all relevant parties involved in Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). This includes ensuring that decision-makers have access to real-time information about the operating environment.
- Global Collaboration: It addresses both synchronous and asynchronous global collaboration, enabling seamless communication and cooperation among military forces and partners worldwide.
- Strategic and Operational Joint Planning: LOE 3 involves facilitating strategic and operational joint planning to enhance the effectiveness of military operations across domains.
- Real-time Force Visualization and Management: This effort focuses on providing real-time global force visualization and management capabilities, allowing commanders to monitor and control forces efficiently.
- Predictive Force Readiness and Logistics: LOE 3 aims to enhance predictive capabilities related to force readiness and logistics, enabling more efficient planning and resource allocation.
- Real-time Synchronization: It emphasizes the importance of real-time synchronization of activities and operations across domains and forces.
- Integration of Kinetic and Non-Kinetic Capabilities: This line of effort seeks to integrate both kinetic (e.g., traditional weaponry) and non-kinetic (e.g., cyber and electronic warfare) capabilities into JADC2 operations.
- Assessment of Joint Force and Mission Partner Performance: LOE 3 includes mechanisms for assessing the performance of Joint Force and mission partner operations, enabling continuous improvement and optimization.
Overall, LOE 3 recognizes the critical role of secure and resilient worldwide communications networks with ample speed and bandwidth to meet the needs of warfighting commands. The goal is to establish a robust transport infrastructure within the JADC2 ecosystem that ensures continuous Command and Control (C2) capability while addressing challenges such as cyber threats, multi-level security, and the elimination of single points of failure. These advanced technologies will significantly enhance commanders’ ability to manage and oversee Joint Force and mission partner actions across all domains, even in contested electromagnetic environments.
Key Components of JADC2
- Coherent Approach: JADC2 offers a coherent approach to enhance Joint Force Command and Control (C2) capabilities. It facilitates the ability to sense, make sense, and act across all levels and phases of war, domains, and with partner forces, delivering information advantage at the speed of relevance.
- Data Fusion and Sharing: JADC2 relies heavily on the collection and integration of vast amounts of data from various sources, including sensors, satellites, drones, and ground-based systems. This data is then processed and shared in real-time, allowing commanders to have a complete understanding of the operational environment.
- Advanced Analytics: With the aid of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), JADC2 can analyze data rapidly, identifying patterns, anomalies, and potential threats. This capability not only speeds up decision-making but also enhances the accuracy of assessments.
- Networked Communication: JADC2 establishes a robust communication network that connects military assets across all domains, ensuring seamless and secure information sharing. This network is designed to withstand cyber threats and ensure reliable connectivity even in challenging environments.
- Interoperability: JADC2 bridges the gap between previously incompatible military service networks. It enables data sharing and communication across all military branches, ensuring rapid decision-making, even in time-sensitive situations. It involves standardizing communication protocols, data formats, and interfaces to ensure that different systems can work together smoothly. Interoperability is crucial for joint operations involving multiple services and allies.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: JADC2 optimizes resource utilization, streamlining coordination and reducing redundancies, ultimately resulting in cost savings.
Benefits of JADC2
- Enhanced Situational Awareness: JADC2 provides commanders with a real-time, 360-degree view of the battlespace, enabling them to make informed decisions quickly.
- Rapid Decision-Making: By automating data analysis and facilitating communication, JADC2 reduces the decision-making timeline, giving military leaders the agility to respond to rapidly changing situations.
- Efficiency and Resource Optimization: JADC2 optimizes the use of resources by improving coordination and reducing redundancies, ultimately leading to cost savings.
- Reduced Risk: With better situational awareness and faster decision-making, the risk to military personnel can be minimized, resulting in safer operations.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: JADC2 is adaptable to a wide range of military operations, from conventional warfare to asymmetric threats and humanitarian assistance missions.
DOD Lines of Effort in Pursuit of JADC2:
- Service-Specific Programs: Each military service, such as the Navy with Project Overmatch and the Army with Project Convergence, is independently funding and advancing its JADC2 initiatives. These programs aim to integrate previously isolated systems into a unified joint battle management network, fostering next-generation capabilities.
- DOD Joint Cross-Functional Team: The Department of Defense leads a Joint Cross-Functional Team composed of representatives from the DOD Chief Information Officer, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. This team explores and evolves the JADC2 concept.
- Joint Staff Leadership: The Joint Staff is taking a lead role in transitioning JADC2 from a concept into tangible policies, doctrines, requirements, and overarching research and development strategies. The Air Force is designated as the executive agent for JADC2 technology development under its guidance.
- Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS): The Air Force is spearheading the implementation of JADC2 through ABMS. This network is designed to facilitate data sharing across all domains, contributing to DOD support during events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple ABMS demonstrations have been conducted to showcase its capabilities.
- Army’s Network Modernization: The Army has identified network modernization as a crucial element for enabling multidomain operations and is actively developing the JADC2 concept. Project Convergence, as part of Army Futures Command, conducts experiments demonstrating the Army’s ability to provide access to joint and coalition networks.
- Navy and Marine Corps’ All-Domain Command and Control: The Navy and Marine Corps emphasize all-domain command and control through concepts like Distributed Maritime Operations and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations. Their plans involve creating a distributed network connecting various assets, including ships, submarines, aircraft, and satellites, to enhance sensor-to-shooter capabilities while challenging adversary targeting.
- DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare: DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare initiatives leverage artificial intelligence to integrate and operate systems and networks that traditionally didn’t interact. These projects convert raw intelligence into actionable information for cyber-weapons, electronic jammers, missiles, aircraft, or other weapons. Additionally, DARPA’s software automates airspace deconfliction, improving the tracking and communication of air assets, thereby aiding commanders.
These efforts collectively aim to advance the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept, enhancing the military’s ability to operate effectively across all domains and in complex, contested environments.
Challenges and Considerations
The challenges with operationalizing this concept reside in three domains: technical, policy, and human. In the technical domain, MDC2 systems must have a network that supports the exchange of ‘big data’, removes stove-piped data streams, and improves interoperability. Further, we must be able to identify and remove policy barriers to interoperability to shorten the time from data to decision. Last, in the human domain, command authorities must be established and easily delegated to the tactical level so that those with tactical control (TACON) can produce effects across domains, in real-time.
While JADC2 offers significant advantages, its implementation faces various challenges:
- Cybersecurity: As reliance on digital systems increases, the vulnerability to cyberattacks also rises. Protecting JADC2 networks from cyber threats is a critical concern.
- Interoperability: Achieving full interoperability among various systems and platforms can be a complex and time-consuming process.
- Resource Requirements: Implementing JADC2 requires significant investments in technology, training, and infrastructure.
- Ethical and Legal Issues: The use of AI and advanced technologies in warfare raises ethical and legal questions, such as those related to autonomous weapons and civilian casualties.
Technologies Enabling JADC2
JADC2-Enabling Technologies are crucial components of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept, aimed at improving military command and control. These technologies can be summarized as follows:
- Automation and Artificial Intelligence: JADC2 relies on automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to process vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently. By using predictive analytics, machine learning, and AI algorithms, JADC2 enables the Joint Force to sense, make sense, and act upon information in real-time. This approach enhances decision-making capabilities and is supported by a resilient and robust network environment.
- Cloud-like Environment: JADC2 envisions creating a cloud-like environment that facilitates the sharing of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data across multiple communication networks. This data sharing aims to accelerate decision-making processes by collecting information from various sensors and applying AI algorithms to identify targets. Additionally, JADC2 recommends the most appropriate weapons, including both kinetic and non-kinetic options, such as cyber or electronic warfare, to engage identified targets.
- Communications: To fully realize JADC2, the Department of Defense (DOD) recognizes the need for new communication methods. The current communication network, optimized for Middle East operations, faces challenges like latency and susceptibility to electronic warfare. The reliance on satellites in geosynchronous orbits has limitations. The introduction of advanced technologies like AI and the deployment of autonomous systems require secure and low-latency communication methods to maintain control effectively.
- 5G Technologies: DOD sees potential in leveraging commercial advances in 5G wireless technologies. 5G offers increased data throughput and reduced latency, which are essential for processing large volumes of data from various sensors. These technologies can support data processing at the “edge,” meaning data processing occurs closer to where it’s collected, enhancing speed and responsiveness.
- Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: The electromagnetic spectrum is becoming more congested, leading to interference in communication systems. To address this challenge, DOD is exploring dynamic spectrum sharing, allowing multiple users to operate on the same frequency band. This technology aims to enable communication systems to transmit and receive data even in the presence of interference, further enhancing the resilience and effectiveness of JADC2 communications.
In summary, JADC2-Enabling Technologies encompass automation, AI, cloud-like environments for data sharing, advanced communication methods, 5G technologies, and dynamic spectrum sharing. These technologies are essential for realizing the full potential of the JADC2 concept, improving command and control capabilities across all domains and ensuring the military’s ability to operate effectively in complex and contested environments.
Air Force Seeks White Papers for Multi-Domain Aerial Warfighting Network R&D
The U.S. Air Force is soliciting white papers from the industry for a potential $24.9 million research and development program. This initiative aims to explore, develop, integrate, and test innovative technologies and techniques that enhance data transmission and networking capabilities for aerial platforms.
The primary goal of this program is to create a transportable, adaptable network capable of communicating with air, space, or ground assets in various scenarios. This network, designed for beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) communication, can be swiftly deployed and relocated within designated battle spaces, providing the military with a reliable and secure global communications network. It offers flexibility to tailor communication and network solutions for specific regions, missions, or technologies.
The program has four key focus areas:
- Agile Aerial Network Architecture: Develop multi-domain network architectures that support self-organizing and self-healing autonomous data routing and dissemination. Create cross-Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) layer network communications paradigms for mobile networks that adapt to operational environments and mission requirements. Demonstrate cooperative wireless network communications for robust connectivity.
- Information Transport Performance Management: Develop communication management capabilities to support Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) network and information system resources. Create information management algorithms for dynamic data requests from multiple ISR sensors, improving target detection and tracking. Develop mission-based priority schemes and assured information delivery techniques, along with performance metrics.
- Integration and Interoperability with the Global Information Grid (GIG): Integrate new communications resources into ISR platforms to enhance communication capabilities. Study ISR collection planning and tasking techniques, ensuring they align with operational constraints. Address Concepts of Operation (CONOPS) issues related to ISR platform interoperability and conduct airborne flight experiments.
- Multi-Domain Aerial Networking: Develop methods for cross-tactical data network (TDN) and tactical data link (TDL) message passing at the tactical edge. Create methods for passing metadata between TDNs and TDLs. Conduct modeling, simulation, and in-flight experiments to quantify improvements in mission metrics resulting from advances in multi-domain data sharing.
These efforts aim to expand the Global Information Grid (GIG) to connect the Air, Space, and Terrestrial domains, delivering timely, reliable, and actionable information to support Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Additionally, the program aligns with Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) experimentation, where DOD has conducted exercises to demonstrate real-time data collection, analysis, and sharing across various military assets to enhance the overall understanding of operating environments and improve command and control capabilities.
Leading defense contractors, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and L3Harris Technologies, are collaborating with the military to develop JADC2 capabilities. Open-architecture command and control is central to JADC2, ensuring that data ownership remains with the services and fostering interoperability among different systems and domains.
Industry partnerships in the development of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) technologies focus on several critical areas:
- Data Handling and Storage: Industry and service leaders are interested in technologies for effective data handling and storage mechanisms. This includes the ability to create information from data and ensure secure storage of vast amounts of information.
- Information Integration: The industry is working on connecting various platforms to enable seamless communication and data sharing. Similar to how applications on a cellphone can interact, services aim to have different systems “talk” to each other and share information efficiently.
- Non-Kinetic Effects: Companies like Raytheon are developing applications to help commanders understand non-kinetic effects of battle, such as cyberspace. This involves merging kinetic and non-kinetic aspects into a unified operational environment.
- Information Sharing: Speed of information is crucial in modern warfare. Industry partners are working on technologies to ensure that the right information reaches the right person quickly and can be shared across the entire network effectively.
- Multi-Domain Collaboration: Industry leaders, including Lockheed Martin, are working on creating dynamic networks that link space-based, aerial, maritime, and ground assets. The goal is to enable collaborative engagements and create multiple challenges for adversaries.
- Enabling Technologies: Key enabling technologies include open-system architecture, automation, and machine-to-machine communication. Companies are ensuring that these technologies are mature and adaptable for various Air Force applications.
- Secure Communication: Companies like Harris Corporation are developing highly jam-resistant and hard-to-detect modems and waveforms. This technology allows forces on the ground, in the air, and in space to communicate seamlessly while remaining undetected and unjammed.
- War Games and Demonstrations: Lockheed Martin conducted a war game on multi-domain Command and Control (C2) to inform the Air Force and ECCT team. These exercises showcase capabilities such as coordinated planning, unburdening pilots with software applications, automatic communications pathfinding, machine learning for target identification, and machine-generated recommendations for commanders.
- Open Architecture: The JADC2 system architecture is based on open architecture and open data standards. The goal is to ensure that data belongs to the services and larger systems they develop, promoting transparency and interoperability among various defense systems.
- Collaborative Prototype Projects: The Air Force collaborates with industry through prototype projects, concept demonstrations, pilots, and agile development. These initiatives aim to incrementally improve commercial technologies for broader defense and public applications.
The industry’s involvement in JADC2 development aligns with the Department of Defense’s vision for real-time data collection, artificial intelligence, data security, and decentralized network automation to enhance military decision support and communications. These partnerships foster innovation and advance the capabilities of multi-domain operations.
The companies selected who will share the $950 million are:
— ADDX Corp. in Alexandria, Va.;
— Capella Space Corp. in San Francisco;
— AT&T Corp. in Oakton, Va.;
— Applied Information Sciences Inc. in Reston, Va.;
— Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates LLC in Louisville, Colo.;
— Credence Management Solutions LLC in Vienna, Va.;
— Edge Technologies Inc. in Arlington, Va.;
— EOS Defense Systems USA Inc. in Huntsville, Ala.;
— Exfo America Inc. in Richardson, Texas;
— Hermeus Corp. in Atlanta;
— Ierus Technologies Inc. in Huntsville, Ala.;
— Cyberspace Solutions LLC in Herndon, Va.; Labelbox Inc. in San Francisco;
— Nalej Corp. in New York;
— OST Inc. in McLean, Va.;
— Praeses LLC in Shreveport, La.;
— Real-time Innovations Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif.;
— Riverside Research Institute in New York;
— Saber Astronautics LLC in Boulder, Colo.;
— Shared Spectrum Co. in Vienna, Va.;
— Shield AI Inc. in San Diego;
— Skylight Inc. in Sarasota, Fla.;
— Sparkcognition Government Systems Inc. in Austin, Texas;
— Tenet 3 LLC in Dayton, Ohio;
— Trace Systems Inc. in Vienna, Va.;
— Ultra Electronics Advanced Tactical Systems Inc. in Austin, Texas; and
— BrainGu in Grand Rapids, Mich.
These companies will share as much as $950 million over the next three years to mature, demonstrate, and proliferate capability across military systems and domains; as well as capitalizing on open-systems design, modern software, and algorithm development to enable JADC2.
The U.S. Air Force has enlisted the support of 13 additional technology companies in a collective effort worth nearly a billion dollars to advance enabling technologies for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The JADC2 program aims to develop systems that integrate various military domains, such as air, land, sea, space, cyber, and electromagnetic spectrum, to enable rapid response to global threats within 15 minutes.
The selected companies will work on maturing, demonstrating, and proliferating capabilities across these domains, emphasizing open-systems design, modern software, and algorithm development. This initiative seeks to enhance real-time data collection, validation, and analysis, implement AI-based decision-making processes, ensure data security, and establish real-time communications via decentralized network automation. The contract runs for three years, with the potential to reach a total value of $950 billion. These companies will collaborate to strengthen the military’s readiness and responsiveness to evolving challenges across various domains of warfare.
Demonstration and experimentation
The Department of Defense (DOD) has conducted at least two significant Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) experimentation exercises:
- December 2019 Exercise in Florida: This exercise centered around a simulated cruise missile threat to the homeland. It marked the inaugural demonstration of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). The exercise involved the participation of various assets, including Air Force and Navy aircraft like the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets.
- July 2020 Test: In this test, Air Force aircraft established connections with naval vessels situated in the Black Sea, alongside special operations forces and eight other NATO nations. The objective was to simulate countering a potential Russian threat. This exercise showcased the interoperability and collaborative capabilities of JADC2 across air, sea, and special operations domains.
These JADC2 experimentation exercises aimed to evaluate and refine the system’s capabilities, with a focus on real-time data collection, analysis, and sharing among different assets and military branches. These exercises serve as critical milestones in advancing JADC2 capabilities for joint operations and enhancing the military’s ability to respond to evolving threats.
- **The US Department of Defense (DoD) has established a JADC2 Cross Functional Team (CFT) to lead the development and implementation of JADC2 capabilities. The CFT is led by a four-star general and is made up of representatives from all of the military services, as well as from the intelligence community and industry.
- The DoD has also established a JADC2 Experimentation Campaign Plan (JEP), which outlines a series of experiments to be conducted over the next five years to test and develop JADC2 concepts and capabilities. The JEP includes experiments in all five domains of warfare (air, land, sea, space, and cyber) and will involve the participation of all of the military services.
- The US military is also working with its allies and partners to develop JADC2 capabilities. The US and the UK have established a Joint Integration Group (JIG) to coordinate their efforts on JADC2. The US is also working with Australia, Japan, and other allies to develop JADC2 capabilities.
Some specific examples of recent progress in JADC2 include:
- The US Air Force has developed and tested a prototype JADC2 battle network called the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). ABMS is a cloud-based network that connects sensors and shooters across all domains of warfare.
- The US Army is developing a new command and control system called the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN). The ITN is a mobile, mesh network that will connect soldiers and their equipment in a secure and resilient manner.
- The US Navy is developing a new concept of operations called Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO). DMO envisions a future where the Navy will operate in a dispersed manner, with ships and other assets spread out over a large area. JADC2 will be essential for coordinating the operations of these dispersed forces.
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) represents a transformative leap in military command and control capabilities, offering integrated and networked multidomain capabilities that are crucial for success in modern conflicts. By integrating and networking capabilities across all domains, JADC2 enables rapid decision-making, enhanced situational awareness, and efficient resource allocation.
By harnessing the power of data, analytics, and advanced communication technologies, JADC2 enables military leaders to make faster, more informed decisions while reducing risks to personnel. However, its implementation requires overcoming challenges related to cybersecurity, interoperability, resource allocation, and ethical considerations. As technology continues to advance, JADC2 will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of military operations and ensuring national security in an ever-changing world.