The evolution of warfare can be traced back to mankind’s advancement as a species. With their learned experiences and improved intelligence, humans developed better weapons and strategies of warfare. At first, the land was the only domain of wars, then came the boats which lead to the oceans becoming the second domain of armed conflict. The invention of aircraft leads to the arming of the skies with fighter and bomber aircraft.
A combination of domains of warfare (i.e. land and sea) was utilized to dominate the enemy by advanced armies of a given time. The 1st World war saw the first full-fledged combined utilization of all three domains (land, air, and sea) as active battlefields of war. The advent of space technologies leads to a new battlefield called “Cyberspace”. Here information control is the primary driver of battle. Another related warzone is “Space” itself which comprises advanced spacecraft. So modern warfare has become a “5-dimensional battlefield” where all 5 domains of war (land, air, sea, cyberspace, and space) are inter-connected.
During and after the Cold war era, the US and Soviet Union were engaged in advanced information and technological warfare. That time contributed greatly to the development of sophisticated technologies which formed the basis for modern technological advancements. The US, however, enjoyed more success in developing and acquiring dominance in such warfare. Hence many strategies that combine multiple-domain warfare are credited to the US (or their resourcefulness!). If you are not a “student of strategic warfare”, you can still grasp the basic concepts of multi-domain warfare by watching war-themed Hollywood, espionage flicks, and television series!
From the Romans, Greeks, Persians, and other warrior nations to the World wars, the Cold war era, and the famous to “theoretical” modern wars are all portrayed in such entertainment media. Whilst serving propaganda as a whole, some of these products convey quite practical and realistic ideas of warfare strategists.1
The advent of Modern Warfare
The rise of Special Forces among the ranks of conventional armies was a stepping stone to apply multi-domain warfare. The British “SAS”, the Nazi special forces, the Soviet “Spetsnaz” special forces, and the US Army “Green Berets” were among the first designated armed groups trained to fight in multi-domain warzones. Presently, many countries have special force groups (the “SSG” special services group of Pakistan) among their armed ranks. But to train, manage and oversee these Special Forces and conduct their operations, and organized “command and control” structure is required. Such an organization not only manages the forces but also develops weapons and technology in all domains of warfare so that the weapons and personnel remain coherently functional. It enables the combination of efforts of all participants to perform as a single unified entity. This is the reason why all modern armies developed “Strategic command and control” among their armed forces.
According to a 1988 NATO definition, command and control is “the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated individual over assigned resources in the accomplishment of a common goal.”
|The U.S. military’s traditional concept for command and control derives from the German military’s “auftragstaktik,” or mission-type orders.27 recognizing that disorder and the “fog of war” are inevitable in military operations, subordinate commanders were entrusted to operate semi-autonomously to achieve their commander’s intent (i.e., the overarching goals of a mission) rather than having pre-scripted movements.|
Not only do the command and control manage, the assets of an army (including their prized weapons), they work and research on different evolving strategies of multi-domain warfare. Over the past 20 years, China and Russia have observed the United States’ method of war, identifying asymmetric methods to challenge U.S. advantages. China’s military modernization, in particular, focuses on preventing the United States from building large amounts of combat power (limiting logistics), increasing risks for high-valued aircraft (tankers, spy planes, command and control aircraft), and increasing its naval footprint (limiting U.S. naval advantages). The Nuclear arsenal also requires management under such command and control. So apart from the US, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, North Korea, and Pakistan are the countries that have Nuclear-armed strategic command and control structures.
To counter these new threats, the US Department of Defense (DOD) initially proposed the idea of using multi-domain operations (which has since transitioned into the term all-domain operations). DOD contends that using one or even two dimensions to attack an adversary is insufficient and that challenging an adversary requires more complex formations (additional dimensions). The increasing dimensions add to the complexity of the battlefield. In this article, we will look at the aspects of the US-CJADC2 (Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control) and some other major applications of Multi-domain warfare in systems developed by private companies.
Joint All-Domain Command JADC2
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) or CJADC2 (Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control) is the US Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) concept to connect sensors from all of the military services—Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force—into a single network. Traditionally, each of the military services developed its own tactical network, which was incompatible with those of other services (e.g., Army networks were unable to interface with Navy or Air Force networks). With JADC2, DOD envisions creating an “internet of things” network that would connect numerous sensors with weapons systems, using artificial intelligence algorithms to help improve decision making.
JADC2 envisions providing a cloud-like environment for the joint force to share intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data, transmitting across many communications networks, to enable faster decision making. JADC2 intends to help commanders make better decisions by collecting data from numerous sensors, processing the data using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify targets, and then recommending the optimal weapon—both kinetic and non-kinetic (e.g., cyber or electronic weapons)—to engage the target. 2
The private companies working in weapons & technological development have also implemented the concept of multi-domain warfare in their latest research and products. Following are the notable examples of such systems:
Lockheed martin- JADO and NGI
Lockheed Martin has a long list of successful projects and products in the war industry. The “Joint All Domain Operations “JADO” is their latest collaboration with the US DOD that focuses on developing JADO-enabled warfare systems.3 It is developing a network of shooters, sensors, and data from all domains of warfare. This includes applications of Artificial intelligence and machine learning as the tools enable high precision, fast and effective decisions. One of such solutions is the Next Generation Interceptor “NGI”.
It is an advanced missile intercept system being designed to provide missile defense against an enemy missile attack. It is designed to “plug and play” with the US Air force’s network of missile defense satellites and sensors. Its main goal is to provide safety against an enemy missile attack. It utilizes information from the assets present in all mission domains and constructs the flight path of the enemy vehicle as its target. Then it targets the enemy vehicle by launching its own missile/missiles to intercept and neutralize the threat.
Airbus Multi-Domain Combat Cloud
Airbus has a proven track record of delivering high-end technology and products meeting the requirements of modern warfare. The Multi-Domain Combat cloud is one of their latest products. It is a decentralized, cyber-resilient, collaborative information network across air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains using cloud-based technologies. It basically integrates cross-domain platforms and enhances defense power by providing information superiority on the battlefield. It makes military operations more efficient and effective by enabling collaborative combat with manned and unmanned assets across all domains of warfare.
Impact on Modern warfare
“Technologies come and go, but the primitive endures.”
~ Ralph Peters (1999)
It is clear that JADC2 has revolutionized modern warfare and it will pave the way for further advancements. Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and mission execution strategies will devise new complex warfare scenarios. The Joint All-Domain Operations concept provides commanders access to information that can enable simultaneous and sequential operations using surprise, with rapid and continuous integration of capabilities across all domains—they can gain physical and psychological advantages and influence and control over the operational environment. Such technologies provide the necessary deterrence for countries that are engaged in active or passive conflicts with their enemies. We can be certain that Joint all-domain warfare is just one of many advanced war strategies that are drawing the canvas of modern warfare.
- “Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare”, Colin. S. Gray, Phoenix Press, 2005.
- “Joint All-Domain Command and Control: Background and Issues for Congress”, Hoehn. R. John, August 12, 2021 (https://crsreports.congress.gov).
- Air Force Doctrine Publication (AFDP) 3-99, Department of the Air Force role in Joint All Domain Operations (JADO), Curtis E. Lemay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, October 2020.