Making Better Tactical Decisions by Integrating Military Data

The Department of Defense needs to take advantage of temporal tactical targeting and intelligence data to address the rapidly evolving conditions of the modern battlefield.

There are many assets in theater across a battlefield, producing and consuming data simultaneously.

Consider a scenario in which an Army Long Range Precision Fires missile is engaged to destroy an adversary’s missile launch platform before a launch sequence is complete.

Here’s how that might play out:

  • A report comes in from intelligence that a missile platform is preparing for launch.
  • Immediately, the trajectory must be calculated and the air corridor cleared.
  • Local ground combat units in the area are alerted to the danger.
  • Then, both fixed-wing aircraft and attack helicopters provide support, including damage assessments after the strike.

All told, such a scenario could include ground combat units, naval artillery and satellites – all engaging in multi-domain operations, covering land, air, maritime, space and cyber.

But the fact is, our armed forces are faced with near-peer adversaries who have developed many systems that are competitive on a system-to-system basis. How can the U.S. assert and maintain dominance in this environment?

The answer is developing integrated coordination between systems across the five domains to identify and exploit opportunities for advantage. We need to leverage the collective capabilities of these systems – gathering, integrating and analyzing that data to produce reliable, tactical intelligence that informs battlefield decisions.

The challenge to integrating these systems is that the necessary data is in many different formats. The military does not have a data standard for the battlefield. And it never will, because it’s just not practical.

Instead, the solution is to create a common integration fabric that enables the promotion of data to decision-making intelligence. The Multi-Domain Operations strategy, or MDO, is a high-profile initiative to accomplish just this.

The overarching goal of Multi-Domain Operations is to overwhelm the adversary through the exploitation of assets across all domains during a window of peak opportunity, known as convergence. This results in Decision Dominance, a situation in which the adversary is unable to effectively respond or retaliate.

There are three foundational tenets that must be in place for Multi-Domain Operations to succeed.

One critical piece is data. Military data must flow across a battlefield. That data may need to be consumed from monolithic war-fighting systems built without integration in mind. And so MDO, at heart, is a data challenge.

Another critical piece is collaboration. Intelligence must reach the right people at the right time. Without collaboration, MDO cannot succeed.

And finally, there are APIs, or application programming interfaces. APIs are the foundation of collaboration and modern applications. They help applications communicate with one another, regardless of their source.

The endgame of MDO is actionable all-domain intelligence.

The modern battlefield has become highly digital, requiring a blend of human and data analysis to achieve a winning outcome. Open integration elevates tactical decision-making by taking data and intelligence sharing across the battlefield to the next level.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop Academy’s recent course, “Making Better Tactical Decisions by Integrating Military Data,” created in partnership with Red Hat. Access the full course here.

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