AUSA NEWS: Army Harnessing Non-Kinetic Effects for Multi-Domain Ops in Indo-Pacific

By Mikayla Easley

Army photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. —With Defense Department efforts concentrated on deterring and eliminating threats in the Indo-Pacific, the Army is assisting the Joint Force by operationalizing long-range non-kinetic effects in the region, a senior official said Oct. 12.

The Multi-Domain Task Forces, or MDTF, are in-theater, specialized Army units designed to employ an array of long-range precision effects against an adversary’s anti-access/area denial networks, said Brig. Gen. Bernard Harrington, commander of the service’s 1st Multi-Domain Task Force.

The task forces’ goal is to use non-kinetic capabilities — such as cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence and long-range fires — to augment the Joint Force’s existing lethal capabilities, he said during a panel discussion at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C.

Operating in small units, each MDTF is assigned to a specific theater and uses capabilities tailored to threats in that region, he said.

Each task force supports the Army’s new commitment to conducting operations from all domains — including air, land, sea, space and cyber — as outlined in the service’s new operational doctrine, Field Manual 3.0, Harrington said.

“Although we are an Army unit … we support that Joint Force Commander as he or she is trying to execute neutralization of that network and gain access into that region,” he said.

In order to neutralize threats, the task forces use intelligence information to determine the best ways to disconnect an adversary from its anti-access/area denial networks and prevent it from completing any mission, Harrington explained.

The MDTF will then use non-kinetic effects to “electromagnetically isolate” threats, giving Joint Force commanders the option conduct a kinetic attack against the vulnerable threat, he said.

The task forces may also use kinetic capabilities itself, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, as well as the Mid-Range Capability Battery and Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon in the future, Harringon said.

“We are able to layer kinetic effects on top of a potentially electromagnetically isolated adversary,” he said. “What we ultimately then [give] that Joint Force Commander is options as to how to potentially neutralize that target.”

The Army currently has three Multi-Domain Task Forces operational, with the most recent unit opening its doors in September at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Along with the first MDTF created in 2017 at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington, the newest task force will focus on threats posed in the Indo-Pacific, said Col. David Zinn, commander of the third MDTF.

The second Multi-Domain Task Force was stationed in 2021 in Germany in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa.

Zinn likened the Multi-Domain Task Forces’ relationship with the Joint Force as “a collection of archers and a quiver of arrows.”

“The Navy archers have some Navy arrows, and they can choose those arrows. And then the Air Force archers will have some Air Force arrows in that quiver,” he said. “So while we bring our additional arrows to the quiver, that's the additional capacity. And then our arrows have different capabilities, and that’s the complementary capability that we bring.”

Topics: Army News

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