Abstract: The U.S. defense community regularly acknowledges changes in the character of modern warfare. These observations are often coupled with a variety of recommendations, such as creating more strategic thinkers and cultivating more agile service cultures. This article highlights the tangled interactions between these two challenges as well as a third: harnessing the power of storytelling. First, stories both reflect and influence an organization’s culture, and are therefore a useful tool for strategic thinkers. Second, when it comes to strategic thinking, the typical descriptions and illustrations used by defense professionals are incomplete and biased. Missing from this list of examples, for instance, is someone from the origins of Western civilization who personified the wisdom to convert “insight into a decisive asymmetry.” This ancient role model not only exemplifies the strategic sense necessary to prepare the joint force’s culture for modern operating environments, but is also closely linked to the third element of this trinity – storytelling.Read more
In multi-domain operations (MDO), control of the electromagnetic spectrum is of paramount importance. By leveraging machine learning technologies coupled to advanced Electronic Warfare techniques, a key first step will be taken in enabling maneuver warfare within the spectrum.Read more
The U.S. has been working with collation partners for decades to address matters of global and national security. Alongside over 80 partner nations, the U.S. has accomplished milestones in the Global Fight against ISIS, which would not have been possible without such a combined front. Part of these successes are due to the DoD’s shift a decade ago to incorporate partner nations in our military processes to fuse holistic intelligence for decisionmakers through multiple coalition intelligence cells around the world. As the battlespace continues to shift from years of counterinsurgency to face revisionist powers and rogue states, the personnel identified to fill critical positions that interact with coalition members will determine the successes of future conflicts. This essay will describe some recent advances the US Air Force has made toward improving coalition intelligence operations and recommend ways to improve selection and training programs in the future.Read more
Communications are an important element of any military operation. A lack of infrastructure and rough terrain have hindered U.S. military operations in Afghanistan (2001-Present) and Iraq (2003-Present). The difficulties encountered in both countries initially led to several different ad hoc solutions for overcoming poor communications. Eventually a long-term solution emerged, known as BACN (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) with two dedicated platforms, an E-11A and EQ-4B. This article provides new insights on the BACN program and its history, and considers the importance of E-11s providing BACN for future multi-domain warfighting environments. Finally, it encourages new ways of thinking on how to operate in a contested environment, proposing a “BACN-mesh” concept as a way of overcoming such a vulnerability with an adversary jamming the electromagnetic spectrum.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the third of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I focused on the history of the current threats, Part II outlined areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the second of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I focused on the history of the current threats, Part II outlines areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Editor’s note: The following article is the first of a three-part series discussing necessary advancements which will best enable the Department of Defense to continue to lead during current and future periods of competition. Part I briefly reviews threats America has faced thru history and those which it currently faces across all domains. Part II outlines areas of defense and civilian research which must be pursued, and Part III delves into the path forward for cohesive, joint application of technology and research.Read more
Science Fiction has always been a vehicle to the future. In the modern era of conversations about complexity, AI, human machine interfaces, and other exotic ideas, the genre can provide a way to stitch things together. We can take all of these disparate developments, operating concepts, and fuzzy ideas and combine them the same way our ancestors made sense of the word: with a story. At the strategic level, the two nations in conflict here have taken a markedly different approach to developing today’s technological trends. The enemy nation of Donovia has invested heavily in autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (AI), taking a bet that they can teach and grow better algorithms. Christopherson’s side, however, has taken a more balanced approach to integrating AI and autonomy by preserving man-on-the-loop for action and keeping their strategic level AI providing intelligence fusion. Different strategies will influence the future of technology development, but more importantly strategy will dictate how we use those technologies.Read more
Joint operations doctrine omits the agency of artificial intelligence (AI) in the operational information environment, which is a problem. This commentary discusses why, and recommends effective changes. Key points are as follows. AI is becoming an autonomous cause of unanticipated effects. Humans are not the most effectively intelligent actors in all environments, yet our doctrine draws lessons from the past rather than anticipating emergent futures. Machines currently excel in experience-based learning and can discover relationships in data that we cannot discern. Humans can intuit, deceive, somewhat control, and manufacture and destroy machines. In time, AI will be able to perform those cognitive, informational and physical functions as well. As out-thought becomes out-fought, we need proactive doctrine now.Read more
Quantitative analysis is a powerful tool, but it will never precisely solve the riddle of warfare despite repeated promises to the contrary.Read more
In this article, OTH brings you a reading list compiled by contributing editor Dr. Jeff Reilly to equip readers with the necessary elements to discuss the why and how of multi-domain.Read more
Today’s editor’s pick was chosen by Julie Janson. In it, Tom Flounders makes a compelling argument that the Human Domain is the decisive domain.Read more
Leaders must remember that risk is inherent in all military operations. Identify the risk, mitigate the risk, and accept prudent risk.Read more
This year, Over the Horizon will present a series of articles related to the Human Domain to promote conversation about this critical, but often ignored, domain.Read more
Joint Doctrine does not sufficiently and separately address risk as both a necessary part of military operations and as a series of hazards to the force. Risk is not just a list of “things to avoid and mitigate,” but instead must be identified and categorized into two separate classes: accidental and operational. A conflation of these two types of risk directly contributes to the perception that the US military is a “risk averse” organization that refuses to allow for and appropriately reward prudent risk-taking. Thusly, Joint Doctrine must specify the differences between accidental and operational risk in a more deliberate way than it currently does in order to provide clarity to commanders and staffs.Read more
The military is at a crossroads. Overmatch in firepower and maneuver led to its past successes, but they alone cannot win tomorrow’s wars. The concept of MDB is a method for today’s tactical leaders to change the playing field of tomorrow’s wars.Read more
Future jointness demands fundamental changes to organizing, training, and equipping the joint force to meet combatant commander multi-domain requirements.
By Mike Benitez
During the next two weeks, OTH will offer several articles to discuss the overall mindset and scope of multi-domain operations.Read more
The United States Air Force’s definition of airpower is merely a description of all Air Force activities and is incorrect.
By Tom Flounders
Change in the operational environment between now and 2036 requires the Air Force to aggressively develop a vertical and/or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) tactical airlift platform.
By Matthew Andrews