By Lt. Col. Travis DettmerFebruary 9, 2020
IZMIR, Turkey (February 4, 2020) -- A team from the U.S. Army Futures Command Futures and Concepts Center visited NATO Allied Land Command Tuesday for discussions on the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) Concept with senior staff representatives from LANDCOM, NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy, and NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Greece. The discussions were part of a week of "academics" designed to educate and prepare the staff on Multi-Corps Land Component Command operations in preparation for Exercise Trident Jupiter 19-2.
The MDO concept describes an unconstrained view of the U.S. Army of the future starting in 2028 up through 2035. It is part of the overall task of modernizing the force to be able to meet complex, future challenges and win in an era of resurgent great power competition.
The Army "became very good at counter insurgency" over the past 20 years while our adversaries focused elsewhere, U.S. Army Col. Larry V. Geddings, Jr., Director, Joint and Army Concepts said while explaining how the Army's ability to conduct large scale combat operations (LCSO) had atrophied since the turn of the century. "What does LSCO look like? Our ability to deter has been diminished because we have not focused there," he said.
That concept does not merely mean a return to the LSCO dominance the U.S. Army enjoyed during the last half of the 20th century. MDO as a concept requires the Army to dominate in all five domains -- land, air, sea, cyber, and space -- and to do so all at the same time, in near real time. The speed needed to deter near-peer adversaries will require the Army to operate in domains traditionally belonging to the other military forces.
"We are contested in all five domains," said Geddings. MDO seeks to answer the question "how do we organize our forces to cover all five domains? How do we do it while contested in all five domains?"
According to Army Futures Command, MDO describes "how the U.S. Army, as part of the joint force, can counter and defeat a near-peer adversary capable of contesting the U.S. in all domains, in both competition and armed conflict. The concept describes how U.S. ground forces, as part of the joint and multinational team, deter adversaries and defeat highly capable near-peer enemies."
Geddings explained that the team experienced difficulties early on while attempting to tackle the MDO challenge as a U.S. Army only problem. It was only when the team began growing the pool of resources available to MDO did they begin to see success. This included reliance on joint and multinational capability.
"MDO as a concept is inherently multinational, and is inherently joint. When we baked in the ingredients, future capabilities, and the multinational aspect, it began to work," he said.
The concept will require what the team calls a "calibrated force posture" which includes forces and capabilities currently in the Army inventory, and forces and capabilities yet to be developed. Essentially, it describes the organizations the Army wants and at what echelons, and brings them together in what's called a Battlefield Development Plan.
"BDP helps the Army integrate all these concepts so we can put them into practice," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Wilson Blythe, Jr., Battlefield Development Plans Chief for Army Futures and Concepts Center. "You'll see there is a lot more there than we have now," he said while showing the staff an organizational chart depicting a future force construct, explaining his team's assumption that a calibrated force posture will include new capabilities currently identified for development.
Jerry Leverich, Director of G2 for Futures for the Futures and Concepts Center, expanded on the conceptual makeup of the future force.
"As you can see, some of these forces will come from the Reserves and the Guard. And some, they are brand new formations," he said.
According to the Futures and Concepts team, multinational forces may fill in some of the capability gaps in the current MDO design. With this, Leverich presented LANDCOM with a land domain challenge of sorts.
"When I say you as LANDCOM may have an opportunity, [it] is to develop capabilities that specific nations are good at … based on analysis of the strengths that the NATO nations can bring to this concept," he said.
LANDCOM, as the only certified MC-LCC, is scheduled to conduct Battle Staff Training in mid-February during Exercise Loyal Bonus 20-1 in preparation for TRJU 19-2, which is scheduled to run from March 23 -- April 2. NRDC-ITA and NRDC-GR attended academics in preparation for their future roles as MC-LCCs.