Defense Operations

December 16, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Master Sgt. Thomas Puckett, USAF, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit section chief, sends off an F-35 Lightning II fighter jet assigned to the 6th Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The Air Force has made the Shadow Operations Center at Nellis the location validating its Joint all-domain command and control. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver

The U.S. military is aggressively pursuing the ability to function in any domain, across the realms of sea, land, air, space and cyber, with Joint all-domain command and control enabling decision-making and operations.

For part of the Air Force’s contribution, the service will look to its Shadow Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, as the place where it will validate the tactics needed for multidomain operations, including Joint all-domain command and control, Air Force leaders explained at recent AFCEA International events.

On December 1, the service connected key sensors to the center, activating initial existing capabilities, leaders announced recently.

November 25, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, USA, director, Network-Cross Functional Team, speaking at AFCEA International’s Alamo Chapter ACE 2019 event in San Antonio, Texas on November 20, tells the industry that the service is pursuing its next round of advanced tactical technologies from the industry.

The Army is two years into its aggressive front to modernize and shift to be a more agile, lethal force, moving away from counterinsurgency warfare. One of the service’s major priorities as part of that modernization effort is to create an integrated tactical network that can support soldiers fighting anywhere at anytime against near-peer adversaries in a contested environment, explained Maj. Gen.

December 1, 2019
By Jennifer Miller

When it comes to acquisition reforms, many know of the talent management, leader development and other transaction authority endeavors, but in this column I want to highlight a lesser-known effort, Army Directive 2018-26 (Enabling Modernization Through the Management of Intellectual Property), which will be incorporated into a number of other Army regulations covering acquisition, technology transfer and integrated product support.

November 21, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, USN, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, describes the challenges it faces. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is facing myriad challenges from multiple nations as it seeks to maintain force superiority in the Indo-Pacific area of operations (AOR). What once was science fiction is now science fact, and technology leaps that used to be the purview of the United States now are blossoming in nations with an eye on global hegemony.

The deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, USN, described the situation the fleet faces in the final luncheon address at TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019, held November 19-21 in Honolulu. While the vast size of the Indo-Pacific AOR has not changed, the environment has shifted dramatically.

November 21, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Officials from four nations address issues confronting efforts to achieve coalition interoperability. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

Enabling military information systems to interoperate in a coalition environment will take more than just technologies that shake hands easily. Countries with diverse opinions of their ad-hoc partners will complicate already difficult logistics during even simple operations.

Trust lies at the heart of coalition interoperability, offered keynote panelists opening the third day of TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019, being held November 19-21 in Honolulu. Participants represented four of the Five Eyes nations from three continents as they explored the issues inhibiting effective coalitions.

November 20, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, describes the service's expanding mission in the Indo-Pacific region. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

The U.S. Coast Guard has increased its activities across the Pacific theater, including a national security cutter deployed under the control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. Concurrent with these efforts are increased efforts in cyberspace, with a special focus on personnel.

These points were emphasized by Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, at the keynote breakfast opening day 2 of TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019 being held November 19-21 in Honolulu. Adm. Lunday described an expanding mission that includes serving the maritime security needs of small Pacific nations.

November 19, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discuss the Defense Department's digital modernization at TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019 in Honolulu. Credit: Bob Goodwin Photography

The future of the military is built around usable information, and the future of that information lies in innovation. Industry and government both understand these points and are moving to accommodate them, but their work still is far from complete.

Panelists exploring the Defense Department’s digital modernization gathered on the first day of TechNet Indo-Pacific 2019 in Honolulu November 19-21. They cited several hurdles to be overcome—some technical, others basic. “Data is good, but it’s useless until you can analyze it to make it useful,” said Adm. Dick Macke, USN (Ret.). And making data useful will be the key to prevailing in future confrontations.

November 15, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s commanding general, Gen. Paul E. Funk , USA, speaks to soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia in September. How the Army trains its soldiers, especially its leaders, has to change to meet the demands of multidomain operations, he says. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright.

The ability to fight and win across any battlespace of air, land, sea, space or cyber is a necessary component of any successful future campaign, U.S. military leaders have indicated. And the ability to operate adroitly in such a manner needs to come straight from the top, from its leadership. However, the complexity inherent to multidomain operations will require tomorrow’s leaders to be more skillful than in any previous era, asserted Gen. Paul Funk, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Gen. Funk took over as the Command’s 17th leader in June.

November 14, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Lt. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, USMC, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, speaks to Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan Reyes

Multidomain operations (MDO) are not new for the U.S. military’s amphibious force. The Marine Corps approach of maneuver warfare “easily accommodates multidomain operations,” claimed Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, USMC, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and commanding general, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. “In fact, it is central to that requirement.”

November 12, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, USN, commander, U.S. Second Fleet (c), speaks to USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) wardroom during a visit to the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. Adm. Lewis spoke at MILCOM 2019. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Elliott

The United States and NATO are facing greater threats from the Russian Federation, and a growing interest from China, in the waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic, warned Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, USN, who spoke Tuesday at AFCEA International and IEEE’s MILCOM conference in Norfolk, Virginia.

The dual-hatted commander oversees both the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet and NATO’s new Joint Force Command Norfolk. To combat rising threats and provide stability, both commands must improve their operational abilities in these northern waters, he said.

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft join ships of the USS Ronald Reagan in a multiservice exercise in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) seeks expanded capabilities to counter new and growing threats across a region that comprises more than half the Earth’s surface.  MC2 Kenneth Abbate

More crisis points are challenging U.S. goals in the Indo-Pacific region, and the combined command in charge of that vast theater is gathering resources and partners to maintain an effective military and diplomatic presence against rivals and other threats to peace and security. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is building new coalitions, acquiring innovative technologies and adding greater capabilities while continuing to carry out its mission.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, flies during a recent recovery training. Any command and control solutions have to reach airmen across the Indo-Pacific region, leaders say.  Pacific Air Forces.

Operating across the great distances of the Indo-Pacific region requires robust communication solutions. To meet the technological demands of airmen in the region, the U.S. Air Force, and in particular the Pacific Air Forces, are considering resilient network architecture, advanced software, battlespace command and control center solutions, new high frequency capabilities, low-earth-orbit platforms and decision-making tools, among other innovative solutions.

October 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Army paratroopers sling-load a ground mobility vehicle to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a September 2019 Saber Junction exercise in Germany. Army officials intend to invest heavily in multidomain operations in the coming years. Credit: Army Sgt. Henry Villarama

The U.S. Army is committing to the multidomain operations (MDO) concept with a $700 million budget plan for fiscal years 2021-2025. The investment includes cyber, cloud and information warfare.

“Multidomain operations is our fighting concept, and it serves as the foundation of the Army Modernization Strategy. The MDO is how the Army supports the joint force in the rapid and continuous integration across all domains of warfare—land, sea, air, space and cyberspace—to ultimately deter, and win the fight should deterrence fail,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

October 17, 2019
By George I. Seffers
M1A2 Abrams tanks take part in a May 2019 exercise in Poland. U.S. Army officials plan a massive exercise, Defender-Europe early next year. It will be the largest of its kind in 25 years.  Photo Credit: Sgt. Thomas Mort

Defender-Europe 2020, a massive, first-of-its-kind exercise to take place next spring, will test the Army’s ability to rapidly project power forward, effectively operate with other nations and engage in multidomain operations, service officials revealed at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force Airmen prepare an F-22 Raptor for takeoff at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in September. The Air Combat Command is taking steps to ready the Air Force for multidomain operations.  U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe

On the battlefield of the future, warfighters will need to be extraordinarily interconnected to weapon systems in the air, sea, space, land and digital realms. To support operations across these multiple domains, warfighters will have to rely on advanced command and control capabilities and vigorously employ cyber defenses to its weapons and systems.

November 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Key moments in history are often determined after the fact. But today, we have the luxury of knowing that we are at an important nexus in geopolitics. We stand at a crossroads in the Indo-Pacific region, and the actions we take now may well determine the future of the region and beyond.

Issues abound. India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, have witnessed an increase in hostility along their common border. Terrorist organizations flow from Southwest Asia into the archipelagos of southern Asia, and North Korea remains a secretive puzzle with a massive potential for violence.

November 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)
The multidomain operations concept envisions future wars being executed extremely fast and incorporating a great deal of automation and networking to connect sensors to warfighters across all domains—land, air, sea, space and cyber. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

My columns so far have centered on various components of modernization and innovation that I think are needed for the U.S. military to reposition itself for success on future battlefields. Emerging technologies, culture, workforce, partnerships—all play critical roles and must be recalibrated for a future that will be increasingly complex and dynamic.

As the Defense Department moves to embrace more innovation, it will change the way our future wars will be fought. Defense planners already are working to understand this in detail, and the vision they have devised is called multidomain operations (MDO).

November 1, 2019
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

When Google announced it was acquiring Nest for a little over $3 billion in 2014, analysts thought the company wanted to enter the home appliances market.

Wrong.

It was all about the data.

Google gained access to a treasure trove of information about consumer demands for heating and cooling. The company learned when people turned on their furnaces and shut off their air conditioners. Google could pair this information with the type of household, neighborhood and city.

October 17, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An Atlas V rocket carrying a Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite for an Air Force mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in January. DOD is proposing the creation of the U.S. Space Force to protect the space domain. Credit: United Launch Alliance

To build the Space Force, the proposed sixth service of the U.S. military, the Defense Department will initially pull from all the services, not just the Air Force, according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Steve Kitay. It will truly be a joint warfighting service, he stressed.

October 15, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Philippine airman acts as a gunner for a U.S. Marine during a surface-to-air missile simulation in a joint exercise. The U.S. Into-Pacific Command is seeking new technologies that will enable U.S. and partner forces to interoperate advanced capabilities in the battlespace. Credit: Lance Cpl. Brianna Tuck, USMC

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is confronting technologically proficient adversaries with a combination of innovation and cooperation as it prepares for operations ranging from disaster relief to military force countermeasures. The command has a technology wish list that encompasses virtually all of its missions and is heavy on building cooperation among current and new allies and partners.

Deterrence is the name of the game for INDOPACOM, says its commander, Adm. Phil Davidson, USN. He describes the strategy’s goal as knitting together allies and partners to assure them of the way ahead, thereby deterring adversaries in the region.

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