DOD tests network resiliency with warfighters, ‘not with just the CIOs’
This summer, Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, Director for C3/Cyber, CIO, Joint Staff J-6, announced that upcoming joint military exercises would focus on network resiliency, an area he described as underemphasized in previous war games.
The games aim to rigorously test the Defense Department’s command and control links, “Not after the fact. Not in a special IT forum. Not with just the CIOs,” he said at the recent Defense One Tech Summit, “but in front of the warfighters to say: ‘Here’s the impact this move would have had.’”
Such war games will necessarily look far different from traditional exercises focused on kinetic effects, instead focusing upon threats like challenges to connectivity in an era of Great Power Competition. Critically, they will also help inform the DOD about how to better build resiliency into both its existing and future networks as part of its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) effort.
Five key drivers of JADC2
The need to build and test resilient, trusted systems across the force is a cornerstone of how Leidos approaches the challenge of JADC2. Experts and engineers at Leidos are developing resilient technology solutions to address five key drivers of DOD’s effort: Multi-Domain Operations, the Internet of Military Things, Automation and Autonomy, Accelerating the Decision Cycle, and the Need for Trusted Systems.
Traditionally, each military service has developed its own tactical communications network for the unique requirements of its mission, often without consideration of cross domain use. At its extreme, in the 1983 invasion of Grenada, legend has it that Navy SEALS had to use a calling card to request air support because their radios did not connect to other services. Communications have greatly advanced since that day, but inter-service connectivity challenges among and between key military platforms persist. The continuing shift of focus from asymmetric to near-peer threats calls for precise coordination across the military services and warfighting domains.
The military internet of things (M-IoT)
The Military Internet of Things posits that networked devices, in some cases powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, will have the ability to swing the outcome of military conflicts. Similar to the increasing interconnectedness of everyday devices, from smart phones to refrigerators, the military and industry are developing new communications technologies and standards with the same default interconnectivity, vastly increasing the number of sensors available on the battlefield. Integrating capabilities from those latest small devices, such as smart phones, watches, glasses, and more, will therefore be essential to controlling the future multi-domain battlefield.
Automation and autonomy
The U.S. military envisions autonomous systems as a force multiplier that will augment, but not replace, service members in combat. In the high-tempo future battlefield, warfighters risk information overload, and therefore, will need autonomous systems to more quickly and effectively respond. And critically, the use of autonomous systems in appropriate situations reduces the physical threat posed to warfighters.
Accelerating the decision cycle
Autonomous systems paired with the Internet of Military Things will increase the speed of decision making on the battlefield. Such a change necessitates mission-critical enabling technologies that automatically, rapidly, and accurately process data and deploy capabilities, to help service members make the best possible decisions in any environment, including those with degraded network availability.
Need for trusted systems
New technologies designed to enable JADC2 capabilities will have the unintended effect of vastly increasing the attack surface to military networks and sensitive data, exposing potential vulnerabilities to adversaries. To combat this threat, U.S. military contractors and engineers must design systems with cyber security protections built in from the onset, based on Zero Trust principles Solutions that guard against not only external threats, but also insider ones. Additionally as software becomes more AI-centric, the military will need tools to examine algorithms for biased results and protect them from spoofing. Lastly, given risks posed by electronic jamming and subterfuge, the military will also need counter-electronic warfare (EW) capabilities to maintain system availability.
For more information on Leidos’ view on five key drivers of JADC2, watch this wide-ranging fireside chat with Leidos Chief Technology Officer Doug Jones, Senior Solutions Architect Erik King, and Director of the Digital Modernization Accelerator Derrick Pledger.