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Multi-Domain Operations Help India’s Borders

Context

  • Recently, India’s External Affairs Minister stated that the persistent incursions and tensions along the LAC are a real threat that necessitates unprecedented deployment of Indian armed forces.
  • The Indian armed forces have the capability to face the Chinese, but we must augment our infrastructure in technological advancements such as multi-domain operations (MDO).

Relevance

GS Paper-2: India and its neighborhood- relations, Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Mains Question

What do you understand by Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs)? Do you think India should invest its resources to establish MDOs infrastructure to prepare for large scale combat operations in the future warfare? (250 words)


The LAC’s Eastern Sector and the Tawang Problem

  • In the eastern sector of the LAC, India shares a 1140 km boundary with China.
  • The boundary line is known as the McMahon Line, and it runs from the eastern limit of Bhutan to a point near the Talu Pass at the trijunction of Tibet, India, and Myanmar.
  • China considers the McMahon Line, which was proposed under the Simla Accord in 1914 to settle the boundary between Ti and India, illegal.
  • Despite the fact that Chinese representatives at the meeting initialled the agreement, they later refused to accept it.
  • Tawang Sector Problem
    • The Simla Accord required Tibet to hand over some of its territories, including Tawang, to the British, but China refused to recognise it.
    • Tibet lost its de facto independence in 1950 and was absorbed into the newly established People’s Republic of China.
    • Tawang briefly fell under Chinese control during the Sino-Indian war of 1962, but China voluntarily withdrew its troops at the end of the war.
    • Tawang was returned to Indian control, but China has not relinquished its claims to the majority of Arunachal Pradesh, including Tawang.

Recognizing Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs)

  • The term MDO refers to operations conducted across multiple domains and contested spaces in order to overcome an adversary’s strengths by presenting it with operational and/or tactical challenges.
  • This entails having a unified operating system that covers all domains and determines which tool is best for a given task.
  • As a result, it is not one service that uses capabilities from multiple domains to perform a task, but rather the best-positioned and capable operator of any service performing it across any domain.
  • It includes actions on land, sea, air, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.
    • For example, an Army coastal missile battery could be tasked with striking an enemy naval vessel detected by an Air Force aircraft’s radar.
    • Alternatively, an armed unmanned aerial vehicle on an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance mission could be diverted to attack an Army target detected by a naval/civilian satellite.

How does the MDO architecture function?

  • To understand how it works, consider a task in which the MDO architecture uses any sensor and the best-positioned shooter to achieve objectives.
  • The technical complexity and required command, control, and communication (C3) structure are understandable.
  • MDO and its C3 structure would use artificial intelligence to create an optimal engagement solution based on input from all sensors.
  • It occurs as a result of three operations:
    • First and foremost, all sensors (as well as other information input sources) must be able to be hosted on the MDO architecture.
    • Second, all solution providers (executors) must be able to receive and execute inputs and instructions from the MDO C3 structure.
    • Third, if the link to the main structure is unavailable (say, jammed by the enemy), the distributed control mission command characteristics would come into play, allowing operations to continue.

MDO Implementation Prerequisites

  • Expensive and highly advanced scientific technologies
    • The MDO architecture can only be built using pioneering advanced scientific technologies and requires highly developed scientific infrastructure as well as large sums of money to finance it.
  • The need for a well-planned and clear execution strategy o It would necessitate a well-defined roadmap for planning, acquisition, staffing, and training.
  • Technology outsourcing and dependability
    • The majority of MDO architecture is built using advanced technologies available in the United States, and India will need to not only outsource such technologies, but also invest money and resources in an American concept.

Why is MDO implementation required in India?

  • The China threat
    • Despite the fact that the United States has made significant progress toward the MDO over the last decade.
    • China is attempting to match US military power and is not far behind, posing a serious threat to India.
  • The dependability of MDOs and their recent success
    • The dependability of MDOs is evident in the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, where Western experts are assisting Ukrainians in harnessing the power of algorithms to fuse space reconnaissance and select the best shooters to strike Russian targets.
    • According to a Washington Post article, “Ukrainians are fusing their brave fighting spirit with the most advanced intelligence and battle-management software ever seen in combat.”
  • Regional Peace o The MDOs are highly desirable to maintain regional peace because if India is left behind, it will be deterred by denial during peacetime because if China, which has the technology and finances, masters it, it will pose a significant threat to regional peace and tranquilly.
  • As a result, India has no choice but to embrace MDOs as soon as possible.

A four-pronged approach to implementing MDOs is the way to go.

  • First, traditional physical domains must be stabilised in the short term, with critical service deficiencies addressed.
  • Second, our C3 networks must be fortified and protected from cyber threats.
    • They must be linked and synchronised to ensure seamless data exchange.
  • Third, in the long run, a pilot project must be launched now to grasp the true challenge of creating an MDO environment.
    • The pilot project would identify the technologies required as well as an estimate of the funds required.
  • Fourth, in order to master the fundamentals of MDO, it is critical to begin training and educating personnel now, along the lines of the US Air Force, which has training courses for such domains.
  • In these changing times, scientific advancements should be considered to strengthen those on the battlefield.

Conclusion

  • Because the future of warfare will be fast-paced, multi-dimensional, and connected, the MDO may be the way to prepare for large-scale combat operations in a fast-paced war scenario.
  • As threats and near-peer rivals evolve, the ability of the Indian Armed Forces to adapt to changing conditions, combined with advanced technological warfare, can deter the enemy, thereby helping to secure not only our borders, but also the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

February 2023
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