DGS-4 Airmen advance USAFE’s JADC2 construct

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady

Distributed Ground System-4 is advancing key aspects of operations for greater contribution within Joint All-Domain Command and Control alongside U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa partners.

JADC2 is one of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.’s top modernization priorities and is a Department of Defense-wide joint capability all military services are pursuing. JADC2 focuses on integrating the U.S. Air Force into the entire U.S., coalition, and partner military forces to fluidly share critical information back and forth across services from all sensors to all joint fire units.

“A critical aspect of dynamic targeting in the JADC2 construct is standardizing how data flows between sensors and shooters,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Austin Davis, 693rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group chief of tactics and training. “Our team is building upon lessons learned from Red Flag 21-1 to validate standards developed over the last year and demonstrate they are applicable across every combatant command.”

A year ago, DGS-4 began JADC2 integration exercises with the 603rd Air Operations Center as an opportunity to exercise dynamic targeting, identify specific data and communications architecture for improvement, as well as test various compositions of intelligence analyst teams for operations. The first exercises identified significant challenges for teams communicating across multiple weapon systems and computer systems at different classification levels, further highlighting the need for both organizations to regularly train together. 

Throughout 2020, the scope of integration exercises grew as additional units were incorporated, including squadrons from 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and 31st FW, Aviano Air Base, Italy, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy fire units stationed across Europe and NATO partner units. As the exercises grew in complexity, the DGS-4 team solidified an operations model for dynamic targeting, improved tactics, and built a training pipeline to consistently deliver wartime capability to USAFE-AFAFRICA. 

USAFE-AFAFRICA’s Combined JADC2 Demonstration exercise further solidified the joint training and methodology developed by the 693rd ISRG, USAFE-AFARICA, and the 603rd AOC while also preparing the Air Force’s technology for the future with the ability to adapt to new environments for all-domain data management.

“The CJADC2 demonstration advanced our workforce training, tools, and system automation upgrades to deliver a more agile capability to the combatant command,” said Maj. Jordan Matthews, 450th Intelligence Squadron director of operations. “The CJADC2 demo integrated artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, and new tools to automate analyst workflows with the intent to enable well-trained analysis and exploitation teams to deliver targetable data to the right joint fire unit before the target is able to move.”

Given the sheer volume of data collected and analyzed daily, data management is paramount to maximize ISR contribution to JADC2. 

“In order to advance our JADC2 efforts, we must train our Airmen to the wartime functions they are tasked and provide them new technology and data analysis tools to automate and simplify many of the manual processes they currently execute,” said Captain Maddie Smith, 450th IS assistant director of operations.

Despite challenges, the DGS-4 Airmen continue to update older technology and train their analyst to process more data effectively.

“We must ensure our Airmen can access and make sense of data from all sensors and all partner nations with artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies applied to help manage the data,” said Matthews. “The technology we integrated into the CJADC2 demonstration showed the potential of how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to shorten the kill chain. The technology solutions are not mature enough to be able to fully integrate into dynamic target operations right now, but we can see the application for these capabilities as they improve.”

These continuous collaborative efforts taking place across distributed locations amongst DGS-4 and its key partners are driving advancements towards preparing Air Force technology today for the future fight.