31 Jul Pres. Jon Cartu Reports – Aligning the Tactical Network with Joint All-Domain…
The U.S. Army has spent the last two years pursuing a modernized integrated tactical network, or ITN, that supports increased mobility, resiliency and capabilities. Now, the service has a focus toward making sure that the modernization of that network can enable joint all-domain command and control, or the concept of JADC2. The service is preparing to fight seamlessly across the sea, land, air, space and cyberspace, or multidomain operations, by 2028.
“Our network modernization efforts will enable JADC2 capability,” states Brig. Gen. Robert Collins (USA), program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). “Working with the Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT), we are aligning Capability Set (CS) development to JADC2 objectives and are seeking to optimize experimentation and existing program efforts to enhance JADC2 capabilities.”
As part of the Army’s contribution to JADC2, in particular, the PEO C3T and the Network CFT—the modernization team—are supporting ground domain data and network transport capability, Gen. Collins says. “For example, mobile and expeditionary network transport systems, such as small aperture terminals, gateways, cross-domain guards and secure waveforms, are needed to support MDO [multidomain operations] and provide transport of sensor to shooter data in the JADC2 construct,” he states. “We must also be able to carefully manage data flow over network transport to ensure that the volume of data that will be produced does not ‘clog’ tactical network transportation pipes.”
Capabilities in medium earth orbit and low earth orbit offer another communication pathway for multidomain operations. The modernization team has started development and experimentation efforts with commercial satellite constellations and ground terminals to leverage those capabilities as they mature, the general notes.
The PEO C3T and the Network CFT also will explore data management techniques, harnessing artificial intelligence, machine learning, tactical cloud, and edge computing to help mitigate network transport issues, Gen. Collins offers.
Moreover, to enhance the common operational picture for MDO, the team will conduct experimentation efforts in the near future to look at how the Army can integrate MDO overlays into its Command Post Computing Environment.
As such, the service is coordinating closely with the other military departments, Gen. Collins says. “Working with joint service partners, we are understanding the necessary tactical network requirements to support JADC2.”
“We have to make sure that everything we do as an Army allows us to remain interoperable with our joint partners and our coalition teammates,” adds Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, USA, director of the Network Cross-Functional Team (Network CFT).
Over the last year, the Army began experimenting with JADC2 during Project Convergence, the 2019 Joint Warfighting Assessment (JWA), other tabletop exercises and events with the combatant commands. Because the development of Army-related JADC2 capabilities involves the initial partial linkage of sensors and the Army’s tactical network with the other services, the Network CFT and PEO C3T attended several experiments connecting to the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System, Gen. Gallagher says. The Army has worked to connect with the Air Force’s JADC2 experimentation nucleus, their Shadow Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and at trials at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
“That is very critical,” the Network CFT director states. “We’ve been working closely over the last several months to stay in sync with The Joint Staff, and they have had several ABMS demonstrations at Eglin and Nellis, and we’ve participated in JADC2 experimentation exercises. And we are actively involved in the mission engineering threads as they design the network architecture of the future to ensure that we have joint fires, joint situational awareness and a joint tactical grid for the joint force, so that our Army modernization efforts are aligned with those. And we will work that very closely going forward.”
And although the military has had to cancel many JADC2 and other exercises and events since mid-March—including JWA Defender 2020 and combat center rotations—due to the pandemic, the Army has had the opportunity since then to obtain feedback from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, which was deployed to the Middle East as part of the global response force mission, Gen. Gallagher says.
Going forward, the Army will test its JADC2 efforts during the next JWA, planned for the last week of June and early July in 2021. That JWA JADC2 effort will be tied to the Pacific Sentry event held by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and will build on the success of the 2019 JWA exercise, during which the United States worked with the Five Eyes nations and other partners, such as Singapore and France.
“One of the most important aspects of the Army is that we are always going to fight as part of a joint force,” Gen. Gallagher continues. “And we usually fight with coalition teammates. So, [we are] making sure that we are aligned with the JADC2 CFT out of The Joint Staff and partnering with the Air Force, the Marine Corps, Navy and others to make sure that our alignment, as we reach our objectives in the future to deliver the network that allows us to be MDO dominant by 2028, is aligned with our teammates across the military departments and across the Defense Department.”
The Network CFT director clarifies that the team is postured to deliver the first tranche of technologies as part of its Capability Set 2021 (CS 21), following a successful critical design review this spring—which fits right in with the plan to help enable JADC2. “We are moving faster to keep pace with emerging technology and threats in cyber, spectrum and electronic warfare,” Gen. Gallagher notes. In addition to providing a modernized ITN, the team also is providing advancement capabilities to the Expeditionary Signal Battalions. As part of Phase 1 of the CS 21 rollout, the equipment they are purchasing includes: single-channel data radios; dual-channel headsets for leaders to monitor two radio networks; variable height antennas, which are essentially tethered drones for range extension of tactical radios;…