The Road to Multi-Domain Operations
The concept of multi-domain operations is not new. Since the time of Sun Tzu, commanders have addressed fundamental questions such as: “How is the battle shifting?” “What is the enemy’s next move?” and “How can I capture the element of surprise?”
"Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.
Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions."
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Those questions still ring true. But today, war is no longer a linear event. Threats to our security are asymmetric and agile. Defeating these threats requires a different way of operating. This is where experimentation is key. We must evolve methodologies in artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, data fusion and machine learning. We must enable a world where the “human in the loop” becomes the “human on the loop” and where commanders can oversee the dynamic environment and make decisions at speeds not previously seen
Synchronized Effects, Synchronized Dilemmas
In a multi-domain battlespace, the need for effective command and control will increase tenfold. Commanders must be able to collectively see the battle develop, systematically plan operations and dynamically manage sensors and weapons. This is the challenge we have taken on; how to synchronize operations at all levels for seamless, agile and high velocity command and control. And this requires synchronizing the mission planning cycles for different domains. Further complications arise as each domain has different operational timelines. For example, air operations historically take 72 hours for deliberate target planning. Cyber operations take significant planning and are “silver bullets” that require significant consideration on when to use the specialized asset. Finally, space operations require significant coordination among numerous space management entities. Real time management & sharing of data will be the Rosetta Stone of multi-domain operations.
Exploring the Art of the Possible
For the past few years, we have been exploring ways to synchronize these disparate planning and battle management cycles. Since 2016, we have questioned the “art of the possible” by hosting tabletop exercises that use non-traditional concepts to expedite simultaneous operational planning for multi-domain effects. Working with customers, academia, and industry, we have been analyzing ways to break down barriers and improve decision making across the domains.
Transforming Command and Control
To support this continuous operational planning, we developed the Multi-Domain Synchronized Effects Toolkit (MDSET). MDSET transforms the command and control of multi-domain assets into a collaborative, cross domain decision-making framework. By creating a comprehensive picture of the integrated plan MDSET enables decisions to be made based on concurrent (vs. serial) situational awareness of activity across all domains. Further, MDSET enables various courses of action to be readily explored, enabling commanders to choose the plan that delivers the desired effects with the best resource allocation and accepted risk.
By improving the planning, tasking and directing of air, space and cyber forces, we can realize synchronized effects in a faster decision-making cycle than exists today. But more tools don’t necessarily equate to more success. A vision, an understanding of the power of data and an exploration of the processes and policies needed for true, integrated multi-domain operations are essential elements of success for next generation of warfare.
Vice President of C4ISR, Lockheed Martin
James leads a comprehensive portfolio of more than 100 programs that provide C4ISR services and capabilities for all branches of the U.S. military, multiple national agencies and numerous international customers.Learn about our C4ISR capabilities