Multi-Domain Operations (MDO)


    In News

    • India needs to embrace multi-domain operations (MDO) amidst the rising Chinese threat.

    Key Points

    • Present Tussle:
      • India and China are confronting each other over the Arunachal Pradesh border. 
      • India has deployed the Indian Army for the first time in this sector.
      • The threat had faded in public consciousness due to electioneering, bridge collapses, yatras, G-20, etc. 
    • Concerns:
      • Low-level and geographically restricted clashes will keep recurring. 
      • India should not get into a complacent mindset that accepts such clashes, as the likely future conflict scenario with China. 
      • The threat is at the other extreme of technical advancement — in the concept of multi-domain operations (MDO).

    About Multi-Domain Operations(MDO)

    • Spread Across Multiple Domains:
      • MDO is not just actions on land, in sea, air, cyber, space and in the electromagnetic spectrum. 
      • It comprises operations conducted across multiple domains and contested spaces through convergence of capabilities to overcome an adversary’s strengths by presenting it with operational and/or tactical predicaments. 
    • Common Operating View: 
      • It has a common operating picture across all domains which forms the basis to decide the best tool to address a given task. 
    • Any Service in Any Domain: 
      • It is not one service using capabilities in multiple domains to do a task, but the best positioned and capable operator of any service doing it across any domain. 
    • Well Defined Structure:
      • The technical complexity and the command, control and communication (C3) structure required can well be imagined.
    • Optimal Use of Resources: 
      • The MDO architecture uses any sensor and the best positioned shooter to accomplish objectives.
      • MDO and its C3 structure would have inputs from all sensors to come up with an optimum engagement solution using artificial intelligence.
    • Important Requirements:
      • All sensors (and other information input sources) must be capable of being hosted on the MDO architecture. 
      • All solution providers (executors) must be able to receive inputs and instructions from the MDO C3 structure and carry them out. 
      • If the link to the main structure is not available (say, jammed by the enemy), the mission command characteristics of distributed control would come into play so that operations continue.

    Challenges with MDO

    • Affordability Issue:
      • MDO is complicated that only nations with a developed scientific base and financial standing can afford. 
      • It is an American concept being progressed by the U.S. aggressively for the past decade.
    • Requires Fresh Start:
      • MDO is the most advanced intelligence and battle-management software ever seen in combat.
      • It would require a de novo look at doctrine, planning, acquisition, staffing and training. 
    • Chinese Threat:
      • China is attempting to match U.S. military power and it is closely watching the Russia-Ukraine conflict where Western specialists are helping Ukrainians utilise the power of algorithms to fuse reconnaissance from space and choose the best shooters to strike Russian targets. 
    • Concerns for India:
      • India has no choice but to embrace MDO too as China has the technology and finances to master it. 

    Way Ahead for India: A four-pronged Strategy

    • Short-term Measures: 
      • Battlefields have changed from physical brawls to cyber and precision strikes.
      • Traditional physical domains must be stabilised, with critical deficiencies of the services being plugged. 
    • Robust C3 Network:
      • India’s C3 networks need to be hardened and protected against cyber threats. 
      • Importantly, they need to be linked and synchronised so that seamless exchange of data is ensured. 
    • Long term Measures:
      • A pilot project must be started now so that the true challenge of creating an MDO environment is grasped. 
      • The pilot project would identify the technologies required and, equally importantly, an idea of the monies necessary. 
    • Imparting Training:
      • To get the fundamentals of MDO right, it is vital to train and educate personnel starting now.
      • E.g. The US Air Force has a one year-long training course ongoing to help develop critical thinking and problem solving skills at the operational level of war.

    Source: TH