India’s need for multi-domain operations

India's need for multi-domain operations

It is crucial for India to embrace multi-domain operations

#GS-03 Security

For Prelims

Multi-Domain Operations (MDO):

  • MDO does not just denote actions on land, in sea, air, cyber, space and in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • It comprises of operations conducted across multiple domains and contested spaces through convergence of capabilities.
  • Its aim is to overcome an adversary’s strengths by presenting it with operational and/or tactical predicaments.
  • This means having a common operating idea across all domains which will form the basis to deciding the best tool to address a specific task.


For Mains

How does MDO work

  • MDO is not one service using its capabilities in multiple domains to do a task as is happening now.
  • Rather it is using the best positioned and capable operator of any service to complete it across any domain.
  • For example, an Army coastal missile battery could be tasked to strike an enemy naval vessel detected by the radar of an Air Force aircraft; or
  • An Air Force’s armed unmanned aerial vehicle on an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission could be diverted against against an Army target detected by a naval/civilian satellite.
  • Simply put the MDO architecture uses any sensor and the best positioned shooter to accomplish objectives,
  • The technical complexity and the command, control and communication (C3) structure required to achieve this can very well be imagined.

What is needed for MDO to be effective

  • MDO and its C3 structure would require inputs from all sensors in order to come up with an optimum engagement solution using artificial intelligence.
  • This demands three things.
  • First, all sensors and other information input sources must have the capability of being hosted on MDO architecture.
  • Second, all solution providers (executors) must be able to receive inputs and instructions from the MDO C3 structure and carry them out.
  • And third, if the link to the main structure is not available (for example, jammed by the enemy), the mission command characteristics of distributed control would need come into play so that operations can continue.
  • Implementing this would require a de novo look at doctrine, planning, acquisition, staffing and training.
  • MDO in an abridged form can be seen being used by the Ukrainians to target a much superior enemy.

What needs to be done

A four-pronged strategy is being suggested.

  • First, in the short-term, we must stabilize the traditional physical domains, while plugging the critical deficiencies of the services.
  • Second, we need to harden and protect our C3 networks against cyber threats.
  • Importantly, they need to be linked and synchronised so that seamless exchange of data can be ensured.
  • Third, for the long term, a pilot project must be started now in order to grasp the true challenge of creating an MDO environment.
  • Since, currently it’s just western literature driving theoretical discussions in the seminar circuit.