USINDOPACOM Mission Partner Environment success:  A blueprint for CJADC2 path forward 

DoD can duplicate USINDOPACOM’s transformation to rapidly implement multi-enclave environments on a broader scale in support of CJADC2.

The interconnected nature of global stability requires keen situational awareness, cooperation and collective decision-making across warfighting domains, interagency departments, nations and partners. To confront the complex challenges posed by emerging threats, allied forces require an interoperable information-sharing infrastructure to rapidly establish new coalitions and joint operations.    

In a step toward enabling the next-generation synchronized command and control, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks recently announced the Defense Department has delivered its initial iteration of the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) capability. While this marks a notable advancement, DoD must continue its efforts to evolve CJADC2 beyond its current basic operational ability. To achieve seamless integration of assets and personnel, defense leaders should model after the successful implementation of the Mission Partner Environment (MPE) in the Indo-Pacific region, which offers valuable lessons.   

The operational intricacy   

At their core, MPEs are designed to facilitate real-time communication of relevant information among U.S. military and mission partners while maintaining necessary security levels to guide warfighter decision-makers. Traditionally, it involves a desk with multiple screens, each connected to a different network, unique access codes and encryption protocols, and a KVM switch to control it all.    

In the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), those days are gone.    

Taking a multi-enclave client (MEC) approach, the desk is now simplified to a single console. Authorized users can access and share relevant information from various sources using an integrated mission network, so decisions can be made in real time, and coalition environments can be formed in days instead of weeks.   

Conquering the complexity  

DoD can duplicate USINDOPACOM’s transformation to rapidly implement multi-enclave environments on a broader scale in support of CJADC2. The sheer volume of approximately 17,000 isolated and protected computing environments supported by the command’s network is a testament to the MEC capability built on a hyper-converged infrastructure and private cloud architecture. Virtual infrastructure, which includes desktop virtualization hosting desktop environments on a central server, plays a vital role in connecting all the elements of the MPE landscape, such as applications, data, clouds, APIs, processes, chat, voice and video devices.    

USINDOPACOM’s effective consolidation of siloed data, duplicate copies of information, and separate networks into a single sign-on, data-centric information domain represents a pivotal stride toward the realization of JADC2 and, ultimately, CJADC2. This demonstration of the U.S. military’s robust capability to share information across domains instantly and securely will encourage allies and partners to actively engage in the exchange of intelligence and collaboration necessary to establish a formidable and unyielding collective defense posture.    

However, the next step of enabling instantaneous but strictly controlled access to ensure the right data is released to authorized users is an intense undertaking. It requires a ground-up, zero-trust architecture design that undergoes continuous testing to detect vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them.   

To facilitate safe and secure communication for the U.S. and its allies during peacetime and conflict, USINDOPACOM transitioned defenses from static, network-based perimeters to focus on the users, assets and resources. Bolstering security through zero trust identity verification to provide the right people access to the right information in the right place enabled granular control of data and assets, resulting in a more secure and controlled mission partner environment.   

Setting the stage for AI    

By prioritizing data and taking a rigorous approach to its access to ensure integrity, USINDOPACOM has paved the way for the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning to support decision-making. In such a data-centric network environment, artificial intelligence and machine learning can be deployed to continuously monitor and analyze information to identify threats or opportunities as they emerge. The ability to quickly scour through thousands of pieces of data to elevate pertinent information for review and flag trends, threats and opportunities provides a significant decision advantage, allowing accelerated tasking and advanced force management. It is an example of a proactive approach to future readiness that can guide the evolution of CJADC2.    

Success template  

The deployment of USINDOPACOM’s MPE has been a sophisticated and collaborative effort that required a combination of best practices, advanced technologies and skilled personnel. It relied on a multi-team integration framework that functioned as a requirements traceability matrix for all projects. The project lifecycle comprised repeatable processes mapped to a structured work plan that supported over 250 standard and non-standard USINDOPACOM Theater Component Command requirements.   

Several operational lessons can be drawn from USINDOPACOM’s MPE deployment to aid CJADC2 success. First, designing, implementing and maintaining information domains involves adept configuration of hardware and software, security and integrity assurance, performance monitoring, and troubleshooting for numerous application service centers, hundreds of service points and thousands of endpoints. Second, a team of proficient network engineers is essential for this rigorous undertaking. Lastly, managing MPE enclaves and their authority to operate necessitates a disciplined, structured process and the integration of information security and risk management activities throughout the system development life cycle.  

Proof positive 

USINDOPACOM has dramatically enhanced its capacity to exchange information and intelligence, collaborate, and establish interoperability with partner nations and organizations. That transformation illuminated the path forward for enabling JADC2 and, subsequently, CJADC2.  

Steve Robles is vice president of Coalition Network Engineering at SOSi.  

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