As global powers exploit emerging technologies for strategic advantage, the convergence of operating domains means that Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) are becoming a key requirement to gain superiority - especially in contested anti-access and area denial zones (A2/AD).
Joint integration to warfare is essential to deliver the right fusion of firepower. Different domains across air, land, maritime, cyber and space come together to create a point of advantage in one domain to enable effects in other domains. An example: a cyber effects mission can take down an Air Integrated Defence System, creating a semi-permanent window of superiority as part of a campaign.
Increased situational awareness in real-time, across multiple domains is essential, even more so when fusing Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare (C4ISREW) capabilities.
Achieving information superiority requires a rethink in the foundations of how we build out these platforms. Many sovereign entities are already realising a shift from platform to sensor network and distribution of information. This provides a decoupling of the sensor from the platform and views it in light of data direct to the consumer.
The shift is also a reverse of information push to information pull, where the network is used to transfer timely and accurate information required of the any sensor/any shooter consolidated environment. This therefore achieves a paradigm shift by ensuring minimising backhaul processing and greater synthesis of information through the right command and control (C2) node in theatre to the right “shooter” leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In addition, actively utilising AI or machine learning to support decisions through weapon systems, or fusing F-35 terrain analysis with scouts to inform decision making on the ground without waiting for direct comms, will increase as deployed and tactical edge clouds are already a reality and actively being tested/implemented for mission outcomes.
The migration to ‘Network Centric Warfare’ has already seen the connectedness of the battlefield increase. However, actionable intelligence is only as good as the ability to have access to all relevant data in real time. Sensor connectivity can no longer be viewed as a resource available to a user or sensor owner, but rather as an information gathering resource for C4ISREW outcomes.
Data management, replication, command and control, multi-level security and multi-domain should become key tenets for future C4ISREW capabilities. A cloud capable Multi-Domain Database (MDDB) that provides support for incompatible networks and previous systems will be key. The ideal end state is a single pane of glass that integrates across domains while fundamentally delivering a single source of truth for missions while providing a unified insider threat capability across all these domains.
An MDDB can provide the next generation information management platform that removes one of the main challenges in C4ISREW sensor management; the interface between these security domains and systems.
Historically, C4ISREW solutions have been point solutions and the most important performance measure of a sensor management system is related to the speed of acquiring, managing and making available information to all that require it across any security domain or geography. The ability to seamlessly link multiple levels of data, security domains (multi-domain), and multiple security levels provides greater situation assessment of the battlespace of information fusion.
This becomes most relevant when viewing the Common Operating Picture, largely underpinned by Oracle technology globally. The once restrictive use of various data-guards or one-way diodes required for every read or replication of data may now be repurposed as part of a one-time content verification write on initial ingest of information. This expedites the access of data from a single repository by users on differing security domains while maintaining the original security level.
In a nutshell, MDDB users can access data from multiple domains based on their access rights. An MDDB can provide the analyst with the information they need at the right time, the right place, and in the right domain at mission speeds.
Operating at the speed of mission is where defence needs to be. MDDB capabilities exist today and are already fielded in allied partner environments with Australia yet to move forward.
Note: Nathan Cook is Vice President & CTO of National Security & Defence for EMEA & JAPAC.