By: Ernest Nisperos
Approximate Reading Time: 25 Minutes
This paper aims to generate a tangible construct to complement the advanced technology being developed for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The research focuses on three main areas. First, advocate for a new team concept called Joint Effects Convergence Team (JECT) that complements JADC2 future tech, on par with 2030 weapons systems such as Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). Second, provide the framework to evolve current command and control (C2) constructs to a fused system of convergence that complements Agile Combat Employment (ACE). Lastly, this analysis introduces a new realm of possibilities for how USAF manages future JADC2 experts.
JADC2, within distributed forces in the ACE concept, will require a new method of battle management (BM). This new evolution must be postured to leverage disruptive technology and dispersed command structure between the air operations center and forward operating locations. Current BM constructs are not resilient in a spectrum contested environment nor prepared for dispersed human-on-the-loop weapon systems connected with ABMS. The USAF does not currently build JADC2 experts to manage human-on-the-loop advanced technology. The USAF does not have a construct for distributed JADC2 for ACE with qualified experts ready to accept delegated authorities.
The USAF should evolve its current BM experts into JADC2 professionals, and its BM platforms into joint effects convergence platforms prepped to master JADC2. The Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) targeted for evolution should include all future AFSCs that will perform future war BM rolls. However, to begin evolution with corporate knowledge of BM, the USAF should leverage both officer and enlisted communities (13B, 13C, 13L, 1A3, 1C5, 1Z2, 1Z3) that are purposely trained with BM and C2 execution from ground and airborne platforms as core competencies, both of which are essential elements of JADC2.
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF) General Goldfein’s vision for the USAF in 2030 involves a new form of technology that links our current and future platforms into a mesh network. General Goldfein’s call to arms has created an interservice technology race and a hyper-focus on the command and control ABMS backbone. In a memorandum to the USAF, General Goldfein used a football analogy comparing the current C2 force structure to a strong run offense, but a new offense is necessary for JADC2. By evolving the BM and C2 professionals into JADC2 effects experts for tactical level warfare, the USAF can keep our great power competition strategy on par with the advanced technology in development and build corporate knowledge for 2030 warfare. Using General Goldfein’s football analogy the USAF should build a coordinator cadre that coach our position players (platforms), build and orchestrate the playbooks, and synergize joint all-domain (offense, defense, special teams) operations across all the levels of warfare.
ACE will require the USAF to evolve BM and C2 distribution to connect the 2030 weapons systems through advanced technology, like ABMS. The USAF must adopt the lessons learned found in sister service functions like the US Army Future Operations Cell, Current Operations Integration Cell (COIC) and USMC Fires Effect Coordination Cell (FECC). The USAF can use the flexible and tailorable JECT concept on the ground, in the air, in multiple tactical and operational functions. Traditional BM platforms should transform their roles to function under the continuum of domain control (See Figure 2).
The USAF can use lessons learned from sister services that already have entities that operate under multi-domain integration concepts. The US Army Future Operations Cell ensures planning timelines are nested with the battle rhythm requirements of the joint force commander to ensure targets are nominated and joint capabilities (joint interdiction, air support, electronic warfare, joint suppression of enemy air defenses, and joint personnel recovery) are requested on time to support the deep operations. The US Army COIC leverages detailed synchronization of the timings of actions of multiple units within a short time window. For example, firing times for suppression of enemy air defenses must be synchronized with electronic attack aircraft and based on the transit times of Army aviation units. The USMC operates a FECC capable of planning, coordinating, and monitoring the execution of MEF-level fires and coordinating both lethal and non-lethal fires as they relate to information operations such as deception, operations security, electronic warfare, or cyberspace warfare.
Just like ABMS is a system of systems, a team of teams should be created using a new concept called Joint Effects Convergence Team. Evolving from the TACP concept, JECT can control air support but also JADC2 timing, schemata, and management from the Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) level down to the tactical level. This construct involves creating deliberate roles and cross-functional responsibilities with joint qualifications recognizable across the joint forces. JECT is the logical construct for ACE utilizing a Multi-Hub-and-Spoke network of JADC2 employment. The Multi-Hub-and-Spoke will synergize the command and control of the ABMS mesh network. With expected mosaic warfare in future combat, the USAF must be ready to employ future technologies, like ABMS, with joint qualifications to plan, employ, and control JADC2 effects.
Understanding Joint All-Domain Concepts – A quick overview
Joint All-Domain operations are conducted across multiple domains and contested spaces to overcome an adversary’s strengths by presenting them with several operational and/or tactical dilemmas through the combined application of calibrated force posture; employment of multi-domain formations; and convergence of capabilities across domains, environments, and functions in time and spaces to achieve operational and tactical objectives (TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, 6 December 2018). JADC2 is the ability to simultaneously manage command and control in all six domains– EMS (including cyber), space, air, land, maritime, and human (including information operations) – and to use this complexity as a weapon against adversaries (See Figure 2 below). JADC2 attempts to incorporate the multi-service roles in C2 with advanced technologies. JADC2 is the term of art now agreed among the service chiefs for the relatively simple idea of linking all US military sensors to all shooters — from all services, in all domains — to rapidly target enemy forces on the battlefield.
The ABMS ‘system of systems’ was initially created to replace the E-8C JSTARS but has since been updated to move beyond any single platform solution. ABMS is associated with the architecture to connect multiple sensors, platforms, and interfaces. The Air Force is still deliberating what ABMS will look like in its final form, although officials have said it will include a mix of traditional manned aircraft, drones, space-based technologies, and data links.
The Six Domains
- Electromagnetic spectrum (EMS): the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation from zero to infinity, it is divided into 26 alphabetically designated bands. Joint Publication 3-13. Cyberspace, represents only a subset of EMS operations that can be influenced by the other domains. The EMS as a domain, provides greater flexibility in accomplishing objectives than solely on cyberspace effects. Cyber, within EMS consists of the interdependent networks of IT, infrastructure, and resident data, including the Internet, telecom networks, computer systems, and embedded processes and controllers. Joint Publication 3-12
- Space Domain: the area above the altitude where atmospheric effects on airborne objects become negligible. Joint Publication 3-14
- Air Domain: the atmosphere, beginning at the Earth’s surface, extending to the altitude where its effects upon operation become negligible.
- Land Domain: the area of Earth’s surface ending at the high-water marks and overlapping with the maritime domain in the landward segment of the littorals.
- Maritime Domain: the oceans, seas, bays, estuaries, islands, coastal areas, and the airspace above these, including the littorals. Joint Publication 3-32
- Human Domain: the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information”. Information operations: the integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.
|Figure 2. Continuum of domains: actions on decisive points that execute joint-all domain objectives|
The Case for Convergence
Using General Goldfein’s football analogy, an answer to his call to arms for the command and control community is to build, coach, and coordinate the new offense that empowers the talents we already have on the team and will have in 2030 with a cadre of coordinators, JECT. Also, to play at an increased tempo we need to expertly manage our players by building a multi-layered, multi-faceted strength and conditioning program, Joint Effects Convergence Cells (JECC), to be ready to overwhelm our adversaries in our new offensive schemata. To ensure we can play at increased tempos, we must build the strength and conditioning program in the form of JADC2 Multi-Hub-and-Spoke operations. This strength and conditioning program across JADC2 entities should be built on lessons learned from the Army COIC, and USMC FECC, a hybrid Air Support Operations Center (ASOC), Control and Reporting Center (CRC), and Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS) using ABMS to connect the necessary domains. In essence, detailing the inherent multi-domain functions of these entities and creating a Joint Effects Convergence Center (JECC). The JECC would serve as the main JADC2 hub in a MDTF with the ability to generate Multiple-Hub-and-Spoke operations distributing JADC2 experts into Air, Land, Sea, Space, and Cyber cross-functional spokes.
|Figure 3. JECT Interdependencies|
JADC2 needs a cadre of coordinators trained to master the game plans from multiple perspectives; perched high above the field of play, in the coach’s box mid-way up the stadium, and on the ground with the players themselves. The Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) community is a particularly ideal position to evolve to JADC2 experts. BMC2 must seize the initiative to master the continuum of domain effects and evolve from the masters of the continuum of control. JECTs are a feasible solution to the JADC2 planning and execution problem. An evolution for JADC2 should be JECTs expertly applying multi-domain effects at multiple levels of warfare. The Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) provides a qualification for TACP and joint battlefield career field members to apply terminal control of airpower deliberately and with proper authorities. The JADC2 equivalent should be Joint-Domain Effects Controllers (JDEC). JDECs are needed to be forward and airborne joint service qualified focal points to leverage adversary vulnerabilities with blue JADC2 synergistic actions.
MDTF Multi-Hub and Spokes for ACE
|Figure 4. Continuum of Control|
With a 2030 goal for ABMS, the USAF has a ten-year window to leverage leading-edge future technology with the current battlefield and BM airmen expertise to enhance decision-making ability and gain an advantage against competition adversaries. BMC2 professionals should evolve from masters of the continuum of control (See Figure 4) into masters of the continuum of domain effects (See Figure 2) to purposely plan, execute, and assess JADC2 actions across all warfighting domains.
What JADC2 looks and feels like is more than the ABMS point-to-point mesh network. The inner workings and transfer of decision authorities lay in the ability to interpret ABMS, leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI), and match functions with effects across domains. In order to establish a new system of C2 talent management and mastery of JADC2 effects, it is time to analyze the current use of the Theater Air Control System airmen and what those experts should be doing in future warfare. If JADC2 and ABMS are to be successful, it is time to implement JADC2 mission functions commensurate with new technologies and rebalance C2 expertise across the joint force.
As the USAF pushes for better talent management and more efficient use of a smaller force, it makes sense to utilize current BMC2 professionals where the joint forces need them, aligning with the ACE concept. For example, move BM experts from AWACS, JSTARS, and CRCs and train them as a JECT to place in a JECC. With the canceling of the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar, 3DELRR, contract, JSTARS Recap, and the limited SATCOM bandwidth on both the E-3G and E-8C, it is now time for a new concept that strikes away from stove-piped C2 and intelligence functions and bring cyber and space capabilities down to the tactical level. In a Multi-Hub-and-Spoke JECC several BM career fields would be gainfully employed. The congruence mechanism for JECC is the JDEC joint qualification. JDEC qualifications inside the Multi-Hub-and-Spoke system allows tailorable JADC2 functions to be planned, executed, and forward deployed, to include airborne at rapid and efficient rates.
As concepts of operations (CONOP) inside an MDTF are developed, the JECC should serve as the hub for JADC2 allocation, synergy of effects, and synchronization of assets. MDTF level leadership can utilize the JECC for specific planning efforts while the spokes can employ and stay focused on brigade/regiment and company (US Army USMC, USN) level JADC2 actions. The JECC can also retain authorities or delegate them in a Multi-Hub system inherently setup for redundancy. A JECC spoke can be as small as one person or a team of tactically focused JADC2 experts. A spoke can collapse on a hub and reform into another spoke to tailor to that hub’s needs based on operational requirements. The Multi-Hub-and-Spoke system should be tailorable for contested and permissive environments. It should allow both point to point communications in a mesh network and traditional hub-and-spoke delegation of authority. The benefits of a JADC2 Multi-Hub-and-Spoke system include rapid and flexible delegation of authorities, seamless up and down communication, and efficient lateral communication.
|Figure 5. Relationship between JECC, JECT, JDEC|
The JECT Concept
The key to translating decision solutions in the absence of operational connectivity is through the concept of convergence. With JECC and JECT, the Joint Force Commander can present the opponent with multiple dilemmas and overwhelm their defenses through decisive actions in all domains. The result is opponents will have to defend their forces across all domains, all the time, forcing adversaries to simultaneously defend in each of the six domains (See Figure 2) empowered by convergence teams.
The JECT is not a person or a position; it is a team. The team consists of qualified and certified convergence operators, trained to be flexible and repairable when an operational element in the battlefield environment, like a mosaic piece, is degraded or removed. JECTs should be built and equipped from specific specialties representing all the domains, with a team dynamic of interdependent authorities. The JECT should also have diverse teams to allow the subject matter experts to own the authority for the effect needed without having to outsource the corporate knowledge required to make the decision.
Wes Bryant wrote in Hunting the Caliphate,
“As the controller of all air assets in the fight, the JTAC is the vital link on the ground between combat troops and the airpower that supports and protects them…rightfully termed the single greatest combat multipliers on the battlefield,’ one JTAC can annihilate droves of enemy forces with the firepower at his disposal…JTACs have become so coveted by American commanders that they’re deemed a minimum force requirement for nearly all combat operations—meaning that any unit pushing into enemy territory on an offensive operation must have a JTAC attached.”
The JECT and JDEC should bring convergence and synergy in JADC2 similarly to what the JTAC qualification brought to close proximity and detailed integration. The next war will still need detailed integration, but across six domains and synchronization and ability to pivot back and forth with operational and tactical elements. Any unit pushing into enemy territory (physical or digital) must have a JECT.
During the rise of Daesh in Syria, the answer for distributed use of JTACs was a Strike cell. The Strike Cell was created by piping in the video feeds from assets above target locations and feeding in other intelligence data to a cell. Analysts sat next to senior JTACs and target validation authority, and nearby leadership with target engagement authority could make strike decisions. A legal representative, usually a Judge Advocate General (JAG), could ensure rules of engagement (ROE) were met and legalize the strike request. Then the strike cell would pass the delegated authority directly to the JTAC in the target area. At times, the strike message was relayed through C2 aircraft, CRC, or the ASOC to connect the authorities and pair the target assignment at a later time. This relay also synchronized preplanned strikes by reassigning the correct asset from one JTAC to another when appropriate. JECC Multi-Hub-and-Spoke systems should be used in a similar way for JADC2 effects – utilizing distributed operations via JECT spokes (at forward locations if needed), fusing intelligence from all six domains to synergize a decision, and then delegating the authority to the JDEC members in the most logical spoke.
|Figure 6. JECC and JDECs using a meshed network using Multi-Hub-and-Spoke to move, delegate and control effects|
JECT can rapidly and effectively execute authorities from the operational and tactical levels of future war. JECTs must be aligned and codified with the same importance and priority applied to JTACs during the War on Terror. To address this shortfall, the JECT concept should be created to leverage four main areas:
1. JECTs need to be scalable to utilize garrison, forward, airborne, or sea-based teams and have the authorities to exploit the interdependencies of every domain with the most able decision authority in the loop.
2. JECTs require the inclusion of formally trained team members, qualified for warfare in delegate authority for mosaic warfare in the six domains.
3. JECTs must build, train, rehearse, and employ as specialized teams, integrate by converging objectives and effects that execute the operational and tactical authorities commensurate with the level of war.
4. JECTs should employ members as JDECs. They should be the primary JADC2 advisors to the joint, multinational, and special operations force commanders for the integration of joint all-domain effects. JDECs should plan, request, coordinate and control effects convergence support.
The JECT and JDEC concept answers the call to arms from General Goldfein to build a force capable of applying multi-domain effects using smartly JADC2-educated airmen. The USAF must have the ability to educate, train, and develop JADC2 experts to think multi-domain for both tactical and operational warfare. This requires a foundational understanding of JADC2 with specific training for joint mission commanders, multi-domain operators, and planners at all levels.
|Figure 7. JECT positions with interdependent roles|
Positions within the JECT must be able to leverage complex problem-solving situations, but also must be scalable and tailorable to the needs of the forward mission. Any position in the JECT can be filled by joint forces in a specialty commensurate with the JECT position. At the MDTF level, and inside the JECC, joint billets are highly recommended. However, in an ACE scenario, airmen will have to learn other roles and be familiar enough to make decisions based on delegated authorities. This example JECT construct is built for the lowest possible echelon, forward and dispersed.
Section Lead (SL): Responsible for delegated effects authority and lead JDEC while leading. This position is interchangeable to allow for flexibility in team dynamics.
Space Coordinator: Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Space Force coordination, Integration expert for National Technical Means (NTM) and National-Tactical Integration (NTI), and interagency coordination for space effects management and deconfliction.
Analysis, Correlation, Fusion (ACF) Coordinator: Responsible for damage and effects analysis and JDEC support for target nomination and adversary human geography.
Legal Assessments-Judge Advocate General (JAG): Lawyer responsible for rules of engagement (ROE) clarification, risk assessments, and estimated effects legal impacts
EMS Coordinator: Responsible for electromagnetic spectrum status/ analysis. Mesh network vulnerabilities, Adversary spectrum analysis, Kinetic, Non-Kinetic, Integration, Fires Effects (KNIFE) coordination.
Cyber Coordinator: Responsible forcyber offense and defense effects, network and SCADA intrusion integration, Interagency coordination and integration, SOF coordination
Air Coordinator: Responsible for air-delivered effects, integration with airpower assets from sister services, airborne ISR tactical coordinator, Link Management, Procedural deconfliction
Land Coordinator: Responsible for ground delivered fires, integration for air support of ground maneuver assets (CAS, SOF), fires deconfliction from ground delivered fires
Maritime Coordinator: Responsible for maritime delivered effects,Link Management and Integration with maritime assets, Undersea operations integration, Carrier Wing integration
Information Operations Coordinator: Responsible for information effects, social media integration/targeting, deception and distraction integration, interagency coordination
This diversity has proven to be an effective mix of specialties in the COIC and FECC, capable of finding convergence in joint all-domain effects. There is also enough divergence built in to present the most expeditious and effective joint all-domain course of action that has been tested through an operational design rigor. The section lead changes as needed for phase objectives and CONOP tasks because the convergence is the goal, not traditional direction from the supported service or domain.
Most importantly, the JECT can be employed on the ground, airborne, or on a vessel. The JECT can be configured to overwhelm in a single domain or spread effects in all six domains. The flexibility and level of warfare necessary is the key component of where the JECT focuses the effects needed. The JECT concept allows human-on-the-loop use of ABMS to fuse simultaneous actions from all the warfighting domains at a time and intensity commensurate with the mass, speed, and complexity needed to overwhelm, cause dilemmas and outmatch adversaries over a designed and converged effect continuum. Ultimately, JECTs will distill clarity from complexity for operationally decisive actions during windows of opportunity designed and converged from multiple domains.
|Figure 8. JECT outputs by Domain in order to create a JADC2 playbook|
2030 JADC2 in Practice
The following is a notional vignette describing what JADC2 battle rhythm would look like in 2030 with JECT concept employed in a MDTF.
The JECC Chief checked his system time on his Common Operating Picture (COP) enabled device en-route to a secure JADC2 sync meeting. The sync meeting with forward mobile JECC spokes was part of mission planning for the next day’s operations for the dispersed units under ACE. His brief was to be delivered to a Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) audience spread across Forward Operating Bases (FOB), Forward Support Locations (FSL), Forward Operation Sites (FOS) and Main Operating Bases (MOB) all sharing the same meshed network ABMS COP. He had a domain synchronization matrix and a three-day JADC2 plan prepped and was ready to receive alibis for the systems and weapons that would be tasked with Mission Type Orders (MTO) during the effects sync.
As the brief began, he prepped the lead JECT, a crew of 12 joint operators from nine different career field specialties. The JECT was led by a Section Lead (SL) that stood as the director of effects and was also one of four JDECs for the team. The SL was ready for the first JADC2 vulnerability-window (vul) of the day, based on the Integrated Tasking Order (ITO). The SL would be coordinating the current vul with a synchronization matrix and delegation matrix. He briefly reviewed the delegation matrix that listed the mosaic events that would occur in the next three hours. This was the third of nine JADC2 vuls today.
The first two JADC2 vuls had already sent a decoy message constructed by interagency liaisons in the MDTF to Associated Press outlets and social media feeds that an Airborne Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) was moving east, closer to the Limtropian border to set up a new Forward Line of Troops (FLOT). This, in fact, was not true, but deception messages were common at this point. Shortly before that message went out, the previous message said six USMC Ospreys were landing at a northern border FOB with USMC Raiders followed by a small Cobra attack helicopter contingent, neither of which were actually happening.
The SL’s priority for the next vul would be a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a Limtropian Republican Guard Corps server that controls the air surveillance operating picture for the southern half of Limtropia. This would be followed by tear drop attacks on the targeted server for the next three days and intermittent telephony denial-of-service (TDoS) during critical vul windows of subsequent JADC2 vuls. The SL was tasked earlier to ensure the cube satellite constellation currently overhead Limtropia was ready to detect and report for local Space Situational Awareness (SSA) on the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) mobile missile battery. Three days ago, the ASAT was removed out of a hardened shelter in southern Limtropia. The SL had to ensure the Air and Land coordinators understood the windows of execution, and the delegated authority the Cyber coordinator would execute during the vul. If the tactical windows changed, a forward JECC spoke could use their JDECs to flex the timing and scheme so the platforms executing could stay synchronized.
The follow-on set of JADC2 actions were part of a branch plan pre-designed and pre-authorized to be triggered using unmanned stealth vehicles (USV) connected via ABMS. The USVs would use their sensors to provide earliest warning and pass the trigger of an active ASAT. The USVs were the MDTF’s airborne C2 and Electronic Support (ES) node for the JECC. The USVs were a popular JECT and JDEC platform, because they allowed the MDTF a real-time synchronization platform for BM of domain effects that could penetrate enemy integrated defenses. The SL would set in motion a surface-to-surface missile strike on sets of communication towers in the southern Limtropian forest that were designed to relay low altitude air surveillance contacts, but had recently been found to also receive satellite information used for targeting for their newly operational ASAT. The Cyber coordinator was critical in controlling the timing of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), tear drops, and telephony-denial-of-service (TdoS). The actions were meant to overwhelm the acute servers of the surveillance network and cause multiple dilemmas at the operating centers for the technicians attempting to simultaneously fix the DDoS and TdoS. This essentially created a window of opportunity and fog and friction, enabling the missile strike and disabling the targeting capability of the ASAT. Ultimately, this 72-hour mosaic event would also include multiple non-kinetic actions, supplemented by an already on-going information operations campaign causing Limtropian populace divergence towards ASAT operations, culminating in decision space for MDTF leaders against Limtropian aggression.
Although the country of Limtropia and the futuristic technology is fictional, the joint teams planning and controlling multi-domain effects do not have to be fictional. Current great power competition requires the USAF to develop the framework for JADC2 convergence teams. Learning how to manage the disruptive technology inflections and AI system’s technology is necessary for JADC2 to be finely tuned for future conflict. The notional vignette is meant to depict what the immediate future could be and prepare our human-on-the-loop C2 experts for 2030. The vignette above highlights how the defense enterprise must truly evolve joint force qualifications to adapt to an operating environment that is rapidly changing.
Joint, Interagency and Coalition Recommendations Aligned with JECT
The joint forces have been here before. Joint All-Domain is not a new approach to warfare in principle, but it has evolved from complicated joint warfare to complex joint-combined warfare. The joint forces must accept JADC2 as more than a buzz word – it is an actual solution to a new version of an old problem. Within each service is an all-domain enterprise that already exists, which will allow them to harness all-domain experts for their own service-specific outcomes. Over the last two decades, effects integration has devolved from a special type of collaboration into information overload from exponential amounts of joint, interagency and coalition intelligence-gathering technologies. Interagency and coalition capabilities are required to solve complex warfare. Using JECT as a bridge for interagency and coalition integration into JADC2 is timely and necessary. The warfare problems of the past were complicated, but with exponential choices for who, what, and when actions are executed compounded with being contested and degraded in all the domains–the previously complicated is now complex.
The joint forces need more than Mission Command. Our lessons learned in two decades of war should not be thrown away, but the joint forces instead must apply lessons learned in delegated authority to perform agile employment under possible barrage attacks, contested and degraded communications and distributed authorities that were previously centralized. The joint forces have not practiced this holistically since World War II and only partially practiced in Vietnam. Every war since then has been centrally controlled with less and less autonomy at the lowest levels.
Each component needs to strip down their mission-essential requirements and accept a smaller footprint at operational headquarters, pushing the command and control talent and technology forward. Now is the time to normalize being comfortable being uncomfortable. The joint force must be ready to plan conflict playbooks built with ambiguity and ‘audible’ the called plays with playbook approved offenses. The joint forces need teams led by coordinators that build the playbooks and set the digestible, adaptable set of effects and authorities across the future meshed networks as needed.
Divergent thought must be applied towards re-framing JADC2 planning in order to truly innovate our joint force qualifications to adapt to an operating environment that is rapidly changing. Now is the time to build a framework for convergence teams and provide these team members with qualifications and authorities, i.e., build, coach, and coordinate the new offense General Goldfein imagined.
We know from the last two decades of counterinsurgency and counter-terror operations that teams of teams are more conducive for flexible operations but cohesive enough that they all understand each other’s roles. As General McChrystal wrote in Team of Teams, “we needed to enable a team operating in an interdependent environment to understand the butterfly-effect ramifications of their work and make them aware of the other teams with whom they would have to cooperate in order to achieve strategic—not just tactical—success.” The lessons learned from General McChrystal’s special operations task force teams are well recorded, but the most applicable to the JECT concept is the understanding that tactical actions (in JADC2) have strategic effects and recognizing the convergence and divergence between team roles is critical to meet objectives.
Another lesson learned from counterinsurgency and counter-terror operations is the speed and availability of information and its effect on decision making. General McCrystal also wrote in Team of Teams, “paradoxically, the seemingly instantaneous communications available up and down the hierarchy had slowed rather than accelerated decision making. Repeatedly we navigated approval process that went all the way to the Pentagon or the White House for strikes, deployment of forces, or the implementation of information campaigns. Communications may have been instantaneous, but decisions never were. The aggregate effects were crippling.” With the onset of ABMS and AI hyper-focus, we run the risk of not leveraging intelligence with human-on-the-loop JADC2 experts such as JECTs. We can use JECTs to reverse the learned habit of decision-making at the most senior levels, and instead use delegated authority and shared consciousness with qualified teams at all levels of warfare.
JECTs must be empowered to operationally design and implement multi-domain operation orders powered by networked, secure, rapid, AI-enabled advanced BM. The JECT concept empowers JDECs to operate independently of centralized control with delegated authorities commensurate with the highest decision authority on the loop. Scalable, flexible JECTs should ensure commanders’ intent, empower mission command, and maximize advanced technology required for effective BM in mosaic warfare. JECTs must possess the training, experience, persistence, presence, and validated mental processing required to make decisions across the spectrum of conflict, including possible contested and degraded environments, in order to achieve operational end states.
The USAF should explore the JECT concept paired with a JDEC employment model for JADC2. The opportunity for BM operators to be deliberately trained joint operators that employ overwhelming effects provides an immediate opportunity to create dilemmas and sow doubt in opponent leadership. By applying lessons learned from the last twenty years of delegated authority during counterinsurgency operations, we can adapt to obtain the advantage despite dwindling timelines against great power competition adversaries.
The key to translating decisional advantage into operational advantage is through the concept of convergence. With the JECC employing JECT with JDEC-qualified team members, the MDTF Commander can present the opponent with multiple dilemmas and overwhelm their defenses through threatening actions in all domains. As a result, adversaries will be driven to defend their forces across all domains, all the time. In history, no attacking force has ever fought through a simultaneous defense in air, land, maritime, space, EMS, and human domains, and certainly not at the potential levels of lethality that the joint force can bring to bear through convergence enabled by JADC2.
Major Ernest “Nacho” Nisperos is currently a student in the Multi Domain Operational Strategist concentration at Air Command and Staff College. He is an Air Battle Manager with over twenty years of experience in the USAF including Munitions Systems (AMMO), Air Operations Centers (Korea, AFCENT), NATO Air Support Operations Center (ASOC), NATO Deployable Air Command and Control Centre (DACCC), Expeditionary Command and Control Center (CRC), and the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. Government.