Decision superiority — the ability to assimilate, analyze, and act upon information acquired from the battlespace more rapidly than an adversary — has always been crucial. It enabled the Royal Air Force to defeat a numerically superior German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain and it formed the basis for North America’s defenses during the Cold War. Now, in an era where U.S. air combat capacity is dramatically shrinking in the face of a growing Chinese threat, achieving decision superiority is more important than ever. It has also become more challenging. Advances in telecommunications, sensors, processing power, and weapons, along with the growing utility of space as an operational domain, have fundamentally changed the character of effective command and control.
With this in mind, the Department of Defense has sought to achieve decision superiority through a concept known as joint all domain command and control, or JADC2. According to the Department, this concept “is intended to produce the warfighting capability to sense, make sense, and act at all levels and phases of war, across all domains, and with partners, to deliver information advantage at the speed of relevance.” But while this definition captures what JADC2 aims to achieve, it says little about how to achieve it.
As a result, joint all domain command and control has partially stalled due to a cloudy department-wide vision that every service views slightly differently. To make this concept a reality, the Pentagon needs a straightforward, clear, and understandable description of what its vision entails. The focus should be on creating a global targeting system that can enable the find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess functions of the kill chain. Rather than being limited to a single theater of operations, this system should enable the effective completion of a kill chain at any time and any place around the globe. This requires that land, sea, air, and space sensor data be made available, in real-time, to all combatant commanders and their forces. The data should be “tailorable,” allowing individual shooters to take what they need to successfully complete their missions while at the same time allowing combatant commanders and their staffs to gain real-time situational awareness of the unfolding battlespace.
Read the rest at War on the Rocks.
David Deptula is the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a Senior Military Scholar at the Air Force Academy, and a member of Yorktown Institute’s advisory board.