WASHINGTON — The configuration and interaction of allied and partner systems is a critical consideration for those tasked with modernizing America’s networks and improving information distribution on today’s and tomorrow’s battlefields, said said Army leaders at the C4ISRNET conference.
“We will never fight alone again,” Brig said. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the network’s cross-functional team, said during the April 20 virtual conference. “We will always fight with our coalition partners, so it’s important that we find a way to share the data.”
A key test of information sharing and network interaction will take place this year, with Project Convergence ’22, where pieces of advanced military technology will be evaluated under demanding conditions. Project Convergence is the Army’s contribution to the Pentagon’s broader joint command and control effort, which aims to better connect sensors to shooters and accelerate decision-making with tailored responses to threats.
PC ’22 is the first to include international forces, including the UK and Australia. New Zealand could also participate, Defense News reported last month, and Canada will observe, with plans to participate at a later date.
This year’s Convergence Project will focus on both the Indo-Pacific and European theaters, with an eye on larger-scale combat. The data – and making sure it gets to the right people – will be on the minds of many.
“When you look forward to PC ’22, it’s not just the United States as a joint force. This is our combined joint force,” Colonel Tobin Magsig, special assistant to the commander of Army Futures Command, said in a February conversation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. . “So taking our closest allies and partners, being able to transmit data seamlessly, being able to have that confidence in the data that we transmit so that you know an Australian shooter can feel very at comfortable with a UK sensor or a Canadian C2 network.”
Maj. Gen. Robert Collins, who heads the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Tactical Communications, or PEO C3T, stressed Wednesday that “our partners and allies are more critical than ever.” And that importance drives tremendous engagement with them.
A key initiative moving forward, Collins said at the C4ISRNET conference, is not only building relationships with other militaries and exchanging information and policies necessary for cooperation, but also creating a ” persistent environment” in which modernization experiments and information exchange can thrive.
“Traditionally, we’ve been very episodic,” Collins said. Now, he continued, “I think there’s a much more concerted effort, a much more persistent effort, to make sure that we continue that partnership with our coalition allies.”
The stark challenge posed by PC ’22, Rey said, is “whether or not we can share that data with our partners at all levels and then put some steel on the targets.” I think that’s going to be the key.
Failure in a controlled scenario, however, might prove useful.
“If we fail, we’ll come back the next day and find out if there’s a setup that needs to be changed or a policy that needs to be followed,” Rey said. “And over time, by the end of the experiment, we hope to then be able to share the information as we thought.”
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers networking and computing. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely nuclear weapons development and Cold War cleanup — for a South Carolina daily.