US Army Adopts New Multi-Domain Operations Doctrine


WASHINGTON — The U.S. military, recognizing that it will operate not only on land but also in air, sea, space and cyberspace, is releasing its first new doctrine in 40 years.

The 280-page doctrine for multi-domain operations, titled “Field Manual 3-0,” will debut at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, which runs Oct. 10-12.

Army leaders said it would be a key guide for the force, but stressed the service would continue to evolve doctrine as it progresses through its biggest push to weapons system modernization since the 1980s. The service hopes to have a fully modernized force by 2030.

“There is not a moment in recent history that is so potentially dangerous,” Army Chief of Staff General James McConville wrote in the foreword to the handbook. “Russia, our acute threat, is waging an unprovoked war against the sovereign country of Ukraine. Our pace challenge, China, with an economy nearly equal in size to ours, is building a world-class military to challenge us and threaten its neighbors, including Taiwan.

Meanwhile, adds McConville, “we cannot take our eyes off our persistent threats: North Korea, Iran and violent extremists.”

The new playbook “demonstrates the first principles of speed, range, and convergence of cutting-edge technologies necessary to achieve future decision-making dominance and passing against our adversaries,” he wrote.

McConville notes how potential adversaries could increasingly challenge the military. He writes that while military forces have used space and cyberspace capabilities for more than two decades, they have never employed them in combat against capable adversaries. Similarly, “air and sea capabilities have long enabled successful land operations, but it has been decades since air-ground integration and close cooperation between land and naval forces were effectively challenged by a threat.”

The Army last issued new doctrine, dubbed AirLand Battle, in 1982. This manual focused on close coordination between land and air forces and was derived from lessons learned from the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. provided a basis for how the U.S. military could fight and win against the Soviet Union.

The new Army manual reflects the service’s nearly five years of developing multi-domain operations first as a combat concept and later as doctrine.

The service released several versions of the multi-domain operations concept beginning in 2018 and refined it through evaluations, exercises, war games, and its first multi-domain task force. The working groups, created to test the concept, will now serve as operational units around the world. There will be five tailored to operate in specific theaters, from Indo-Pacific Command to European Command.

Three key phases

The doctrine defines three phases of multi-domain operations: competition, crisis and armed conflict. It challenges peer competitors using stand-off layered capabilities to deter, forcing the United States and its partners and allies to use redundant ground capabilities to destroy or degrade intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. networking on threats as well as long-range fires, explains the field manual.

China and Russia are positioned to “win without a fight” when they can control the narrative and facts on the ground, so the military must establish a truthful narrative to challenge this approach during the competition and crisis of the operation, he adds.

What is Cross-Domain Battle?

The eight-chapter document emphasizes that the military must assume that it is always visible to the enemy. And for the first time, the Army has included a chapter on its operations in largely maritime environments, Richard Creed, director of the service’s combined arms doctrine directorate, told Defense News in a recent interview.

“When you think about the importance of INDOPACOM and the dynamics based on the geography of a theater like this, you understand [that] the ground forces, the military in particular, have huge contributions to make to any campaign in this type of environment,” he said.

“We are at an inflection point”

The military does not yet have much of the modernized equipment intended to enable multi-domain operations, but McConville told Defense News in a recent interview that it still makes sense to move forward with the doctrine.

“We’re at an inflection point,” McConville said.

Indeed, the Army initially expected to release the doctrine over the summer.

While the extra time provided the service with an opportunity to observe and learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the main ideas of the doctrine have not changed, according to Creed.

“What we have done, however, in light of our continued observations of what is happening in the Russian-Ukrainian war, is to make sure that we are looking at these events through a lens that does not appeal to our preconceptions. ,” he explained.

Creed said it was important to move quickly with the new document because “doctrine dictates the culture…and it certainly dictates the culture of readiness in terms of what you’re training against, the types of military issues that you try to solve.And cultural changes take a long time.

The next step, Creed said, is to help soldiers internalize the doctrine.

“We’re going to have to train our people to execute it,” he said. “We’re going to have to develop leaders who understand it, and we have to play with it during the execution of training and operations to foster what people like to call ‘a learning campaign.’ ”

In the late 1990s, the Army updated its 1982 doctrine to accommodate what it called “full-spectrum operations”. Likewise, Creed said, he expects the multi-domain operations doctrine to require updating by 2030.

“We will have an army that will be very different from the current army in terms of the equipment and the organizations that it deploys and that is trained to execute multi-domain operations,” he said. “Between then and now, we are going to do our best with the strength we have.

“The force that we have is able to execute very well what we put in the doctrine.”

The new doctrine also triggers an update of 368 other doctrinal publications, he added, which will take place over the next few years.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering ground warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.


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