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This paper presents DAWN, a declarative platform that creates highly adaptive policy-based mobile ad hoc network (MANET) protocols. DAWN leverages declarative networking techniques to achieve extensible routing and forwarding using declarative languages. We make the following contributions. First, we demonstrate that traditional MANET protocols can be expressed in a concise fashion as declarative networks and policy-driven adaptation can be specified in the same language to dictate the dynamic selection of different protocols based on various network and traffic conditions. Second, we propose interprotocol forwarding techniques that ensure packets are able to seamlessly traverse across clusters of nodes running different protocols selected based on their respective policies. Third, we have developed a full-fledged implementation of DAWN using the RapidNet declarative networking system. We experimentally validate a variety of policy-based adaptive MANETs in various dynamic settings using a combination of ns-3 simulations and deployment on the ORBIT testbed. Our experimental results demonstrate that hybrid protocols developed using DAWN outperform traditional MANET routing protocols and are able to flexibly and dynamically adapt their routing mechanisms to achieve a good tradeoff between bandwidth utilization and route quality. We further demonstrate DAWN's capabilities to achieve interprotocol forwarding across different protocols.