Developing a viable operational concept requires the examination of three basic structural elements. The first element is codifying a clear definition of what constitutes a domain. The United States’ joint doctrine specifically defines the air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains, however, it does not define domain. This oversight limits the inclusion or exclusion of other items that may assist in clarifying a conceptual framework. In other words, there may be other entities that should be considered as domains that are not currently identified in our doctrine. A clear definition can also limit the inclusion of miscellaneous entities such as the information or cognitive domains that may only serve to create unnecessary complexity.
The foundations for building an operational definition of domain can be found in the origins of the word. The word domain evolved from English, French, and Latin roots in the 15th century and it was used to describe what an individual, federation, or confederation controlled. In today’s context, however, the traditional sense of control and the superiority it provides may be outdated by virtue of emerging offensive and defensive weapon systems. As a result, the term domain may need to include a more holistic descriptor such as “access or control.” The reason this is important is if a force has access to a domain when it needs access, absolute control may not be necessary. Additionally, if we are to develop an advanced maneuver concept based on domains, the term domain must be directly correlated to the vision in the concept. Consequently, the key elements in the definition that should be present are maneuver space, access and control, and the superiority necessary to successfully accomplish the mission. A recommended definition of a domain is a “critical macro maneuver space whose access or control is vital to the freedom of action and superiority required by the mission.” Based on this definition, there are six critical maneuver spaces that will dominate the future development of advanced maneuver warfare theory. Those spaces are the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), space, air, land, maritime, and human.
This designation of maneuver spaces deviates from the evolving US doctrinal concepts being developed for MDO. The rationale for this deviation is if you have access to or control of these maneuver spaces your chances of success are significantly enhanced. Conspicuously absent from this framework proposed in this article is cyberspace. The reason for this is cyberspace operates within the EMS. If you control desired segments of the EMS, you control the ability to employ cyberspace tools. Thus, both cyberspace operations and electronic warfare are capabilities that operate within the EMS. This does not mean that cyber operations are not important. It simply means that the desired maneuver space is what gives you the necessary access or control to accomplish the mission.
This is confusing because there are a number of misperceptions about both cyberspace and the EMS. First, cyberspace and cyber operations are not magic. Successful cyber operations require a painstaking process of gaining access to a system. This process, especially for peer competitors like Russia, can take literally years. Once a cyber-operator has access to the system, the operator must develop a tool to operate within that system. However, even with access and a tool specifically designed for a targeted system, a simple software update or change of a router can block the access to the system.
The EMS in contrast is a physics-based maneuver space that is essential to control the operational environment during all military operations.7 The spectrum represents the range of wavelengths or frequencies over which electromagnetic radiation extends. The significance of this is almost every advanced military system and concept programed for the future is dependent on access to the EMS. This includes advanced C4ISR systems, radars, missiles, aircraft, naval vessels, as well as concepts such as intuitive sensing, edge computing, hyper-automation, and almost all maneuver operations in the space domain. A representation of the EMS is below in figure 2.