Infrastructure Key to Successful Multi-Domain Operations

Oct. 9, 2018

The inaugural Doolittle Wargame series launching in November will test various command and control architectures to see which ones best leverage information and support that result in the fastest, most effective decisions for multi-domain operations.

Infrastructure is critical to successful multi-domain ops, and getting the C2 architecture right is a “stellar” undertaking, said Brig. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, director of current operations and head of the Air Force’s multi-domain command and control initiative.

Speaking before a Sept. 26 Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Washington, D.C., Saltzman compared the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X—the world’s first cell phone, which weighed 1.75 pounds and was 13 inches tall—with a modern iPhone. Even if he’d had an iPhone in 1985, “it would be just as effective as the phone on the left: You could make phone calls with it,” Saltzman said. That’s because without the Internet—the necessary infrastructure—iPhone apps, text messaging, and data features are useless.

“Once we get the infrastructure right, I’m convinced that the applications will be much faster in development and integration,” Saltzman said, acknowledging that will require a significant culture shift inside the Air Force.

Everything from how the service works with Congress, industry, and academia, to the way it conducts operations will have to change, he said, and all of those things must happen in parallel.

The Air Force needs to give industry and academia the “basic principles and basic vision” for how it wants to conduct multi-domain operations—and then let them work independently to define the best way to make that happen.

“There’s a struggle here. This is that cultural shift,” he said. “If we’re sitting around waiting for that master conops, the master list of requirements that define MDC2, I’m telling you it’s not coming. It’s not coming because I don’t think that’s the best way to structure all the disparate efforts that have to happen.

“I would much rather focus on standards for the basic foundational work so everybody who is working on the different disparate aspects knows how their project will fit in,” Saltzman continued. “Then we have to figure out what the right contracting mechanisms are, what the right lab work is, how you go from experiments and technology demonstrations to operationalizing this. What does ‘program of record’ mean in this environment?”

Rather than control everything, he argued, the Air Force will get further, faster if it seeds the creative forces around it, rather than defines parameters too concretely. “The short answer is we don’t want to control too much,” he said. “We want to have the grand vision so everybody can contribute the way they see works best.”