Professional Readings

Reading #142

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  • Monday, May 8, 2017

The Indo-Asia Pacific and the Multi-Domain Battle Concept

  • By: General Robert Brown, Commander of U.S. Army Pacific
  • Published: March 2017
  • Read "Who Moved My Cheese" article here.

Acting Director Major General Robert “Bo” Dyess’ Comments:

"The U.S. military along with allies and partners will project power across multiple domains to decisively defeat the adversary by compelling it to cease hostilities or render its military incapable of further aggression."

2015 US National Military Strategy


During his 27 April 2017 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, stated, “America’s future security and economic prosperity are indelibly linked to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, which is now at a strategic crossroads where real opportunities meet real challenges.” Since World War II, the United States has continued to support the advancement of security, development, and democracy in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Maintaining security and stability is not a simple task in a region containing thirty-six countries in sixteen time zones, more than half the world’s population, and covering more than half the world’s surface area.

While primarily a peaceful region for more than 70 years, the current security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific is threatened by a range of state and non-state actors who are challenging the rules-based security order that helped maintain peace and prosperity since World War II. North Korea remains dangerous and unpredictable while China’s armed forces continue to pursue a long-term, comprehensive modernization program designed to improve their capacity to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts. China is also projecting power into the South China Sea through large-scale land reclamation and the militarization of these features. Additionally, the proliferation of advanced anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the region provide an additional security challenge. These security challenges are not necessarily new but will not be solved by "business as usual." To develop solutions to these challenges requires a greater degree of Joint integration that begins with a multi-domain perspective. As General Brown states in this week's essay, “integration requires a new approach, a new mind-set."

This week’s professional reading “The Indo-Asia-Pacific and the Multi-Domain Battle Concept” by General Robert Brown, Commander, U.S. Army Pacific Command, highlights how the emerging concept of Multi-Domain Battle addresses the increasing complexity of the battlefield and its requirement for Joint integration. While acknowledging that Multi-Domain Battle may initially appear to be traditional joint operations; GEN Brown argues that all services must better integrate planning, operations, command and control, and effects across all the domains. The Army can no longer focus solely on the land, leaving the air and sea to other services. Brown adds that the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard cannot focus only on “their” domains. Through improved integration Multi-Domain Battle will enable the Joint Force to overcome denial technologies and jointly affect all domains to create localized areas of overmatch. These effects will then re-enable maneuver for the entire joint force operating in any region, thereby placing an enemy in a position of disadvantage so U.S. forces can gain the initiative.

General Brown highlights three elements of Multi-Domain Battle that will help define its desired effects: joint integration, technology, and people.

- Joint Integration: The Multi-Domain Battle concept is expected to integrate three key areas: organizations and processes, technology, and people. Changes in organizations and processes will be designed to provide different and better-focused Army tools to joint forces to overcome the United States’ loss of superiority or parity in certain domains, particularly in the air, at sea, and within cyberspace.

- Technology: Technology offers key tools to support decision making, lethality, and protection. Multi-Domain Battle must incorporate this technology to empower service members and increase their lethality and effectiveness.

- People: The U.S. Armed Forces must use its people to overcome the challenges of being outnumbered, outdistanced, and “outlearned” by adversaries. The services must develop agile and adaptive leaders through education and training.

US Army Pacific is applying the joint integration, technology, and people aspects of the Multi-Domain Battle concept through rigorous inclusion of concepts and capabilities in all its exercises. This effort will culminate in a major test at the Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in 2018. Moreover, US Army Pacific is considering how to integrate a multi-domain approach with their planning, equipping, and leader-development efforts.

GEN Brown's article underscores the importance of Multi-Domain Battle to improve Joint integration. Army forces enable Joint force freedom of action through cross-domain fires and maneuver, extending mutual support across long distances, and projecting power from land into the other domains to overcome A2/AD challenges. Maneuvering ground forces with cross-domain capabilities into positions of advantage denies an adversary their freedom of movement and action by turning denied areas into contested areas and serves as a deterrent and enabler for other joint operations. Multi-Domain Battle evolves combined arms methodology to include not only those capabilities of the physical domains, but also greater emphasis on space, cyberspace, and other contested areas such as the EMS, the information environment, and the cognitive dimension of warfare.

Multi-Domain Battle will be a featured topic at the 2017 LANPAC symposium, held 23-25 May in Hawaii. During the event GEN Perkins will participate in a panel to address the role of the US Army in the Pacific through the lens of Multi-Domain Battle. Such events are important to the development of the Multi-Domain Battle concept to promote thought and discussion concerning the methods and capabilities required to address the changing character of conflict. The TRADOC Multi-Domain Battle website is another means to promote discussion and contribute ideas. The Multi-Domain Battle website can be reached here.

Additionally, on 22 June ARCIC will host Dr. Michael Auslin, of the American Enterprise Institute, as part of the distinguished speaker series to share his insights on the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region. For more information on Dr. Auslin and the Distinguished Speaker Series, please go here.

The following AWFCs are directly related to General Brown’s article:

As you read the article, consider the impacts on the following Army Warfighting Challenges:
#1 Develop Situational Understanding:

How to develop and sustain a high degree of situational understanding while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#2/3 Shape the Security Environment:

How the Army influences the security environment and engages key actors and local/regional forces in order to consolidate gains and achieve sustainable security outcomes in support of Geographic Combatant Commands and Joint requirements.

#5 Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction:

How to prevent, reduce, eliminate, and mitigate the use and effects of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives (CBRNE) threats and hazards on friendly forces and civilian populations.

#10 Develop Agile and Adaptive Leaders:

How to develop agile, adaptive, and innovative leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos and are capable of visualizing, describing, directing, and leading and assessing operations in complex environments and against adaptive enemies.

#12 Conduct Joint Expeditionary Maneuver and Entry Operations:

The Army needs formations that can rapidly deploy into contested environments, quickly transition to operations, and be sustained to maintain high operational tempo with the overmatch necessary to destroy or defeat enemy forces.

#14 Ensure Interoperability and Operate in Joint, Inter-organizational, Multinational Environment:

How to integrate joint, inter-organizational, and multi-national partner capabilities and campaigns to ensure unity of effort and accomplish missions across the range of military operations.

#15 Conduct Cross-Domain Maneuver:

How Army forces, operating as part of a joint, interorganizational, and multinational force, train, organize, equip, and posture sufficiently to deter or defeat highly capable peer threats in the degraded, contested, lethal, and complex future operational environment.

#16 Set the Theater Sustain Operations and Maintain Freedom of Movement:

How to set the theater, provide strategic agility to the joint force, and maintain freedom of movement and action during sustained and high tempo operations at the end of extended lines of communication in austere environments.

#19 Exercise Mission Command:

How to understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations consistent with the philosophy of mission command to seize the initiative over the enemy and accomplish the mission across the range of military operations.

Continuous feedback, collaboration, and teamwork are keys to the success of the Campaign of Learning and driving innovation in the Army. Please use the Army Warfighting Challenges as the framework to contribute your ideas and recommendations with respect to this topic to improve our ability to innovate as we develop the current and future force.

The Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFC) framework may be accessed here:

For previous weekly readings go to: ARCIC Professional Readings

  1. Army Operating Concept, TRADOC Pam 525-3-1, 30 October 2014
  2. Multi-Domain Battle

All the best,