US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
This study describes potential problems facing future joint forces, and tests multi-domain theory as a possible solution. After framing the problem, this study uses micro-case studies and recent academic discussions to describe multi-domain operations and its conceptual evolution. It shows how the American joint model developed, the influence of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, and the difficulty of military transformation over the past three decades. After annotating some conceptual joint improvements, this study concludes with a specific discussion of why the adoption of multi-domain theory is an immediate requirement and improves joint operations through problem-based rather than service-based solutions, integrated rather than deconflicted operations, and by creating options that exploit emergent opportunities. Military commentators have identified an impending crisis based on the proliferation of technology, anti-access strategies, growing multi-polarity, and increased complexity mixing regular and irregular warfare. As competitors increase their joint capabilities, the United States military must evolve its military theories, avoiding the stasis. Joint operations often deconflict rather than integrate operations. The military cannot depend on continuous domain superiority and must become resilient while temporarily ceding superiority in any one domain. Without the catalyst of a number of recent high-profile failures, this study aims to motivate action by furthering the discussion about what comes after joint in the absence of a visceral emergency. This study concludes with a number of recommendations. Multi-domain discussions must lead to action and regular improvements rather than descending into jargon-filled, traditional biased service arguments over funding. Updating joint doctrine to include multi-domain theory is a necessary first step. Multi-domain discussions must include interagency partners as a whole-of-government approach to defeating enemy systems.