Professional Readings

Reading #144

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  • Saturday, May 13, 2017

Some New, Some Old, All Necessary: The Multi-Domain Imperative

"It will be our ability to achieve decision speed and the operational agility to lift and shift forces and capabilities across all domains and functional components simultaneously that will produce not only a warfighting capability our enemy can’t hope to match, but also a lasting deterrent in the 21st century."

General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, 16 November 2016.

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


The U.S. military can no longer assume continuous superiority in any domain as potential adversaries can now disrupt the effectiveness or deny the use of U.S. combat capabilities. Increasingly complex air, land, sea, space, and cyber capabilities allow adversaries to contest U.S. force dominance and diminish our comparative advantage. This situation is exacerbated by the optimization of ground and air forces towards counterinsurgency operations that further reduces the ability of the Joint Force to counter sophisticated threats. In contrast to counterinsurgency operations, future U.S. forces will likely confront the sensor-rich militaries of peer states that employ both massed and precision-guided munitions across the depth and breadth of highly lethal battlefields. U.S. forces must anticipate being contested in all domains across a vastly extended area of operations by enemies that possess systems that match or exceed existing U.S. ground combat capabilities. To overcome these challenges, the Army must develop new capabilities while anticipating enemy efforts to emulate or disrupt those capabilities. And to retain overmatch, the Joint Force will have to combine technologies and integrate efforts across multiple domains to present enemies with multiple dilemmas.

In this week’s professional reading, “Some New, Some Old, All Necessary: The Multi-Domain Imperative,” William Dries expands on the need to combine technologies and integrate efforts across multiple domains. He argues that to win in future war the Joint Force “needs more than just having and using capabilities across the five domains. It needs the ability to integrate planning and conduct operations with capabilities from all domains regardless of which service, component, or level of command they come from.” Dries further emphasizes that the required solution to this problem is not revolutionary, but rather, that “multi-domain operations are another form of jointness, but far more advanced and profoundly different than the kind of jointness the U.S. military has been accustomed to since the Goldwater-Nichols Act.” He implies that a Multi-Domain Battle concept is more than each service developing an operational concept to describe its specific role within its currently associated domain. He argues that the ideas for Multi-Domain Battle must become “ingrained in U.S. military culture across the services.” However, he warns, this comes at a cost because services are understandably reluctant to trade proficiency in their core competencies for futuristic-sounding but potentially empty promises of multi-domain prowess. The goal, he says, “can only be accomplished by working continuously with the other services, creating habitual relationships between tactical units, and training according to a “multi-domain, all the time” mindset.”

Dries’ essay is consistent with many of the ideas in the current U.S. Army-Marine Corps White paper entitled “Multi-Domain Battle: Combined Arms for the 21st Century.” The white paper describes a coordinated Army and Marine Corps approach for ground combat operations against a sophisticated peer enemy threat in the 2025-2040 timeframe. Further, it promotes thought and discussion concerning the methods and capabilities required to confront sophisticated threats. The paper offers specific hypotheses to inform concept development, wargaming, experimentation, and capability development. Building on current service and joint doctrine, “Multi-Domain Battle: Combined Arms for the 21st Century” evolves the combined arms methodology to include not only those capabilities of the physical domains, but also those of abstract domains such as cyberspace, the EMS, the information environment, and the cognitive dimension of warfare. While this paper encompasses the views of the U.S. Army-Marine Corps, it is developed as an endeavor that must include the entire Joint Force. Therefore, the expectation is that the ideas within the white paper will, in concert with the other Services, be refined and expanded into appropriate joint concepts and service concepts.

The article can be found here--

If you have any suggestions or are interested in more information on “Multi-Domain Battle: Combined Arms for the 21st Century” , please contact LTC Ed Werkheiser,, (757) 501-5292, or Mr. Mike Redman., (757) 501-5214. We look forward to your comments and recommendations.

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.

#11 Conduct Air-Ground Reconnaissance and Security Operations:

How Army formations conduct continuous integrated reconnaissance and security operations across multiple domains (air/land/cyberspace/space/maritime) to rapidly develop the situation while in contact with the enemy and civilian populations.

#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.

#17/18 Employ Cross-Domain Fires:

How to employ cross-domain fires to defeat the enemy and preserve freedom of action across the range of military operations (ROMO).

#20 Develop Capable Formations:

How to design Army formations capable of rapidly deploying and conducting operations for ample duration and in sufficient scale to accomplish the mission.

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,