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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.
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.
DO has two deployment modes; disburse and coalesce. In the disbursal mode distributed units spread out to find targets, gather intel, and secure lightly defended infrastructure. In Coalesce mode units coalesce to concentrate all of their firepower on large, heavily defended targets of opportunity, high value targets, perhaps with the aid of air and sea-based bombardment. The general model is that of an immune system. When a pathogen is located, the antibody attacks the pathogen, but not before messaging the body to send more resources to finish attack.
- 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.
- Schmidle, Robert E. "Distributed Operations: From The Sea". www.mca-marines.org. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- Commandant signs of on Distributed Operations[permanent dead link]
- Distributed Operations and new technology
- https://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/distributed-operations-hurdles[permanent dead link]
- https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/distributed-operations-sea[permanent dead link]
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