JONIT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- The commander of Air Combat Command spoke at a Joint Warfighting Forum at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, July 15, 2019, as part of a greater discussion on the emerging importance of multi-domain operations in modern combat doctrine.
Gen. Mike Holmes delivered remarks to the audience of military and industry partners about the future of armed conflict and the importance of integrated systems of command and control.
“The world we live in, with the proliferation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, means that there are no boundaries on the battlefield anymore,” he said. “Anyone can shoot anyone from anywhere.”
What that means, he continued, is that there are no more safe havens. Throughout history, the U.S. has operated in an uncontested environment when it came to the nation’s strengths in the domains of land, air and sea. Now, long-range threats from peer adversaries could potentially reach across the globe at a moment’s notice.
Army Lt. Gen. Ted Martin, the deputy commanding general, chief of staff of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, agreed that yesterday’s model of command and control must evolve to incorporate the new domains of space and cyberspace into the land, air and sea construct.
For instance, Martin said that during the early stages of the Gulf War, U.S. leaders could deploy large numbers of people, set up command posts and organize operations with little visibility afforded to the enemy. In fact, during some assaults, entire brigades of U.S. forces could go “invisible” by using radio silence, camouflage and other stealth tactics.
However, technology today allows for the U.S. and enemies alike to read the digital footprint of a battle zone and use space-acquired imagery to make more informed decisions. Cyber threats can also cause a disruption in communication or even interrupt the supply chain from at-home stations to units deployed abroad.
Essentially, these new challenges require a new warfighting mindset, which is where multi-domain operations comes into play. The concept calls for an evolving look at how integration from joint forces across all spectrums of conflict allows greater flexibility to commanders.
“We should be able to link any sensor to any shooter from any command node,” Holmes said of his drive to enable a faster flowing system of information from the joint operator to the commander entrusted with authorizing lethal force. “We have to start asking ourselves these questions. Will we have a strictly joint concept moving forward? How much will we work together in a joint environment with command and control?”
These questions about joint capabilities align with the responsibilities of Holmes and Martin, the first two speakers at the event. As the ACC commander, Holmes is charged to organize, train and equip Airmen to ensure ready forces are available for worldwide rapid deployment. Martin’s position within TRADOC oversees the training and doctrine of Army forces with the goal to design, develop and build today’s Army.
After the presentations by Holmes and Martin, both leaders ended the first part of the forum by taking questions from the audience and encouraging future discussion on this topic.
“I’m glad I got the chance to be here to talk about the ways to leverage new technology to support multi-domain operations in the joint fight against peer adversaries,” Holmes said.
The Greater Hampton Roads Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association and CNU’s Center for American Studies worked together to organize the event.