MDO emphasizes fully networked technologies to make those domains relevant and useful in real time to give commanders and warfighters options across all domains to deter potential enemies or, if they do not relent, to overwhelm them in combat with profound speed, scale, with a convergence of cutting-edge technologies.

U.S. Army leadership has defined MDO as:

“Operations conducted across multiple domains and contested spaces to overcome an adversary’s (or enemy’s) strengths by presenting them with several operational and/or tactical dilemmas through the combined application of calibrated force posture; employment of multi-domain formations; and convergence of capabilities across domains, environments, and functions in time and spaces to achieve operational and tactical objectives.“

How MDO works. The theory behind MDO is that, by competing successfully across all domains short of armed conflict, adversaries will avoid initiating actual hostilities. If that adversary is not deterred, then the Army, with the help of the U.S. Joint Force, will execute the following during MDO:

  1. Penetrate enemy anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) systems
  2. Dis-Integrate enemy A2/AD systems to enable U.S. forces’ operational maneuvers
  3. Exploit the freedom to maneuver by defeating enemy forces in all domains
  4. Re-Compete by securing gains in all domains and force a return to more favorable competition

Besides the Army, the Navy through Project Overmatch and the Air Force through the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) have instituted similar MDO concepts to transform their organizations for strategic, lasting technological superiority, while de-escalating conventional combat and reducing the use of kinetic weapons. Many technologies chosen to fulfill those goals fuel network and systems convergence – accelerating C4ISR situational awareness and decision-making while making it easier for U.S. forces to communicate and exchange data securely. Other technologies empower identity detection and verification, make mobile systems more field-adaptable, sharpen munitions accuracy, and more. A few technologies making Army MDO and other service related concepts possible include:

  • Adaptive sensors and Software-Defined Radio (SDR) communications
  • Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) data collection, processing, and ISR analytics
  • Cyber resilience systems and protocols
  • Distributed edge computing
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and GPS Mapping
  • Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kits
  • Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems (MIDS) terminals
  • Tactical Data Links

Adopting MDO and similar concepts requires overcoming structural, budgetary, training, and technological hurdles; however, significant leaps in commercial technologies by near-peer adversaries have stimulated fast and widespread acceptance of such changes in each service. In fact, all have now engaged in a DoD Joint Force framework known as JADO (Joint All Domain Operations) and its focus on achieving similar all domain interoperability across all services. Many of the same obstacles and considerations also apply to the JADO command and control concept known as JADC2 (Joint All Domain Command and Control).

Especially given the many internal challenges incumbent in timely adoption of MDO, as well as JADO and JADC2, most U.S. military departments and intelligence agencies turn to defense community partner companies for development of the advanced technologies required. Those partners with structures and personnel that generate fast technological innovation are best positioned to fulfill the demands necessary for the success of such an initiative.


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