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Pentagon Developing Data Integration Layer to Enable JADC2

The Defense Department’s Chief Digital and AI Office is working to understand the resources needed for integration of the department-wide framework.

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CDAO Develops Data Integration Layer to Enable JADC2
Photo Credit: Cpl. Desmond Andrews/DVIDS

The Defense Department’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) is undergoing a series of tests on solutions to accelerate implementation of its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept with a new data integration layer.

Called the Global Information Dominance Experiments (GIDE), the effort aims to test solutions around data integrations and AI processes in order to better inform Congress on the resources and authorities the department will need to speed up JADC2 adoption. In partnership with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the office conducted the first iteration of the test Jan. 30-Feb. 2 and will conduct four more iterations throughout 2023. The second iteration will “stress test” current systems and provide more insight into some of the barriers to data sharing across the joint force, but the CDAO has not yet provided a date for the second test.

“Understanding how what we’ve learned, for example, at European Command, might be applicable in a maritime domain like in INDOPACOM … the point of that experimentation is to come up with a capabilities gap analysis,” Chief Digital and AI Officer Craig Martell said at the first House Armed Services Cyber, Information Technology and Innovation Subcommittee hearing March 9.

One of the CDAO’s primary initiatives this year is to create a data integration layer that, in turn, will enable the joint force and the partner nations to access and share data at all levels.

The immediate challenge comes down to how approach the framework. The fundamental problem with JADC2 implementation, Martell said, is having the mindset that the framework is a product, a destination or a specific capability.

“That’s not how we look at it. JADC2 is simply a new way to do business,” Martell told lawmakers last week. “You mentioned that the services are stovepiped, but I don’t necessarily see that as a stovepipe. They build systems that work for their particular needs, and that’s fine. We shouldn’t want to stop that. But what we need to do is get the data from those systems to a command level so … strategic command decisions can be made and tasked down to shooters.”

With the high-profile cancellation of the hefty Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, Martell believes the solution is to build out a marketplace that brings in multiple vendors in and thus innovation. This has been the intention with JEDI’s replacement, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract.

“These older solutions had rigid requirements that were established a long time before delivery, and by the time the delivery came, the world was changed. We need to create a marketplace and infrastructure that allows for that dynamic change. And that’s how we’re tackling JADC2,” Martell said.

To measure success from these initial experiments, the office is looking at outcome-based metrics such as the amount of time it takes to implement a capability, both from delivery and usability perspectives.

“It’s still unclear to me how we’re going to measure these things all the way down to the levels that we need to, but what we’re driving for is time to usability,” Martell said. “Time to delivery is from a producer’s perspective; we’re going to get it to you. How quickly can that then be used? So once it’s delivered, if it just sits on the shelf, that’s also not sufficient. It has to actually be used.”

In addition to creating the JADC2 data integration layer, the office is focused this year on providing the enterprise with an AI structure, conducting a talent management pilot and tracking business performance metrics laid out in the DOD Strategic Management Plan and the national defense strategy implementation plan.

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