Operational and strategic level leaders cannot get caught in the rapid pace of tactics, but neither can they ignore the fact that decisions at the tactical level must proceed at the pace demanded by the situation. When operational and strategic leaders increase the pace of decision-making, it can lead to a chasing of the bright and shiny object mentality. Decisions in these orbits include a set of dialogues and tend to be iterative. Further, leaders at all levels must consider the complexity of decision making at each level above and below them.
Over the past two decades the use of the word domain has attained wide acceptance in the military lexicon. Vague when described in doctrine, it exerts a strong influence by establishing the most basic boundaries of military functional identities. Despite the unquestioned usage of domain-centric terminology, the exact meaning of domain remains largely undefined without consideration of etymological origins. However, the word contains some built-in assumptions regarding how we view warfare that can limit our thinking. An ambiguous categorization of separate operating domains in warfare could actually pose an intractable conceptual threat to an integrated joint force, which is ironically the stated purpose of multi-domain battle.
Multi-Domain Battle offers a conceptual structure for an extension of the technological and doctrinal Second Offset. This combination can continue to offset any adversary's ability to mass effects in the cyber, information, and electro-magnetic spectrum as well as massed lethal fires. The desired capabilities needed to force seams in enemy defenses and establish temporary windows of opportunity in the physical and cyber domains will serve to set disciplined conditions for a conceptual and actual Third Offset.
The big strategic question that the United States must ask in response to all of this, is not: “how do we regain power projection dominance in every conceivable context?” Instead, policymakers and strategists should ask, “how do we meet the status quo strategic goals of the United States in a 21st century political-military context?” It should not be assumed that an expansive power projection capability is the only way to meet every US goal. Making this assumption in the context of relatively cheap and increasingly effective defensive technologies will inevitably put the United States on the wrong side of the cost imposition curve.
In Foreign Policy’s National Security Blog, Colonel Scott Gerber (USA) recently attempted to make out the Air Sea Battle (ASB) Concept as foolishness. Personally, I am extremely concerned about building an operational concept around a policy shift known as the “Asia Pivot.” My greatest concern is that the United States has not sufficiently fleshed out the strategic underpinnings of translating the Asia Pivot policy into action, however setting that aside for now, I will revisit that in a follow-on post. What I find striking about Gerber’s offering here is how he insists on building a straw man of mythological proportions in order to knock over the ASB Concept.