Hicks Announces Delivery of Initial CJADC2 Capability 

  • Published
  • By Joseph Clark
  • DOD News

The Defense Department has delivered its initial iteration of the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2, capability, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced today.  

The initial version represents a minimum viable capability combining software applications, data integration and cross-domain operational concepts designed to provide decision advantage to warfighters.   

"The minimum viable capability for CJADC2 is real and ready now," Hicks said during the keynote address at Advantage DOD 2024: Defense Data and AI Symposium, a three-day event hosted by the Pentagon's Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office in Washington. 

CJADC2 is the department's approach to developing both material and non-material solutions to deliver information and decision advantage to commanders.  

The department aims to apply the CJADC2 approach across all warfighting domains to give warfighters the edge in deterring and, as necessary, defeating adversaries anywhere throughout the globe.   

Hicks noted CDAO's critical role in getting the initial iteration across the finish line, after being challenged last summer to deliver a minimum viable capability in a matter of mere months.  

She said that due to security reasons she could not reveal where or what the initial capability announced today was specifically developed for.  

"But what I can tell you it was no easy task, especially in six months," she said. "But with a lot of hard work across many teams, pairing operators across multiple commands with engineers from DOD and industry, they delivered on time and on target."   

She said the first iteration has proven to be low latency and reliable, adding that it represents "the beauty of what software can do for hard power."  

"Delivery doesn't take years or decades," she said. "Our investments in data, AI and compute are empowering war fighters today."  

The department intends to build on the success, Hicks said, to deliver the capability at scale.

"Our goal is to be ahead of the curve, not chasing the curve," she said. "CDAO will play a critical role in this next phase of our development, but so too will our operators and research, development and acquisition professionals throughout the Defense Department."  

Hicks said staying ahead of the curve requires sustained improvement in internal processes, investments in talent and effective partnerships with industry.   

It also requires predictable and timely appropriations from Congress.   

"We can't do it without resources," Hicks said. "One of our combatant commanders recently reached out to me noting that the advances that they're relying on from CDAO are dead in the water without our fiscal year 2024 appropriations.   

"We need Congress to come together and pass appropriations for 2024 ASAP," she said. "It is long overdue, and the delay is devastating."  

The initial rollout represents a tangible outcome from DOD's focus on adopting innovations that can deliver military value under Hicks and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. 

That focus includes rapidly and responsibly investing, iterating and building "a more modernized, data-driven and AI-empowered military now," Hicks said.

"There's no debating the why, because these technologies give us an even better decision advantage than we already have today," she said. "And that's imperative given the pacing challenge we face from the People's Republic of China in deterring and defending against aggression."  

Investments in AI, specifically, can greatly improve the speed, quality and accuracy with which commanders make decisions, giving them a decisive advantage in deterring conflict and winning a fight, Hicks said.   

"Data and AI are necessary to empower our warfighters," she said. "We have to capitalize on that."  

But she cautioned that the U.S. is not engaged in an AI arms race with other nations and will continue to lead in the responsible development of new technology.   

"We need speed and safety," she said. "We have to be responsible and rapid. We don't have the luxury of choosing one or the other. It has to be both for the good of the nation, for the good of our mission and for the good of the world."