The USA Thinks in Domains; the PRC Thinks in Dominances
words are keys to understanding
China's military posturing is in the air this Monday, so we'll look west of Wake to start the week out.
Though rough translations can be a challenge to read, if you get a chance to read your main opponent's intellectual work that references how they think - you should make the effort.
Though it would be great to have a more recent copy, thanks to the USAF's Air University you can read the People's Republic of China Science of Military Strategy (2013).
They use a slightly different approach to think about the same issue all militaries do - how to look at the different areas of power and control. In the West, most of us think in "domains." The PRC's 2013 work uses the term "dominances."
As you know, I like words. Words mean things and should not be used carelessly or dismissed.
James Jay Carafano Jr.'s summary in 2018 of "domains" works, so let's start there;
The future focus of jointness will be on ensuring that U.S. armed forces retain the ability to operate effectively in all domains in a theater (land, sea, air, subsurface, cyberspace, and space) and to exploit the ability to use advantages in one domain to operate in another.
What is the definition of the word, "domain?"
domain, noun: an area of knowledge or activity; especially one that somebody is responsible for
- Financial matters are her domain.
- Physics used to be very much a male domain.
- things that happen outside the domain of the home
Looking over the PRC offering first linked above and quoted below in length, the Chinese have a more simplified construct in their "dominances" framework.
Let's define what a "dominance" is;
dominance, noun: the fact of being more important, powerful or easy to notice than somebody/something else
- political/economic dominance
- America's rise to global dominance
- dominance over somebody/something to achieve/assert/establish dominance over somebody
That is a distinctively different tone and level of aggression.
The PRC's emphasis on information operations as well is ... interesting.
..the initiative in war is centrally expressed as comprehensive battlefield dominance, with command of the sea, command of the air, [end of page 129] and information dominance as the core. Of these, information dominance is the foundation for seizing battlefield initiative; without information dominance it will be difficult to effectively organize the friendly forces to seize command of the air and command of the sea.
Also, command of the air and command of the sea are the keys to and key points in the battlefield initiative; without command of the air and command of the sea, information dominance will lose a forceful means of seizure and control, and cannot maintain the battlefield initiative.
The practice of high-tech local war such as in the Persian Gulf War and Kosovo War yet again demonstrates that war invariably begins with a contention for the “three dominances,” and that whether the “three dominances” can be seized and maintained will directly influence the progress and outcome of war.
In local war under future informationized conditions, [we] will need to set out from the reality of the PLA’s fairly low quantities of high-tech equipment, and not only must attach importance to using superior equipment for seizing and controlling the “three dominances,” and regarding the “three dominances” as a prerequisite for unfolding the follow-up activities, but also must attach importance to using inferior equipment to contend with the powerful enemy for the “three dominances,” and bring into play the subjective dynamic quality, to ensure the ability to continue unfolding the operational activities when momentarily holding the “three dominances” or even in adverse circumstances without the “three dominances.”
Seizing and controlling the “three dominances” requires laying stress on preempting the enemy; emphasizing in the preliminary operations phase the careful selection of first-attack targets, the concentration of elite troops and efficient weapons, and the launch of high-intensity strikes in a concealed and surprise fashion; and doing everything possible in the first strike to basically paralyze the enemy operational SoS, and in one stroke seize the “three dominances.”
Along with the gradual advance of the war’s progress, [we] must exploit information operations [IO] forces for rigorous surveillance of the enemy’s naval and air force movements, and for uninterruptedly carrying out suppression and jamming of enemy information systems, and concentrate the application of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery long-range strike forces, to continue strikes at enemy targets which have newly restored functioning after being attacked, as well as at newly detected targets, so as to continually maintain powerful pressure against the enemy, and firmly seize the “three dominances.”
Hat tip Shugart.