Interdiction and Deep Operations

09.30.16 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Military doctrine has been defined as “fundamental principles that guide the employment of U.S. military forces in coordinated action toward a common objective.” Some of those fundamental principles are elaborated in two U.S. military documents that were made public this month.

A newly revised Pentagon publication addresses Joint Interdiction (Joint Publication 3-03, Joint Chiefs of Staff, September 9, 2016).

Interdiction here refers not simply to interception (as in the case of aircraft interdiction). Rather, it encompasses a broad range of military actions taken “to divert, disrupt, delay, or destroy the enemy’s military surface capability before it can be used effectively against friendly forces, or to achieve enemy objectives.”

“The purpose of interdiction operations is to prevent adversaries from employing surface-based weaponry and reinforcing units at a time and place of their choosing.” The new Pentagon publication explores the planning, execution and assessment of interdiction actions.

It notes along the way that “Cyberspace forces can employ offensive cyberspace operations capabilities to divert, disrupt, delay, or destroy enemy capabilities in support of interdiction operations.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army has issued new doctrine on what it calls, somewhat mysteriously, Deep Operations (ATP 3-94.2, September 2016).

“Deep operations extend operations in time, space, and purpose. . . . They involve efforts to prevent or limit uncommitted enemy forces from being employed in a coherent manner. Deep operations involving air and ground maneuver forces in the deep area may be high risk activities. Commanders should carefully consider and balance the potential benefits with the risks associated with deep operations.”

On closer inspection, it turns out that the two new doctrinal publications are related, and that the Army’s “deep operations” overlap with the Joint Chiefs’ concept of “interdiction.”

Thus, the Army document says at one point that “The joint community refers to deep operations which are not in close proximity to friendly ground forces as interdiction.”

The importance of national security terminology in facilitating common understanding — or generating needless confusion — is an underlying theme of a new book which also serves as a lexicon of current terms. See Intelligence and Information Policy for National Security: Key Terms and Concepts by Jan Goldman and Susan Maret (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

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