DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare — Multi Domain Ops, But Faster

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October 8, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: October 8 on

WASHINGTON: Just when you thought you understood Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), along comes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s “Mosaic Warfare.” It’s sort of MDO on steroids: an all-encompassing “force design” — that includes everything from military organization to operational concepts to weapon systems to tactics — to underpin a new U.S. way of war targeted at blocking China’s strategy of hitting critical U.S. information nodes (and the technologies required to accomplish that force design).

“Kill webs” not “kill chains.” Instead of exquisite platforms like the F-35 fighter, exquisite functional technology nodes (such as an advanced infrared sensor) that can be mixed and matched via AI-enhanced networks. A battle plan that doesn’t exist until a field commander builds it, based on whichever capabilities are available in real time — like a kid building a LEGO spaceship not from a kit and a blueprint, but from a drawer of jumbled pieces that nonetheless all fit together.

Timothy Grayson, director of DARPA’s Strategic Technologies Office (STO), said today at a Mitchell Institute meeting that Mosaic Warfare is a “system of systems” approach to warfighting designed around compatible “tiles” of capabilities (think functions such as sensors and shooters), rather than uniquely shaped “puzzle pieces” (think platforms) that must be fitted into a specific slot in a battle plan in order for it to work.