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Data Takes a Central Role in JADC2 Strategy

The Joint All Domain Command and Control plan centers on how to achieve a data advantage.
The idea of a data fabric as a foundation for the use of algorithms and applications to process data at the speed of relevance is a key aspect of the Joint Staff’s Joint All Domain Command and Control framework. Credit: SergeyBitos

The idea of a data fabric as a foundation for the use of algorithms and applications to process data at the speed of relevance is a key aspect of the Joint Staff’s Joint All Domain Command and Control framework. Credit: SergeyBitos

For the past few months, the Joint Staff’s J-6 leader and other officials have been drafting a plan of action for implementing the Defense Department’s Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, framework. The ability for all of the services to jointly conduct operations in space, air, sea, land and cyberspace simultaneously is seen as an essential way to succeed against near-peer adversaries. How data is organized, accessed, analyzed and dispersed in real time to decision makers is key to the success of JADC2 and is a core aspect of the developing strategy, said Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, director, Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber; and chief information officer, Joint Staff; who is known as the J-6.

The Joint All Domain Command and Control framework will deliver the ability to sense, make sense and act at speeds faster than our adversaries to deliver operational advantage,” Gen. Crall stated in an interview with SIGNAL Magazine. “This joint warfighting capability will use materiel and non-materiel solutions to derive information advantage through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics. The data-centric and algorithmic warfare envisioned in future conflicts requires a data fabric with clearly identified components and functions essential to establishing the foundation of JADC2.”

As part of flushing out the JADC2 strategy, Gen. Crall, along with Dave Spirk, chief data officer of the Department of Defense, held the first in a series of JADC2 Data Summits three weeks ago. They were joined by the military’s other chief data officers, data scientists, subject matter experts and officials from the department, the Joint Force, DOD agencies, the services, the U.S. combatant commands, the intelligence community, the Department of Homeland Security and NATO, the general said.

The starting goals of the group were to establish a common language, terms and definitions for JADC2. Discussion at the summit also centered on the technical, operational, strategic and tactical edge considerations of JADC2-related data use, Gen. Crall explained. The group also began to set how to measure data readiness, to develop prioritized tasks and milestones and to unite in a synchronized manner.

“The summit served as a great starting point and the ideal event to posture us to measure our data readiness and to set in place the prioritized tasks and milestones needed to achieve our time sensitive outcomes,” Gen. Crall stated. “[It] was critical to starting the challenging work of developing the required governance, data management practices and associated architecture required to ensure the full functionality of the JADC2 ecosystem. While the bar was intentionally set low, gaining agreement on a JADC2 data fabric definition, aligning efforts along DOD’s published Data Enterprise Strategy, as well as identifying key future efforts was immensely beneficial. Absent of this important event that brought together chief data officers from across the community of interest, DOD and joint stakeholders would continue to move forward in an unsynchronized manner and on different and potentially divergent paths.” 

The group focused on defining the concept of a data fabric for the JADC2 environment, concluding that it is: a DOD federated data environment for sharing information through interfaces and services to discover, understand and exchange data with partners across all domains, security levels and echelons, the general stated.

“The data fabric is the foundation for the Joint Force's employment of algorithms and applications to process data at the speed of relevance,” the J-6 explained. “While the JADC2 strategy provides both the why and the desired future state, the data summit helped us rationalize and define the data fabric, the means to our JADC2 decisional advantage.”

The leaders’ work also identified areas to reinforce existing department policy. “For example, instead of focusing on standardization first, we should enforce adherence to existing defense-wide requirements to publish data assets and associated interfaces, promoting discoverability and access,” Gen. Crall stated. “Additionally, we must drive capability providers and architecture owners to publish human- and machine-readable documentation describing their associated data, metadata, interfaces, joining conditions, and access requirements.”

In addition, application of the National Information Exchange Model, or NIEM, will help strengthen the “semantic consistency” across enterprise-level data. “It is expected that the use of NIEM for data exchange specifications, especially for tactical systems, will be encouraged where practical and potentially required in future capabilities,” the J-6 stated.

The next JADC2 Data Summit will be held in mid-April, the general announced.

“We have some difficult conversations ahead and we recognize that the path forward will not be easy,” Gen. Crall said. “However, we recognize we will know more in a year than we know today but the recent efforts across DOD, the services, and the COCOMs to hire chief data officers has accelerated our learning and put our JADC2 strategy on a solid foundation.”

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