Relative Advantages

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Multidomain operations are the combined arms employment of joint and Army capabilities to create and exploit relative advantages to achieve objectives, defeat enemy forces, and consolidate gains on behalf of joint force commanders.

Relative advantage provide opportunities. A relative advantage is a location or condition, in any domain, relative to an adversary or enemy that provides an opportunity to progress towards or achieve an objective. During operations, small advantages can significantly impact the outcome of a mission, particularly when they accrue over time. Commanders seek and create relative advantages to exploit through action, and they continually assess friendly and enemy forces in relation to each other for opportunities to exploit.

Relative Advantages

Relative advantages are characterized as human, information, or physical, and they complement each other. Physical actions, particularly involving the use of force, usually generate psychological effects. When exploited, these effects can lead to information advantages as friendly forces use information to influence enemy behavior. Combined, these physical and information advantages can lead to a collapse of the enemy’s morale and will—a human advantage. Army forces combine, reinforce, and exploit human, information, and physical advantages to achieve objectives across the competition continuum.


Human advantages are individual and group characteristics that provide opportunities for friendly forces. War is inherently a human endeavor—a violent struggle between multiple hostile, independent, and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose its will on the other. Human will, instilled through commitment to a cause and leadership, is the driving force of all action in war. Army forces create and exploit human advantages throughout the conduct of operations. Combined with physical and information advantages, human advantages enable friendly morale and will, degrade enemy morale and will, and influence popular support. Human advantages include, but are not limited to the following:

• Health, physical fitness, and toughness.
• Intelligence and intellect.
• Training.
• Leadership.
• Troop morale and will.
• Relevant actor trust.
• Positive relationships with foreign governments, populations, and forces.
• Cultural affinity and familiarity with indigenous populations and institutions.


An information advantage is a condition when a force holds the initiative in terms of situational understanding, decision making, and relevant actor behavior. There are several forms of information advantage. For example, a force that understands, decides, and acts more effectively than its opponent has an information advantage. A force that effectively communicates and protects its information, while preventing the threat from doing the same, is another form of an information advantage. When Army forces achieve an information advantage, they—
• Communicate more effectively than the threat.
• Collect, process, analyze, and use information to understand an OE better than the threat.
• Understand, decide, and act faster and more efficiently than the threat.
• Are resilient to threat information warfare, to include disinformation and information for effect.
• Maintain domestic support and the support of multinational partners.
• Degrade threat command and control (C2) by affecting the threat’s ability to understand, make effective decisions, and communicate.
• Influence threats and other foreign relevant actors’ behavior favorable to friendly objectives.

An information advantage can result from and exploit human and physical advantages or enable those advantages. Like human and physical advantages, information advantages are often temporary and change over time relative to the threat and changes in an OE. While friendly forces are seeking information advantages, threat forces are doing the same. As such, an information advantage is something to gain, protect, and exploit across as many domains as possible.


Physical advantages are most familiar to tactical forces, and they are typically the immediate goal of most tactical operations. Finding the enemy, defeating enemy forces, and seizing occupied land typically require the creation and exploitation of multiple physical advantages. These advantages include occupation of key terrain, the physical isolation of enemy forces, and the imposition of overwhelming fires. The exploitation of physical advantages reduces the enemy’s capability to fight, which creates information and human advantages. Physical advantages implicitly communicate a message that can influence enemy forces’ will to fight, sway popular support, and disrupt enemy risk calculus at all echelons. Physical advantages include, but are not limited to the following:
• Geographic and positional advantages.
• Capabilities or qualitative advantages.
• Overall combat power, including numbers of systems and firepower.

AODS7: The Army Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Multidomain Operations)This article is an extract from "AODS7: The Army Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Multidomain Operations)" by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:  AODS7: The Army Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Multidomain Operations).

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