US Army Multi-Sector Task Force units could bring allies, partners

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army units of the multidisciplinary working group could see elements that include allies and partners, according to the head of the US military in the Pacific.

“We’re actually doing some work right now with the third MDTF in Hawaii to create conditions for a combined MDTF,” Gen. Charles Flynn told Defense News Oct. 9 at the Association of the US Army’s annual conference. “Australia is moving five officers this summer — summer 2024 — to Hawaii so we can create a combined element of the multi-sector task force”

The the service’s first MDTF was experimental, but the Army has since commissioned its existing units and decided it will raise at least four more. The Army established the initial one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state around 2018. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater exercises helped inform the Army’s multi-domain warfighting concept, which now has developed into a dogma.

Then the Army established another MDTF in Europe in 2021, and another last year in Hawaii.

The units are designed to operate in all domains – land, air, sea, space and cyber – and are equipped with the Army’s growing capabilities, including long-range precision fires.

Earlier this year, now-retired Army Chief of Staff General James McConville requested the deployment of the fourth MDTF to the Indo-Pacific region, bringing the number of MDTFs in that theater to three. Flynn agreed that the fourth MDTF should be deployed to the Pacific. For that unit, the Army is still looking at specific locations in the region, Flynn explained.

The Army is also considering how it might include Japan in an MDTF, similar to an assessment for Australia.

Japan’s National Security Strategy and its defense forces’ cross-sector operations doctrine could align well with the intent of multi-sector task forces.

“There’s obviously a lot of synergy in the organizational structures they’re trying to create and compare and contrast with what we’ve learned by creating the multi-sector task force,” Flynn said.

The third MDTF, and the second in the Pacific, has just completed a deployment to join Talisman Sabera large-scale exercise with Australia.

And now the MDTF is working in the Philippines using the Combined Information and Effects Fusion Cell to combine open source maritime and air applications into a common operational picture so that the Philippine joint commands “can actually see in the sea and air littoral areas. out in their exclusion zone so they can then monitor friendly or adversary actions occurring” in those areas, Flynn explained.

Domain awareness from land, Flynn added, allows military commanders or civilian leaders to make well-informed decisions.

But the most important part of the MDTFs are their multi-domain effect battalions, Flynn noted.

“I like to refer to it as a kind of targeting brain that brings together all the source intelligence, intelligence, electronic warfare, space and cyber traces, [as well as command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance]but it can also conduct counter-C5ISR so we can provide intel support to the joint [targeting],” he said. “It’s designed from land to see, sense and understand all domains and then be able to share that information with the joint force.”

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist who covers land warfare for Defense News. He has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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