warfighter global data (DOD graphic illustration)

US needs combat cloud to bolster warfighting collaboration

An enterprise combat cloud would allow service members, allies and partners to login from anywhere with their biometric credentials, enabling the U.S. to take full advantage of the warfighting capabilities they have to offer.

Such a capability does not yet exist, however.

The lack of an enterprise cloud is impeding the U.S. from collaborating with its closest allies, said Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Even our closest allies, they can't get onto our basic secret system, SIPRNET," Hyten said during the July 26 launch event of the National Defense Industry Association's Emerging Technologies Institute. "Friends are our biggest advantage, but not being able to take full advantage ... is just wrong."

While the Defense Department recently canceled and re-scoped its troubled $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative program, it's also struggling to prepare for a multipartner battle and model war gaming scenarios with capabilities from allies and partners.

"We have a pretty good capability to model air, land and sea. But we can't model air, land, sea, space and cyber … and the electromagnetic spectrum that covers all those domains,” Hyten said. “We can't pull those in, so when we actually fight or look at a whole campaign, you have to make so many assumptions about what is happening in the other domains."

DOD has not made its war gaming more realistic, but the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) recently published a requirements document for integrated modeling and simulation capabilities in all domains as part of four Strategic Directives that instruct the services on what to do when developing new capabilities around contested logistics, joint fires, information advantage and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

"The goal is to be fully connected to a combat cloud that has all the information that you can access at any time and any place. You can pull it all together with all domain command and control, figure out the best data and be able to act quickly on that," he said, when describing the directives.

"Aggregating to fire, disaggregating to survive. That's the way it's going to be in data, that's the way it's going to be across the board," Hyten said.

As a result, the JROC is working with the Cost, Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, he said to "look at the entire force and make sure we understand how things play together, and to be able to turn it quickly and do hundreds and hundreds maybe even millions of runs in the time it takes us to do one war game with 200 people."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.


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