Multi-domain operations: Like bringing Waze to the battlefield – FedScoop

Written by Billy Mitchell Dec 2, 2019 | FEDSCOOP

In about a months time, the U.S. Air Force will host the first demonstration of its Advanced Battle Management System the networking concept that will serve as the technological backbone of the militarys shift to an advanced way of seeing the battlefield.

Through multi-domain operations, the military servicesaim to link togetherair, sea, land, space, cyber and information assets to better identify and eliminate threats. And while the idea could leave to revolutionary jump forward in awareness and information sharing for warfighters, the technology necessary to achieve it isnt at all revolutionary, said Will Roper, Air Forces assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Well connect F-22s, F-35s, SpaceX Starlink satellites, Navy ships, Army soldiers, Roper said at a recentCenter for a New American Security discussion. Were going to connect them in an internet-like style. What were really doing to enable multi-domain is finally building the internet in the Air Force. Its all the stuff that you know. There are no show-stoppers here.

Rather, its taking the best of what already exists in the commercial world things military personnel have access to and expect in their personal lives and cloning that for command and control.

The great news is this exists, he said. We just simply have to be able to clone it and probably put a little more security in it. But its not unachievable. But it is going to be different to become a digital service, a digital department.

Roper pointed to navigation app Waze as an example. Every time he drives home from the Pentagon and uses Waze, he thinks about how would this work on the battlefield?

Below such an app, he said, are strong software development capabilities with cloud infrastructure and platforms to build on. Hereferred to theAdvanced Battle Management System as a whole internet company in the Air Force, built on the services Cloud One, Platform One and Data One programs.

The way that this will work well have kind of a big cloud, a big [Department of Defense] cloud, and if youre a system and youre connected to big cloud, and very similar to the app Waze, or pick your favorite, we have a user profile for you based on your mission, Roper said. And the data that hits our cloud, we can recognize, Oh this is something [you] should see, because youre driving a ship and you dont know that threat is over there and we just collected on it. And we can push it to you in a way thats very similar to Waze, easy to engage with, and as you respond to it, we get better at recognizing you.

But its also very different from an app like Waze because adversaries will be constantly trying to take it offline, Roper said. So the real secret sauce is going to be when the disconnect happens, how much are we able to locally store and process? Can I inform you how long you will have digital superiority, digital stealth so that when you connect back up because I dont think any adversary will be able to keep us disconnected forever we can immediately refresh your data, almost like were kind of resetting the clock.

To do that, he said, the military is going on the same digital journey that many successful companies have already gone on. Roper said the Air Force has already recruited a cadre of internet-type gurus who have joined our team as pioneers to build this system-of-systems out. So were not designing this in a traditional defense fashion. Were designing this with champions of commercial internet technology who are willing, just out of patriotism, to be contracted designers, to make sure that we dont get outside of what worked for the internet.

If the Air Force gets theABMS program right, the benefit will be that finally for once, if the government has a piece of data that can help the warfighter, we can getit to them, Roper said. And its crazy in the world we live in where you right now with your personal device are connected to the entire world. Think about how much ability there is to interact, to understand, to command control things, your house, your car, you control everything. We live in that world. Our operators go home with that capability. And they come into a military where things cant talk to each other.

The biggest challenge in all of this, Roper said, will beconvincing Congress to deliver the required funding.Its a big risk to put billions of dollars into digital transformation, he said. You cant take a picture of it. But you know that behind your phone is an amazing, powerful architecture that allows that phone to be so much more than a platform.

But, he anticipates sizable dollars will be dedicated in fiscal 2021 to support the ABMS development.

Itsenough money to actually do real stuff, and its not tied to any platform, Roper said. So, ABMS will basically be a competition among existing platforms. Whoever can kind of make their platform look more like an Internet of Things-type system, you get first dibs to the pot.

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Multi-domain operations: Like bringing Waze to the battlefield - FedScoop

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