Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2019-06-01

Multi-Domain Battle Management

 
Part 1: Primary Enemy Systems:
New Methods for Armed Conflict
 
In a rapidly changing world, the military’s operating environment is becoming more contested, more lethal and more complex. While the integration of land, air, sea, space and cyber operations has been a long-term concept, over the last 20 years potential adversaries have also studied the capability of nations to develop the means of countering once-guaranteed domain overmatch. 
 
Now, adversaries can demonstrate asymmetric capabilities suitable for denying access to theatres and challenging the unity of coalitions, so negating freedom of action at the operational and tactical level. The purpose of the Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) concept is thus to drive change in battle management by designing a future army. 
 
In response, Nation Shield is publishing a two-part series providing a detailed study of the future vision of the United States Army and its combat plans. Based on the document “Multi-Domain Battle:  Evolution of Combined Arms for the 21st Century” published by U.S. TRADOC Army Capabilities Integration Centre, we are delighted to present Part 1 of the study. 
 
Operational Purpose of MDB 
Multi-Domain Battle is an operational concept with a deliberate strategic and tactical focus on increasingly capable adversaries who challenge deterrence and pose a strategic risk to U.S. interests in two ways. 
 
Firstly, regarding armed conflict operations, these adversaries employ systems to achieve the strategic end of avoiding war within the traditional operating methods of Joint Forces. Secondly, if these adversaries choose to wage a military campaign, then they will employ integrated systems to contest and then separate Joint Force capabilities simultaneously in all domains, operating at extended ranges to make a friendly response prohibitively risky or irrelevant. 
 
Within this context, the Multi-Domain Battle concept describes how the U.S. and her partner forces organise, practice and employ capabilities or methods across domains, environments and functions over time and physical space. Its objective is to contest these adversaries in operations below armed conflict and, where required, defeat them. 
 
Although it recognises the unique capabilities and roles of the Services, MDB seeks common and interoperable capabilities to provide Joint Force Commanders with complementary and resilient forces to prosecute campaigns and further the evolution of combined arms through the 21st century.
 
Primary Enemy System Conflict 
Once engaged in armed conflict, the enemy will seek a swift and favourable outcome to limit the risk to its forces and civil stability. Here, enemy systems will fragment the integrated employment of forward-positioned Joint Force elements to prevent follow-on by deploying timely echelons to reinforce the theatre of operations, achieving a successful outcome. 
 
Conventional forces are the enemy’s main tool in armed conflict, supported by unconventional warfare, information warfare and nuclear capabilities. The following is an overview of how and where enemy military systems are deployed to achieve rapid, decisive victories. 
 
• Conventional forces. As the primary means of accomplishing objectives in armed conflict, conventional forces execute offensive operations to seize key terrain and destroy friendly formations through follow-on operations that reinforce or exploit reconnaissance, unconventional warfare (UW) and information warfare (IW) activities initiated in competition. In both offence and defence, the enemy converges its ISR-strike system, IADS, ground manoeuvre formations and maritime capabilities in a systems approach that places the Joint Force in multiple, simultaneous forms of contact in all areas of the battlespace.

Irregular forces often transition to a supporting role during armed conflict and conduct security operations that shape an occupied area (often through ethnic cleansing or other population-control measures), while offering conventional forces a layer of immunity from war crimes. 
 
(a) ISR-strike system. The enemy’s ISR-strike system is a critical capability in armed conflict. It employs long-range, anti-surface strike and fire (air-launched, maritime-launched and ground-launched cruise/ballistic missiles) integrated with ISR capabilities (including unmanned aerial systems, SOF and sensors) to overwhelm the following: friendly headquarters, ground manoeuvre formations and naval concentrations, embarkation and debarkation at air and sea ports, and sustainment facilities in the Strategic and Operational Support Areas. 
Attacks from this integrated system provide the enemy with its most effective means of delaying and disrupting the Joint Force’s echelon of forces into the theatre of operations, preventing it from integrating and sustaining combat power once in theatre. The enemy’s threats or attacks on civil targets also influence domestic and allied decisions to deny Joint Force use of key terrain and access to additional military capacities, but while enemies possess large numbers of long-range fire platforms and supporting munitions, they do not have an infinite supply.
Successful employment of the ISR-strike system depends on timely reconnaissance, sufficient logistics support and adequate command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) to engage dynamic friendly targets across the battlespace. Thus, the protection of enemy long-range fires by sophisticated IADS, ground manoeuvre formations and maritime forces in multiple regions of the enemy homeland makes attacking them a challenge. 
 
(b) Integrated air defence system (IADS). This defence consists of firing batteries, radars, command and control (C2) networks and air superiority aircraft. They provide essential protection for the enemy’s long-range fire, ground manoeuvre formations, maritime surface ships, bases and sustainment and C2 functions. It restricts friendly airborne reconnaissance and strike systems throughout the depth of the battlespace, providing the backbone of adversary A2/AD capabilities. 
 
The IADS also contests friendly air superiority aircraft, exposing friendly ground formations, bases and naval forces to both enemy airborne reconnaissance and attack. The enemy’s firing batteries and radars generate physical and electronic signatures with finite magazine capacity making them vulnerable to air and ground attack by friendly ground forces. 
 
As a defence against friendly airborne reconnaissance and strike capabilities, sophisticated IADS networks are multi-layered, mobile, dispersed and capable of autonomous operations. The IADS not only protects strike and fires systems, but also enables effective ground and maritime manoeuvre while challenging friendly forces’ ability to enter the theatre of conflict. 
 
(c) Ground manoeuvre formations. Here, the enemy depends on the effect of the ISR-strike systems, executing offensive and defensive combined-arms operations to seize and hold key terrain in order to secure the enemy’s primary military objectives, so protecting ISR-strike and IADS assets while destroying friendly forces. 
 
A sophisticated enemy seeks to overmatch friendly ground forces operating without tactical air superiority in the Close Area by combining the following: arms formations converging on massed tactical fires; mobile, protected and lethal manoeuvre units; manned and unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft; and tactical air defence, electronic warfare, chemical weapons and C2. 
 
The enemy’s combined-arms formations defeat friendly manoeuvre units by enabling tactical indirect fires via positioning the ISR-strike and IADS systems together to defeat friendly airborne and ground reconnaissance missions.

By adding attack-friendly command nodes and systems, tactical fires batteries and sustainment activities, this combined effect separates and isolates friendly manoeuvre units in the Close Area. The enemy uses manoeuvre elements and systems to fix friendly forces and tactical fires to destroy them, although they have a limited sustainment capacity exhaustible in an extended or destructive campaign. 
 
(d) Maritime. The enemy’s maritime forces can disrupt friendly inter- and intra-theatre sea and air movement, attack friendly ships and seize key littoral terrain. Enemy submarines provide reconnaissance for long range-fires and attack friendly ships in ‘blue water’, acting as launch platforms for submarine-launched cruise missiles while laying mines to block important maritime choke points and harbours. 
 
The enemy’s surface combatants and amphibious forces exploit local sea control and seize key littoral terrain under the cover of enemy long-range fires and IADS, although they are vulnerable with limited or unavailable coverage. Enemy submarines are a growing threat to friendly strategic and operational rear, with the ability to separate the strategic and operational movement of U.S. forces long enough to change the outcome of any campaign dependent upon maritime support to maintain its lines of communications. 
 
In summary, the enemy can attack strategic, operational and tactical targets simultaneously throughout the battlespace with multiple-domain capabilities to overwhelm existing mission command practices and systems, making friendly forward-deployed forces fight isolated in domain-centric battles without mutual support. 
 
Friendly air forces face sophisticated IADS and aviation threats and massed fire against airfields and bases. The enemy can detect forward-positioned maritime forces at long range and attack them with massed shore-based fires, rendering them unable to contribute strikes or amphibious forces to air and ground campaigns for operationally significant periods. 
 
Without air cover, ground forces lack deep reconnaissance for fires and are exposed to enemy reconnaissance, air attack and massed fires. In not possessing the ability to operate semi-independently across domains, friendly ground-manoeuvre forces can be easily defeated in the Close Area by enemy combined-arms formations. 
 
2.  Unconventional warfare (UW). The enemy’s UW activities enable operations in the Close and Support Areas, especially when enabled by proxy forces, while operations in the Strategic and Operational Support Areas provide the enemy with invaluable reconnaissance for long-range fire targeting and even limited ground attack capabilities. Enemy SOF and proxies in the Tactical Support and Close Areas assist in the reconnaissance effort, conducting attacks against undefended mission command, fires and sustainment targets as economy-of-force efforts or in advance of enemy offensives. 
 
UW is also integral to the enemy’s consolidated gains in newly-secured territory, although effective security, counter subversion and policing can limit the enemy’s ability to expand this capability in most areas. Although it will require the support of effective Information warfare (IW) narratives, high levels of enemy UW activity can strengthen friendly resistance. 
 
3. Information warfare (IW). Enemy IW operations in armed conflict complement long-range fire and focus attacks on friendly cyberspace networks and space-based communications, intelligence, reconnaissance and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems. Attacks on these systems complicate friendly forward-deployed force operations and delay reinforcing forces by restricting friendly space-based reconnaissance, so preventing Joint Forces from conducting movement and making distributed mission command difficult in all areas.
 
The enemy’s cyber and space attacks originate from ambiguous or Deep Fire Areas, making them difficult to counterattack and pose a serious threat to friendly network-centric militaries and civil societies. The propaganda narratives dominating the enemy’s IW operations in competition underscore the flow of operations in armed conflict, enabling the enemy to translate battlespace success to political success or threatening deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in an effort to terminate the conflict through escalation.
 
4. Nuclear weapons. In conjunction with IW activities, the enemy uses the psychological threat of employing nuclear weapons against population centres and military targets to coerce friendly decision-makers and fundamentally alter negotiating calculus and end the conflict in its favour. 
Enemy nuclear weapons are delivered by missiles, aircraft and artillery, inserted as area-denial ground placement into the Support and Close Areas then producing specific physical and psychological effects to friendly forces, populations and leaders, both military and political. The enemy subsequently employs nuclear weapon blast effects to destroy friendly force concentrations, critical infrastructure and even civilian populations. 
 
Radiological effects deny key terrain while electromagnetic pulses destroy unhardened electrical circuits across a wide variety of military and civilian networks. The use of nuclear weapons against the U.S. or a treaty-ally government risks the escalation of strategic nuclear systems and total destruction of enemy territory in a general nuclear exchange. 
 
As outlined above, the enemy integrates its systems first in competition and then in armed conflict, presenting friendly commanders and forces with multiple interconnected problems impossible to solve before the enemy concludes its fait accompli campaign. In competition, the enemy’s shaping operations serve to position its forces advantageously for escalation, enabling both surprise and justification for an offensive campaign. 

 
During armed conflict, enemy conventional forces quickly separate and overwhelm friendly forward-deployed forces, while enemy long-range fire, IW and UW prevent effective friendly echelonment from operational and strategic distances. Weakened friendly forces are then immobilised and cannot attack well-defended enemy critical capabilities effectively in the Deep Manoeuvre and Fires Areas. 
 
The upshot is that the enemy will seek to defeat friendly forces rapidly by isolating forward-positioned forces and matching the Joint Force’s corresponding inability to isolate enemy forces. The enemy can then fight them in an orchestrated sequence across domains. 
In Part Two, we will explore methods for defeating enemies in armed conflict
 
Reference Text/Photos:
 

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