The United States has an unprecedented network of allies, and this is a huge advantage in warfare.
But it’s not so effective if allies can’t talk together, said Jenniffer F. Minks, a division chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff working to ensure that the command and control systems of the United States and the UK work together seamlessly.
The goal is called Fully Networked Command, Control and Communications, or FNC3; it is an “exploratory” ability. FNC3 is expected to allow the US military to work even more effectively with its closest ally.
If successful, the program can be extended to other nations.
The United States and the United Kingdom have worked for years to improve command and control efforts. In the United States, this became Joint All-Domain Command and Control – JADC2. In Great Britain, it is the Multi-domain Integration Change Program, with the acronym MDI CP. Again, the two nations worked in tandem on their systems.
“For us, the question was how to make JADC2 work with our partners?” Minks said during an interview from his office in Suffolk, Virginia.
The United Kingdom and the United States are also capitalizing on other initiatives. The two nations are cooperating in building the coalition’s information-sharing capability called the Mission Partner Environment. “We just use the same standards and specifications, which ensures interoperability right from the start,” she said.
Speed is important for both nations. “We don’t want to slow down the turnover,” she said. “We’re moving fast and we’re addressing things in both countries that we’ve never done before in the strategy, like zero trust architecture; [and] how are we going to do AI in the cloud with coalition partners and things like that. We do it together.
Zero Trust is a security model, a set of system design principles, and a coordinated cybersecurity and system management strategy based on the recognition that threats exist both inside and outside of boundaries. of the traditional network.
Once both nations have command and control interoperability, they will work with other nations to participate. Minks said Australia has already approached nations with questions and proposals.
“Thus far, the nations that have approached us are all members of the Federated Mission Networking framework, an international organization that has agreed on standards and specifications for connecting our mission networks together,” she said. “It just so happens that the US and the UK are a bit more advanced in building enterprise-wide capability.”
At present, the other nations are at the tactical level, while the United States and the United Kingdom are at the operational and strategic levels. “Other countries that want to participate should follow the same standards and specifications to ensure interoperability,” Minks said.
The program is progressing rapidly. Minks said she believes the international network’s initial operational capability will be in time for Bold Quest 2024. The system that will be in place will not be a test or evaluation network, but an operational network, Minks said.
Bold Quest is a multinational training demonstration to test a joint capability to link sensors to shooters in air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
“This means that when a user accesses a mission network and works with partners, they will have access to all the information they need, and it will be transparent to them,” Minks said.
Minks’ entire career has been dedicated to improving command and control. She recalls how difficult it was for operators to develop an air mission order for Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011. Odyssey Dawn was to support a United Nations Security Council resolution to establish an area of air exclusion over Libya. A number of nations participated in the effort.
The air mission order obviously included other nations, but the command and control computers could not talk to each other.
“Operation Odyssey Dawn made me realize how important this is,” she said. “When you’re trying to create an Air Mission Order with your partners and you can’t share the basics of creating one [air tasking order], it’s horrible. We had to try to figure out how to simply transfer data from one network to another. This all happens when you have an operational mission in progress with live fire still possible. It’s more than frustrating.