Defense Speak Interpreted: So, What’s a JADC2?

I am sure you do not read as much news about defense as I do, but the term JADC2 was so prevalent in the late 2020 debate about the National Defense Authorization Act that I had to look it up. It is a new way defense is using electronics to shape battle strategy. JADC2 is Defense Speak for “Joint All Domain Command and Control.”  Sounds impressive, doesn’t it, but what does that mean?

We need to break Defense Speak into bite-size chunks that we can understand. “Joint” may not be too hard because we have the “Joint Chiefs of Staff” to operate the various branches of our military. So, we already have the concept that JADC2 must be between the service branches. Congress is very sensitive to duplication between the service branches, as well as keeping the services working together optimally in this age of electronically interconnected warfare.

Next is “domain,” a bit tougher to explain in Defense Speak. Our first impulse is that domain is synonymous with “kingdom” and that is a good start. We might start by guessing that is land, air, and sea surface (and undersea) implying Army, Air Force, and Navy—which is partially correct. Of course, we just established the Space Force as another service branch. But what about Marines, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, etc.?

The military also has the “intelligence domain” that obtains and stores all the information about battle management. Just as this is the Internet of Things (IoT) age for us individually, this is the Internet of Information age for Defense. One of the key players for information is the organization that handles all the data from satellites—NGA, or National Geospatial intelligence Agency. It is defined in this way:

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security. [1]

The NGA is one of the “domains” that needs the command-and-control function, too. My June 2020 column on C4ISR had two of the four “Cs,” including those two. I have heard the JADC2 described as the “data to everything” concept. A factor that occurs in Defense, but not so much elsewhere, is levels of security. How does JADC2 integrate public information, sensor data, classified information, etc.? A special challenge to JADC2 is to share that data without compromising security. Gone are the days of a few top-secret individuals sitting in a “war room” with glass boards and grease pencils—at least they make good movie backdrops. Oh, if we just had a war room back in Hurricane Katrina, and I am unaware of a war room in the battle with COVID-19!

Perhaps it would help to list the starting points for each of the service branches.

The Army has its Distributed Common Ground System–Army (DCGS-A):

“The Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) is the Army's premier intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) enterprise for the tasking of sensors, analysis and processing of data, exploitation of data, and dissemination of intelligence (TPED) across all echelons. It is the Army component of the larger Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise (DI2E) and interoperable with other Service DCGS programs. Under the DI2E framework, USD (I) hopes to provide COCOM Joint Intelligence Operations Centers (JIOCs) capabilities interoperable with DCGS-A through a Cloud/widget approach.” [2]

However, some in the Army have criticized the DCGS-A, preferring a newer, less well-developed version from Palantir Technologies.

The DCGS-Army…went through a controversial period when Palantir sued the Army to be allowed to bid on the system with its commercialtechnology. Palantir won that suit and the Army changed its approach from wanting only a custom-built system to also considering a commercial solution.”[3]

Palantir was awarded the contract along with Raytheon and recently won the first competitive task order under DCGS-A.

The Navy looks like it's trying to avoid the Army’s stumble and is asking for a commercial product. The requirements are restricted, since respondents need to register and have the Navy send them the details. But the notice does broadly describe the Navy’s goal for DCGS-N Increment 2—shorten targeting timelines and improve information fidelity through “automated aggregation, correlation, fusion and predictive analytics of all source intelligence.” [4] The Navy wants the system to produce predictive situational awareness and earlier identification of threats and intent. The Navy also wants its technical team to meet with industry to learn about software solutions for both afloat and ashore applications. “The ultimate outcome of these meetings is to provide a crosswalk of the solutions’ capabilities to the DCGS-N Inc 2 requirements provided,” the Navy wrote.[4]

The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (AF DCGS), also referred to as the AN/GSQ-272 SENTINEL system, is the Air Force’s primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collection, processing, exploitation, analysis and dissemination (CPAD) system.[5] On January 13, the Air Force awarded an additional 36 spots on a potential $950 million contract to build and operate systems across the ground, sea, air, cyber, electromagnetic spectrum and cyber domains as part of their JADC2 program.

Some other topics compounding JADC2 deployment:

  • The shift from counter insurgency (fighting terrorists) to near-peer conflict (planning against China and Russia). That is, a transition from tactical to strategic information use, and hoping data fusion will carry over. 
  • Sensor output comes in a wide variety of functions and formats. Many traditional sensors output proportional signals—considered analog. Image censors, based on CMOS technology, inherently output digital information, just like the on/off state of CMOS memory devices. So, there is always a lot of buffering and signal conditioning to get sensors to communicate in a common way, let alone feed into a common program for JADC2 use.  
  • Dissemination of strategic guidance with unit-level planning; communication of commander’s intent with the warfighter’s understanding and tactical execution; fusion of national information passed to the tactical edge; successful collaboration across domains leading to actionable intelligence for the warfighter; and providing them with all-domain access to sensors and effects when and where needed.[6]
  • While JADC2 is about centralizing and better coordinating command and control of the battlefield, it largely depends on edge computing, a relatively recent concept in distributed IT aimed at improving response times and saving bandwidth by locating data closer to where it’s needed. In practical terms, it means placing highly advanced sensors in the ships, planes, tanks, and Humvees on the front lines, sending critical, real-time information back to headquarters, then deploying state-of-the-art AI and machine learning tools to analyze multiple points of data and quickly arrive at an optimal solution.[7]
  • Although it is one of the U.S. military’s highest priorities, service and industry leaders remain confused about Joint All-Domain Command and Control, variously describing it as a communication architecture, a data-sharing approach, an operational concept, or a decision-making tool.
  • Control of the electromagnetic spectrum is key to its success, says Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten. And that means setting spectrum requirements will be key to All Domain Operations. This implies superiority in electronic warfare.

Here’s a good, current challenge to close with. On Feb. 5, 2021, Breaking Defense magazine asked:

There are places where jointness, that still sometimes elusive character, is on full display in the US military and one of those is where close air support meets the Army. The Army’s Joint Support Team trains 4,200 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Special Operations Command students in joint air-ground operations education, training and command-and-control systems integration. Few organizations will be so central to the future of All Domain Operations. What’s the prescription for JADC2 and All Domain Operations?” [8]  

References

  1. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency - Wikipedia
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Common_Ground_System
  3. https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2019/04/navy-dcgs-n-rfi-release.aspx
  4. https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2019/04/navy-dcgs-n-rfi-release.aspx
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_Common_Ground_System
  6. https://breakingdefense.com/2020/10/the-success-of-jadc2-depends-upon-relevant-and-actionable-data/
  7. https://www.splunk.com/en_us/blog/industries/bringing-data-to-command-control.html
  8. https://breakingdefense.com/2021/02/how-to-build-the-third-offset-the-combined-jadc2/ 

Dennis Fritz was a 20-year direct employee of MacDermid Inc. and is retired after 12 years as a senior engineer at (SAIC) supporting the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. He was elected to the IPC Hall of Fame in 2012.

 

 

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2021

Defense Speak Interpreted: So, What’s a JADC2?

02-09-2021

The term JADC2 was prevalent in the late 2020 debate about the National Defense Authorization Act. It is a new way defense is using electronics to shape battle strategy. JADC2 is Defense Speak for “Joint All Domain Command and Control.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it, but what does that mean?

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01-15-2021

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2020

Defense Speak Interpreted: What’s a VITA?

12-15-2020

Ever wonder how military electronics users could swap out circuit cards rapidly and keep their defense systems running? What about a “hot swap” of a circuit card that was questionable? How would defense depots keep enough unique circuit cards on hand to maintain the various systems in times of heavy use? The Department of Defense started to worry about those issues over 30 years ago and has helped private industry develop a highly sophisticated set of standards for circuit card input/output (I/O) to make quick change possible.

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11-10-2020

Perhaps you recently saw that Intel was awarded a contract for a SHIP by the U.S. Department of Defense. However, this one will not float on the water since SHIP stands for state-of-the-art heterogeneous integration prototype. Denny Fritz explains.

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10-13-2020

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09-22-2020

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Unpacking the NDAA

08-25-2020

What is this NDAA stuff you keep hearing on the national news all the time, and why is it important to PCBs? Denny Fritz explains what is going on with the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes programs and lays out the priorities and policies for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

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Defense Speak Interpreted: DMEA

07-14-2020

A June 17 article announced a supply chain award of $10.7 billion to eight defense companies for semiconductors. Dennis Fritz explains how the Defense Microelectronics Agency (DMEA) administers this contract and keeps the technology secure.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: C4ISR

06-16-2020

Only the U.S. Defense Department would lump together seven concepts—command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—into a single acronym: C4ISR. Denny Fritz explains how C4ISR has been called the “nervous system” of the military.

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05-12-2020

In "Defense Speak," RCV does not stand for ranked-choice voting, a remote control vehicle, a riot control vehicle, or a refuse collection vehicle, although the second one is close; it stands for a remote combat vehicle. Denny Fritz explores this concept and its defense applications.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Why Is Defense Hyper Over Hypersonics?

04-14-2020

Perhaps you have noticed that the term “hypersonics” is now a buzz phrase in a big part of the Department of Defense research effort. What does hypersonic mean, and why is so much work needed in this weapons field? Dennis Fritz explains.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Be Prepared for CMMC

03-24-2020

If you are a current or future Defense Department contractor or subcontractor, you need to be prepared for the next cybersecurity requirements coming online during 2020. This is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, in Defense speak. Dennis Fritz explains how there will be five levels of cybersecurity requirements for various amounts of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) you handle, with increasing requirements from one (least) to five (most).

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2019

Defense Speak Interpreted: The Continuing Resolution

12-10-2019

The topic of the continuing resolution (CR) has been sneaking past other hot Washington topics, such as impeachment, candidate debates, and why the Redskins are so bad. Dennis Fritz provides an update concerning a CR and the 2020 fiscal year.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Executive Agent

11-12-2019

After reading my previous column, you may have realized that electronics packaging technology development came from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. One of its core responsibilities is the assignment of “executive agent” for PCBs and electronic interconnects. But what is this “executive agent” thing, frequently shortened to EA? Dennis Fritz explains.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: PCB-related OTAs from NAVSEA Crane

10-29-2019

In my previous column, I described how Other Transaction Authority (OTA) projects were speeding up the development of new technology for the Defense Department. Much of this improvement has to do with the speed of contracting and the less restrictive selection and payment process involved. Specifically, I would like to call out projects under the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL).

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Other Transaction Authority

09-19-2019

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01-29-2019

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2018

Defense Speak Interpreted: PERM—Pb-free Electronics Risk Management

12-18-2018

In this column, we explore PERM—the Pb-free Electronics Risk Management Consortium. No, the group members do not all have curly hair! The name was chosen around 2008 by a group of engineers from aerospace, defense, and harsh environment (ADHE) organizations.

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Defense Speak Interpreted: Defense Electronic Supply Chain Issues

10-18-2018

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