Navy officials last week explained how the new Project Overmatch directed by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) will help the services align in a joint network.

“That is in essence, how do we look at our naval tactical grid – naval tactical grid not Navy tactical grid, with a thought about the joint force. So this is JADC2, this is project convergence for the Army – do we have it right? And are there some things we can do differently now, big decisions, that we can drive that integration much quicker than we would normally have it occur,” Vice Adm. James Kilby, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9, said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event Oct. 29.

Vice Adm. James Kilby Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
Vice Adm. James Kilby Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Last month, CNO Adm. Michael Gilday appointed Rear Adm. Douglas Small with leading Project Overmatch in a memo to help build the proper naval operational architecture to connect and enable future forces as needed. The effort particularly includes developing the network, infrastructure, data architecture, tools, and analytics to support the operational and developmental environment in the future (Defense Daily, Oct. 15).

Another memo Gilday issued at the same time directed Kilby to lead complementary efforts to enable the Navy swarming at sea as the Navy’s “Future Force Architect.” Whereas Small is to create a kind of connective tissue, Kilby will accelerate development of unmanned capability and long-range fires that effort enables.

At the time, the CNO said the new architecture ought to plug into the Joint Force’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), which is an effort by the Joint Chiefs to connect sensors from all the military services into a single network to facilitate multi-domain operations.

Kilby argued the Navy is good at connecting systems at point solutions but now is looking to move beyond that.

“The questions we’re asking ourselves, with the force that we’re going to field, do we have the latency right? So do we have the aggregate demand signal right on the network? And is there a better way to do this?”

Kilby said the alignment for this work within the Navy and Marine Corps is via him, Lt. Gen Eric M. Smith, Commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration; Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, N2/N6; Deputy Commandant for Information Lt. Gen. Lori Reynolds; and Vice Adm. Michael Moran, Principal Military Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition).

“Kind of aligning the program from the three-star level, not just doing a bottom-up approach, and working with Doug Small to kind of fare our way through that. And I think that’s a much more results-driven approach than perhaps just letting everything come up from the bottoms up and hope it all works together,” Kilby added.

Speaking at the same event, Smith noted there will always be some distance between the services, but as they transition to JADC2 the idea is to get to any sensor-any shooter or, as modified in Army vernacular, as all sensors-best shooter.

“You want the sensing to be available to all that it goes to through a command and control network or an AI network to the best shooter.”

Smith said while there will also always be a difference between what can go on a ship and what a Marine can operate on an island, “what we talk about though is what is the data required to produce target-quality information. What’s the data packet look like?”

Smith said he views what they are doing between him, Trussler, Reynolds, and Kilby as how to mitigate or minimize differences between the equipment the services use so they are only restricted to necessity to fit on various platforms.

“So those differences in what we are producing and procuring are truly a form factor issue, based on necessity – it has to fit in this box because the size of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is X and the size of a DDG is much bigger. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, then we at the three-star level start asking real hard questions about, well why can’t we be the same? Because we’re looking for the same data transference so that we hold targets at risk 24/7. That’s what we’re all going after and I think the oscillation is minimizing,” Smith added.

Kilby said the Navy and Marine Corps are working together to define specific attributes of the naval tactical grid including resiliency and what factors will make it more robust and able to be flexible to work with the other military services.

“So I think that was a big step, where we tried to define this at a higher level – vice just a traditional requirements document for a system.”

He added now they have to go back and look at the values for those attributes in the system and ask “is it flexible enough to build into the future?”

Kilby used the example of the Navy’s Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFC-CA) effort as the first effort at trying to collect requirements from multiple programs under one.

“So in order to align that from a resource and program perspective, you’ve got to throw the lawn dart far enough down to say this is what we think we’re going to do in X year in the future and then set up a program to pace yourself to get there – where you can measure yourself and say yeah we’re on track or we’re a little behind here or we need to apply some more resources here because we didn’t go there as fast as we could,” Kilby said.

He argued that is a similar approach with the naval tactical grid.

“That’s the approach we’re on to kind of lay that down in a different manner than we have in the past. I think we just have to share that with industry and be open to the fact that we may not have it solved and we should say, hey, there may be something here – there may be a software defined radio we should go look at that might help us achieve this end state faster than we would normally with the normal program.”

“So that’s the tension here – the normal ebb and flow of the Pentagon is the program of record all view new starts as competitors to them. You’ve got to be a little more thoughtful, I think, moving forward,” Kilby added.