The Air Force must help develop new battle management networks and operating concepts as the Pentagon seeks to stay ahead of advanced adversaries, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work had said. The ability to coordinate the operations of autonomous systems and other cutting-edge platforms and capabilities will be critical for warfighting and executing the new “third offset” strategy in the coming years, he said.
The Defense Department is developing and acquiring next-generation technologies and platforms, but tying them together will be essential if the U.S. is to maintain its combat advantage, the deputy defense chief noted. “It’s the most important thing we have to understand,” he told Air Force officials and members of industry. ”What is the brain that will make this work and what are the connections, the central nervous system that will allow us to wield this battle network effectively?”
The Air Force must now expand battle systems management and operating concepts beyond the service’s traditional domains, Work said. “Airmen think in terms of space, cyberspace and air,” he told service officials. “I hope you can lead the joint force into a new way of thinking where air superiority effects might originate under the sea, or land superiority is made possible through … multi-domain and multi-functional effects, and maritime superiority is achieved by cooperative operations at sea, on land and in the air.”
“We need ideas on how to connect sensing and effect grids through a command-and-control grid that is multi-domain, multi-functional,” he said at an Air Force Association air, space and cyber conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “We need Air Force thinkers to expand the idea of the [combined air operations center] and think in terms of building a joint learning C3I [command, control, communications and intelligence] network that can mesh operations across domains, across functions, with allies and sometimes across regions,” Work added.
Artificial intelligence will be the key ingredient in any solution, he noted. In the coming years, the adoption of various AI technologies will likely be gradual, Work said. “But if … [Air Force officials and others in the defense community] figure out a vision for a learning C3I network in which all of the narrow AI is contributing to better, faster knowledge and connecting the sensor grid to the effects grid, then that is when you will see the major revolutionary step” in warfighting capability, he said.
The Pentagon’s No. 2 official identified the recent creation of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center as an example of the push to develop better command-and-control networks to deal with emerging threats and thwart advanced adversaries who could seek to take down U.S. systems. The center, known as the JICSPOC, is charged with developing new tactics, techniques and procedures for operating and protecting military, intelligence and civilian space assets. It became operational last year as other countries continued to grow their counter-space capabilities.
Historically, C4ISR systems have followed an evolutionary path in their development. The terminology of C4ISR is used by the military organizations, specially by US-DoD, to mean the use of organizational setup utilized by military forces for carrying out a mission. The first C of C4ISR stands for command which means authority over subordinates with responsibility. Second C stands for control which means exercising authority over subordinates. These are the aspects of leadership and are commonly known as C2.
Command comprises proactive, mission-driven, planning and co-ordination activities. Control comprises reactive, event-driven monitoring and communication activities. The former implies the transmission of mission intent whereas the latter implies reactions to specific situations.
The facilities used by commanders and leaders in carrying out their assigned missions are largely dependent on communication and computers hence terms C3 and C4 are well known and accepted. The I of C4ISR represents Intelligence, i.e. the collecting of information which is required by leaders/commanders to carry out a mission. Hence the terms C3I and C4I started coming into use over a period of time. The information is gathered through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance which is the reason for the ISR part. The systematic observation of certain things is called surveillance whereas observations on specific occasions is defined as reconnaissance. Hence, the systems are now collectively termed as C4ISR systems.
The primary objective of a C4ISR system is to present the overall scenario and picture of the area of interest (such as a battlefield, operation area of ships/forces in sea/land/air or a disaster area, etc.). This allows a clear situational awareness for better decision making by the mission commanders to achieve their missions. A comprehensive and better situational awareness of the battlefield helps the commander
in making of effective and timely decisions which in turn helps in effective control of the situation through an advance planning and efficient utilization of the available resources.
The C4ISR system is a system of systems and it can also be termed as network of networks and works on similar principles as the Internet. Hence it is vulnerable to similar attacks called cyber attacks and warrants appropriate security measures to save it from these attacks or to recover if the attack succeeds. All of the measures put in place to achieve this are called cyber security of C4ISR systems.
Enterprise Integration Approach
The US military’s (C4ISR) systems, while the best in the world, are nevertheless operating well below their potential capabilities. Stovepiped systems make it difficult—and sometimes impossible—to collect, analyze, and disseminate critical threat and operations information, or obtain a complete, single view of the battlefield. Too often, commanders must log into multiple systems, each with separate displays, while warfighters in the field struggle to operate a variety of radio systems and communications protocols, write Booz Allen in their whitepaper.
Many C4ISR applications and systems lack the interoperability, user friendliness, and technical capabilities that are readily available in commercial technologies (and that warfighters use regularly in their private lives) because current acquisition processes cannot keep pace with technological change. Adding to these challenges are fast-rising cybersecurity threats that can exploit vulnerable integration points and other weaknesses in systems that have been integrated after they have been developed and deployed.
Enterprise Integration approach that looks beyond organizational boundaries to consider each system’s role within the larger C4ISR ecosystem. Enterprise Integration is built upon open architectures and common blueprints, standards, and interfaces that are government-established and government-owned. Interoperability is designed in and standards are enforced across all C4ISR programs.
This approach allows vendors to plug innovative solutions into the common infrastructure. It also enables agile development, making new technologies easier to incorporate into developing systems. Enterprise Integration also provides numerous mechanisms for bringing together operators and engineers to ensure that the systems are user friendly and built to meet operational needs. Security is strengthened because, like interoperability, it is designed in rather than bolted on after a system is built, recommends Booz Allen.
Advanced Research and Development of Mission-Focused Analytics for a Decision Advantage (ARMADA)
The Air Force is putting almost $10 million toward technology to help decision-makers process information faster. The program has two broad missions, according to the BAA: helping users increase their situational awareness— “perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future;” and developing “essential components to develop an enterprise software system.”
The research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) performed under the auspices of this BAA shall address a breadth of mission domains to include Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) for air, space and cyber.
The Specific applications of this research and development include, but are not limited to: Mission planning of network-enabled weapons and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, Command and control of cyber forces and mission planning, Operational level command and control capabilities (bridging strategic to tactical-unit level) to plan, coordinate, and execute non-kinetic capabilities with kinetic means to deliver synchronized global effects, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) exploitation and analysis of social media, news feeds, and other publicly available information.
Disseminate fused air tracks and provide alerts for detected anomalies, Global, user-defined common operating picture for air, space and cyber operations that can support multiple areas of responsibility (AORs) and Multi-INT feeds and custom visualizations and applications for geospatial and temporal analysis.
A Broad Agency Announcement searches for solutions that could help employees find “golden nuggets” in data, potentially by “fusing diverse data sources, filtering noise” or discovering “patterns of life.” Further, technical capabilities developed under this BAA will minimize user time spent gathering data and reporting data, while preserving and providing more time for analysis. This will be accomplished through several means to include a data framework that can easily and quickly connect to sundry data sources, a rich, intuitive personalized workspace and experience, a variety of user-defined visualization displays, machine learning to assist and automate mundane tasks, and a custom report generation tool.
This Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeks to provide research and development for forming a revolutionary approach to information fusion and analysis by leveraging service-oriented architecture, open standards, and cutting-edge fusion and analytical algorithms to provide real-time (or near real-time) intelligence for decision makers.
The Advanced Research and Development of Mission-Focused Analytics for a Decision Advantage, or ARMADA, is also intended to develop a platform that could house an analytics system, customized visualizations and a framework that could connect disparate data sources. Third parties should be able to use that platform to integrate their own features. It should Interface with existing programs of record to obtain access to data sources (e.g. Air Operations Center Weapons System (AOC WS), Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF-DCGS), Global Command and Control System-Joint (GCCS-J), Modernized Integrated Database (MIDB), Command Post of the Future (CPOF)
Focus Area Descriptions:
There are two Focus Areas:
1) Analytics for Situation Awareness
2) Data Framework and Core Services
Focus Area 1- Analytics for Situation Awareness
Situation Awareness is defined as the perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future. This BAA is immediately focused on researching and developing novel analytic techniques to accomplish situation awareness in the battlespace for perception, comprehension and projection. In order to achieve this goal, these analytics must be mission-focused and have a strong impetus towards creating a decision advantage.
This BAA is concentrated on a broad spectrum of analysis procedures to include, but is not limited to pattern analysis, spatial-temporal analysis, change detection, link analysis, social network analysis, and big data analytics. These analytic techniques must be developed as services made available in a plug and play, modular design.
This BAA shall also provide cutting-edge machine learning capabilities to assist and automate user tasks. Potential applications include providing recommendations based on what data the user is interested in and has viewed, assisting with task management and the delegation of tasks, deriving alerts from patterns of life and indications and warnings, and learning and automating common user actions such as routine queries.
Focus Area 2 – Data Framework and Core Services
The data framework and core services are intended to provide the fundamental and essential components to develop an enterprise software system. This will serve as an overarching integration framework that will be responsible for interfacing with analytic services while providing required capabilities such as data access, security, and visualization services.
Software infrastructure developed under this BAA shall provide a lightweight, open source Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) framework that is capable of facilitating the interaction and communication between services and other software applications in a service-oriented architecture. The ESB shall provide capabilities to integrate databases, services, and legacy systems and facilitate communication across disparate transport and messaging technologies.
2.2 Data Framework Services:
Proposers shall provide a data framework that is able to discover, model, connect, search and enter data across a variety of types and sources. For external data sources, this data framework shall extract, transform and load diverse data sources while performing data alignment and association to reduce and resolve duplicative entities that exist in multiple data sources. The system shall be able to search to find data across data types and sources. This search can be based on specific user-defined keywords, semantic search, and also faceted search. This search function shall leverage natural language processing techniques to ensure high precision and recall. The proposed system shall allow search results to be manipulated in a pivot table-like fashion which could update any graphic based on that data.
2.3 Security Services:
The proposed system shall include a robust and flexible security framework. At a minimum, this shall contain:
(1) policy-based access control and role-based access control (RBAC) that allows users access while also restricting system access only to authorized users. RBAC will control the roles assigned, allow authorized users to take on specific roles (e.g. administrator), and exercise permission.
(2) The system shall also utilize single sign-on (SSO) authentication and public key infrastructure (PKI) for authenticating users that access the system.
(3) Lastly, the system shall provide audit logs and the ability for system administrators to provide key system level metrics. Secure application development practices shall be followed to minimize rework required to comply with DoD Information Assurance (IA) policies
2.4 User Experience Services:
This system shall provide end users with a fully customizable enterprise experience. For instance, customizable dashboards shall be available once users sign-in to the system. The user interface shall also allow users to share data, files, and notes and provide a collaborative social workspace.
2.5 Visualization Services:
Users shall be able to access and visualize data through a myriad of methods. Typical displays include, but are not limited to table, report view, grid, graph, map (2D/3D, heatmap), timeline, and link analysis.
2.6 Report Generator Services:
Many times, users are required to develop a briefing or report to share and publish. The proposed approach shall provide a capability to automate this process, saving critical time that can be better spent analyzing data.
2.7 Mobile, Disconnected, and Disadvantaged Operations:
The data framework and infrastructure designed and developed shall allow users to operate the software system from a mobile device. For users with little or no connectivity, the proposed approach shall allow users to still perform in an appropriate manner. Disconnected Operations shall allow users to have access to key capabilities of the system such as search and data entry with no connectivity. For disadvantaged users with little bandwidth, the system shall be able to execute in a lightweight manner so that users can still conduct critical functions.
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