Multi-domain Battle and the Masks of War: Why It’s Time to Eliminate the Independent Services by Michael C. Davies, Modern War Institute
Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) has become the flavor of the month. Pushed predominantly by the US Army and Marine Corps, it is the current iteration of various recent attempts to meld the services, the military missions, and the strategic environment into a coherent, all-encompassing concept. Jointness is no longer enough.
As repeatedly seen since the end of World War II, however, the United States has a consistent record of losing wars, both on the battlefield, and as policy contests. The US military services’ institutional cultures—what Carl Builder called their “masks of war”—deserve a significant amount of blame for these failures, as these masks are only useful when the enemy fights exactly as the services’ masks want them to. That is a genuine rarity, and becoming ever more unlikely, as Army and Marines’ initial MDB white paper itself states. But just as with any attempt at reform, the services, as bureaucratic entities, will continue to do their thing unless radical change is forced upon them.
Therefore, there is only one way to make MDB both effective and a reality: Eliminate the independent services. By sweeping clear the current organizational structure of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force and rebirthing them from scratch as cross-functional corps, built to fight according to the twelve Joint Force Prioritized Missions delineated in the most recent National Military Strategy, battlefield victory with strategic purpose will be possible again…