David Breede: Multi-orbit Connectivity Critical to Overcoming Jamming by Adversaries
“There can’t be a single point of failure,” says the Tactical Intelligence Systems Program Executive Officer
By Anne Wainscott-Sargent
18 May, 2023
Security and resiliency were the top themes for John Breede, Program Executive Officer for the newly formed Tactical Intelligence Systems Program Office, during SOF Week, the Special Operations community’s largest tradeshow that concluded last week in Tampa.
Breede leads a newly created PEO formed from Special Reconnaissance and the tactical comms element of PEO – Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4), part of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The merging of the two PEOs made sense, said the career acquisition executive, who shared a story of a question his boss, Jim Smith, the Acquisition Executive for USSOCOM, asked him during a panel last year.
Asked to describe his hardest technical problem, the then-head of the Special Reconnaissance PEO, said: “Fully networked and collaborative communications – getting individual systems to talk to each other and provide a common operating picture.”
That capability is an even more urgent imperative today.
During his presentation, Breede highlighted the importance of communications resiliency in the field – where in the most contested, congested environments operators need to push timely and relevant information “at the time of need” over their networks.
He touched on “collaborative autonomy,” or getting unintended ground sensors talking with unmanned aircraft and having them contribute to and benefit from a shared understanding of the environment. Most of the capabilities in the future will need to be to operate in a GPS-denied environment, he said.
Breede emphasised the critical need for multi-orbit connectivity in the face of jamming by adversaries.
“When we’re talking about overhead satellite assets…if one constellation is being jammed…how do I get to another constellation? How do I have multiple different waveforms if one is being jammed in a certain area of operations – there can’t be a single point of failure. I have to have multiple options and multiple options in the same theatre.”
When asked during the Q&A how important multi-orbit capabilities are to achieving true resilience, Breede said, “You’re not going to do it with one or two satellites.”
He added that tactical comms radio operators face the same jamming challenge: “How much can I be low probability of detect so that they don’t even know to jam me? How much can I hop to a different network?” he asked, citing both organic cellular and commercial LEO services as examples of ways to expand and contract the network based on what’s available to operators in the environment.
Breede applauded the industry for finding strong partners rather than trying to do everything inhouse. Such collaboration is needed for the government to build modular open systems that can “communicate, network and talk to each other” and ensuring resilient networks are deployed across the command.
“I think the technology is in a good, exciting place,” he said.
ALL.SPACE understands special operators’ challenges well, having developed the capability to deliver full multi-orbit convergence.
“One of the big technology trends for the U.S. government and the Department of Defense is all around resiliency. Our terminal provides that intelligent resiliency to the warfighter in the field by providing a single unit that links to multiple satellites simultaneously,” said Scott Sprague, chief commercial officer of ALL.SPACE, during a SOF Week interview with Shephard Media and Military Embedded Systems.