• Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, commander, Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.
     Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, commander, Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.

Army Leads on Multidomain Battle Concept

March 8, 2018
By George I. Seffers
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The service is grappling with how to operationalize the concept.

The U.S. Army is ahead of the Navy and Air Force in adopting and integrating the multiple battle domains, but is still analyzing how best to apply it the battlefield.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, USA, who took over command of the Army Training and Doctrine Command just six days ago, has been tasked by the Army secretary to determine how to operationalize the multidomain battle concept, an emerging concept between the Army and Marine Corps to help maintain dominance in all five domains, land, air, maritime, space and cyberspace, as well as across the electromagnetic spectrum. He also was told by the undersecretary of the Army to “spread it down through the ranks, through echelon.”

Gen. Townsend told the audience at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia, that he is still analyzing how to carry out the secretary’s directive. “I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to get after that,” but he assured the audience that he and his team are working hard to figure it out.

He described multidomain as a largely Army concept “that is becoming increasingly more joint.”

Although the Army has determined multidomain battle is the way forward, the other services have decisions to make. “The Army has moved out on multidomain battle. The Air Force is coming along. In fact, I’m talking to some Air Force senior leaders later today about this,” the general reported. “All the services are thinking about the future, and we’re trying to blend those views.”

He credited the Marines with conceiving the idea of multidomain battle and described the concept as emerging. “The effort we will do over the next year or so is to get joint partners. Right now, there are only Army signatures on multidomain concept documents.  Only Army leaders have signed on. We want to get other service leaders to sign on,” Gen. Townsend added.

He predicted it will take another 18 to 24 months to get those signatures from other service leaders.

In one sense, the U.S. military forces already are engaged in multidomain battle, he acknowledged. “These domains already exist. This is not some new invention. We’re already operating in all of those domains,” Gen. Townsend noted. “What we have to do is operate more effectively in all of those domains and integrate all those domains better.”

Within the next year, the Army likely will complete an initial revision of the concept. "The next revision will probably still be Army because I think we’re moving faster than the other services are willing to sign on at this point,” Gen. Townsend offered. “There has to be an approval process on their side.”

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