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"JADC2 spending is sprawling. DoD should keep watch, but Let It Go."

Breaking Defense - OP-ED

TRAVIS SHARP, October 20, 2022

Approximately 30 JADC2-related initiatives combined to request between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion in the Pentagon's FY23 budget, according to Travis Sharp of CSBA.

Ask five people in Washington to define JADC2 and how much it costs, and you might get ten answers. In the following op-ed, Travis Sharp of CSBA tries to provide a clear estimate for how much the Pentagon is spending on the effort, and argues that the confusion around JADC2 might not be a bad thing for its future.

The defense budget, a window into the Pentagon’s soul, contains several hints about why senior policymakers are concerned about sprawl within Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), the Defense Department’s approach to developing an interconnected joint force that senses, makes sense, and acts on information quickly.

In the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, approximately 30 JADC2 initiatives together requested somewhere between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, according to my research. That’s roughly one-third more than in FY22. Despite confused messaging about what JADC2 actually is and how each branch of the military will handle it, the services increased their share of that funding while more programs claimed to support JADC2 — perhaps in a bid to justify their budgets.

Facing trends like these, senior Pentagon officials such as Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks have endorsed additional centralized controls to help focus JADC2 initiatives across and within the services and defense agencies. The urge to rein things in is understandable. No one wants unproductive disarray.

Yet, senior leaders should not constrain the JADC2 sprawl too much. Messiness often precedes successful innovation. Curtailing initiatives too early risks turning stakeholders into opponents, and JADC2-related spending, even if higher than estimated, seems defensible given the importance of improving joint force connectivity. For these reasons, senior leaders should embrace a modified Elsa strategy toward JADC2: keep watch, but let it go.

Read the full article here.

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