Joint Command and Control Comes out of the Shadows
The Air Force designates its Shadow Operations Center as the location to confirm the key tactics needed for Joint multidomain operations.
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.
Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command (ACC), speaking at AFCEA and IEEE’s MILCOM 2019 conference in Norfolk, Virginia, at the AFCEA Alamo ACE 2019 event in San Antonio, and in an interview with SIGNAL Magazine, said that the center, also known as ShOC-N, will develop the necessary concepts, applications and architectures relevant for Joint multidomain operations.
“We know that multidomain operations and Joint multidomain command and control is a Joint problem and it requires Joint solutions that are much bigger than the Air Force,” Gen. Holmes said. The service needed a place to practice those capabilities, “and for us in the Air Force, with the Joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) approach, that is in our Shadow Operations Center.”
The service stood up the ShOC-N last year, building on the strengths of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at Nellis, and this fall, began building their JADC2 effort at the exercise and experimentation center.
While all services will participate in developing JADC2, “we will do at least some of that work at Nellis because we have an existing facility that we can use,” Gen. Holmes shared. “We’re applying Air Force and Joint resources to it to go ahead and get started on our efforts. We don’t have to wait until we build new sensors or new systems that deliver effects. We can start putting those together now and linking them together.”
Achieving the December 1 milestone of linking “a whole bunch of sensors back to the Shadow Operations Center at Nellis,” was a first step toward JADC2, said Brig. Gen. Chad Raduege, USAF, director, Cyberspace and Information Dominance, ACC Headquarters, speaking at Alamo ACE.
“The Shadow Operations Center has been designated as the home of Joint all-domain command and control,” he stated. “When I say Joint all-domain, this is where the Joint community will come in, and as we start thinking about the future fight to get after our National Defense Strategy, that's where all of the fusion will take place. That construct is already in place."
Since the service and the military at large are at the beginnings of JADC2, “there continues to be cycles of development and cycles of thought,” Gen. Radguege said. “Some of that is going all the way back to the beginning of understanding what's the vision and the intent that we are trying to put in place. And then you start bringing in the people and ideas and kits and building all that out.”
To go forward, the leaders are laying out a short-term approach. “Over the next several months, there are plans to do a deliberate integration and deliver development between the services to start connecting the capabilities,” Raduege noted.
And, as always, the service’s exercises will play a key role in shaping multidomain solutions. “I talked about Rapid Forge in Europe,” Gen. Raduege said. “We have a Rapid Forge West that is going to gear up in the Pacific theater in the spring of 2020, and we have numerous other exercises where we are laying technology, people and concept against those exercises. And then we will be thinking about what works and what doesn't and then making rapid decisions where we're walking through the capabilities.”
Gen. Holmes confirmed that ACC would participate in Air Force as well as Joint exercises to start to flush out JADC2.
Having cross-cutting support across leadership, the major commands and the Pentagon is vital, Raduege added. “With that unity of effort piece, you have ACC, PACAF and AFSOC and the Pentagon and lead command all talking about that and organizing around [JADC2], we are going to see some wins, and we are excited about that,” Raduege said.
In addition to the ShOC-N, ACC is pursuing increased adoption of software development security operations, or DevSecOps, supported by the service’s innovation hubs. It is also growing the multidomain operations career field, airmen referred to as 130s, which will help bring multidomain operations readiness to the military, as well as elevate the JADC2 concept, Gen. Holmes said. “Multidomain operations will take a combination of technology, operating concepts and ready forces to be able to succeed,” he stated.
All the while, the new 16th Air Force will provide information warfare support to the ShOC-N, as warfighters validate JADC2 tactics, the general explained. “Planners within the air operations centers will leverage resident 130s to create multidomain solutions, supported by the 16th Air Force Information Warfare Cell and the ShOC-N,” Gen. Holmes said.
“[We strive to] create dominance in one domain or many, blending a few capabilities or many, to produce multiple dilemmas for our adversaries that will overwhelm them,” he explained.