Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs)
- The term MDO 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.
- This means having a common operating system which covers all the domains and decides which tool is the best tool for a given task.
- Hence, 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.
- It is more than just actions on land, in sea, air, cyber, space and in the electromagnetic spectrum.
- For e.g. an Army coastal missile battery could be tasked to strike an enemy naval vessel detected by the radar of an Air Force aircraft.
- Or an Air Force’s armed unmanned aerial vehicle on an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission could be diverted to use its weapons against an Army target detected by a naval/civilian satellite.
What are the requirements for MDO?
- It requires the technical complexity and the command, control and communication (C3) structure.
- It would have inputs from all sensors for optimum engagement solution using artificial intelligence. This demands three things
- First, all sensors must be capable of being hosted on the MDO architecture.
- Second, all executors must be able to receive inputs and instructions from the C3 structure and carry them out.
- Third, if the link to the main structure is not available, the distributed control of mission command should ensure that operations continue.
Prerequisites to MDO implementation
- Expensive and highly advanced scientific technologies: The MDO architecture can only be built using pioneering advanced scientific technologies and requires highly developed scientific infrastructure along with huge amounts to finance it.
- Need of a planned and clear execution strategy: It would require a clear-cut roadmap regarding the planning, acquisition, staffing and training.
- Tech outsourcing and reliability: Most of the MDO architecture is built using advanced techs which are available in the USA and India will need to not only outsource such techs but also pour in money and resources into an American concept.
What is the need of MDO implementation in India?
- China threat: China is attempting to match U.S. military power and is not lagging far which is a real threat to India.
- Reliability of MDOs use and recent success: The reliability of MDOs is evident in the current 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.
- The MDOs are highly desirable to maintain the regional peace because if left behind, India would be deterred by denial during peacetime because if China, which has the technology and finances, masters it will pose a danger to peace and tranquility in the region in a big way.
A Four-pronged strategy to implement MDOs is the way forward:
- First, in the short-term, traditional physical domains must be stabilized, with critical deficiencies of the services being plugged.
- Second, our C3 networks need to be hardened and protected against cyber threats. They need to be linked and synchronized so that seamless exchange of data is ensured.
- Third, for the long term, 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.
- Fourth, to get the fundamentals of MDO right, it is vital to train and educate personnel starting now on the lines of the US Air Force which has training courses for such domains.