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There’s a new way of thinking about war that’s taking over the Pentagon. A lot has happened for its generals and for the country over the past 30 years of American warfare. And if this latest crop of generals get their wish, a lot could happen in just the first 30 minutes of America’s next large-scale war. 

So — kind of like our last episode — preparing ourselves for the next world war is what this episode is all about, in three parts:

  1. From old capabilities to new ones (at the 1:21 mark)
  2. Opportunity and vulnerability (17:19)
  3. Mr. JADC2 Goes to Washington (31:47)

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This episode was underwritten by: 

(A transcript of this episode is below)

Part One: From old capabilities to new ones

When I was in the U.S. Army about a decade ago, I jumped out of airplanes and sometimes helicopters. Helicopters like Chinooks were my favorite, because you just walk out the back. The winds were not nearly as wild as when you leap out the side door of a C-130 or a C-17. 

I did it for the views — 15 to 20 seconds drifting downward from about 1,000 feet above the Earth, snatching miles-long glimpses of North Carolina beyond its many drop zones that made Fort Bragg the quote “home of the Airborne.” But to be honest, I also did it because I got more money in my paycheck. It wasn’t much; like $150 per month. But for lower enlisted troops like me at the time, it was a strong enough financial incentive — amid a much bigger and more dangerous game of incentives. 

The U.S. Army still gives about $150 to its airborne soldiers each month. And it does this so that America will have enough paratroopers ready to go to war — wherever it may be — on very short notice. That job falls to the 82nd Airborne Division. 

And despite an injury rate that oftentimes verges on 20%, the point isn’t really to use these paratroopers as paratroopers in war. Not exactly. The point is to kind of scare America’s enemies. To communicate the message that America can drop thousands of soldiers into war almost anywhere and at almost anytime. 

This is the essence of what’s called deterrence. Raising the costs to an enemy using speed — in this case, rapid mobilization. 

But the problem today is that, like so much else in the information age, deterrence is changing. What scares America’s enemies — what deters them — that’s changing. And it’s changing rapidly with an array of technology that makes communication incredibly fast. Especially compared to the “Band of Brothers” days of routing the Nazis from France and Italy’s coastlines. Or the Green Berets who parachuted into to Iraq to secure an airfield in 2003. 

Because the “future fight,” the Army says, “will be characterized by greater speed, growing autonomy, and increasingly dispersed footprints, in degraded or denied environments.”

Brown: “Whatever we see in the future is going to be very fast paced.”

That’s the Air Force’s Chief Gen. Charles Q. Brown. He was speaking at a recent online event hosted by The Hill. 

Brown: “And I think about you know just our day to day lives today and all the information we have at our fingertips…”

That’s the speed at which the U.S. military wants its war machines to shoot, move and communicate. 

Brown: “It is being able to bring all the information and data that we have together to allow quicker decisions. To be able to have that range, speed and agility, and to be responsive. And for the United States Air Force to be able to strike any target anywhere on the globe and do it in a very timely manner.”

Because future wars will involve drones, and computers and sensors assisted by artificial intelligence. You may be thinking: Today’s wars involve most of those things already. And that’s true — but in an often fragmented and piecemeal fashion. No one expects it to remain fragmented and piecemeal for long, especially not for advanced militaries like Russia and China’s.

Cadwell: “When NORAD stood up over 60 years ago, we viewed the oceans and the Arctic as buffer zones.” 

That’s Air Force Maj. Gen. Angela Cadwell. She directs Cyberspace Operations for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, based in Colorado. She’s speaking here at an event in September. 

Cadwell: “But now those areas have turned into avenues of approach for adversaries along with cyber and space, and the confusing information environment we're all tapping into via social media every day. That security environment has changed and our adversaries have watched the movie over the last several decades on how we conduct warfare, and they're exploiting our perceived weaknesses.”

Shwedo: “This whole thing is being driven by the National Defense Strategy that says make the shift from violent extremists to great power competition.”

That’s Air Force Lt. Gen. “B.J.” Shwedo, who works in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. 

Shwedo: “We have done multi-domain for a very long time. And what is new is this sense of urgency in this specific situation.”

Shwedo: “What is new with this capability is the opportunities that AI the cloud and 5g present to us. And then last with the capabilities and the weapon systems, the bad guys are fielding, you'll find that the advanced nature of these systems of just turning on a wave form and countering a surface to air missile is no longer an option. We're going to have to hit those targets with multi domain, all aspect creating multiple dilemmas for a bad guy in the future fight.”

Urgency. Creating multiple dilemmas for a bad guy. What’s that all look like? My colleague, Patrick Tucker, flew to Arizona this past fall to see for himself. 

Watson: Okay, so I'm tracking three major demonstrations, or kind of exercises — proofs of concept for this JADC2. You were at the last one this past September in Arizona. Can you tell me what happened?

Tucker: Right, so I was at the Yuma Proving Ground event that took place in September, the end of September. And the point of that event was to demonstrate that the Army could link together lots of different things on the battlefield. In this case, along with something called the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, which was a ground station that pre-processed lots of incoming information from all of the different objects. That includes like a great big cannon called the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA; it involves a drone called the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft or FARA — it's a little sort of like scout helicopter type of thing; an amphibious armored personnel carrier; and an air-launched effects drone, or an ALE, which is a different type of drone. And the attempt was to see if you put all of these things together, and you give it an objective — like taking over a particular area — how well can they work together in order to do that? So there was a lot of firing. There was a little bit of missing. But the objective wasn't necessarily to get everything right the first time. It was to validate the basic concept, which was that you could collapse the time it takes to do this sort of targeting by integrating all these things together.

Watson: Well, so I'm curious, because that's, that's obviously the big nut for this whole entire situation that they're trying to crack is making this happen faster. And yeah, you know, CRS report mentioned that, apparently, whenever this was being sold, DOD officials argued that they need to be able to make decisions within hours and minutes or potentially seconds compared to currently it takes a multi-day process. That sounds crazy to me. I mean, like I was in a, you know, an operation center in Afghanistan a decade ago. And I know that it did take a while for some things. But like, when there were troops in contact, everything was working very quickly. 

Tucker: Well, to hear them describe it, it definitely brings it down from multiple minutes to perhaps less than a minute or two, just a very short number of minutes. And it can be hours, it depends on what targets you're talking about. Hypothetically — let me say this. I'm gonna take out the army from this example and bring in like the Air Force to so that you get a sense of here's ultimately what JADC2 is supposed to look like, when all of the services are actually integrated. So let's say that you have to take over some stretch of land in the South Pacific, and there are a bunch of anti aircraft missile batteries that are there. You've got air reconnaissance flying into the area trying to find all of the anti aircraft missile batteries, but they missed one. So now you've got a bunch of aircraft and possibly some amphibious vehicles that are moving towards that area and possibly even some infantry units that are already in the area. And you've got an anti-aircraft missile that before you didn't see, but now you've seen it and it's a little bit too late. So in the old days, you'd say well, we'll just stick one of these F-22s on it, because it's a stealth aircraft, so we can't hit it over say your F-22 year old doing something else so what are you going to do can you stick an F-15 on it well you'll be able to see that with a you know with radar so let's say that anti aircraft missile system takes out your F-15 now you're going to have a conversation inside the eog saying well what do we do now do we attack it with one of these amphibious units do we attack it with this long-range fire cannon that we've got way over here on this other island. Do we stick this infantry unit on it? What do we do? And the smart commander will say, ‘Well I guess we should do this,’ and they'll use tactics that they've learned a long time ago when they'll make that decision. And all of that will take way too long because in the time that it takes to do that, it’s completely possible that the adversary is moving out a whole nother anti-aircraft missile battery on a truck to a new place and making it even harder for your F-15s to get in there because they keep moving faster than you're prepared for. So the way this whole JADC2 thing is supposed to work is your reconnaissance drone — perhaps satellite intel — picks up the anti-aircraft missile battery; it determines, ‘okay this is the platform that's going to be in range and best suited to take that out.’ Let's say it's an F-15, but your JADC2 construct says a maybe you actually want to go with this infantry unit that's closer over here. Let's say something happens to that infantry unit instead of a big conversation in the AOC about, ‘Oh well, now we should switch to this platform…’ All of that happens automatically, and you're also getting in that intel from your satellites — possibly from your reconnaissance aircraft — much faster so now. You're not even leaving anything out of the picture; so now the enemy can't take new truck based anti-aircraft missiles and stick them wherever. Instead, you'll be able to stick the appropriate F-15 or an F-22 on that before they figured out how to use it. And if you're the team, the unit that's in charge of that anti-aircraft missile system, it doesn't matter if you shoot that F-15 at that point because you know that even if you do there's three other things that almost immediately can come after you — it could it be the long-range fires; it could be an infantry unit; maybe it could be an F-22 — so you're screwed no matter what. And that's the difference.

Watson: This assumes a lot of the enemy. There's so much that it assumes, and you really have to whenever you're doing this game of future planning. 

And there’s excitement to that, especially around posture hearing and budget season each spring. But there are also several big, open questions. Here’s Army Chief. Gen. James McConville lightly acknowledging both of those earlier this week. 

McConville: “As we build systems, I think the discussion moves — we often talk about ‘kill chains.’ We’re talking about ‘kill webs’ now because we’ve got to have very resilient systems in place. And we should assume that the technology we’re using, our adversaries are gonna try to impact that, to take away the advantage that we get by bringing the joint forces together, by bringing the combined forces together. So that is what is going on right now in all the services: How do we make sure we have very resilient connections between all of us.”

Watson: But alright, the biggest question out of all of this for me is — and you're the person to ask because you're our tech or tech editor here — can you even securely and reliably do this? There's a lot of reliance upon cloud, but I see no mentions of like encryption or quantum in any of this.

Tucker: Yeah, this is the tricky part. On the one hand it does assume very strong tactical interlinks; it assumes mesh networks that are inside of the adversaries wire that are maybe in the air — possibly mesh networks that are created in the air using secure encrypted links. So like securing the link isn't like the overwhelmingly difficult thing if it's between two objects; securing the link between like a satellite link between an object and something back in like Washington? That can be a little bit different. But yes, it assumes that there's lots of little networks that are operating in this space And then also assumes that they're communicating back to larger command structures. But it also is trying to assume that all of this is happening in an environment that is contested by electromagnetic interference, and jamming, and stuffing, and all of the things that you can do with the electromagnetic spectrum to thwart adversarial communications. And it also shows the role of autonomy and all of this. So the military is assuming that some of these platforms — drones, and F-35, jets, stealth jets — that would be, you know, able to go through and not be detected by radar — F22s as well. That's why it's important that those two talk to each other. They're assuming that they're not going to be able to at the initial stages communicate too much with all of the rest of these things. So there's a big challenge to both interlink all of these objects together to create this very orchestrated, kind of, I hesitate to say blitzkrieg effect, but that's sort of what it is this, this mass, like movement effect, and yet, at the same time, have that communication between these objects be really sparse. So some of these things like perhaps some of the drones, perhaps, land craft, that would be land based drone, they're actually communicating very, very little, and operating autonomously for a good amount of the time. And so that's where this becomes really hard is you have a network warfare frame. And yet, you're also minimizing in many instances, the degree to which there's communication on that network. So that's an interesting and very difficult problem for them to solve. The former Vice Chief of Staff [Paul] Selva used to describe it as sort of like, Swiss cheese type of communication holes that you're finding. So electromagnetic interference, it isn't just a seamless wall that interferes with you, there are gaps, there will be gaps. There'll be gaps in the spectrum. There'll be areas where you can find signal to securely communicate between your drone and maybe the pilots of an F-35, or maybe between that drone in headquarters. And you have to exploit those whenever possible. And that's another role for artificial intelligence. And all of this is to find areas within the electromagnetic spectrum, perhaps in the terror wave sort of area of the spectrum in order to do that, like terawatts.

Shwedo: “The bottom line is it is a game of speed.”

That’s Lt. Gen. Shwedo again.

Shwedo: “So on the defensive side we talked about being able to shift from different comms capabilities, we call it a pace plan, primary, alternate contingency emergency, and we're constantly flexing.”

Part Two: Opportunity and vulnerability

Watson: Hmm, there's still a ton that's classified, and we only get a bit of the unclassified. I was learning while researching this stuff. And that makes sense, obviously. 

Tucker: Yeah. 

Watson: But some of the expressions that were used to describe this, you've already echoed a couple of them. But they're interesting to me. There's a system of systems, it was described as fusion engine, distributed nodes. You mentioned nodes right off the bat for the Yuma exercise. Yeah, mosaic warfare... But it links up as well with the last podcast that we had where we were talking to, you know, former NATO Admiral, Jim, Stavridis. And he had co authored that fictional book about a future conflict. And it all hinged on a severed communication link with an F-35. And so to go from that episode, to the you know, these topics here, where it's like almost like a Tower of Babel for warfare that's being constructed. 

Tucker: Yeah.

Watson: It's a wild contrast, for me, as well as possibly listeners who go from one episode to the next. That book had an episode that started in Iran that triggered the book. generals talking about the origins of JADC2 talk about Iran, they talked about the combined air operation center based in Qatar, and how they were like, you know, that works great for insurgency in the Middle East — 

Well here’s retired Lt. Gen. William J. Bender, speaking in September, about that realization from Qatar. 

Bender: “The bases, the infrastructure that we've designed in the Middle East over the years is almost perfectly arrayed for the counterinsurgency counterterrorism fight that was playing out in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were perfectly arrayed. [But] The minute we got some pushback from Iran, and some different partners, all of a sudden, what was a strength for us in our array across the Middle East became a serious vulnerability, and we were all of a sudden in threat rings that we had to pay attention to. And that strength of our distributed network — the long haul comms, the radar systems that brought data back to that central fusion point of the AOC — that strength of that capability suddenly became a tremendous vulnerability. If we were to lose the CAOC, how do we fight the air war? How do we continue to provide all the critical support across the AOR without the AOC? I know, that's kind of a narrow view, but that was my view, because that's where I was sitting. And when all of a sudden, you were asked, ‘Okay, if you can't perform your duties from here, how does the air component continue to be successful?’ And we had to look ourselves in the eye and say, well, there's going to be some problems.”

Watson: And then the other instances that they mentioned, are Marines on the first island chain. So Iran and China animate this whole project. I'm just wondering, do you know is any nation even close to trying to be this connected? I assume no one's even close. And we're just trying to get ahead of the curve on all of this stuff.

Tucker: We are trying to get ahead of the curve. And it depends on how you define 'close.' If you talk to different people, they will tell you different things. Because Russia and China have some advantages in actually achieving this sort of cross network effect. But they also have disadvantages that the US does not have. So there are, we are definitely though, in a competition year with China, in Russia to do this. Russia has been upfront about how they are trying to interlink different objects that they are using in warfare. I can send you an article that I wrote on that.

Watson: Well, it reminds me of the threat rings that were described. And the threat rings also are the same concept we think about when we think about Kaliningrad. Yeah, and, you know, the, of course, the western edges of Russia, so yeah, continue.

Tucker: Right. Right. Because that is what A2AD is, right? That's exactly what that is. That construct is, it's those great big anti aircraft radar, those really new and fancy ones that are now on Kaliningrad are all over the Crimean peninsula, as we covered in some depth. These are create a kind of impenetrable rain for aircraft in many ways.

Watson: And our idea is to bring just the network with satellites in the whole kitchen sink at these rings.

Tucker: Yes, exactly. As we covered back in February, the Russia is working to pair like fighter jets with some of its heavy drones. It's working on combining its Sukhoi 57. And its S-70, or top deck — it's heavy. We're kind of in the strike drone and a big fighter jet together in mixed air regiments. And the thing about Russia and China is that they don't have vendor competition, they don't have vendors that have proprietary data, and proprietary like it architectures, they can demand that all of this stuff be interoperable, which is an advantage that the U.S. doesn't really have. Because getting an F-22 and an F-35 to talk to one another, you would think would be a simple matter because they're actually both from the same vendor. But getting all of these different objects to share a common data standard across vendors and across services — you're basically breaking into silos that took a long time to create. And there's legal aspects to it. And there's just a lot of stuff to redo because all of this stuff that the services do was supposed to operate independently. But China too, has the option to demand that all of its stuff be interoperable. The difference with, and I got this from some senior military officials that I spoke to recently on a trip, between the way the U.S. is pursuing this and the way China is and the advantages that the U.S. has, is that we actually exercise already is a joint force all the time. Whereas China doesn't exercise as well as a joint force, they exercise their services independently. Russia can exercise as a joint force, but they all have their exercises are sort of made to look a lot more intimidating than they are. So we are the ones that exercise both on a joint level much better, and we have for a long time. And we also exercise with allies more. So that sort of muscle memory is our advantage. But in terms of creating old interoperability among all of these exquisite pieces of hardware, that's now something we're going to have to go back and do in like a retrofit sort of way. And they're incredibly complicated machines. Whereas China in Russia can just insist on interoperability from the start. So that's what that competition sort of looks like now.

Milley: “Data is the 21st century’s oil.” 

That’s Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley. He’s speaking here in early March from NORAD headquarters in Colorado.

Milley: “And that country that can crunch the most data faster relative to your opponent — probably gonna have some kind of advantage. So China right now is amassing massive amounts of collective data using their own population, smart cities and all that kind of stuff. And they’re crunching it through very high investments in artificial intelligence. And they’re doing it in part for commercial reasons, but also for military security reasons. We crunch lots of data out in Silicone Valley, etc., but we do it primarily for commercial reasons, not for security reasons. So the ability to process data relative to your opponent and to do it in large quantities through artificial intelligence, and then translate that, process that and fuse it so that you can make an actual decision, a security decision to move this organization there or here, or to do this option or that option, that’s gonna give you in a future war enormous relative advantage, we think. And that’s what JADC2’s all about.”

McConville: “It's all about data.”

Army Chief McConville.

McConville: “It's about us all standardizing our data. It's about how we transport the data. It's how we store the data. It's how we secure the data. And we all have to understand this because we all talk about machine learning, artificial intelligence. We throw all those things around. But until you kind of deal with the data problem, you really don't have a system.”

Cadwell: “This is, at its core, a data problem.”

That’s Maj. Gen. Angela Cadwell again. Her team at NORAD has been fielding something of a prototype for JADC2. They call it a Pathfinder system. It hasn’t been up for that long; but it’s already brought back some interesting lessons.  

Cadwell: “So we started with the air domain, and embarked on our prototype with some Silicon Valley-type companies, and started to do this prototype that ingested the volumes of radar feeds that were available in, not just the United States, but up in Canada as well. And what we were finding was the radar for picking up the new kinds of threats. At the unclassified level, I’ll use drones, or you know UAS as an example. The radars are picking them up; but our legacy back end data systems couldn't process them because they were looking for a threat from the 80s.”

Getting our head out of the 80s is in many ways what this is all about. Here’s Army Chief McConville speaking last February. 

McConville: "In the 1980s we came out with air-land battle. It was a new way we were going to fight. And we came out with new units. Some of you remember Desert One where we developed our special operation units. The Ranger battalions came out. The 160th came out of there. Some of our Special Operation units came out of that. And our combat training centers, the way we were going to fight came out in the 1980s."

McConville: “So you move forward to 2020 and you say, so what's new? Well, it starts with multi-domain operations. So we are moving from air-land battle to multi-domain operations. We're starting to stand up new units, multi-domain task forces.”

And those task forces are just one of the JADC2 nodes Patrick mentioned from his time in Arizona this fall. Nodes that could help, for example, shoot down an incoming missile from, say, North Korea or Russia, China or even Iran. Here’s McConville outlining some of those ambitions. 

McConville: "The future for air missile defense though, the way we see it is, it's really sensors and shooters. It's not just one sensor for one missile system. It's having multiple sensors that are integrated. And then you can pick the arrows so to speak from the quiver that you want to use. So we are developing high energy lasers. We're doing things with microwaves, we're doing things with electronic warfare. We're doing things with missiles, we're doing things with guns. So what you don't want to do is, is you take a look at some of the problems sets that we see in the future that range from unmanned aerial systems or swarms. You don't want to be shooting Patriot missiles at small UASs. So you have to come up with solution sets to that."

McConville: “So there's a lot of things we can do as we get this convergence of different types of technology that's going to fundamentally change the way we do business.”

Milley: “You’re never gonna get it right. You just gotta get it less wrong than the enemy.” 

That’s Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley again. 

Milley: “So we know from military history that the side — typically speaking, in various periods of history, both sides have had very similar capabilities in terms of horses or guns or muskets or ships, planes and trains and automobiles, whatever. The actual equipment, the piece and parts, most of the time they’re more or less comparative anyway throughout periods of history. But oftentimes what makes the difference in victory or defeat on a battlefield, or in a war, is decision making. And it’s the speed of decision making that matters. And also the efficacy of the decision making. So if you look at — take Napoleon. Napoleon would wake up at, I think if I got my history right, he’d wake up like at 2 in the morning or whatever, and he’d issue out his orders. And the British would wake up at dawn. So Napoleon had a four-hour head start. And the marshalls would get on their ponies and brrrrt, off they go. And they would already be moving before the British were making their first cup of tea in the morning. Or the Germans or whoever they were fighting at the moment. So he was always inside what became known from an Air Force fighter pilot as the ‘OODA loop.’ There was a guy named [Air Force Colonel John] Boyd; you’ve probably heard of him. He came up with the idea of the OODA loop, which is observe, orient, direct and act. It’s just a human decision making thing. So the faster you go through that cycle relative to your opponent, your probability of winning increases. He was a fighter pilot, a World War II guy; and he’s talking about the pilot going through an OODA loop relative to the other plane. So he wrote some papers or whatever after the war and it became sort of a thing in the command and control business about going through the OODA loop faster than your opponent: being able to observe, generally orient your force, direct your force and act faster. Sun Tzu said it: ‘Know yourself and know your enemy, win a thousand battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, you win 500. Don’t know yourself and don’t know your enemy, you’re gonna lose everything. Right? So information, and the ability to process that information, and to do it relative to your opponent faster with greater efficacy, and your ability to distribute that information so that you can act, [and] your subordinates can act — the faster you go through that, your probability of success goes up exponentially. The Blitzkrieg did that. The wireless telephone. The radio for the German Wehrmacht divisions that rolled across — they were always inside the OODA loop of their opponent. So that’s what JADC2 is really all about: the ability to go through the human decision making loop faster relative to your opponent.”

Part Three: Mr. JADC2 Goes to Washington

Watson: It just seems wild. It seems ambitious. You know, already apparently, Congress seems not terribly convinced, which means they threw still more than 100 million dollars at it. They've chosen to nearly halve the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System, which is apparently the Air Force's kind of way of getting into this setup. The Air Force wanted a little bit more than 300 million in fiscal year 2021; but Congress only gave them $158 [million]. So it seems like you know, we need more convincing. 

Tucker: So to the question of Congress and how impressed and in love with this idea, they are very, you know, all of the services rolled out with their specific programs to first create some of these interlinks to create some of this network effect unto the service ABMS was the Air Force's one they got started first and ABMS became a little bit controversial, not because it wasn't working, they kept rolling out every six months new sort of demonstrations where more things were interlinked on the battlefield services where other services like the Navy and the Army were invited to come and watch. But it wasn't super participatory for the other services. Let's put it that way. And this is a complaint that they had. And ABMS, the budget sort of grew and grew and grew. And it began to rub up against some other things that the Air Force wanted to do. And some other things that Congress thought was were pretty important. And it was also the time for the Army and the Navy to catch up and begin working more on their own projects, too. So I'm not surprised that ABMS gets like downgraded a little bit, because one of the things that's happening as the service has figured this stuff out. They'll all say, ‘Hey, we're all working together on this. But there is some friction that has been in place for more than a year now between them on this idea of ‘Well, who exactly is going to be the service that decides what the data standard is for everybody, like who gets to design, kind of the basic format that everybody asked to you —

Watson: I assumed it would be the Air Force, because they were put in the kind of like, kind of a guidance role.

Tucker: They'll never explicitly come right out and say that, but the Army hates that idea. I think you can, based on conversations that I've had with people more off the record, and then the subtext of what they were saying on the record, the Army feels like, ‘Hey, listen, we're going to deploy perhaps a million people to replace the network that is interlinking, all these things, including especially the data standard, we have to have a lot more say in how that rolls out. Because we're going to be the guys on the ground, that are really faced with annihilation, if all of this stuff doesn't work. So we want a larger role in determining what this standard looks like.’ And the Navy on a roundtable that they did very recently said very much sort of the same thing. We're not — they were with the Army, and not convinced that the Air Force should be in charge of selecting some of the things for the rest of the group. So they’re including the data standards. So yeah, so that's where that sort of comes in is. They'll tell you that hey, we're all working together on this. The entire point is joint interoperability. But you know, there's there are some squabbles between the services, too. 

Watson: Yeah, I have five different names, at least. Joint All-Domain Command and Control. And it seems like the Army is the one who tacked on the word ‘combined’ to make it Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control — CJADC2. And then there's the Army's you know, [Project] Convergence; the Air Force’s ABMS; and the Navy's [Project] Overmatch. It's interesting. 

Tucker: Well, and that's the thing too is that the as far as the other services are concerned, the airforce still calls it JADC2, Joint All-Domain Command and Control and that they should be the one that's in charge of the data standards and a lot of the important things according to the Air Force. The Army introduced this idea of it being, ‘No, we should call it Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control because we really —’

Watson: We're all a family.

Tucker: Right. But also because like their emphasis is on well, it also must include NATO partners or alliance partners. They have to be included in this too. And that's because the Army works with those guys a lot more. That's the thing, like the Army works with the Polish army in Europe. That is one part of why they were insisting that they have a much bigger role in determining aspects of the overall architecture. There, they were quite adamant on it. And it sounds like they are beginning to win. So the Air Force is maybe looking at new, at some of the ways that it created interlinks to make sure that these new standards are more accessible across service. So that's part of the struggle is figuring out like doing things and then possibly undoing them. But that's, if you listen to the way Army guys and the way Navy guys, particularly on this call that I was on, not too many not too long ago, talked about it. They definitely made it sound as though it's really important to listen to them, as opposed to just the Air Force, when you're getting into the nitty gritty of how to combine all this stuff together, which is a big part of why the Army I think, flew out a bunch of reporters, to watch them actually attempt Project Overmatch, which is not a thing that the Air Force ever did was bring anyone out to watch ABMS on-ramps, I thought that was very interesting. And they made a big deal out of Project Convergence. And whenever the Army goes out to talk on it, they make a big deal out of it.

Watson: So do you have any idea how much of the budget like this is consuming? I have an Air Force number; I have not yet been able to track down much more. Is it all basically kind of like, we're going to try and do what we're doing already. And you know, later it might take a bit more money. Do you have any idea about money?

Tucker: I don't have I don't have any idea about money? Because it's like, I mean, it's a 10 year vision. So you can look under —

Watson: Yeah.

Tucker: That's the thing is that I'm sure that there'll be lines in the upcoming budget for stuff like Project Convergence, or joint all-domain exercising; but it's something that’s going to be a part of every exercise going forward. So it's like trying to figure out exactly how much it costs, if there'll be specific things related to it. But really, all modernization will also be related to it. It becomes like an enormous center of gravity pulling old programs in its direction. So it costs kind of that I mean, the short answer is all of it.

Watson: Right? All of the money, all of the budgets.

Tucker: Yeah. Because it's like this is the dominant picture for how the military will be in the future. This is what the changing nature of war is, is going to demand. So there's no short answer, except if you look at like this specific thing like Project Convergence. I'm not sure what the budget line was for that ABMS. You just have the numbers on that. Under Navy, Project Overmatch, which is their version of it, and exercises are related to that. But it's not just the like numbers for the specific modernization initiatives. It's like all the exercise costs.

Watson: Yeah, I'm not seeing any numbers on convergence yet even from the CRS who has put out a report on it. But boy does it generate some fascinating graphics and echoes of graphics that we've seen previously with an incredibly cluttered battlespace with like every there's no whitespace on these photos, because there's satellites and planes and jets and lasers and tanks and humans and helicopters and screens and launchers and rockets. So much are in these like illustrations of what's going on in the future. It is wild and makes me wonder what kind of world we will be in once we find out if this whole thing has worked.

Tucker: Yes. Yes.