It’s a disjointed, multi-domain approach that runs counter to the belief that only a coordinated, uniformly-trained, smoothly-functioning fighting force would be the more powerful opponent to face. Like the tiles in a mosaic, the individual platforms of each domain – air, land, maritime, cyber, space, and so on – would together create a larger picture of broad and overpowering strength, while simultaneously making it hard for the enemy to pin down one way to fight against such a confusing, mixed bag of an opponent.

A product conceived and put forth by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Mosaic Warfare concept posits that there is a benefit to being small, agile, fluid, and scalable. In the world of mosaic warfare, instead of always depending on building the ultimate fighter jet or biggest submarine or most accurate missiles, it can be just as powerful to take simpler, smaller platforms, network them together, then have them interpret the battle in their own ways that make the most of their advantages. In this theory, enemies can be caught off guard and innovations like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or ground robots can become part of the fight sooner.

Does Mosaic Warfare work?

The flexible nature of the Mosaic Warfare concept means there are a lot of diverse and quickly moving pieces to it. That can be a distinct strategic military advantage, but all of those pieces have to flow in the right ways to the right places doing the right things virtually all of the time to have consistently positive outcomes. That requires excellent communications and planning to coordinate, which has not been possible in the past because communication links between all of the platforms and weapons have not been fully interconnected. Partial connection can lead to missed opportunities or catastrophic outcomes. There have been times, historically, when enough separate platforms within a warfighting puzzle connected well enough to counter larger opposing forces, but puzzle pieces fit tightly together and do not scale, flex, and adjust as easily as mosaic tiles do, so they eventually break apart. It eventually became clear that for Mosaic Warfare to work now and continue working, ongoing flexibility in the communications connectivity and warfighting platforms was necessary.

Flexible, Adaptable Electronic Warfare Solutions

While careful, detailed planning ahead of a military engagement can make some parts of mosaic warfare go well, circumstances change far too quickly in military battles to depend exclusively on pre-planning for mission success. Dependable and adaptable communications linkages and data sensors are vital to implementing Mosaic Warfare successfully. That’s one reason that, since introducing the Mosaic concept, DARPA has put a significant emphasis on developing next-generation mixed-signal integrated analog / digital radio frequency (RF) electronics for high capacity communications and precision electronic sensors that can heighten friendly forces’ situational awareness, improve weapon accuracy, and keep communications flowing securely even in highly-congested areas. When applied across all battlefront domains through the various branches of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) these interconnecting Electronic Warfare (EW) technologies can dramatically increase the separate and combined capabilities of the already substantial U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, whether they are taking a Mosaic approach or engaging via other strategies.

Adding New Dimensions to the Mosaic

One previously-noted key advantage of Mosaic Warfare’s asymmetric formula is its ability to add highly-effective unexpected elements to a battle engagement mix, which now includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) or Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), and ground robots. As the new high performance, high capacity chip designs are developed and introduced, integration of these unmanned devices into more battle strategies can add the asymmetric edge that Mosaic Warfare promises while also reducing risk to military personnel – what the DoD calls “increasing survivability” – in the field. While their effectiveness in surgical strikes is well established, newer generations of unmanned vehicles with more semi-autonomous and autonomous systems operating them are in development, which is expected to increase survivability of even more warfighters.

Related Topics to Explore

Autonomous Control and Decisions System • Autonomous Air Mission Planning • CONverged Collaborative Elements for RF Task Operations (CONCERTO) • Data Synthesis for Autonomous Control Systems • Distributed Battle Management (DBM) • Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Initiative • Manned-Unmanned Teaming • Microwave Array Technology for Reconfigurable Integrated Circuits (MATRICs) • Project Convergence • Project Overmatch • Resilient Synchronized Planning and Assessment for the Contested Environment (RSPACE) • Smart Automation Systems • Technologies for Mixed-mode Ultra Scaled Integrated Circuits (T-MUSIC) • Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)


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