HONOLULU — The Army needs to embrace the multi-domain concept or risk the possibility that it will not be able to continue to pose a threat to those who would seek to do the U.S. harm, said Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander, U.S. Army Pacific, at a leadership conference held Oct. 14 at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Senior leaders from across U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility gathered to discuss the need to move from straightforward two-domain Air-Land Battle and Air-Sea Battle joint concepts to multi-domain battle.
Commanding generals from both the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and U.S. Pacific Air Forces were in attendance.
Multi-domain battle is a combat methodology between the service components that has been in the works for some time. The Army first embraced it as an operating concept back in 2014 when Army Training & Doctrine Chief, Gen. David Perkins, first spoke of it. Since then the Army has worked to shift operations to shared domains, to include cross-component, joint force, multinational operations, and multi-agency.
According to the Army Capabilities Integration Center, multi-domain battle is about using capabilities in more innovative ways to overcome new challenges. Put another way, it allows U.S. forces to outmaneuver adversaries physically and cognitively, applying combined arms in and across all domains, to include land, air, sea, cyber and space.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, stated at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting earlier this month that world events are underscoring the urgency to develop this cross-domain capability.
“A true land-based cross-domain capability offers us an integrated joint force capable of deterring rising powers by denying them the domains in which they seek to operate,” Harris said.
Brown reminded those in attendance that our Joint forces must be able to present multiple dilemmas to our enemies lest those who would do our nation harm adapt and challenge U.S. competitive advantages.
Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, commanding general, MARFORPAC, agreed. He added that because the Marines are already a multi-domain force, they would be able to integrate easily with the other forces in the multi-domain battle.
“Because we are an amphibious force, we work in all the domains (already), so it’s a natural fit,” said Berger.
In multi-domain battle, Army and Marine forces would work together using cross-domain capabilities to deter adversary aggression not just in the domains of air and land, but also in the domains of sea, space, and cyberspace, supporting the Navy and Air Force. Such a team would utilize Soldiers and Marines with cyberspace skills to help neutralize satellites, hack or jam the enemy’s ability to command and control its forces. Other forces would also be capable of firing surface-to-surface missiles to target enemy ships and shoot down missiles that would otherwise threaten U.S. forces.
Perkins said at the AUSA conference that it’s still too soon to know when the multi-domain concept would be complete, adding that the air-land concept it seeks to replace took eight years to implement after its introduction in 1973.
However long it takes, the importance of multi-domain battle cannot be overstated. Brown reminded the attendees that while the multi-domain concept involves some very complex stuff, they were capable of doing it because of their people, their command philosophy, and their service interoperability.
“I think a key is that we need to be able to present multiple dilemmas to our enemies by investing in the right training, education, and leadership development. That gives us a real advantage,” said Brown.