Battle Networks and the Future Force: Part 2

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  • The competition among battle networks is an increasingly important component of modern warfare, and it is a competition that will largely be fought directly among machines in rapidly evolving ways.
  • There are degrees of interoperability among battle networks, and the right level of interoperability depends on the advantage provided and the costs involved.
  • DoD needs to better define organizational roles and responsibilities for JADC2 and consider consolidating programs into a single JPEO, creating a new independent agency under USD/R&E, and/or designating a lead COCOM.
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Marianne Guemo U.S. Northern Command

Operational Challenges and Acquisitions


Battle networks, and more specifically DoD’s vision for JADC2, should ultimately be about enabling better options for commanders, speeding the tempo of decisionmaking, and optimizing effects in the battlespace. Connecting platforms and units across domains and with allies and partners by seamlessly passing surveillance, targeting, damage assessment, and other information from one platform to another improves the accuracy, range, persistence, and speed of effects. These improvements increase in a nonlinear manner as more platforms, sensors, communication paths, and other nodes are added to a battle network, transforming what was traditionally thought of as a force multiplier effect into a force exponent effect. The ultimate objective is to see farther with greater clarity and to act faster with more precision than one’s adversary.

The hypothetical scenarios below help demonstrate how a battle network can use each of the functional elements discussed in the first brief in this series to close the sensor-to-shooter kill chain—or more appropriately, the sensor-to-shooter kill web. The first scenario illustrates the warfighting advantages integrated battle networks can provide. The second scenario shows the other side of the battle network competition—how an adversary can attempt to disrupt and degrade one’s battle network. While an adversary may not have (or be successful in using) all the capabilities described to attack a battle network, these attacks can have significant effects even if they are only partially successful. Importantly, many of the steps in the process for both closing and breaking the sensor-to-shooter kill web may occur in parallel as operations unfold, and some processes may take longer and only yield valuable intelligence for future operations.