Distributed Operations (DO) is a war-fighting concept drafted by the United States Marine Corps and developed primarily by their Warfighting Laboratory as a response to the changing environment of the Global War on Terror. Adaptive enemies and a more complex environment were seen as requiring conventional forces to maintain the ability to decentralize decision making and distribute their forces. The overarching goal of DO is to maximize a Marine Air Ground Task Force commander's ability to employ tactical units across the depth and breadth of a non-linear battlespace. The concept is attributed to General James Mattis.
Distributed Operations is a form of maneuver warfare where small, highly capable units spread across a large area of operations will create an advantage over an adversary through the deliberate use of separation and coordinated, independent tactical actions. DO units will use close combat or supporting arms to disrupt the enemy's access to key terrain and avenues of approach. This type of warfare will be dependent on well trained and professional small unit leaders, focused and energetic training of small units and more robust communications and tactical mobility assets for those smaller units. A greater focus will also be placed on language and cultural training.
- Finnish small unit tactics during the Winter War of 1939–1940.
- British and Indian "Chindit" tactics employed against the Japanese during the Burma Campaign.
- The U.S. Marines Combined Action Program during the Vietnam War.
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