Joint All-Domain Command and Control for Modern Warfare

An Analytic Framework for Identifying and Developing Artificial Intelligence Applications

by Sherrill Lingel, Jeff Hagen, Eric Hastings, Mary Lee, Matthew Sargent, Matthew Walsh, Li Ang Zhang, David Blancett

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Research Questions

  1. What are common elements of multidomain command and control (currently JADC2) definitions?
  2. What are the challenges to achieving JADC2?
  3. What technologies and capabilities are needed to enable JADC2?

The authors examine and recommend opportunities for applying artificial intelligence (AI) and, more broadly, automation to deliberate planning for joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) for the U.S. Air Force.

The authors found that three primary enabling categories must be aligned to support future multidomain operations: (1) the command and control (C2) construct or how the forces are organized, where the authorities reside, and how they are trained and manned, (2) the data and data infrastructure needed to leverage data for C2, and (3) the tools, applications, and algorithms that leverage the data to C2 all-domain forces to include AI algorithms.

Moving to a modernized JADC2 requires various stakeholders to collaborate to set policy, guidance, tactics, techniques, procedures, training and exercising, infrastructure, and tools, likely leveraging AI, to operationalize concepts.

Key Findings

  • The Air Force Air Operations Center (AOC) 72-hour air-tasking cycle is incongruent with the current digital world. In the future, the balance between deliberate planning and dynamic planning will shift, with more emphasis placed on dynamic planning, and the JADC2 tools and processes need to support this change.
  • Migrating the AOC structure to a modern digital environment poses many challenges: reliance on human-centric subject-matter expert meetings and boards, multiple classification levels of data on air-gapped systems, and heavy reliance on business services products.
  • Additional factors limit the speed and scope of multidomain operations (MDO): authorities and command relationships, synchronizing battle rhythms across domains, different procedures for different domains, different C2 structures in different theaters and regions, and robust and resilient communications systems and procedures.
  • Three enabling categories should be aligned to support MDO: determining a C2 construct for JADC2, the data sources and computing infrastructure available for MDO, and algorithm development to support machine-to-machine processes with multidomain decisionmakers "on-the-loop."
  • There are multiple future MDO concepts of operations, and the needs will vary by campaign. The future C2 structure should be flexible to accommodate the variations.

Recommendations

  • The Air Force Warfighting Integration Center (AFWIC), working with Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, should postulate and continue to explore MDO concepts in support of the National Defense Strategy through wargames and tabletop exercises and then inform the broader community about agreed-upon MDO concepts. This would facilitate necessary engagements with other services and U.S. Department of Defense authorities.
  • The Air Force Chief Data Officer should establish a data-management policy across operations centers to ensure that data are saved and properly tagged for accessibility (including tagged security streams) and data-storage capacity is sufficient. Experimentation with standardization would help validate the path forward.
  • AFWIC should, with Air Combat Command (ACC), evaluate alternative C2 constructs to enable MDO. Additional wargames and workshops to compare and contrast alternatives are needed. ACC follow-on work would develop, organize, train, and equip plans.
  • JADC2 progress should occur in a cohesive, progressive, interactive way. The entire enterprise — C2 construct, data management, and the tools, apps, and algorithm development — should adhere to an overarching strategy.
  • As the warfighting integration center, AFWIC should ensure adherence to the strategy, reporting to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Challenges of Implementing Joint All-Domain Command and Control Within the U.S. Air Force's Current Operational Level Construct

  • Chapter Two

    Command and Control Modernization

  • Chapter Three

    Artificial Intelligence Opportunities for Future Multidomain Operations

  • Chapter Four

    Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem for Joint All-Domain Command and Control

  • Chapter Five

    Research Conclusions and Recommendations

Research conducted by

The research reported here was commissioned by Air Combat Command A5/8/9 and conducted by the Force Modernization and Employment Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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