Harvest the Best and Leave the Rest: The Land Wars and the Emergence of the Kill Web


The strategic shift from the land wars to full spectrum crisis management is a very significant change.

Operating against adversary forces who have full spectrum capability requires building and training a force which can prevail in a wide variety of contested environments.

We have argued that shaping interactive kill webs which allow for flexible task forces to be assembled to prevail in such conditions is a key way ahead.

But this does not mean that what has been learned during the land wars is being jettisoned.

Several key ingredients of what was learned is being harvested and taken forward into the full spectrum crisis management settings.

One key element is earning how to provide C2 and ISR support to small insertion forces and to provide support from a full spectrum force.

A second is to learn how having an ISR manager based with the ground forces provides a key capability to shape the knowledge management side of informing the ground scheme for maneuver.

A third was to highlight the importance of tron warfare for the ground scheme of maneuver as well and to introduce new capabilities, such as the Growler into the battle space. From this standpoint, the introduction of the Growler is part of the reshaping of the tron warfare strand of the kill web moving forward.

The photos in the slideshow highlight the coming of the Growler to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Oct. 30, 2018.

The US Navy and USAF are clearly building a way ahead from this experience to incorporate tron warfare capabilities into the kill web.

As a recent discussion with the senior officer at NAWDC responsible for EW highlighted: “It is about full spectrum of warfare, not just the high-end fight.

“Being able to operate within and to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum is not a nice to have capability but is becoming a core requirement for effective engagement in conflict scenarios across the spectrum of warfare.

“HAVOC is not focused on the management of a single exquisite platform per se, but upon how that platform operates in the joint force with other joint or coalition force assets to deliver the broad non-kinetic effect required.

“In a core mission area, suppression of enemy air defenses, HAVOC is working closely with the USAF Weapons School at Nellis in shaping a variety of capabilities, including but not limited to F-35, Compass Call, space-based assets and cyber-war assets to deliver the best air suppression capability possible. They along with the USAF are looking holistically at the integrated air defense system.

“Within their domain, they are working a kill web approach to generate a synergy of effects enabling the force to take down air defense systems in a much more effective and efficient manner than if it was all about the Growler.

“In this case, it is about sensors and shooters working together through a non-kinetic kill web.  When the CNO put out his FY21 Unfunded Priorities List (which includes Next Generation Jammer), it is interesting to note is that he equated NGJ and EW with increased lethality for the force.

“Integrating such capability into the overall strike mission is a virtual redefinition of what lethal strike actually means in a kill web approach.”

Harvest the best, leave the rest, and build on relevant combat experience to shape capabilities for the next generation fight.

When dealing with a peer competitor like China, which is not in a position to havest the best and leave the rest, the U.S. and its allies gain a significant advantage be being able to do so.