The United States military has established impressive proficiency in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) enterprise in modern warfare, to the point where it can master the “observe” and “orient” elements of Col. John Boyd’s “OODA Loop” across the spectrum of conflict. But with the growth in the volume of information available, and an anticipated increase in duration and intensity of potential future combat operations, the potential for saturation of centralized decision-makers using this ISR requires a relook at tactical command and control (C2).
By reaching back to a Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), time and context is sacrificed, simplifying adversary war plans to target, saturate, and disrupt US information links. Distributing this decisionmaking means informing personnel on the edge combat, who can tighten the “decide” and “act” segments of the loop. The authors propose a concept that enables access and search capability of highly classified networks to airmen aboard airborne C2 platforms, and thereby enhances survivability, and accelerates decision-making. Pushing this capability out to airmen would help the US and allies outpace adversaries beholden to a C2 construct tied to senior officers, and would allow joint force operations to adapt to the fog and friction of war.
With near peer rivals mastering their own precision strike and information warfare capabilities, the military must adapt to prevent foes from attacking the datalink system that serves as the spine of the US military’s decision-making brain. By doing so, we will enable our forces to continue to dominate the C2 battle in any conflict.