Drop Zone: Multi-Domain Operations and the Joint Force

So far, Over the Horizon (OTH) has covered a range of topics ranging from geoeconomics to cyber operations to military design – and even an article on nuclear deterrence! Each of these articles presented thought-provoking topics that must be considered to achieve success in a multi-domain environment. From the multi-domain perspective, other OTH articles addressed naval information warfare, historical applications of multi-domain operations, and the recent interview with BGen Saltzman on the Air Force’s perspective of multi-domain operations. However, there has not been much discussion concerning the overall mindset and scope of multi-domain operations (MDO). During the next two weeks, OTH will offer several articles to fill this void.

The first article recognizes that MDO is about mission accomplishment through the application of force in the appropriate military domain(s) within the context of a broader use of the national instruments of power. This article builds upon Dr. Jeffrey Reilly’s definition of a “domain” to create a working definition of multi-domain operations. From this, it explores operations, command and control, and acquisitions to illustrate how Services must move away from parochial partisanship for a multi-domain force to be successful.

The second article illustrates the necessity for Services to look to the nation’s interests over their own. To ascertain these suitably, MDO requires the ability to distill clarity in complex operational environments. From here, the military strategy works hand-in-hand with national instruments of power to ultimately affect the human domain. Rather than focus on objectives or tasks as an end to themselves, MDO overcomes uncertainty in conflict to affect the adversary’s human domain in such a way to ensure it lines up with our national interests.

e pluribus unumThe third article addresses joint readiness and argues that the military community never fully achieved “jointness” in the first place. The author presents a history of the joint fight, and many of its shortcomings due to a lack of integration at the operational and tactical levels. The solution is fixing joint readiness. The bottom line is success in MDO relies on organizing, training, and equipping as a joint team, not as individual players showing up to game day having rarely met.

In an increasingly complex, resource-constrained world, MDO requires massive shifts in Service-level thinking to ensure joint readiness so that we can out maneuver any adversary in the human domain. As you read these articles, think about the definition of – and ideas surrounding – multi-domain operations and the far-reaching implications of these thoughts. Then, by all means, add to the discussion.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.


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