MDO and the Nuclear Elephant in the Room – By Jeremiah Rozman (Real Clear Politics) / Aug 8 2020
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, lays out how the U.S. Army intends to prepare for conventional war, and win, if need be, through devastating multi-domain offense. Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) is an effective operational concept. However, in its current form, it may fail to uphold U.S. strategic interests.
In conflict, MDO argues for enhancing and capitalizing on U.S. long-standing offense-based doctrine driven by advantages in precision strike and command and control. Enemy forces would wisely fear being on the receiving end of a multi-domain campaign, as described in the TRADOC pamphlet. However, this is only part of the strategic equation. Strategy is like chess, actors move anticipating their opponent’s response.
Between nuclear peers, contestation involves the strategic manipulation of risk. The side attacking an opponent’s vital interests is at a credibility disadvantage, and the adversary knows it, but the MDO concept proposes that the U.S. do precisely this, if deterrence fails. This plays into U.S. peer adversaries’ theories of victory through securing a rapid military fait accompli and deterring a U.S. led response.