NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Allied Command Transformation Leads the NATO Multi-Domain Operations Conference

September 11, 2023

NORFOLK, VA – As Allied Command Transformation prepares to host this year’s NATO Multi-Domain Operations Conference, the Alliance’s emphasis on orchestrating integrated Multi-Domain Operational capabilities continues to seek the full integration of Alliance capabilities to out-pace and out-think its adversaries. 

Ahead of the NATO Multi-Domain Operations Conference, held from 09-11 October 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the importance of mastering Multi-Domain Operations has never been more relevant. With emerging threats from space and cyber Domains combining with existing land, sea, and air risk factors, the formation of a collective, multi-layered operational approach is paramount for the Alliance. The Allied Command Transformation recognizes the importance of developing this capability and actively seeks to further Alliance strengths and fill weaknesses. Even so, the Command cannot fully integrate these practices without the buy-in of Allied and Partner nations, academic institutions and industry. As such, the theme of the 2023 Multi-Domain Operations Conference will emphasize the role of nations in building a Multi-Domain Operations-enabled Alliance

All NATO members contribute to the advancement and application of MDO regardless if they have the full range of MDO capabilities or not. Through creating doctrinal documents in line with the agreed NATO’s MDO Concept, or through development of the specialists’ capabilities, all Allies have a role to play in operationalizing MDO.

NATO’s drive to foster greater Multi-Domain Operational capabilities seeks to combine the capabilities of every nation, affiliated service and private industry to build a comprehensive, yet streamlined command structure. If the prospect of orchestrating a coherent command and control system across the entirety of the Alliance’s operational capabilities was not challenging enough, the lack of effective consensus across the 31 Member Nations’ militaries poses a further hurdle for the development of Multi-Domain Operational capacities. Engaging with key personnel from all Allied nations is a key tenet of Multi-Domain Operational development today and in the future, speaking to the central theme of this year’s Copenhagen Conference. The synchronization of the imagined command structure across capabilities and nations will deliver tangible effects in the virtual, cognitive and physical dimensions and further assist the Alliance’s mission of providing defence and deterrence for Allied nations.

While the military power and capabilities of Allied nations hold a central position in realizing the Command’s Multi-Domain Operations aspirations, the role of Allies’ Instruments of Power are also important to fully synchronize Multi-Domain functions. These include the economic, diplomatic and information capabilities of Allied countries, which, when taken together with traditional military power, have significant impact on the world. For instance, the coordination of economic sanctions, domination of the information environment and diplomatic outreach simultaneously with military action, the Alliance can maximize its capabilities and potential effectiveness.

Yet, even so, the military and other Instruments of Power would be considerably less effective without the participation of Allied nation’s private industry and institutions. Not only does collaboration with these external stakeholders improve the capabilities of the Alliance, it also provides a quid quo pro scenario for both government/military and private organizations. Through cooperation and communication, private institutions can assist government and military functions through existing capabilities, while Alliance military and government organizations can continue to defend the interests of important private institutions within the Alliance. 

Improvement in the interoperability of command across all operating Domains, coordinated with stakeholders from all aspects of the alliance, will ultimately assist the Alliance’s mission of providing deterrence and further defensive measures for Allied and Partner nations. Equally as important, advancing Multi-Domain Operability will build a network of like-minded organizations and a culture of collaboration, fostering greater collaboration throughout the Allied countries. In doing so, the entire Alliance ecosystem will be prepared to meet the ever-shifting threats presented by our adversaries and present a united front to defend the values Allied nations hold dear.