What is Multi-Domain Integration?
Multi-Domain Integration (MDI) is about ensuring that every part of defence can work seamlessly together, and with other government departments and the UK’s allies, to deliver a desired outcome.
The modern battlespace is more complex than ever before, and the nature of the threats we face means that no single service, no single government department, or no single nation can defeat them on their own.
Multi-Domain Integration is the UK response. It is a mindset, and requires substantial changes across defence and wider-government. MDI will not happen by accident, and Strategic Command as defence’s integrator is responsible for implementing this change.
Why do we need Multi-Domain Integration?
The nature of conflict and competition is changing.
There are four main reasons we must pursue MDI:
we face constant threats in the grey zone. They are complex, fast moving and occur daily. These threats are often subtle, but are always sophisticated
the battle-space is broader and more complex than ever before. The space and cyber domains are increasingly prevalent, and our adversaries are becoming better at integrating these domains into their militaries
there has been an exponential explosion of data. It is challenging to sense, understand and exploit it. But if you can not, you lose
conflict is increasingly a competition for what people think. Our adversaries target public opinion through disinformation campaigns, and seek to undermine cohesion, and erode our economic, political and social resilience
We remain configured for joint operations, wedded to an era of industrial warfare. We must accelerate our journey to become an integrated force able to both operate and war fight in the information age.
Achieving Multi-Domain Integration is more than being better at joint operations, or simply adding more domains to the list and using them all. It means extending the range of activities available to decision makers, ensuring that any combination works together, and selecting the most appropriate ones to create and exploit vulnerabilities in our adversaries.
This goes beyond equipment and requires a mindset shift. We need to build on our strong culture to start acting, at all levels, to enable MDI to succeed.
How are we achieving Multi-Domain Integration?
Multi-Domain Integration is the major transformation taking place across Defence. It is not just an equipment programme. It is not just about data sharing. It is not just improving joint operations. It is all of that and more.
We must ensure that all our equipment and technology, in all domains, works together. A commander should have a full range of military options available to choose from, safe in the knowledge that regardless of the combination, they will work seamlessly together.
This will require building or enhancing our IT networks to allow data flow from sensors in all domains.
It will require using technologies such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing to rapidly process information and make it available to decision makers across all of government.
It will require integrating our information systems with those of our government partners and allies to avoid duplication.
People and Culture
Our people provide an adaptive edge that technology never can. We must change our culture so that we integrate by default at every level, whether procuring or designing equipment, training, monitoring intelligence or developing operational plans.
Development and Experimentation
We must train our personnel to work together through integrated exercises with government partners and allies.
Additionally, as we develop military plans and processes, and respond to threats or crises, we must ensure the plans are integrated by design, rather than working with partners ad hoc at the point of need.