The Future Fight Must Be Truly Joint

The Air Force and Army are working together to create a joint warfighting doctrine. Here, soldiers with the Army 101st Airborne Division, make their way to a 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 at Forward Operating Base Salerno, in Khost province, Afghanistan, in 2013. USAF photo.

The Air Force and Army will conduct a series of experiments over the next year aimed at determining the “essential components” of multidomain battle command and control, with the ultimate goal of blending warfighting concepts into a joint doctrine.

“As advancements in cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, three-dimensional printing, and a host of others continue to accelerate and proliferate across multiple domains, and as our potential adversaries adjust their strategies by utilizing these advancements asymmetrically in order to counter our strengths, we can no longer develop domain-specific solutions that require time and effort to synchronize and federate,” wrote Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes and Gen. David Perkins, the head of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, in a white paper published by the National Defense University Press.

For the last 30 years, the two services have independently developed their own concept of operations. Air Combat Command typically focused on the functions of other militaries’ assets and systems, both friendly and adversary, as well as time. While, the Army’s construct is more geographically focused, according to the paper.

But in the future all domains are expected to be contested and the US likely won’t have the time to coordinate these concepts after the battle starts. That’s why USAF and the Army must “become sensor-shooter agnostic in all our platforms,” and “develop a common operating picture,” wrote Holmes and Perkins.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the services must have the same hardware, or even the same processes. But they must be able to share and understand data to gain and maintain advantages on the battlefield.

“In the future fight, we cannot depend on disparate solutions developed in functional service stovepipes,” the generals wrote. “Future commanders will have a profound breadth and depth of information and access to capabilities providing cross-domain effects, maneuver, and fires. Combat capabilities conceived and procured as disparate packages will be torn apart by peer adversaries, no matter how well they are put together on a future battlefield.”