Posted: October 11, 2017 5:58 PM

Marines Move Swiftly into Multidomain Concept

By OTTO KREISHER, Seapower Correspondent

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is moving quickly into the new multidomain battle concept, since it traditionally has operated across all of the conventional warfighting domains, and is incorporating cyber as part of its drive to dominate information warfare, the Marines’ combat development leader said Oct. 11.

As part of a multiservice panel on multidomain battle at the Association of the U.S. Army’s exposition, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh said that while the other services may have thought about themselves as “domain owners,” the Marines, who operate as an integrated Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), are not comfortable with that view.

“We don’t own a domain. We don’t dominate a domain like the other services. … We really work across all the domains as an expeditionary force, a naval force, at many times forward deployed, on the scene, to deter, to reassure allies, to be that force inside that contested battlespace.

“We are more of an enabler to that joint force. … We have to partner with those domain owners,” said Walsh, commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

As a member of the naval team, “we can’t do anything unless we have the Navy with us,” setting the conditions, maintaining sea control so the Marines can project power ashore, he said.

In working with the Air Force, he said, Marines can put F-35s up and integrate into their air tasking order, but the harder part is integrating into the command and control of the air battlespace.

“On land, working with the Army, we’ve got to be able to integrate and coordinate with all those great things the Army brings that we don’t necessarily bring as a lighter expeditionary force coming from the sea. As a MAGTF, we necessarily have to integrate,” Walsh told the audience dominated by U.S. and allied soldiers.

But now there is a different operating environment where they must operate in the cyber and space domains, he said.

Walsh characterized multidomain battle as “combined arms and maneuver in a 21st century way,” which seeks to shatter the enemy’s cohesion, finding the seams and finding new ways to maneuver, “ways we can bring those domains to bear.”

The general cited things the Navy and Marine leaders are doing to address the new security challenges, including signing the new Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment concept, describing “how the naval force will operate in that contested environment” by working to combine their command structures. “I see the multidomain battle concept fitting right in with that,” Walsh said.

He also listed the Marines’ closely related concept of Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, which advocates creating mobile bases with small signatures inside the enemy’s defensive perimeter, “that can cause problems for the enemy,” as another way to look at multidomain battle.

Addressing the industry representatives in the audience, Walsh asked for their help in making cyber part of the Marines’ intense effort to improve their informational warfare capabilities so they can make “information warfare the new night. Just as we dominated the night, we want to turn information warfare into the new night.”

Vice Adm. Kevin Scott, director of Joint Force Development in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the steps they are taking to engrain multidomain battle into joint doctrine and training plans.

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