With the Defense Department (DoD) cranking up its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capability to gain a decision advantage over adversaries, the Pentagon is looking to edge computing as a key enabler in that effort, military and private sector experts said during a Dec. 15 webinar from MeriTalk and Red Hat.


“Edge computing is going to be one of those key enabling factors, it’s going to help level us out relative to our ability to deploy capabilities much quicker,” said Richard Jack, senior software engineer at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific. 


DoD’s JADC2 strategy envisions a network of networks to share sensor data across land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace forces to enable better and faster decisions. To realize that “network of networks” vision with JADC2, the Pentagon will have to use cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, and new communication methods.


Jack explained that JADC2 should not be viewed as one specific system. Rather, he said it’s going to be an aggregate of a lot of different capabilities and data to gain a decision advantage against adversaries – which requires a lot more digitization and data.


“When we talk about our near-peer adversaries and what their capabilities are, it’s going to be a lot more critical for [the joint forces] to be a lot more coordinated, adaptive, and synchronized in our approach for how we’re going to conduct operations. JADC2 will be the solution we need to outpace our adversaries and gain a decision advantage,” Jack said. 


“It’s about decision advantage. If you look at decision advantage from an edge perspective, you’ve got to start pushing information down to the edge so that you can have decision advantage, and that’s a key aspect of JADC2,” said Jim Keenan, vice president of DoD Sales at Red Hat. 


Keenan emphasized that for JADC2 to be successful, the DoD needed to ensure that the technology it deployed at the edge is re-composable and interoperable. 


“[The DoD] needs to get the technology that’s going to be deployed at the edge to be more like a mosaic rather than a puzzle. A puzzle is very fixed. They can only do one thing; each piece must go into a certain part. In a mosaic, you can mix and match the parts and that re-composability and interoperability on the fly is going to be important for JADC2,” Keenan said. 


Keenan also explained that automation at the edge will be vital for JADC2 because it will help the Pentagon ensure that it provides uninterrupted data capabilities to warfighters. 


Edge Computing Priorities Moving Forward


As the DoD continues to build on its JADC2 strategy, the department has laid out a number of important steps to evolve its edge computing architecture. The top priority is completely changing the way the department delivers capabilities.


“We must rethink fundamentally how we’re delivering capability; it no longer can be delivered in silos. There’s a lot more of an ecosystem out there that can give us an advantage if we can rethink how we’re delivering this capability,” Jack said. 


Jack also explained that in reshaping the way the DoD delivers capabilities, it must ensure they’re simple to use and understand for the user – in this case, the warfighter. 


“Our [capabilities] need to be adaptable in such a way that makes it a lot easier for warfighters to execute their mission without needing a master’s degree in computer science to do things,” Jack said.   


To listen to the whole story, please visit the full webinar now live on MeriTalk.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.