The role of a Sergeant Major in Multi Domain Operations
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Multi-domain operations is the newest form of Army warfighting that encompasses land, sea, air, space and cyber space echelons. The first experiments using this philosophy and doctrine began in 2018 during an excersise called the Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC. This style is unique to old resurgent operations of the past in the sense that all domains run concurrently throughout the battle in order to compete, penetrate, disintegrate, and exploit an adversary’s position without losing ground. The advantages of multiple domain operations far outweigh the disadvantages due to the ever changing operational environments and the rise of technology. Army and Air are at the forefront of the development and while there are challenges to orchestrating so many operations that cross inter-military lines, the overall outcome of tests and simulations demonstrates success.
Sergeants Major play a vital role in the mission during Multi Domain Operations (MDO). The operation is fluid and key tasks may change at a moments notice. This makes Mission Command critically important. The SGM and CDR of the respective domains are now operating autonomously when commuications became vague or completely lost. Key leaders must thoroughly prepare and train thier troops for may develop during the mission. For this reason, the SGM not only will advise but must also stay intimately connected to the Soldiers, simultaneously reacting and guiding them when needs arise. Planning operations down to the lowest level are necessary and the Segeant Major must be able to visualize them and anticipate future challenges before they happen. When they do, and the chances that they will are high because of the sheer coordination of MDO, he/she must be resilient and steadfast in order to manage the stress and confusion of the Soldiers they lead. In addition to planning, the SGM must be deeply involved in placement of talent within the team. Soldiers stragically aligned with the positions that they are strongest in not only better serve the team but themselves in thier pursuit of career growth. The Sergeant Major influences these teams and encourages leadership within them so as to promote Mission Command and ensure extreme ownership will preserve the operation’s integrity.
Army.mil, Tobin, C.,(2017) The role of a Non-Commissioned Officer in a Joint Forces Environment, https://www.army.mil/article/189250
ArmyTimes.com, South, T., (2019) As Multi Domain Operations Evolve, Commanders will see the Concepts at all levels, https://www.armytimes.com/news/you-army/2019/10/20
Jbsa.mil, Kimmons, S., (2019) A Hard Lesson Learned Now Guides Priorities for New Sergeant Major of the Army, https://www.jbsa.mil/News/News/Article/1931940
Breakingdefense.com, Freedberg, S., (2019) Army Domain Game Reveals C2 Shortfalls, https://www.breakingdefense.com/2019/09/
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Scott, Darren_SMC-DL_0510-DAO-DB- Module 1 Senior NCO Role within MDO
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Considering the role of the senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) in multi-domain operations (MDO), or anything else for that matter, brings one word to mind, expertise. According to the Department of the Army (2020), the NCO is a “subject matter expert in their MOS, able to provide clear and concise input relevant to MDMP” (p. 7-3). In addition to being an expert in their field, the NCO, especially the senior NCO, should be a “jack of all trades” who with a solid understanding of Army doctrine, especially that relevant to training and operations. Commanders at all levels rely on NCOs to provide leadership, mentorship, experience, and expertise to all aspects of unit operations.
Senior NCOs primarily function in two types of positions. First, they serve as direct and organizational leaders; platoon sergeants, first sergeants, and command sergeants major. As unit leaders, senior NCOs are responsible to commanders for training Soldiers to standard on individual tasks. These individual tasks nest into collective tasks that make up a unit’s mission essential task list (METL). Senior NCOs at the company and staff section levels must also identify the individual tasks to train that best support the commander’s unit training plan (UTP). Second, and just as important (though not nearly as popular among the NCO Corps), senior NCOs serve on command staff positions. These staff NCOs must be subject matter experts concerning unit operations, including the operations process, the military decision-making process (MDMP), the warfighting functions, task organization, and MDO.
As combat includes operations across multiple domains (land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace), senior NCOs must be experts in unified land operations and familiar with operations across the other four domains (Department of the Army, 2019, p. 1-6). This familiarity includes a general knowledge of what other armed services bring to the operational table. The senior NCO’s ability to understand the Army’s unified action partners’ operations and processes is key to shared understanding in joint operations. Abele et al. (2014) write that “the five services fight together as a team, which means they must plan and train as a team” (p. 55). For example, the well-rounded senior NCO understands how the United States Air Force and the United States Navy operate as force multipliers that enable the fires warfighting function. The senior NCO may not be an expert in all domains, but owning expertise in unified land operations and a good understanding of the other domains makes the United States Army’s senior NCOs force multipliers in and of themselves.
Abele, D. B., Edwards, R., Espinoza, R., Hampton, A., Horvath, J. P., Schmidt, D. J.,
Zecca, J. C., Clayton, C. C. (2014). The Noncommissioned Officer and Petty Officer: Backbone of the Armed Forces. National Defense University Press. Retrieved from https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Publications/ncobackbone.pdf.
Department of the Army (2019). Operations (ADP 3-0). Retrieved from https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN18010_ADP%203-0%20FINAL%20WEB.pdf.
Department of the Army. (2020). The Noncommissioned Officer Guide (TC 7-22.7). Retrieved from https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN20340_TC%207-22×7%20FINAL%20WEB.pdf.
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Senior NCO Role in Multi-Domain Operations
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A Sergeant Major can significantly affect some aspects of both the United States Army’s cyber and land domains. The Department of Army describes cyberspace as “a global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent networks of information technology infrastructures and resident data, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers” (2018, pg. 94). The cyber realm can create significant advantages for an organization that knows how to properly employ its function and capability. Cyberspace can also leave an organization vulnerable to exploitation by opposing actors. As technology becomes more and more integrated into soldiers’ daily lives, so does the availability of information to foreign intelligence entities. Digital communication via electronic mail, social media, and other electronic means can often leave vulnerable the operations, patterns, and behaviors of a military organization.
Sergeants Major can ensure that the unit’s members frequently employ operational security. Meeting minimum mandatory requirements for operational security often lacks the emphasis necessary for Soldiers to understand the specific information that must be well-guarded in their interactions and communications in the cyber realm. Furthermore, an overreliance on digital means and platforms to complete tasks in a tactical environment can lead to an inability to function under certain conditions. For example, “A 1-megaton nuclear blast detonated 400 km above the center of the United States can have continental-wide terrestrial effects in seconds” (Reilley, 2016, pg. 64). Such an attack would cause an electromagnetic pulse and leave many electronic devices and infrastructure useless. Sergeants Major can ensure that when Soldiers perform warrior tasks and battle drills, they can do so in an analog environment. Land superiority may hinge on a unit’s ability to function when electronic means fail. Unit leadership can maintain redundancy and back-up communication, logistics, and transportation methods if cyber-reliant means are rendered inept.
In a multi-domain environment, the different domains are less segregated than in previous decades. This overlap is especially evident when the Army considers the relationship between the land and cyber realms and how one affects the other. Sergeants Major can encourage and create a climate wherein units can adapt to the rapidly changing environment caused by the proliferation of technology and the ease with which opposing forces can gain access and employ such technologies.
Department of the Army. (2018). The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 (TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1). Retrieved from https://www.tradoc.army.mil/Portals/14/Documents/MDO/TP525-3-1_30Nov2018.pdf
Reilly, J. M., (2016). Multidomain Operations. Air & Space Power Journal, 30(1), 61-73. Retrieved from https://web-a-ebscohost-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=1e46b66d-25a7-4e1e-8a17-0eaaaab83d79%40sdc-v-sessmgr02
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