Joint operations demand a digital battlefield. Here are the key stages of delivery – Defense systems



Joint operations demand a digital battlefield. Here are the key steps to deliver

The push for military dominance and lethality through technology is not new – it’s a concept that’s almost as old as war itself. Technology has changed, but the main thing has not changed: to gain the decisive advantage and use it to win.

Today, this war imperative exists in a complex landscape that advances at a much faster and more fluid pace than in previous eras. At least part of this environment is fueled by a business world built on technological agility, innovation and, in some cases, near-instant obsolescence.

As the Department of Defense and other government agencies seek to capitalize on the industry’s momentum, the struggle to keep pace, operate at machine speed, and find a way around bureaucratic bottlenecks and constraints. technological disruptions place the United States at a critical point.

“The biggest competitive threat is our own obsolescence,” Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, recently told a Potomac Officers Club event. “We cannot operate that way. We cannot win that way.

Groen has repeatedly emphasized the path the industry has charted for the military: using scalable artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, modernized business systems, and the tools and infrastructure that enable the integration of data to machine speed and informed decision making.

These are the catalysts for a joint force that operates consistently, at a faster pace than the enemy, and with the kind of synchronized, real-time common operational picture that is vital to the United States in the cyber realm. . This is all the more relevant as AI – and its applications by government – continues to mature and is combined with other game-changing elements.

Cyber ​​security challenges ranging from AI data poisoning to zero-day exploits in platforms and applications are the reality of operations in this high-stakes, real-time environment. This focuses on leveraging mature business ecosystems with full cybersecurity capabilities – think of extended technology suites or a security fabric that provides constant visibility, anomaly detection and, in some cases, fixes. automated.

It is more difficult for the opponent to hide when the spotlight is on and the computer is never blinking. Bring that light to the tactical advantage and watch the real transformation unfold.

Feed speed and data at the limit of fog

High Performance Computing (HPC) and processing is heading towards the tactical edge, although, as far as some military leaders are concerned, it can’t happen quickly enough. With processing available closer to the edge, the pace of collecting, sorting, organizing, and building intelligence from data is dramatically accelerated. In this sense, the cloud – where data is stored and where tools work to manipulate that data and create actionable information – represents the future of war. But that future also depends on the speed and capability of state-of-the-art tactical sensors and systems.

Cloud-based HPC that is pushed to the edge – the ‘IT fog’ – gives deployed troops the speed and ubiquitous network connectivity to help them take advantage of AI tools and enable features to match. the specific mission. Much of this tactical cutting-edge power delivery will rely on commercial technology, but once it gets there, operators will combine it with decades of DOD’s unique experience and track record of innovation.

After all, it was the intelligence community and the DOD that, a decade earlier than the private sector, deployed sensors on a large scale in the search for Osama bin Laden. It was the forefront of instrumentation of the battlefield environment – strategically placing sensors on key terrain to find and identify those communicating with bin Laden and generating the data and analysis ultimately leading to them. United States at its location.

It was exquisite technology at the time, and that’s what the power of data represents in a joint command and control context: the convergence of information from all departments, domains, platforms and applications to create a decisive advantage in terms of intelligence and speed. The result: capabilities unthinkable just a few years ago, or a joint digital operational structure like JADC2 that allows data and situational awareness to be real-time and actionable across domains and platforms. .

Forward-looking research and development efforts in industry and within DOD are aimed at bringing high-capacity computing and processing to the forefront of tactics through a number of avenues. This includes software-defined networking, cloud-based networking based architectures, low earth orbit satellite communications, 5G, advanced antennas for collection and communication as well as CPUs, GPUs. and smaller DPUs (Data Processing Units) that bring more computing power to a variety of air, land and sea platforms.

“These initiatives all aim, at the grassroots, to digitize the entire combat environment, okay? The key is data speed, situational awareness, getting data from sensor to shooter as quickly as possible, being as agile as possible. You don’t know who the shooter may be, so you need to have that situational awareness and be agile enough to move data at the speed of relevance, ”Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth recently said. , at an Air Force Association event. “Digitization is the core skill we all need for the battlespace of the future. “

To achieve this core competency, industry must play its part in providing powerful, transparent and secure digital functionality at the cutting edge of tactics.

About the Author

Jim Richberg is a Fortinet field CISO specializing in the US public sector.

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