Department of Defense works to integrate battlefield intel networks

The goal of the DoD'S Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) initiative is wholly integrated networks that are fast, scalable and secure.

Department of Defense works to integrate battlefield intel networks

If yours is like most enterprises, it is under intense competitive pressure to understand faster, decide faster, and act faster in an increasingly dynamic environment.

For businesses, that environment is the economy. But for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the environment in which they must leverage technology and tactics against deadly adversaries is more like a battlefield. And all but the most self-aggrandizing sales directors would agree that the stakes on the battlefield are considerably higher than growing revenue and capturing market share. (Not that they are trivial!)

To accomplish its goal of “integrated deterrence,” the DoD is relying on a framework called Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). Strip away the military jargon, though, and what we’re really talking about is a concept quite familiar to enterprise IT pros: wholly integrated networks that are fast, reliable, flexible, scalable, and secure.

In creating these integrated networks, both the DoD and non-military enterprises must rely on edge computing, connected devices, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analytics, the enterprise cloud, automation, and identity management to succeed in a world where the timeframe for making decisions and taking action is constantly shrinking.

These interconnected technologies are working toward one essential goal: to enable the sharing of information. As Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, director of Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4), Cyber and Chief Information Officer, Joint Staff J-6, put it at a recent Pentagon press briefing, “It is all about the data.”

Crall says the challenge for JADC2 is one enterprise IT pros know well: Balancing the need to secure data “with the necessity to share that information at speed. And those two things, at times, are at odds with each other.”

Security and speed at times “are at odds with each other”? Our Marine Corps lieutenant general is a master of understatement. Any IT pro can tell you that balancing the need for security with the real-time competitive imperatives of the digital age is a constant, stressful challenge. It’s the timeless productivity-versus-risk tradeoff, one that was intensified during the pandemic because suddenly tens of millions of enterprise employees were working remotely, trying to access network data and resources using personal devices that lacked end-point security.

For CIOs and other IT leaders, there are two big takeaways from the DoD’s JADC2 initiative. One is that effectively integrating network technologies to enhance operational efficiencies and achieve competitive goals requires a strategic framework. You can’t just wing it. Deployment must be tied to organizational objectives.

The second is that you need to involve and get buy-in from stakeholders across the enterprise. Failure to get buy-in can result in worse than wasted money and opportunities; it can doom your efforts.

Crall says JADC2 “brings together some rather disparate communities within the department and has us work together for a common cause. And that is needed because there are OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) equities as you might imagine, service equities, joint staff equities, combatant command and the like.”

If JADC2 can get the Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy to agree on a plan, there’s no reason you can’t get your sales director, CFO and COO on the same page regarding using digital transformation. That is best done by identifying a common goal. For the military, it’s to develop superior warfighting capabilities at the remote battlefield level. For your organization, it might be to launch a new product line, enter a new market, or reduce operating expenses.

“In the simplest terms,” Crall says, “what the JADC2 strategy does is bring order to our efforts in the command and control arena to sense, make sense, and act all at the speed of relevance.”

The “speed of relevance.” That says it all.