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Over the past three decades of humanitarian interventions and counterinsurgency operations adversaries have carefully studied how Western forces approach warfare and developed means to counter them. Such means include massed precision standoff capabilities; communications denial, cyber and information operations; and high-lethality cover-agnostic munitions. These capabilities render Western logistics vulnerable, undermine political support for operations, and threaten to inflict lethal effects at reach to prevent powerful Western formations from assembling in contested areas. Anti-access area denial (A2AD) works to dislocate Western forces across time, space and function, disrupting the joint fight that has been critical to the lethality of Western militaries.
The US has been grappling with this challenge since 2014, when Russia demonstrated the potential of its new way of war in Ukraine. The concept of operations that emerged is Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). MDO envisages removing the distinction between the close, deep and rear battle areas, dispersing forces to evade enemy massed fires, and converging effects on land, at sea, and in the air, space and cyberspace, to cognitively overwhelm enemy command networks and saturate enemy A2AD systems. This enables US forces to close with and destroy the enemy, and thereby deter adversaries escalating from competition to conflict.
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