Then Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George answers questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., July 12, 2023. George was nominated to become the next Army Chief of Staff by President Joseph R. Biden. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David Resnick)

PHILADELPHIA — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George signed off on new requirements for C2 Next Generation (C2NG) Wednesday, highlighting the new program’s desired functionalities and how industry can contribute to the program. 

Among the key attributes George hopes to see out of this effort: a consolidated network architecture, servicemembers using personal mobile devices and collaboration throughout the service. But most of all, the Army’s top officer is looking to make things as easy as possible for forces in the field.

“I have been a customer of the network for most of my career. Nothing is more frustrating to me in doing this and going out as a brigade commander, as a division commander, or as a corps commander and seeing people struggling more with time to get the network to work than actually fighting the enemy,” he said during a panel at a technical exchange meeting Wednesday. 

C2NG is the Army’s joint effort with industry to build a “data-centric” command and control system facilitated through network transport. The goal is to reinvent the service’s enterprise data architecture and revamp its operational software framework. Basically, the program is designed to create one common data access layer.

C2NG differs from C2 Fix, another Army network initiative; C2NG is a whole new architecture whereas C2 Fix is designed to revitalize the Army’s current network infrastructure. The two projects are working in parallel, Col. Mike Kaloostian, director for transport and security, Next Generation C2 AFC, said during an interview with Breaking Defense. 

In doing so, the service will create a unified “flattened” architecture which servicemembers can seamlessly communicate through. 

“In the past, it’s been mission command systems that are created and developed in silos, and then we have to kind of stitch the data together. What we’re trying to do now is develop something that’s going to be flat across the board, an open and standard architecture,” Kaloostian told Breaking Defense. 

With this open architecture, servicemembers can communicate much more easily using modern technology like personal tablets, phones and computers through one application, George said Wednesday. 

“So rather than having a truck or two trucks, and 10 people, you have an application and that’s where we have to go. This makes me more lethal, survivable on the battlefield and that tech exists,” he said. 

Having a central application that servicemembers can communicate through also allows the program to require less training and is “very intuitive,” Lt. Col. Michael Stallings, Squadron Commander 1 ID 1 HBCT added during Thursday’s panel. 

“It was very intuitive for my soldiers to use. We had soldiers able to use it with very minimal training. They were able to pull intelligence feeds, call for fire, see blue and red positions, you know, things that we need at the tactical level, very intuitively, and they were able to leverage functionality that we weren’t trained on because it was very, very intuitive,” he said Thursday, describing an experience he had at an experimental demonstration of C2NG. 

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Sense of urgency  

C2NG is still in the early experimental stage, but the project is moving forward with “a sense of urgency,” Kaloostian said. The first experimental exercise has been completed, and the next one will be in September at NetModx, where the program’s susceptibility to hacking and jamming will be tested. 

The official kick-off of C2NG started as soon as George signed off on the new requirements — or what the service formally calls “characterizations” — the Army is looking for industry partners to fulfill, Kaloostian said. He added that he suspects the service will release a requirements document for C2NG no earlier than the Army’s Project Convergence Capstone 5 next spring. 

Kaloostian stated the pressing need of setting up the new network infrastructure is due to emerging threats from adversaries and the rapid shift toward digital warfare

“[We need to] develop a network now, that can ingest all of that data, and then use emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, and those algorithms to help make sense of that data. So commanders can use it to actually make decisions on the run, or, you know, in the midst of conflict, because right now, that’s hard to do,” he said. 

Still, Kaloostian emphasized that the process shouldn’t be hurried. 

“There’s a sense of urgency to press forward to do this. However, we don’t want to rush to failure, if you will. We want to make sure we’re doing this the right way. Starting small starting at that data layer and working are working working outwards,” he said during Thursday’s panel. 

What the Army is asking of industry 

George approved the latest C2NG version on Wednesday, outlining specific industry partner needs for building it from scratch.

Two of those characteristics are related to building an intelligent threat network, built to create resiliency against cyber attacks or jamming. Another one is having “a lot of transport” ability, meaning there is plenty of secure access to the data layer C2NG encompasses. 

The service is also looking for help implementing uniform software and application development and common platform services — essentially making sure the software developers are using the same tools and capabilities. 

Kaloostian also said the service wants industry to help with a service model approach, eschewing the need to regularly buy new hardware in favor of a model that leases some of the hardware. 

Most importantly Kaloostian said, is the service’s need for industry partners that can help develop a user interface that allows a commander to visualize the data — something he said is “at the core of C2 Next.” 


For C2NG to be successful, Kaloostian said that the various parts of the service must work together to create this open system architecture. 

“Having the warfighter feedback, making sure that we’re locked in with ASA(ALT) and the PEOs from the outset is so critically important to the way that we’re going to move forward,” Kaloostian said during Thursday’s panel. 

He also noted that if the Army is successful in implementing the kind of network infrastructure C2NG hopes to develop, he predicts other services will begin using the same sort of open system architecture. 

“We have to be able to communicate with multinational partners in the joint force, we’re always going to fight that way. What we’re doing from a data standpoint, that should allow other services to be able to share data, like what we’re doing should help inform CJAD2,” Kaloostian told Breaking Defense.