Shaping the Enlisted Force for the Joint All-Domain Task Force
Master Sgt. Demetris A. Prewitt
U.S. Army Sergeant Major Academy
May 8, 2020
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“A more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating Joint Force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners, will sustain American influence and ensure favorable balances of power that safeguard the free and open international order.”
—(Department of Defense, 2018, p. 1)
The 2018 National Defense Strategy may accurately depict the erosion of the United States' global military hegemony and the rise of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea (Department of Defense, 2018). A quick-reacting joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) system is necessary to combat emergency scenarios worldwide because of how rapidly military situations can change. This article seeks to build the framework for shaping the joint enlisted force to overmatch our adversaries in all domains while operating within a Joint All-Domain Task Force (JADTF).
Conceptualizing the Joint All-Domain Task Force
The U.S. Army is prioritizing the future of warfare in multi-domain operations (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 2018). To illustrate why JADC2 is so important, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Fink describes a hypothetical missile launch from North Korea during the Air and Space Power Conference 2019. Upon initial launch, the supporting command in charge of response actions would be U.S. Forces Korea and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. As it heads towards space, the supporting command switches to U.S. Strategic Command. Then, as the missile tips and heads to an allied partner, the supporting command again switches to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. And if the missile changes its trajectory towards the West Coast of the U.S., the supporting command switches to U.S. Northern Command (AirForceTV, 2019). Because of the speed with which joint commands must act, military leaders must lead the enlisted force into a new structure of military operations.
Director of U.S. Army Futures and Concepts Center, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, stated the current military structure is not practical concerning a response to the threats of Russia and China (U.S. Army Futures and Concepts Center, 2020). To combat this, the Army is working with its sister services, allies, and partners to streamline JADC2. According to U.S. Army Futures Command:
JADC2 is a combination of new technology, processes and new organizations that will enable the joint force to converge effects. The Army has several on-going modernization efforts to increase interoperability, situational awareness and lethality that will enable any shooter, with any sensor, through any command and control node in near-real time, with the appropriate authorities to employ joint and mission partner effects. (2020, para. 8)
These JADC2 efforts are preparing the U.S. military for future warfare, but joint domain operations don't begin and end exclusively within each domain. To expand JADC2 even further would be to conduct operations without domain boundaries.
A Boundaryless Organization for Boundaryless Operations
Given that future operations will occur without domain boundaries — and consequently, without military branch boundaries — it follows a JADTF will be a boundaryless organization, which is defined as an organization that is “supposed to transcend the rigid lines of bureaucracy and divisional boundaries” (Inc., 2020, para. 1).
A boundaryless organization is a fundamental shift from the departmentalization and hierarchy of the current military structure which can, at times, impede vertical and horizontal communications. Becoming a connected and boundaryless JADTF would target enemy forces more rapidly between all branches as well as improve the coordination and logistics of all units within a region.
Joint Forces Component Commands to Joint Domain Commands
The definition of a JADTF suggests the domains themselves require command and control, not just the joint forces within them. The proposed term joint domain command (JDC) better reflects future needs of the force because a JDC would plan and conduct all-domain actions in their respective domains while following the guidance and direction of both the combatant and JADTF commander (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2017).
In this new construct, instead of having a Joint Forces Maritime Component Command (JFMCC), the JADTF commander would have a Joint Maritime Domain Command (JMDC). The Joint Force Air Component Command (JFACC) would move to a Joint Air Domain Command (JADC). The same principle would follow for the remaining component commands: Joint Land Domain Command (JLDC), Joint Cyber Domain Command (JCDC), and Joint Space Domain Command (JSDC). The Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command would be a Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) within the JADTF.
To operate without boundaries, each JDC must be capable and authorized to conduct operations in any domain using a joint force toward their domain's objectives. For example, the JADTF headquarters could authorize the JMDC to conduct a cyber mission within the land domain to achieve maritime objectives. Simultaneously, the JLDC, using assets in the air domain, may conduct offensive strikes in the electromagnetic spectrum. Figure 1 illustrates this concept.
Emerging Technologies and Joint All-Domain Command and Control
To become boundaryless, JADTF will require a different command and control (C2) joint function. The foundation of JADC2 is to “network all forces into an effective whole…which will bring together sensors, systems and weapons from different services and nations to allow the seamless sharing of information and the convergence of combat power” (Department of Defense, 2020, para. 24). The push for synchronization requires a shift from hardware-centered C2 to software-centered C2, where cloud-storage and sensor synchronization will be the focus. This level of integrated sensory data, global cloud access, and artificial intelligence (AI) available to enlisted service members requires a paradigm shift to prepare the enlisted force for combat.
Reorienting the Enlisted Service Member
With JADC2 promising any sensor to any shooter, the joint force will require more from the enlisted force who, in most cases, is the shooter. The JADTF end-user will manage global, multi-domain data on an adaptive learning mission device incorporated with AI. This reality is different from present-day training which mainly prepares the enlisted force for the bottom three rungs of Bloom's Taxonomy: remember, understand, and apply.
For example, the U.S. Army's semi-centralized promotion board to sergeant requires the promotion candidate to remember lists, define terms, and explain basic concepts of the Army (Department of the Army, 2019). In contrast, the technology and concepts of JADC2 will require enlisted service members to operate at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy: Analyze, evaluate, and create. The standard measures of effectiveness may not have an established precedent because of the rapid evolution of environments.
There are further realities supporting the reorientation of the enlisted force — namely, the authority for cross-service coordination and utilization of theater assets may take place at the staff sergeant level and below. Therefore, organizations would include enlisted service members into planning staffs and junior enlisted leaders would have a role in formulating and designing plans. This means that junior enlisted leaders should be trained in the following leadership hallmarks to best support the JADTF.
An All-Domain-Capable Enlisted Force — Professional, Perspective, Platforms
Preparation of the enlisted force for JADO should not wait until activation of a JADTF. Leaders should instill their services' values and ethos into subordinates as well as the Joint Enlisted Member Attributes(JEMA). The JEMA are labeled as the three Ps: professional commitment, global perspective, and platforms to excel. These attributes complement the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's enlisted leader attributes (Garamone, 2017). The JEMAs reflect the potential command relationships of a JADTF, technology required to execute JADC2, and the reorientation of the force to conduct JADO.
Professional commitment involves allegiance to character development, independent research and analysis, and holistic fitness.
Each military branch has extensive literature on the values required for service. However, the character component of professional commitment highlights the most basic function of moral character: to recognize the difference between what is ethically right and wrong. This is the first and most foundational element of professional commitment.
Independent Research and Analysis — a Comparison with NFL Fans
With a vast amount of data at the fingertips of every service member, independent research and analysis is a vital component of professional commitment. Leaders must drive the enlisted force toward becoming a “fan of their own sport.” An avid National Football League (NFL) fan doesn't require anyone to tell them to check box scores, review highlights, or track league standings. In fact, when groups of fans get together, the one with the most “fan-knowledge” is the most respected person in the conversation (McCormick, 2019).
Although sports leagues are designed to generate such devotion, military leaders can also turn the enlisted force into an outfit of military analysts and strategists. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is a great example of promoting independent research when they developed a mobile app for identifying enemy equipment. Each weapon system's entry contains information such as maximum speed, frequency range, and modification options leaders can use as competition between teams and squads (Rominiecki, 2013). This promotes both camaraderie and competitiveness to learn more to beat their teammates as they become experts at their craft.
Holistic health and fitness should be a pillar of an enlisted service member's professional commitment. It requires physical training, proper sleep and nutrition, and mental and spiritual readiness (Brading, 2019). While leaders can observe physical and mental performance, mental health is not as discernible and should be prioritized (Dingle et al., 2020).
As a unit, members should celebrate social and family milestones together like birthdays and graduations as well as integrate team-building exercises into unit activities. This builds a culture of trust and unit cohesion (Lampkin, 2019).
Every military member's decisions have an impact on every domain. Therefore, Soldiers of all ranks must possess a global perspective that links the strategic environment to the national defense policy documents, down to their commander's intent and individual training objectives.
The Strategic Environment
Every NCO should have an understanding of the United States' boldest adversaries: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations (Hjelmgaard & Brook, 2020). They should know their adversaries' key leaders, the capabilities they possess, and how they plan to employ those capabilities in warfare.
National Defense Policy Documents
The release of the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, National Military Strategy, theater strategic plans, or capstone service documents should trigger professional development sessions for every member in the organization, not just key leaders. Every service member should know who produces those documents, what the strategies entail, and where to find these documents.
Unit Command Plan
The enlisted force must be intimate with their unit's command plan. This includes the commander's mission, vision, priorities, and training guidance. Moreover, they should be able to relay the intent of these documents through each command down to their unit. Finally, they must connect their immediate commander's training guidance to their individual tasks.
Platforms to Excel
Generation Z will be the predominant enlistee pool from 2020 to 2030 and is the first generation to have grown up completely in the digital era (Moore, 2019). The online realm is where this interconnected generation spends their free time, communicates with family, and receives their entertainment (Patel, 2017). The term platforms, within the context of the JEMAs, refers to the opportunity to initiate action, communication, and collaboration. Leaders must shape both the physical and digital cultures of their workplaces to provide the enlisted force platforms to succeed in their profession.
Physical Culture (In-Person)
Positive group dynamics: This includes respectful, inclusive, and diverse work environments; free of harassment, hazing, bullying, and unlawful discrimination.
Collective intelligence: This refers to teams that are dispersed yet still self-organized, time-pressured, and collaborate easily, almost exclusively online. These teams perform together on a wide range of tasks and everyone is part of the solution (Kim et al., 2017).
Adaptive and Authentic Leadership: Talent managers cannot base NCO leadership quality solely on time or rank. Generation Z members base their followership on technical proficiency and communication skills found in adaptive and authentic leadership styles (Laudert, 2018).
Digital Culture (Online Network)
A digital communication mechanism with the command: This can be as simple as a mobile app like the one under development by the 75th Innovation Command (Lacdan, 2020). Unit leaders could use the app to send welcome letters, family readiness information, commander's priorities, training calendars, or local events.
Virtual simulation environments: Given that space, maritime, and cyber assets are most often real-world resources, it is nearly impossible for smaller organizations to train in JADO without virtual simulations. Virtual, all-domain battlefields must be available at brigade-sized elements and above.
Knowledge and access to available training resources: Training resources and assets should be common knowledge and easily available to the enlisted force. There should be an online network where leaders can reserve ammo, equipment, and ranges at the click of a button.
The future of armed conflict against a near-peer competitor will involve military operations throughout all domains. The concept of JADC2 involves a JADTF giving active members access to any sensor through any C2 node across a globally-integrated cloud. With JADTF as a boundaryless organization, joint forces will require enlisted service members to make national and theater-level decisions in near-real-time, across each domain.
To prepare the enlisted force for operations in the JADTF, U.S. Joint Forces must adopt the JEMAs of professional commitment, global perspective, and platforms to excel. With these firmly established throughout the force, there will be a continuity across all military branches for successful JADO.
*All graphics by Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International except where otherwise noted. Link to the Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en
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Master Sgt. Demetris A. Prewitt is currently a student and international sponsor to New Zealand at the Sergeants Major Academy, Class 70. His previous assignments include first sergeant, Military Intelligence Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne); joint intelligence senior enlisted leader, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Syria; and chief intelligence sergeant, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). He holds an associate degree in intelligence operations from Cochise College and is currently completing a bachelor's degree in leadership and workforce development from the Command and General Staff College. He is the incoming operations sergeant major of the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade.
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