Academic journal article Military Review

Targeting in Multi-Domain Operations

Academic journal article Military Review

Targeting in Multi-Domain Operations

Article excerpt

The introduction of new doctrine is always met with skepticism and trepidation by entrenched bureaucracies. AirLand Battle had its critics, and the introduction of multi-domain operations (MDO) is no different. This article capitalizes on the experiences of a small cadre planners from late 2017 to late 2018 garnered from four joint and coalition command-post exercises (CPXs) where MDO effects were planned. The primary focus of the CPXs was to incorporate space, cyber, and electronic warfare (EW) effects into the scheme of maneuver.

On the surface, MDO looks just like what a corps or an equivalent-level staff sees during normal daily operations. However, while some of the processes are indeed similar, it is important to recognize the differences. The primary difference is MDO focuses on multi-domain fires synchronized in time and space to achieve complimentary effects; whereas, cross-domain fires do not.

Cross-domain fires in their simplest form are just one domains affecting another. An example would be surface-to-air missiles or using a shore-based artillery piece to attack a ship. This is what most commanders grew up understanding. Developing an air defense plan for a critical asset on the ground or requesting a Navy EA-18G to provide jamming effects are actions Army staffs regularly execute and are other common examples of cross-domain fires.

Multi-domain fires take cross-domain assets and synchronize them in time and space to create synergistic effects in windows of convergence. A common example is the destruction of an integrated air defense system (IADS). Conventional cross-domain fires would involve an EA-18G providing standoff jamming while a strike package got close enough to deliver a lethal payload. As standoff has increased with recent IADS, this approach is no longer viable as IADS missiles can acquire and engage friendly aircraft at greater distances. A multi-domain effect combining synchronized cyberwarfare, space warfare, and EW effects can reduce standoff room to achieve lethal parity for the air package, thereby enabling destruction.

As warfare has evolved in the modern era, cross-domain fires have begun to leverage the domains of space and cyberspace. During the war on terrorism, the increased use of the information environment by violent extremist organizations hinged on the use of satellite internet providers to move information over cyberspace. Joint task forces (JTFs) and special organizations began to target space and cyber nodes in an attempt to disrupt violent extremist organizations' command and control as well as extremist ideological messaging. The efforts of the JTFs and others were conducted in isolation from each other. The Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) is different in that it is the first formation in the Army that brings all five domains under one command.

The novelty of the MDTF is its ability to provide effects in all five warfighting domains synchronized in time and space. As adversaries establish anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) bubbles that outrange conventional U.S. munitions, this formation provides a joint force commander (JFC) an organization that can effectively reduce those A2/AD bubbles by leveraging multiple warfighting domains at the same time to achieve lethal parity or overmatch, tipping the scale in the JFC's favor.

Joint Targeting in Multi-Domain Operations

In order to conduct MDO, the MDTF uses a targeting process very similar to the joint targeting cycle described in Joint Publication (JP) 3-60, Joint Targeting.1 The targeting cycle for MDO is not much different than what joint doctrine currently calls for. Give an Army targeting officer a target and a desired effect, and nine times out of ten, he or she is going to figure out how to affect that target with artillery, close-combat attack, or close-air support. This is generally because Army targeting focuses on what is within the lethal targeting distance of its longest-range weapon systems and best targeting methodology. …

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