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


Multi-Domain Battle Management: Defeating Enemy in Armed Conflict

Following on from the discussion of Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) technology in our June issue, this article will tackle current strategies for defeating the enemy in armed conflict. We saw last month how adversaries demonstrate asymmetric capabilities to deny access to theatres and challenge the unity of coalitions, demanding a new response from armed forces.
The U.S. TRADOC Army Capabilities Integration Centre hence gave us an explanation of the Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) concept driving change in battle management. We will now describe how forward positioned and expeditionary army forces can operate with other joint forces and partners to defeat the enemy in armed conflict.
As we saw in June, MDB seeks common and interoperable capabilities to provide Joint Force Commanders with complementary, resilient forces to prosecute campaigns. This strategy is orchestrated in response to the enemy’s objective of defeating friendly forces rapidly by isolating forward-positioned forces and matching the Joint Force’s corresponding inability to isolate enemy forces.  
Here we will see how combined armed forces can simultaneously manoeuvre through the contested Support Areas from strategic and operational depths, enabling ground forces to defeat the enemy in close combat. MDB thus provides sufficient combat power to defeat enemy forces by conducting deep manoeuvres in physical domains to suppress and destroy enemy ISR-strike and integrated air defence systems.
Combat Through Counter Surveillance
Understanding the interconnected purposes of attacking each enemy system contributes to realising mission command, permitting the Joint Force and partners to focus on retaining the initiative: 
Defeating the enemy’s ISR through active and passive counter surveillance/reconnaissance across multiple domains creates a cognitive window of advantage to degrade the effectiveness of their strike systems, allowing friendly operations to achieve surprise against ground or maritime forces and IADS. 
Defeating or suppressing the enemy’s strike system prevents the enemy from fracturing the operations of forward-positioned friendly forces, giving opportunities to expeditionary forces in the operational theatre. 
Defeating or suppressing the enemy’s IADS opens windows of advantage for manoeuvre in the air domain to act against strike systems, ground forces and maritime forces. 
Defeating enemy maritime forces prevents the enemy from projecting sea power into air, maritime or ground domains, providing an additional advantage to manoeuvre naval forces in support of the JFC objectives. 
Defeating enemy ground forces in the Close Area fractures enemy operations by forcing them to culminate before accomplishing their objectives, so preventing them from establishing a prepared defence. This allows the Joint Force and partners to attack the enemy’s strike systems and IADS in the Deep Manoeuvre Area with converging capabilities creating the conditions for manoeuvres to defeat or bypass enemy systems and achieve positions (or conditions) for a favourable conclusion of armed conflict. 
Deterrence of nuclear weapon use results from actions to minimise vulnerabilities, with preparation to mitigate effects and continue operations, alongside an effective IEO (Information Environment Operations) narrative. Rapidly reducing the enemy’s capacity to resist and retaining/retaking key terrain enables translation of military results into political objectives for a sustainable outcome in the return to competition. 
1. Defeating ISR 
Efforts to defeat enemy ISR can generally be distinguished between defeating the sensor, platform or the information stream. Resilient formations operate semi-independently in the Support Areas to converge capabilities enabling passive and active counter-reconnaissance to defeat the enemy’s ISR assets and operational strike system. 
Active counter-reconnaissance and protection measures defeat the enemy’s technical ISR activities with space, offensive cyberspace (when sufficient preparation time is available), air defence and EW capabilities. These disrupt and degrade technical collection and communications between reconnaissance platforms and firing units. 
Friendly air and missile defence networks protect formations and locations from enemy’s aerial reconnaissance in Tactical and Operational Support Areas. Active counter-reconnaissance operations then secure friendly Support Areas against enemy UW and SOF human reconnaissance assets by defending high-value targets (vulnerable populations, leadership, bases, and civil infrastructure), producing actionable intelligence and taking offensive action to destroy enemy UW networks.
Successful counter-reconnaissance thus ensures the enemy cannot be certain of friendly locations or the effectiveness of its strikes. Moreover, the enemy is forced either to expend more limited munitions and expose more assets to friendly counterattack or conserve its strike systems and allow the Joint Force and its partners greater freedom of manoeuvre. 
2. Defeating Strike Systems 
Joint Forces converge manoeuvre, reconnaissance and fire capabilities to gain and maintain contact with the strike system. Converged capabilities then present advantage in the Deep Manoeuvre and Deep Fires Areas to defeat or suppress the strike system using multiple combinations of capabilities, so presenting the enemy with multiple dilemmas.
The enemy’s strike system is composed of missiles, missile launchers, sustainment functions, command nodes and communications networks alongside computer hardware, software and programmers executing cyber-offensives. Where conventional physical manoeuvre in the Deep Fires Areas may not be possible, friendly forces may still attack virtually and cognitively. 
Friendly forces converge defensive UW capabilities to defeat enemy assault cells in the Support Areas and maritime capabilities. They detect and destroy enemy submarines threatening Operational and Strategic Support Areas with submarine-launched cruise missiles against land and other weapons against shipping. 
Supplementary protection measures include hardening civil targets and preparing civil populations against enemy strikes to identify IEO conditions for strikes as unprovoked rather than justified. These are the primary mechanism for attacking the enemy’s critical fires system capabilities. 
The Joint Force and its partners gain and maintain contact with the enemy’s strike system by manoeuvring semi-independently throughout the Support and Close Areas, forcing the enemy to react with strikes exposing or expend components of its strike system against resilient formations and protected targets. The enemy’s risk-taking allows the Joint Forces to gain positions of advantage. 
When calibrated in sufficient capacity, friendly capabilities posture to detect signatures and counterattack the enemy’s strike systems. Friendly air and missile defence networks also protect critical facilities and manoeuvre forces against enemy strike systems.
The Joint Force and its partner forces employ multiple combinations of capabilities to suppress or defeat the strike systems and stage continued manoeuvres against enemy strike systems, ground forces, maritime forces or IADS. Presenting multiple dilemmas prevents enemy focus on countering a single or small multiple method, so enabling friendly forces to retain the initiative. The rapid pace of friendly expeditionary manoeuvre and semi-independent operations requires the enemy to expose its strike systems to increased friendly counterattack or allows friendly forces to manoeuvre more freely. 
In addition, semi-independent manoeuvre and friendly air-and-missile defence networks lessen the effectiveness of individual strikes and force the enemy to spread offensive combat power against a larger number of dynamic targets or concentrate striking power against a smaller number of lower-payoff targets. Although the enemy’s strike platforms positioned in the Deep Fires Areas will mostly prove difficult to destroy, suppressing the strike system exposes vulnerabilities in the enemy’s IADS, ground and maritime forces that can be exploited to accomplish campaign objectives. Providing multiple friendly alternatives for attacking each system hence exposes the enemy’s multiple vulnerabilities.  
3. Defeating IADS 
The Joint Force and its partners converge many of the same capabilities to suppress or defeat the enemy’s integrated strike systems in Deep Manoeuvre and Deep Fires Areas. Short-duration suppression of enemy IADS provides friendly forces with windows to employ reconnaissance and other air capabilities against enemy strike systems, ground forces and maritime surface combatants. 
Using multiple friendly capabilities to suppress or destroy IADS increases vulnerabilities and forces the enemy to employ additional resources to protect this system. While IADS is a critical capability that enable the enemy’s strike system, ground manoeuvre and maritime surface manoeuvre, the sophistication, density and resiliency of defences in the Deep Fires Areas generally preclude a longer-duration physical advantage in the air domain. 
Resilient ground forces capable of semi-independent manoeuvre can then enable the Joint Force in the Deep Manoeuvre Area and present ground-based dilemmas (or defeat mechanisms) to enemy ISR-strike system, IADS, ground forces and maritime forces. Friendly forces are thus able to conduct operations without the necessity of defeating the enemy IADS at the outset of armed conflict. 
4. Defeating Maritime Forces 
In some theatres, maritime manoeuvre offers the greatest means of projecting power in the maritime, ground or air domain. Projecting power from the sea requires naval forces to protect the sea lines of communications (SLOC) and establish sea control in littoral areas. 
Retaining or seizing key littoral terrain to include expeditionary advanced bases (EAB) in support of sea control and ground manoeuvre achieves the Joint Force’s objectives of assured access, power projection and protection of friendly ground forces from enemy naval attacks. It also increases options to attack the enemy’s critical vulnerabilities. 
When armed conflict begins, forward-postured forces will conduct operations to enable expeditionary manoeuvre of follow-on forces within days, protecting SLOCs, air lines of communications (ALOC), aerial ports of debarkation (APOD) and seaports of debarkation (SPOD) with airframes from maritime platforms and EABs. They hence establish sea control in the littorals and support for ground combat operations. 
Secure SLOCs, ALOCs, APODs and SPODs are critical to the timely introduction of forward-deployed forces, expeditionary follow-on forces and sustainment. Naval forces will converge joint capabilities to establish advantage in and from the maritime domain in support of sea control and power projection. 
In contested littorals and project power, naval forces will converge joint capabilities to bypass or defeat enemy ISR, IADS, subsurface threats, mine warfare, fast-inshore attack craft, electronic warfare attacks and cyber-attacks. Converging capabilities in the littoral areas will open physical, virtual and cognitive windows for naval, air and ground forces to manoeuvre against enemies’ critical vulnerabilities. 
The integration of amphibious raids and assaults by naval forces with the manoeuvre of landward forces in the littorals provides the Joint Force Commander with land-based support to defeat sea-denial efforts by enemy forces. EABs enable naval, air, and ground operations within days of conflict initiation, while forces execute EAB missions through occupation or forcible entry with formations conducting cross-domain fires in support of sea control and denial, power projection and sustainment operations. 
5. Defeating Ground Formations 
From the outset, forward positioned and expeditionary forces converge capabilities to defeat the enemy’s ground offensives and prevent it from achieving campaign objectives and a prepared defence. Army forces manoeuvre on land, in the air and on water to take advantage of complex terrain, detecting and exploiting enemy vulnerabilities while avoiding becoming fixed and destroyed by enemy fires. 
The Joint Force and its partners defeat enemy reconnaissance, conduct aggressive reconnaissance and manoeuvre to identify gaps in enemy defences, suppressing the enemy’s tactical indirect fires system to isolate enemy ground forces through joint manoeuvre in the Close and Deep Manoeuvre Areas. Defeating the enemy’s unmanned air (UAS), ground, EMS, space and cyberspace reconnaissance reduces the effects of tactical indirect fires against friendly support, sustainment and mission command capabilities, so preventing the enemy from defeating friendly ground manoeuvre forces. 
Combatting enemy reconnaissance in the Close Area requires resilient Joint Force and partner formations employing greater tactical air defences to engage inexpensive enemy tactical UASs and protect allies from increasingly lethal manoeuvre units operating semi-independently in the Close Area. Both passive and active counter-reconnaissance capabilities converge to produce physical and occasionally virtual opportunities that reduce the enemy’s understanding of friendly dispositions. 
Reducing the enemy leadership’s understanding of friendly dispositions hence creates a cognitive advantage for friendly forces to act and exploit faster than the enemy can react. Friendly reconnaissance identifies gaps in the enemy’s disposition to defeat tactical indirect fires by suppressing or bypassing components of the system. Physical or virtual gaps in enemy dispositions are available for friendly forces to exploit, requiring little or no capability convergence. 
Although capable of accessing the full range of Joint Force reconnaissance capabilities, friendly ground forces rely predominantly on organic reconnaissance capabilities to detect advantage. Organic reconnaissance units can operate semi-independently for days (or weeks if unmanned), sensing and fighting in all domains to detect enemy tactical indirect fires system signatures and opportunities to manoeuvre. 
The Joint Force and its partners defeat the enemy’s tactical indirect fires system by suppressing components of the system and manoeuvring faster than the enemy along multiple dispersed axes enabled by cross-domain capabilities. They may develop an unknown situation for several days without waiting for a complete intelligence picture, disorganising the enemy’s defences by fires or possession of continuous lines of communications. 
Unlike the enemy ISR-strike system, the enemy’s tactical indirect fires system employs massed fires, using technologically simple systems and an endless supply of “dumb” munitions. These characteristics allow the enemy’s tactical indirect fires system to service many targets while offering fewer vulnerable components for friendly forces to attack. Friendly indirect fires thus suppress the enemy’s tactical indirect fires system to enable friendly ground-force manoeuvre, rather than defeating the system solely with lethal and nonlethal fires.   
Defeating enemy ground forces in the Close Area allows the Joint Force and partners to present the enemy with additional dilemmas (or defeat mechanisms) because the enemy’s defeated tactical indirect fires system isolates enemy ground formations, creating physical and cognitive advantages for friendly ground forces to exploit through manoeuvre.

Manoeuvre forces can then concentrate combat power against isolated enemy strongpoints or repulse the enemy main effort, while also dispersing to infiltrate enemy defences or manoeuvre against exposed flanks. 
Friendly forces exploit these advantage to destroy isolated enemy formations in the Close Area, bypassing isolated enemy forces to seize key terrain or defeat enemy IADS and strike systems in the Deep Manoeuvre Area. Defeating enemy ground formations in the Close Area challenges the viability of the enemy’s system, preventing it from operating as designed. 
Friendly success in the initial days of the campaign prevents the enemy from establishing a prepared defence that conceals vulnerabilities in its fires, sustainment, manoeuvre and command-and-control systems. Moreover, defeating enemy ground forces provides friendly forces with additional defeat mechanisms to apply against enemy strike systems, IADS and maritime forces. 
To overcome these setbacks, the enemy must mobilise or shift additional forces, including direct operational fires to reinforce the effort in the Close Area, which makes friendly freedom of manoeuvre and expeditionary manoeuvre easier. The alternative is escalation of the conflict with nuclear or other mass effect weapons, posing a great risk for only limited gains. 
SOF (Special Operations Forces) capabilities in armed conflict require preparatory efforts, with indigenous combat power developed during competition enabling attack of enemy command-and-control nodes, air defence systems and lines of communications with and through partner forces. Pre-prepared cognitively populations can then be mobilised to act through demonstrations, work-force strikes, social discord and reporting on enemy activities to support intelligence and targeting processes. 
SOF units can support and conduct joint forcible entry operations to establish airheads or beachheads for follow-on conventional forces, deceiving the enemy and shaping the IEO narrative in support of U.S. and partner objectives. Precision targeting operations can be used to suppress or collapse threat or proxy networks through deliberate targeting of critical nodes in the enemy’s UW, IW, IADS and command-and-control infrastructures, especially those located in the Deep Fires Areas.  
6.  Deterring WMD Use 
Enemies may also use tactical nuclear weapons on an appropriate target contributing to the attainment of operational or strategic objectives, entailing that the Joint Force and partners must deter the escalation of violence beyond acceptable levels. When the enemy suffers significant conventional losses, it may consider employing weapons of mass destruction/disruption to recapture the initiative or drive policymakers to the negotiation table to end the conflict on more favourable terms. 
The Joint Force can employ capabilities to counter WMDs by sharing capabilities with proxies, but actions taken directly against the enemy’s systems should not risk escalation through a perceived “use it or lose it” situation. To deter use of tactical nuclear weapons other weapons like electromagnetic pulse, chemical, biological, radiological, or toxic industrial chemical/materials, the Joint Force and its partners should conduct an effective IEO campaign on the dangers of employing WMD while minimising vulnerabilities and demonstrating the ability to continue operations if attacked. 
If deterrence fails to preclude a tactical weapon of mass destruction or disruption attack, then the Joint Force must rapidly counter with IEO aimed at sustaining the alliance and isolating the enemy internationally and regionally. To deter enemy use against the U.S. allied forces and the homeland, U.S. forces must maintain and exercise the use of an array of legitimate conventional and unconventional options to deter escalation.
Information environment operations (IEO) in combat: As an essential component of their manoeuvre schemes, commanders determine where and when to converge appropriate physical and virtual capabilities to influence these populations. All formations contribute to creating the friendly IEO narrative while these armed operations against enemy military systems constitute actions enabling an effective IEO campaign. 
Cognitive perception and physical results are carefully balanced to maintain an effective IEO narrative which translates the defeat of enemy forces and retention/seizure of key terrain into cognitive windows in the minds of enemy and friendly forces, political leadership and populations. Such windows enable Joint Force manoeuvres and ultimately lead to attainment of political objectives. 
Achieve conditions for a favourable conclusion of armed conflict: The Joint Force and its partners present the enemy with multiple dilemmas in armed conflict. Multiple defeat mechanisms threaten vulnerabilities in individual enemy systems (ISR-strike, IADS, maritime forces, ground forces), while friendly forces shift the priority of attacking a system or systems to achieve maximum physical and cognitive effect upon the enemy. 
Intelligence is critical when enabling friendly forces to detect and develop these enemy vulnerabilities, while ISR must be actively pursued both prior to and during hostilities. When friendly ISR is incomplete, friendly forces manoeuvre to develop the situation, detecting and exploiting enemy vulnerabilities. 
Friendly forces employ principally physical defeat mechanisms to destroy irreplaceable enemy units (ground, maritime, ISR-strike, IADS). They retain or retake key terrain for a favourable position sustainable over the long term, translated into political success through a negotiated settlement or strengthened alliance.
Multi-Domain Battle is fundamental to how U.S. forces deter and defeat adversary strategies below the level of armed conflict and to overcome rapidly evolving challenges posed by powerful and intelligent peer rivals. U.S. forces can outmanoeuvre adversaries physically, virtually and cognitively by applying combined arms in and across all domains, providing a flexible means to present multiple dilemmas to an enemy by converging capabilities from multiple domains. MDB enables friendly forces to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to defeat enemies and achieve campaign objectives. 
MDB enables Joint Forces to deter adversary aggression credibly, defeating actions short of armed conflict, denying the enemy freedom of action and overcoming enemy defences, controlling terrain and compelling outcomes while consolidating gains for sustainable results. This concept hence drives the development of solution sets capable of overcoming the problems of future conflict in the 2025-2040 period. It aims to promote discussion and drive experimentation, while informing the refinement of future warfighting capabilities. 
Building on current service and joint doctrine, MDB aids the evolution of current doctrine, not just in physical capabilities but by affecting the space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum, the information environment and the cognitive dimension of warfare. It provides recommendations for the capabilities that commanders require to defeat an advanced enemy, proposing a new framework for the expansion of the 21st Century battlespace where MDB is necessary to win future conflict.
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