What started years ago as an operational answer to counter the Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) threat has become one of the most challenging endeavours NATO has ever undertaken. The challenges posed by the A2/AD posture represent the manifestation of the changing and unpredictable battlespace of the future. This multi-layered, multi-threat, highly dynamic, omnidirectional, and far-reaching multi-domain system-of-systems forced NATO to re-think its approach on how to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the military Instrument of Power (IoP). The increased competition in the new Cyber and Space domains raised new complexities to be dealt with during operations.
The future operational concept must ensure that NATO’s core tasks can be executed across the full spectrum from peacetime to conflict and under all conditions. Therefore, NATO has to have the capability to continuously understand the changing environment and consequently develop strategies to sustain an operational advantage.
It was apparent that this multi-domain concept could only be achieved by going ‘beyond Joint’. ‘Joint’, in its current form, does not allow for the planning and creation of sufficient effects in time or confront the opponent with an adequate number and type of dilemmas unless a structured and comprehensive response is provoked.
The only way to achieve this is to prepare, plan, orchestrate, and execute synchronized activities at scale and speed, across all domains and environments, together with the other IoPs and our partners.
During the last few years, NATO and different nations explored the (im)possibilities of a multi-domain concept. Depending on the overarching national approaches to defence strategies, several variations on the multi-domain concept were developed and fielded. In essence, all approaches had the same objective: to synchronize activities across domains and environments leading to timely converging effects.
The most significant differences in the approaches are which domains are considered for inclusion and how far other IoPs and partners are integrated into the planning and execution processes. The United Kingdom leans more towards an all of government approach where all national IoPs and stakeholders are synchronized to ensure a comprehensive and holistic effect generation. The United States and France adopted a more military-centric approach, with solid interfaces to coordinate activities with other IoPs or stakeholders.
ACT has issued the NATO definition of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and an appropriate vision statement. The JAPCC has to be aligned with NATO’s policy, therefore, the JAPCC has adapted to the approved NATO terminology and strategic vision for NATO’s warfare model. With this approach, NATO focuses on the military IoP, with a solid coordination and collaboration interface to all relevant non-military actors and partners. The JAPCC has always favoured this way of thinking. Coordination and cooperation across the civil-military boundaries is challenging, as ambiguities in authority or national priorities can create friction, which is counterproductive and diminishes the effects being pursued through MDO.
For the JAPCC, the scope of the related MDO project (formerly JADO) will not change. It includes critical nodes, desired capabilities, Command and Control (C2), and, most importantly, the training necessary to optimize the leadership model and promote Alliance-wide understanding. The project will help identify the requirements and capabilities to move from our current state of interoperability to a level of seamless integration able to conduct NATO MDO in the future.