Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Preparing for Multidomain Warfare: Lessons from Space/Cyber Operations

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Preparing for Multidomain Warfare: Lessons from Space/Cyber Operations

Article excerpt

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed or implied in the Journal are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the Department of Defense, Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government. This article may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. If it is reproduced, the Air and Space Power Journal requests a courtesy line.

America is under attack. The enemy has jammed signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS), limiting unmanned aerial vehicle support and precision air strikes. Satellites are blinded by ground-based lasers, preventing actionable intelligence on enemy maneuvers within denied areas and degrading threat warning capabilities. At home, cyber intrusion threatens America's critical infrastructure that supports satellite command and control (C2) and cripples in-theater satellite communications, putting deployed naval strike groups at risk. To complicate matters further, news outlets report on the attacks with information that defense officials know not to be true. Yet this misinformation sparks outrage from the American public and encourages hasty decisions by lawmakers. America is under attack, and all this happens without a single kinetic strike.

These events describe a potential scenario in the next Great War. How could America get to this point? For years, we have achieved national objectives through military operations other than war. Such activities were focused on nonstate actors like Al-Qaeda, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Al-Shabaab. Yet as war fighters integrate joint capabilities to defeat extremists, nation-states are learning from the success and failures not only of our military activities, but also those actions performed by our enemies. This makes them more capable in challenging American interests, and curtailing our war-fighting advantage.

How do we prepare our military to meet the challenges of this evolved adversary? In a 2017 letter to Airmen, General Goldfein stated that to counter this adversary, we must enhance multidomain C2.1 He tasked Brig Gen B. Chance Saltzman, a space weapons officer, to lead Air Force efforts toward multidomain solutions. Since then, much progress was made, yet even with progress it is going to take time before we see significant change across the Air Force. To help speed the enhancement of multidomain C2, tactical leaders, such as those at or below squadron levels, should cultivate multidomain thinking in their units. Leaders at the tactical level should consider employing the following steps in shaping their environment for multidomain C2:

1.Know your domain, and know it well.

2.Identify and collaborate with tactical mission partners in other domains.

3. Train and exercise multidomain approaches.

4. Document lessons learned.

5. Apply multidomain lessons in agreements, plans, and tactics.

These transferable steps have helped enhance multidomain C2 at the tactical level. But before this discussion dives right into the five steps, I want to add context to their usefulness and review why multidomain C2 is the solution for preparing our nation for the next Great War.

A Smarter Adversary Requires an Improved War-fighting Approach

President Donald J. Trump's first National Security Strategy reminds us that America "faces an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years."2 Whether a nation-state, an extremist group, or even a lone wolf, the enemy of today is smarter than ever before. As American national power evolves, our adversaries continue to challenge us in each of the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic sources. For example, on the economic front, extremists have learned that sustained threats against a nation can deter investors and disrupt productivity.3 On the diplomatic and information fronts, noticeably absent from accords on cybersecurity and intellectual property rights, are those countries that are active in cybercrime and cyber espionage against the US. …

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