Pentagon’s Joint Command and Control Initiative ‘Unlikely to Deliver’ on Time: Report

The Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, a concept for connecting sensors from all of the military services into a single network, is unlikely to deliver within the timeframe initially hoped for, according to a new report. Experts believe the Department of Defense (DoD) will need to overhaul the program to prevent a decades-long implementation.“What it really boils down to is a way to allow all sensors, all shooters, all command nodes, to be able to talk to each other in any combination in almost any situation,” Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute, said during an April 20 virtual panel discussion on the issue. “This universal approach is being pursued to try to create a way for all U.S. military forces to talk to all other U.S. military forces, and be able to execute effects chains in quick fashion to try to gain a decision-making advantage over opponents.” The process was being impeded, however, by the current top-down approach, according to a new Hudson Institute report on the issue, which found that the project was “unlikely to deliver” on time. Further, such problems could interfere with the initiative’s ability to contend with peer adversaries like China and Russia. “Unfortunately, the DoD’s pursuit of efficiency and centralized decision-making hinder the direct connections between combatant commander customers and commercial or government suppliers that foster innovation,” the report said. “The results will therefore continue to be one-size-fits-all solutions that take longer and are more expensive than concepts and capabilities tailored to meet specific needs.” “In addition to furthering the Pentagon’s well-documented problems delivering new systems and concepts on cost and schedule, universal solutions will be less likely to target the specific threats posed by such peer adversaries as China or Russia.” Clark said that the United States would need to develop greater agility in order to earn a decision-making advantage over the Chinese military, which would have the home-field advantage in the event of a war. To that end, he added that the success or failure of JADC2 to improve U.S. military capability to undermine Chinese processes was a matter of great importance. Mark Lewis, director of the Emerging Technologies Institute at the National Defense Industrial Association, said that such was easier said than done, however. He said that the idea of a universal standard for joint command and control was a marvelous idea, but immensely difficult to implement due to branch-specific command and control programs already existing in the Navy, Army, and Air Force. “I used to joke that everyone agreed on the idea of common standards, it’s just everyone wanted to use their own their own common standards,” Lewis said. “So, getting everyone to agree on what those standards should be was a great difficulty.” “Everyone agrees on the importance of JADC2,” he added. “The devil is in the details of how we get there.” Lewis further added that the wide scope of the initiative was complicated by the fact that many systems in the various branches of the military were explicitly designed not to be able to connect with other systems as a security measure. Moreover, Lewis said that inadequate testing and confusion between demonstration and experimentation often resulted in programs being suspended due to a perceived failure, when in fact they just needed further tweaking. As such, he called for a cyber equivalent of the Air Force’s Red Flag exercises, which train pilots through engagement in combat simulations. Follow Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.

Pentagon’s Joint Command and Control Initiative ‘Unlikely to Deliver’ on Time: Report

The Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative, a concept for connecting sensors from all of the military services into a single network, is unlikely to deliver within the timeframe initially hoped for, according to a new report. Experts believe the Department of Defense (DoD) will need to overhaul the program to prevent a decades-long implementation.

“What it really boils down to is a way to allow all sensors, all shooters, all command nodes, to be able to talk to each other in any combination in almost any situation,” Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute, said during an April 20 virtual panel discussion on the issue.

“This universal approach is being pursued to try to create a way for all U.S. military forces to talk to all other U.S. military forces, and be able to execute effects chains in quick fashion to try to gain a decision-making advantage over opponents.”

The process was being impeded, however, by the current top-down approach, according to a new Hudson Institute report on the issue, which found that the project was “unlikely to deliver” on time.

Further, such problems could interfere with the initiative’s ability to contend with peer adversaries like China and Russia.

“Unfortunately, the DoD’s pursuit of efficiency and centralized decision-making hinder the direct connections between combatant commander customers and commercial or government suppliers that foster innovation,” the report said. “The results will therefore continue to be one-size-fits-all solutions that take longer and are more expensive than concepts and capabilities tailored to meet specific needs.”

“In addition to furthering the Pentagon’s well-documented problems delivering new systems and concepts on cost and schedule, universal solutions will be less likely to target the specific threats posed by such peer adversaries as China or Russia.”

Clark said that the United States would need to develop greater agility in order to earn a decision-making advantage over the Chinese military, which would have the home-field advantage in the event of a war. To that end, he added that the success or failure of JADC2 to improve U.S. military capability to undermine Chinese processes was a matter of great importance.

Mark Lewis, director of the Emerging Technologies Institute at the National Defense Industrial Association, said that such was easier said than done, however. He said that the idea of a universal standard for joint command and control was a marvelous idea, but immensely difficult to implement due to branch-specific command and control programs already existing in the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

“I used to joke that everyone agreed on the idea of common standards, it’s just everyone wanted to use their own their own common standards,” Lewis said. “So, getting everyone to agree on what those standards should be was a great difficulty.”

“Everyone agrees on the importance of JADC2,” he added.

“The devil is in the details of how we get there.”

Lewis further added that the wide scope of the initiative was complicated by the fact that many systems in the various branches of the military were explicitly designed not to be able to connect with other systems as a security measure.

Moreover, Lewis said that inadequate testing and confusion between demonstration and experimentation often resulted in programs being suspended due to a perceived failure, when in fact they just needed further tweaking.

As such, he called for a cyber equivalent of the Air Force’s Red Flag exercises, which train pilots through engagement in combat simulations.


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Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.