March 20, 2017

Air Force may join Army in refining multi-domain concept

Sean Kimmons
Huntsville, Ala.

A Patriot missile leaves the launcher tube on its way to intercept a target. The Army needs more air defense capabilities for the future multi-domain battle, said Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. He spoke during the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., March 13, 2017.

The Air Force may soon join the Army in developing new capabilities for multi-domain battle, senior leaders say, just a few weeks after Army and Marine Corps leaders came together to publish an outline on future combat operations.

In tomorrow’s complex battlefield, the Army will need stronger air defense systems to counter emerging anti-access/anti-denial capabilities and free up airspace for friendly aircraft, said Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

The Air Force could then fly unimpeded during combat operations and provide close-air support to help ground troops move freely in contested areas.

“We would work on the air defense and the Air Force would be able to come in and conduct the missions that they need to conduct,” Dyess said, while speaking Monday at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium. “It’s a symbiotic relationship and we all need to work together to achieve the mission.”

According to Dyess, the Air Force is “very close” to collaborating with the Army on the multi-domain battle concept in preparation for future warfare, which planners predict will involve Soldiers fighting in dense urban areas against near-peer enemies.

In February, the Army and Marine Corps published a white paper providing an overview of what ground troops may face in 2025-2040. In addition to discussing other potential threats, the four-page document states that Russia and China continue to improve and export integrated air defense systems, which can allow ground forces to establish air superiority on their own.

The white paper also states that ideas expressed in it will likely be refined and expanded based on input from the other services.

“This has got to be a joint fight from the beginning,” Dyess said. “There is some urgency to this. We cannot afford as a nation to wait 10 years to develop this concept.”

At AUSA’s annual meeting in October, the Army officially announced the multi-domain battle concept, which is meant to broaden how the service fights on land — sometimes with the assistance of air assets — and allow for the incorporation of capabilities in the maritime and cyber domains.

Also during the meeting, leaders representing all services participated in a panel discussion, expressing their support of the concept.

Last week, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein rolled out a new concept called multi-domain command and control, which is intended to improve situational awareness, rapid decision making and employment of Air Force assets in future warfare.

U.S. Army Pacific has also been working directly with the joint Pacific Command, headed by Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr., to finalize exercises to test and develop new multi-domain capabilities.

“Multi-domain battle is an evolution, not a revolution,” Dyess said. “It’s a natural evolution of combined arms designed to meet challenges of the 21st century.”

Army Training and Doctrine Command has been developing the multi-domain concept and is now incorporating aspects of it into the Army Doctrine Publication 3-0, which outlines a common operational concept for Army forces, he added.

Improving interoperability with coalition partners is also a key part, he said, since they could support the U.S. Army against near-peer enemies. Last year, he noted, British, Australian and Italian military members, among other foreign troops, took part in an Army Warfighting Assessment at Fort Bliss, Texas, to test new capabilities like robotics and autonomous weapons systems.

“We would not fight on the future battlefield without allies,” he said. “It will be joint, it will be a coalition, it will be intergovernmental.”

Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, talks about the multi-domain battle concept during a panel discussion at the Association of the United States Army’s global force symposium in Huntsville, Ala., March 13, 2017.

Soldiers are also doing their part in envisioning future fighting capabilities, said Paul Rogers, director of the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC.

Through Soldier innovation workshops, he said, young NCOs are plucked from their units to team up with creative design students from an industrial design college in Detroit to draw up capabilities the Soldiers would like to see in combat.

A dozen NCOs and up to 20 designers typically come up with nearly 300 advanced concepts over a 2 1/2-day workshop, he said Monday at the symposium.

“This is driven by the NCOs. They quickly take control and run the workshop, and it’s their outbrief that we get after two and a half days,” he said, adding that they’ve done almost 10 workshops so far. “It’s really a great way for us to grab innovation from the Soldier.”

In the near future, Army leaders plan to delve deeper and identify gaps in the capabilities that may be needed to fight in a multi-domain environment. At an event slated for August, specific gaps will then be addressed to industry partners, allowing them to hone in on their efforts, according to Dyess.

Examining capabilities in areas where the U.S. military has been dominant, like air supremacy, is also an important step in this process.

“We don’t want to be surprised on the future battlefield,” he said. “If we’re surprised on the future battlefield, that means Soldiers, Marines, Airmen are going to be killed. In order to not be surprised, we have to question the assumptions that we have.”

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


Army photograph by Sean Kimmons

Army Combat Fitness Test set to become new PT test of record in late 2020

Army photograph by Sean Kimmons Pfc. Alex Colliver, foreground, pulls a 90-pound sled 50 meters that simulates the strength needed in pulling a battle buddy out of harm’s way during a pilot for the Army Combat Fitness Tes...

916th Support Brigade holds change of command at NTC

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — After serving two years as the 916th Support Brigade commander, Col. Sidney Melton relinquished command to Col. Kenneth Bradford at the National Training Center, June 20. Brig. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, comma...

Fort Irwin and 11th Armored Cavalry Museum closes

The Museum at Fort Irwin closed its doors on July 1, for extensive remodeling and conversion to a “Heritage Center.” The museum, built for Soldiers, by Soldiers, opened in the early days of the National Training Center. Soldier volunteers were allowed to remodel the former dining facility and convert the space into a museum, highlighting...