Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edge

Unread postPosted: 12 May 2020, 02:53
by boogieman
An interesting piece from David Deptula, one that takes a decidedly dimmer view of the US' ability to wage war against Russia or China with the current force structure.
Ever since 1991’s Operation Desert Storm, adversaries have systematically watched the American way of war, cataloging the US military’s advantages and methods and developing strategies and systems to erode those advantages and exploit vulnerabilities in US force design. Now America faces challenges from China and Russia, each of which have watched and learned from US strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan and have responded by developing anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies and systems designed to block the United States from intervening should they choose to aggress against their neighbors.

The National Defense Strategy in 2018 sounded the alarm over the risks posed by Chinese and Russian revisionist ambitions. Wargames that centered on major conflicts with China and Russia have resulted in loss after loss for US forces. According to senior RAND analyst David Ochmanek, “In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its a$$ handed to it.

To overcome, the US military must transform itself to a new force design that can withstand and prevail in a systems warfare conflict. Mosaic warfare is one answer: a way of war that leverages the power of information networks, advanced processing, and disaggregated functionality to restore America’s military competitiveness in peer-to-peer conflict.

Mosaic is designed to address both the demands of the future strategic environment and the shortcomings of the current force. The term “mosaic” reflects how smaller force structure elements can be rearranged into many different configurations or force presentations. Like the small, dissimilar colored tiles that artists use to compose any number of images, a mosaic force design employs many diverse, disaggregated platforms in collaboration with current forces to craft an operational system.

Mosaic employs highly resilient networks of redundant nodes to obtain multiple kill paths and make the overall system more survivable, minimizing the critical target value of any single node on the network. This design ensures US forces can be effective in contested environments and that the resulting force can be highly adaptable across the spectrum of military operations. Mosaic combines the attributes of highly capable, high-end systems with the volume and agility afforded by smaller, less costly, and more numerous force elements, which can be rearranged into many different configurations or presentations. When composed together into a mosaic force, these smaller elements complete operational observe–orient–decide–act cycles (John Boyd’s “OODA loops”) and kill chains. Just like LEGO blocks that nearly universally fit together, mosaic forces can be pieced together in a way to create packages that can effectively target an adversary’s system with just-enough overmatch to succeed.

I do see a problem for our side mainly produced by the issue of fighting either country in their own neighbourhood. We (in the west) have a lot of great technology and people operating it, but there is a significant challenge associated with getting enough of our forces to the fight before the other side can achieve their strategic objectives.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 12 May 2020, 05:47
by boogieman
More on this:
Mosaic Warfare's Kill Web

In conventional warfare, the kill chain is defined by the “OODA” loop – that is, the steps necessary to observe, orient, decide, and act on a target. But in a mosaic operational construct, the point-to-point chain is replaced by a web of sensor nodes that all collect, prioritize, process, and share data, then fuse it into a continuously updated common operating picture. Instead of tightly integrating all those functions into a single, expensive platform, as in the F-35, in mosaic warfare, these functions are disaggregated and spread among a multitude of manned and unmanned aircraft that share data and processing functions across a perpetually changing network.


In the mosaic concept, platforms are “decomposed” into their smallest practical functions to create collaborative “nodes.” These functions and nodes may be abstracted and broadly categorized by the familiar functionalities in an OODA loop: observe, orient, decide, and act.

In the past, an F-15 in an air-to-air engagement would need to first observe the airspace in its lane, identifying enemy aircraft with its radar, which is an observation node. When the radar received a return, that contact would be processed through the fire-control computer and displayed on the screen; together, these comprise the orientation node. The pilot can then engage other on-board sensors (additional observation nodes) to improve his orientation before deciding on an action (making the pilot the decision node). Finally, the pilot can take action, pairing a missile to the contact and firing the weapon (the action node).

Up until now, increasing the speed of operations required that all these OODA functions had to be hosted on a single weapon system to complete a kill chain. Indeed, fifth-generation aircraft have accelerated this process by pushing orientation and decision closer to action at the forward edges of combat. Advances in processing power, algorithms, and data links have made these aircraft incredibly valuable battle managers in contested and dynamic environments.

Historical case studies show that orientation must be located where there is processing capacity to filter, correlate, and fuse observations into meaning, or orientation. The closer orientation and decision nodes are to the point of action, the faster and more effective the outcomes.

Today, however, advanced data links and processing make it possible to integrate these functions even as they are disaggregated into distinct platforms. Thus, these functions can be distributed throughout the battlespace and integrated not in a single platform, but over distance through data links, to achieve effects.

Conceptualizing mosaic through an abstracted, notional operational architecture—where functionality is the focus, not specific technologies or platforms—enables the development of a more heterogeneous force and technological growth. This is a critical point: Being overly prescriptive with regard to technology risks condemning a force design to rigidity, brittleness, and/or obsolescence.

The design should support both multifunction platforms—hosting many different functionalities—and simple-function nodes hosting just one or two. When pieced together, these smaller functional elements can form operational OODA cycles that today must be managed within a single system. Leveraging advanced networks, data links, and enablers such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, a mosaic design can target adversary systems with just enough overmatch to succeed.

Built on adaptable and highly resilient networks with redundant nodes, these systems could create multiple kill paths, minimizing the critical value of any single system in the network to ensure US forces remain effective in contested environments. In other words, by disaggregating functionality, the mosaic force can survive network and nodal attrition and still be effective. Mosaic combines the attributes of highly capable, high-end systems with the volume and agility afforded by numerous smaller force elements that can be rearranged into many different configurations or presentations.

Yet the mosaic force design concept is more than just an information architecture. Mosaic offers a comprehensive model for systems warfare, encompassing requirements and acquisition processes; the creation of operational concepts, tactics, techniques, and procedures; and force presentations and force-allocation action, in addition to combat operations. For example, by disaggregating and abstracting the operational architecture into OODA nodes instead of major programs, both requirements setting and acquisition can be simpler and faster. The ad hoc connectivity of a mosaic force enables faster and more adaptive tactical innovation to generate numerous potential kill paths. And because mosaic nodes are like LEGO blocks, force presentations can be tailored and surprising.

The attributes of a mosaic force design can help increase the speed of action across the US warfighting enterprise, whether quickly responding to urgent new requirements, integrating innovative or out-of-cycle capabilities, or developing new operational plans. The guiding principles and technologies that underpin a mosaic force design will help enable the United States to prevail in long-term competitions with great power adversaries.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 12 May 2020, 13:13
by boogieman
On a related note:
The 2018 National Defense Strategy recognizes that the capabilities of U.S. military forces have been eroding vis-à-vis those of key adversaries, especially China and Russia. As a consequence, the United States' ability to deter aggression and intimidation, to assure allies, and to influence events in East Asia and Europe is being undermined. Unless steps are taken to reverse these trends, the United States could find itself playing a greatly diminished role internationally.

The passage by Congress of a budget agreement for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 that substantially increases funding for the U.S. Department of Defense opens up the possibility of making investments in new capabilities and regional postures that can improve the ability of the United States to deter and defeat large-scale aggression by the most-threatening adversary states. This Perspective is intended to help inform decisions to enable future U.S. forces to meet operational challenges. It addresses four aspects of the problem: What are the most important challenges that U.S. forces face today and in the future? What sort of armed force is appropriate for the United States, and why? How and in what ways do U.S. forces fall short of that standard? What sorts of measures are called for to fix the problem, and how feasible is it to implement these?

In order to restore their ability to defeat aggression by these adversaries, U.S. forces will need to devise new approaches to power projection. This Perspective offers three elements of a new approach and identifies priority investment areas. ... _PE260.pdf

• Accelerate development and procurement of standoff weapons (e.g., Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile—Extended Range and Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile). The bomber force can operate from beyond the reach of most Chinese and Russian precision-strike weapons and launch standoff weapons from beyond the range of advanced air defenses. This force can deliver on the order of 1,000 weapons per day on a sustained basis, but only if those weapons are procured and available.

• Accelerate development and procurement of a longer range, fast-flying, SAM-killing missile (e.g., Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile—Extended Range). The primary weapon that U.S. forces have relied on for this role since the 1980s—the AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile—is badly outranged by the most-capable Russian and Chinese SAMs. It is imperative that U.S. air forces regain their ability to quickly and effectively attack the enemy’s integrated air defenses.

• Ramp up procurement of passive protection measures for forward bases (e.g., expedient shelters, fuel bladders, airfield damage repair equipment and materiel, decoy aircraft, and other deception measures). Analysis shows that such measures, in conjunction with active defenses, can significantly enhance force survivability and sortie generation.

• Accelerate and expand planned fielding of modern cruise missile defenses (e.g., the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection
Capability, Increment 2 [IFPC-2] system). Russian and Chinese cruise missiles can inflict severe damage on airfields, command and control nodes, logistics concentrations, and other assets critical to joint and combined operations. IFPC-2 can greatly improve the ability of U.S. forces to defeat salvo attacks by modern cruise missiles.

• Deploy or station two or three U.S. armored brigades and an Army fires brigade in or near the Baltic states. Stockpile munitions in theater adequate for 30 days of high-tempo land and air operations.

• Accelerate and expand development and procurement of guided area anti-armor weapons (e.g., Pre-Planned
Product Improvement Sensor Fuzed Weapon in a powered dispenser). In scenarios involving Russia, North Korea, and China or Taiwan, air forces are called upon to damage and destroy armored and mechanized ground forces, yet they lack adequate inventories of weapons to do this effectively.

• Accelerate development and fielding of more-robust space systems. This might include building and launching constellations of satellites with greater degrees of maneuverability, redundancy, stealth, and other protection features. It might also mean doing more to exploit growing commercial capacity for space-based imaging and communications.

• Accelerate the development and fielding of counterspace systems (especially nonkinetic systems, such as jamming
and dazzling systems).

• Accelerate development and testing of a system for intercepting ballistic missiles in boost phase (e.g., the Airborne Weapons Layer [AWL] concept). Kinetic, boost-phase intercept could be a key to defeating North Korean nuclear
weapons. The AWL air-to-air missile would also greatly increase the reach of U.S. fighter aircraft for defense against cruise missile-carrying bombers.

• Choose and acquire in numbers a light reconnaissance and attack aircraft (e.g., the AT-6 or A-29). U.S. forces will be called upon to carry on the fight against violent extremist organizations for a generation or more. An all–fifth-generation fighter force is manifestly not optimal for this fight.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 14 May 2020, 05:22
by boogieman
One of the takeaways from all of the above (for me at least) is that we really do need to maximise the resilience of our airbases to LACM and BM attack in the Pacific. Dispersal with F35B is great and all but at the end of the day runway dependent 5th gens like F22 and F35A need to be kept secure when they're not airborne. I am sure they will tear OPFOR a new one once they're in the air but the last thing we need is to lose large numbers of them on the ground.

I've said before that in the longer term I think a case can be made for replacing Patriot batteries with a mobile Aegis Ashore type system, perhaps with a resurrected JLENS. Failing this, a MALE/HALE UAS equipped with something akin to AN/APS-154 ought to provide an OTH targeting capability, as well as EW options.


Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 14 May 2020, 08:55
by zhangmdev
Better to put surveillance assets on the Low Earth Orbit. Make thousands of them.

The current state of affaires is untenable. Ships are getting too expensive, and not enough are being built. Super expensive assets are too few and far between. Inevitable losses will be hard to replace. To spread assets to a lot of platforms needs drastically new technologies. For example, if there are lot of drones carrying radars, those radars must be very small and cheap, as disposable as those drones.

The only way to beat those peer adversaries is to out-build them. Fighters, drones, air defense, cruise missiles, satellites, ships, everything. Need more of them. Especially land-based offensive weapons. Aggression and threat is the only language they able to understand.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 14 May 2020, 09:31
by boogieman
The problem is balancing the need for quantity with the need for enough quality to achieve the desired effects. LEO sats are great but they won't provide targeting data to your SAMs. You need an airborne or land based sensor closer to the target for that. Similarly, drones carrying cheap radars are useless if they can't see anything. TBH I think a lot of the problem stems from the simple fact that our side has been focused on COIN ops for over 20 years while the opposition has been almost entirely focused on high end warfare. Evidently this is now changing.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 14 May 2020, 20:19
by zhangmdev
The atom bomb and B-29, fruit of two of the most expensive projects during the WW2, was stolen and copied by the other side within years. Industrial espionage is getting much worse than ever. Any technological edge will be eroded fast. Bismarck was doomed by a single lucky shot fired by a biplane. More recently, Triton was shot down. Poseidon was illuminated by laser. KH-11 was tailed by a hostile satellite. Those super expensive super rare assets are just as vulnerable. Industries should be expanded. More people should be hired, to make more stuff cheaper and faster. Not the other way around.

Decades since the ODS, a lot of things have changed. Those weapon projects envisioned by the 1990s thinking only bear fruits after very long and difficult development processes. But changed circumstances make some once lauded features redundant. (So much for Zumwalt's land attack gun.) The possitive trend is new technology is emerging unexpectedly. Who would imagine some humble little cubesats being so capable?

I'd say LEO constellations will likely be very important in the near future.

Of course the other side is betting heavily on the novel technologies too, and they are less straightjacked by the legacy assets and budget crunch.

Re: Mosaic Warfare: Restoring America's Peer Warfighting Edg

Unread postPosted: 15 May 2020, 01:56
by boogieman
Yes the problem of technological advancement outpacing platform development presents some significant challenges. That said I can see some capability gaps generated by our focus on COIN that could be plugged in the next 10-15 years. This would tie in nicely with the fact that China's stated completion date for its military modernisation is around 2035. If they are going to make a grab for Taiwan or elsewhere I suspect this is when they are likely to do it.

I think the RAND report above has some very worthwhile recommendations, and it comes as no surprise that many if not all of them are being actioned as we speak. From a strictly aviation-oriented perspective (given the context of this forum) I would certainly like to see the technological advantage the F22 and F35A bring to the table being leveraged by enhancing the survivability of airbases in the first island chain. From a broader perspective, lower cost anti-access weapons like sea mines, GLCM, LRHW, PrSM and robust GBAD/IADS all strike me as important pieces of the puzzle. Maximising the size of our standoff PGM arsenal in this timeframe also strikes me as a sensible option.