JADC2 Decision-Making: How the DoD Can Seamlessly Share Data to Address Threat Actors

For the DoD to successfully adopt the JADC2 framework, it must modernize data processes to bolster collaboration and improve decision-making.

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As the United States faces growing geopolitical tensions with near-peer competitors, the Department of Defense is working to combat more agile adversaries than ever before — ones that are making decisions faster, funding more efficiently and thinking globally.

“The country is now in a competition with China and Russia, who think and act globally in all domains simultaneously,” says industry expert and former director for intelligence and information of the United States Northern Command, retired Maj. Gen. Aaron Prupas. “We are ahead of China in many ways, but adversaries like this continue to advance their capabilities, and advance their scale and pace.”

To improve decision-making capacity in the evolving battlespace and stay ahead of sophisticated threat actors, the DoD is working to unify the armed forces and bridge operational gaps through Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The JADC2 initiative seeks to connect all armed forces into a single cloud-like network so teams can quickly and seamlessly share critical data, allowing them to deploy the full force of military capabilities during current and future conflict.

Although this effort is set to dramatically improve communications, Prupas, who served as a Major General in the Air Force and now works as a national security expert and consultant, states that full implementation is moving slower than it should.

“We’re on a good path [with JADC2] but the path is too slow,” he says. “Our global competitors are not waiting.”

Overcoming Obstacles in Joint All Domain Decision-Making

Despite the many anticipated benefits of JADC2, the road to integrated all-domain decision-making remains long and complex. Traditionally, each service branch manages their own planning, programming, budgeting, and execution cycles, conducting operations and processes separate from the joint mission objectives. As a result, they can inadvertently silo off their systems and data with varying levels of security around them, making collaboration and information sharing difficult.

“One of the biggest challenges we've got right now is an overload of proprietary data and information that's difficult to move across security fabrics,” explains Prupas. “Because the traditional way of storing and managing data may encourage agencies to not share it, the branches don’t necessarily communicate effectively.”

While security postures and compliance are critical to safeguard defense data, Prupas states that each organization should adjust security procedures to ensure information is easily shared amongst the joint force, so leaders can have a complete picture of a threat or situation as they work to communicate and make decisions.

“They've got decade's worth of data in these systems that are stovepiped and the data construct that we talked about for JADC2 depends on not being stovepiped,” says Prupas.

Moreover, data may be at the center of joint decision-making, but data for the sake of data isn’t helpful. Data needs to be up-to-date and actionable to be truly useful for JADC2 efforts. To create an effective unified network for the armed forces, the DoD will not only need to find a way to bring their data together, but analyze it to determine what is relevant, where the informational gaps are and how to disseminate data in a way that leads to increased collaboration and better decision-making.

“You have to be able to make sense out of all the data, take all of that information and merge it together,” says Prupas. “If you don't have access to the complete data set, even if you move fast, you may not be making the best decision.”

Adopting Tools and Technology That Provide Decision Advantage

Of course, gathering the DoD’s immense amounts of data and analyzing it is no simple feat for the already-inundated armed forces, who already struggle with modernization.

“They have to be able to convert to a modern architecture in a modern system, then have the planning, programming and budgeting to execute that,” explains Prupas. “All our programs are executed through budget processes and have momentum all their own, so major changes to them are hard to do.”

PPBE reform is a critical issue for the federal government with a congressionally mandated commission established in 2022 to make recommendations for change.

The DoD needs to not only move away from siloed planning at the earliest stages of the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) but as planning moves towards execution it must get off spreadsheets, email, and slideshows as the primary way to share data and make decisions. A modern solution will ensure secure exchange and access to sensitive data which gives leaders the full informational picture so they can make fast, effective decisions together throughout the planning and execution process.

“You have to get information and data to a human decision maker in a rapid way so that the human doesn't have to go through spreadsheets and textual documentation and analyze multiple different sources from multiple different domains to make a decision,” says Prupas.

Decision Lens, a leading integrated planning software company, offers this secure decision-making capability. The organization provides the military with a FedRAMP certified, IL-2 Compliant and IL-4/5 approved framework that prioritizes data according to mission need and allows leaders to scenario plan and rapidly redeploy resources to address a changing environment. Their proven solution automates requirements prioritization through a variety of key features, including intuitive in-app collaboration, advanced intake capabilities and real-time data visualizations that make the impact of decisions accessible to everyone.

“Decision Lens automates data to present a dashboard-style capability to the decision-maker from which they can look at the parameters, adjust those parameters towards their decision and move quickly, and that's what we need,” explains Prupas.

This software is already helping the Navy, Air Force, Army and Space Force work more collaboratively within their domains to modernize their planning, prioritizing, and funding. Ultimately, the faster the DoD can adopt and implement solutions like Decision Lens that bolster and modernize decision-making efforts, Prupas states, the faster the U.S. military will unite the armed forces and defend the nation against adversaries.

“I think the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Brown, had it exactly right when he said we must accelerate change or lose,” he says. “We want to change paths now and join together the armed forces, so they are fully prepared for future attacks.”

Learn more about how Decision Lens can help your agency structure data and modernize decision-making.

This content was produced by Defense One’s Studio 2G and made possible by our sponsor. The editorial staff of Defense One was not involved in its preparation.

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