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Don’t Rush To JADC2: Army Gen. Murray

By   Theresa Hitchens and Sydney J. Freeberg, Jr. via Breaking Defense

Gen. Mike Murray

WASHINGTON: The military must avoid getting swept away in a “rush to lockdown requirements” for the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) strategy, cautions Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command. Resisting that urge will one of the two biggest challenges for the services in making that new strategy for managing All Domain Operations real, he says.

“I still believe that the best solutions never come from the top down,” Murray, the Army’s point man on JADC2, told us in an interview. “All four services coming together from the ground up, working solutions together in actual experimentation, will greatly inform and enhance whatever we end up with.”

“I also don’t want to get into a program of record where there’s a ‘B’ following the number, right, and we find out it doesn’t work,” Murray added.

As the Army learned with its ill-fated Future Combat Systems mega-program that ended up costing the service some $20 billion despite never coming to fruition, carving requirements in stone before proving the technology works can go disastrously, and very expensively, wrong.

“We can’t turn this into the next FCS. We can’t allow this to get big enough that it collapses on its own weight,” he said. “That’s why… we’re in the experimentation mode to understand what technology can and can’t do.”

All four services need more time for “bottom up” experimentation to define both what new tech to pursue as well as how to operate differently in future global conflicts with techno-savvy peer competitors, Murray explained. That’s because each service has unique problems to solve, not to mention billions of dollars invested in legacy C2 systems.

“I just can’t throw away everything we own — nor can the Air Force — and start over. So I think that’s a service unique perspective that’s important as well, not only just for the Army but for all the services,” he said. “How does the Air Force architecture integrate with the Army architecture, with the Navy architecture? What are those crossover points?”

As U.S. military missions transition from anti-terror activities to a peer/near-peer competition, mission success will be found in an all-domain connected battlespace.

Murray also echoed the concerns voiced by a number of Army leaders that the service fulfill its own unique requirements in implementing JADC2 — and not fit itself to the Air Force’s arguably more mature template being developed under the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) program. The problem of connecting all sensors to the best shooters, the heart of JADC2, is of a much larger scale for the ground service, say Army officials, since every single soldier is both a potential shooter and a sensor. ABMS, Murray and other Army leaders argue, just can’t scale up to Army-size.

That doesn’t mean the Army is against ABMS.

“This may surprise you a little bit, but I want to see the Air Force continue with its ABMS work,” Murray said, “because I don’t think the Air Force can solve the ground problem, and I don’t think I can solve the Air Force problem. So, I want to work together to make sure the two are developed in parallel, and not end up with stovepipes at the end that we’ve got to come up with some translation box for to make the two fit together.”

“Our discussion with Air Force back then [was], ‘allow us to build the ground architecture,’ no issues with ABMS, and then the Joint Staff really ought to be focused on how we begin to connect [service] architectures,” he said.

“Today, there is probably not one of our regional partners in the first island chain that would be willing to base Army — or any other service – long-range strike missiles in their country,” retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr says.

This is what the Army, now working in tandem with the Air Force, is trying to do with its Project Convergence (PC) experiments in advance of the JADC2 strategy and the related Joint Warfighting Concept (JFC), he stressed.

Further, Murray opined, neither JADC2 nor the JWC — both being spearheaded by the Joint Staff — is mature enough to define what new missions and respective technologies (“mission threads” in military jargon) the services need to further explore.

“The Joint Warfighting Concept, I just saw a brief on it over the weekend. It’s not to the point yet that we can do that, nor is the JADC2 concept,” he said. Instead, Project Convergence is drawing on existing Joint Staff-defined joint capabilities and tasks in developing “mission threads and use cases” to experiment with.

Murray’s caution on JADC2 and the JWC contrasts with that of many other military leaders, particularly within the Air Force — which was arguably the first service to jump on the all-domain C2 concept with both feet, under former Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. His successor, current CSAF Gen. CQ Brown, has adopted “go fast” as a kind of personal motto, especially for ABMS and other service efforts to adopt digital engineering to streamline and speed weapons development.

Also in contrast to his Air Force partners, Murray said it was “premature” for DoD and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to undertake even a limited roles and missions review to empower the new American way of war. Brown, and other Air Force leaders and supporters, have been pushing for such a debate, particularly for the  long-range strike mission — for which all three services are rushing to build hypersonic missiles and other new capabilities.

“That’s Murray’s opinion, right. I know there’s debate,” he said. “I know that debate was kind of going to one side and now is swinging back somewhere in the middle. So, I think it’s premature.

“We may have to do that [review]” if current predictions of a severely reduced defense budget come true, he went on. But for the moment, he said, “there’s plenty of room for experimentation as we figure out from a joint force perspective not only the technologies we want to have in the future, but — and I think the JWC is going to drive this — fundamentally how we want to fight differently based upon the capabilities we’ll have.”

What Murray would like to see the Joint Staff —  and in particular the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) — do is develop frameworks for JADC2 and the other subcomponents of the JWC for the services to fill out.

“What we’re really asking the Joint Staff to do is build us the highway,” he said. “Tell us where the on-ramps are, tell us where the off-ramps are, tell us what the speed limit is, tell us how many lanes the highway is going to be, tell us where the roadside rests are going to be. Then allow us to build the vehicles that that will operate on that highway, and as long as they’re safe, and they can effectively operate on your highway, you shouldn’t worry about the vehicles we’re building.”

But what if everybody builds a Lamborghini and no one makes the pick-up trucks? What if the services’ separate approaches leads to gaps in some places and redundancy in others?

“There may be some overlap,” at least initially, Murray said — but joint experiments like this fall’s Project Convergence wargames “will begin to identify some of those overlaps.”

The services can’t afford to duplicate each others’ work, he said wryly, because “if all the predictions come true, none of us are going to have any money to spare .”