Training, Simulation Key to Achieving JADC2 Goals

By Michael Bayer

iStock illustration

This spring, hackers breached U.S. critical infrastructure on the strategically crucial island of Guam.

Multiple U.S. technology companies investigated the breach. One assessed that the hacking campaign was designed to pursue the development of capabilities that could disrupt communications between the United States and Asia during future crises.

This is yet another blunt reminder of the People’s Republic of China using its growing cyber capabilities to prepare for potential conflict.

For years, the Defense Department has asserted future great power conflict would likely involve both dispersed U.S. units fighting against adversaries of roughly technical parity and simultaneous asymmetric attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure that degrade logistics and vital communications lines. That future is here.

To prevail, the U.S. military must be able to dominate across all operational domains to present multiple dilemmas to adversaries. It must also prepare for persistent, sophisticated and novel efforts to disrupt, degrade, destroy or compromise the Joint Force’s sensors, networks and command-and-control nodes.

To address these challenges, the Defense Department is organizing around the concept of joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2, which represents a new and powerful approach to warfighting. Its goal is to restore operational competitive advantage through information dominance and command decision-making superiority.

Therefore, the Defense Department and the Joint Force are undergoing a massive digital transformation, with the objective of connecting the individual military services’ sensors, shooters and communications systems into a networked solution that can interact across U.S. and allied systems. The desired end state is to support cross-domain operations, information sharing and decision-making under operationally relevant timelines in degraded or disrupted communications environments.

JADC2 will require a significant investment in new technological and operational approaches that can only be developed in partnership with industry. An early element essential to operationalizing JADC2 is the department’s investment in U.S. industry’s creation of modeling, simulation and training in synthetic environments. Synthetic environments — virtual and constructive simulations — will be critically important as they allow the Joint Force to test, evaluate, experiment, train and support future multi-domain operations.

Due to recent advances in supporting technologies such as cloud computing, common data standards, open architectures and artificial intelligence, industry can create these powerful synthetic environments of virtual test and evaluation for many JADC2 operational capabilities prior to live fielding.

Future JADC2 architectures could be stress-tested in a synthetic environment to ensure they are resilient and can maintain mission assurance even when operating in a contested battlespace. In addition, by employing model-based systems engineering, synthetic environments can help de-risk the acquisition process and support acquisition professionals with data-driven feedback on potential capabilities during the procurement process.

These synthetic environments will also support continuous innovations in operational concepts, force structures, and military training, particularly in the context of all-domain operations. By linking virtual environments used for kinetic mission planning with those traditionally employed for non-kinetic operations, warfighters will be able to work through many of the timing, synchronization, authorities and classification challenges that are unique to the integration of long-range kinetic and non-kinetic fires.

For instance, the military could leverage synthetic environments to train non-cyber operators how to support or fight in and through complex battlespaces saturated with adversarial cyber and information operations. In addition, a synthetic environment is also an ideal environment where space and cyber warfighters can train alongside conventional warfighters.

The department and industry will need to work together to actively manage and address three challenges during JADC2’s development.

The first is getting everyone connected within an architecture that is secure and based on common standards.

The second is to successfully address operators’ concerns over allowing anything either synthetic or focused on training to reside on their operating systems.

The third challenge is to address current procurement processes, which generally restrict command-and-control systems from imbedding training in operational software.

These three challenges are slowly being addressed, but there is more work to be done.

The exposure of the Chinese hacking campaign reinforces that America’s rivals are bent on undoing U.S. deterrence and threatening allies and partners. That animates National Defense Industrial Association members and industry leaders to quickly realize the promise and potential of JADC2 to enhance U.S. warfighting capabilities and serve as a vehicle to integrate modeling and simulation, synthetic environments, next-generation networks and artificial intelligence into our warfighting architecture.

The National Training and Simulation Association, an NDIA affiliate, advocates for joint solutions to translate the challenges that exist from vision to reality. NTSA hosts the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), which is the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event and connects government customers with some of the most innovative companies in industry.

The key enablers of JADC2 are at the center of the I/ITSEC agenda for 2023, which will be held in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 27-Dec. 1. This important conference fills up quickly. We look forward to seeing you there! Find more information at: www.iitsec.org. 

Michael Bayer is the NDIA board chair, and the president and CEO of Dumbarton Strategies.

Topics: Training and Simulation

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