Army acquisition exec pushes for joint JADC2 office, large-scale exercise

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Hon. Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, and Mr. Douglas R. Bush, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army briefed on capabilities by panelist Col. Robert J. Whisham, Director of Army Applications Lab and Dr. Casey Perly, Director of Technical Insights & Analysis on September 20th, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

MCCLEAN, VA: A senior Army official today floated the idea of a new, high-level Joint All Domain Command and Control-focused office, along with a large scale exercise, to help coordinate and focus the Pentagon’s efforts in its infamously nebulous and currently disparate JADC2 push.

Speaking at the NDIA JADC2: All Domain Warfare Symposium, Doug Bush, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, likened the envisioned JADC2 office to the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System Office (JCO), which is overseen by the Army. Though with a much smaller scope than JADC2, the JCO has helped to prioritize investments from a joint perspective and, Bush said, a similar office at the level of the office of the secretary of defense could do the same for the Pentagon. 

“So that kind of organizing body there could be useful in terms of making sure requirements are actually stacked and prioritized and given to the services,” Bush said. “They’ve also been influential in, for example, working on when there’s an urgent need, making sure that the system responds with the reprogramming… making sure we buy what’s urgently needed. That wouldn’t have happened if it was just the services by themselves.”

Bush seemed to be suggesting a more robust arrangement than what already exists in the Pentagon in the form of the JADC2 Cross-Functional Team, which was designed to help ensure requirements were met and to de-conflict between the branches. That CFT is designed to phase itself out in three to five years as of last November, according to remarks at the time by Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, CIO/J6 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

RELATED: Pentagon’s JADC2 Office Could Phase Out In Coming Years

However, a report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies around the time of Crall’s remarks warned DoD risked failure in its JADC2 efforts unless it’s run by a central authority like a joint program office.

In his talk today, Bush also floated the idea of a larger joint exercise that involves each service’s JADC2-specific contributions, like the Army’s Project Convergence, the Navy’s Project Overmatch and the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System

Bush was joined by Sean Stackley, president of integrated mission systems at L3 Harris, who added that combatant commands should develop the exercise because they are the “kingpin of requirements.”

“Doing so would help drive alignment of budgets and harmonization of budgets,” said Stackey, who formerly served as the assistant secretary of the navy for research, development and acquisition. “It also sends a very clear signal to the Hill that we’ve got to have this capability.” 

In March, the Pentagon released a public version of its JADC2 strategy, outlining ambitious goals for the program and how it will be implemented by the JADC2 CFT, led by Army Brig. Gen. Rob Parker. JADC2 refers to connecting “sensors to shooters,” or the streamlined gathering, interpreting and disseminating of battlefield data from innumerable sources to innumerable decision-makers and battlefield commanders to act upon.

However, the eight-page summary left more questions than answers and provided little insight into how the joint staff and services will actually make it work.

The large-scale exercise idea Bush floated could help reduce long-held concerns about the complexity of the Pentagon’s JADC2 efforts. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been weary about DoD’s plans on implementing JADC2, and in June, the House Armed Services Committee’s cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee in its mark of the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill said its unclear how each separate effort by the military service’s is progressing or how much they’ll cost.

RELATED: Lawmakers Want Clarity On JADC2 Efforts: Who’s Getting What, When?

The subcommittee asked for a report on DoD’s JADC2 plans no later than Dec. 30, which should include an inventory of JADC2-related development efforts with descriptions of performance objects, costs and schedules and a list of potential gaps along with how DoD plans to address and fund them.

In addition to the report, the subcommittee directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review and report on JADC2 efforts.

“JADC2 is a very complex undertaking… and there are a lot of pieces that all need to come together in order to create this capability that the department is depending on,” one staffer said June 7 in a briefing to reporters. “The services have their specific efforts that may be succeeding or encountering challenges each on their own merits and they’re supposed to net together into this cohesive whole. So this is really towards alignment and supervision.”





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