By Ms. Kim Knight, Staff Writer
History tells us that few great civilizations have had the capability to maintain lasting peace. Over time, we have seen the mightiest empires challenged, and when all negotiating and reasoning have been exhausted, there comes a time to protect and defend in battle. With that in mind, the National Defense Strategy (NDS) states that we must deter threats and challenges from our adversaries by strengthening our defenses. Logically, an enemy will not instigate a fight that they cannot win.
We know the odds are already in our favor because Air Mobility Command (AMC) has masterfully perfected the art of Airlift, Aerial Refueling, Aeromedical Evacuation, and Global Air Mobility Support, and we do not stand alone when preparing for tomorrow’s highly competitive fight. With the rapidly developing concept of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), AMC and friendly forces will seamlessly unite to overcome challenges from adversaries in all domains effectively.
“Where there is a tanker, there is a fighter, and nothing moves without a gray tail or a Civil Reserve Air Fleet asset. So we have to be connected into the network, so we can be that link, that sensor, and that JADC2 node,” said Gen Maryanne Miller, former Commander of AMC.
While JADC2 conceptually connects forces and command and control, the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) is the technology engine that powers it. From sensor and effects integration to secure processing, data, robust connectivity, and powerful apps, ABMS is the Air Force’s investment to effective multi-domain operations. To test the concept and new technology, AMC conducted an experiment on June 6, 2020, during the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Joint Forcible Entry training, Wellis AFB, NV.
During the simulated threat, 16 AMC C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Joint Base Charleston, SC; and Altus Air Force Base (AFB), OK, and 19 C-130J Hercules (Little Rock AFB, AR, and Dyess AFB, TX) joined in mixed battle formation to receive the secure information exchange.
Earlier this year, Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, discussed scenarios and domains for the Advanced Battle Management (ABMS) Onramp #2 that included shooting down an unmanned aircraft and a cruise missile employing ships, submarines, ground troops, aircraft, and SpaceX Starlink satellites. ABMS is the glue connecting the right assets across multiple contested domains while leveraging AI to make swift, well-informed decisions that will enable commanders and troops to “move at the speed of war.”
“Right now, the C-17 offers very limited imagery of the battle air space pilots enter,” said Maj Tyler Boyd, Chief of Wing Tactics, 62d Operations Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. “DRC [dynamic retasking capability] gives them a live picture and connection to what is going on so they can see where everybody else is, including threats and friendlies, and have better situational awareness overall.”
“The Mobility Air Forces have some unique qualities that can help ABMS product lines mature more quickly. But we have to do some foundational work first, and our experiment on 6 June was about putting a bit of that foundation in place,”
Rueter, who orchestrated and directed the experiment, stated the data sharing went exceptionally well, and all six major experimentation points were achieved. The experiment identified strengths, but more importantly, zeroed in on flaws or glitches in the matrix that needed improvement to eliminate potential risks in a real-world situation.
Looking toward the future, all major commands will see changes taking place as progress continues with JADC2. “Change is coming based on the NDS for everyone, and AMC is no different,” said Rueter. “Our core missions will be the same, but having equipment onboard that enables the rest of the joint force to do JADC2 is frankly an easy addition to what we are already doing.”
Additionally, the recent experiment was the first of many on the horizon for AMC. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics has an aggressive ABMS on-ramp plan every four months in coordination with the Combatant Commands. “These on-ramps showcase the current state of each product line and drive their development faster while always being grounded in solving problems for the Joint Force and for the Combatant Commanders,” said Rueter. “AMC has an experimentation plan that supports the ABMS on-ramps at every opportunity and also weaves in our own experimentation similar to what we did on 6 June. This work has recently piqued the interest of USTRANSCOM [United States Transportation Command] as well, so I imagine that we will start seeing more partnerships with USTRANSCOM on experimentation.”