Bravo, U.S. Army. Crunching lessons from more than 15 years of post-Cold War instability, the service’s top thinkers have prepared a revised manual for basic land warfare doctrine. Lieutenant General William Caldwell and a team at Fort Leavenworth were responsible for updating the 2001 edition (big pdf!) of FM 3-0 to reflect the Army’s experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and many smaller conflicts. Caldwell gave reporters a preview of the forthcoming manual yesterday. The major change?
It recognizes that military means alone are not sufficient to resolve these conflicts and that landpower, while critical, is only one element of a broader campaign that represents the application of all the elements of national power. Because of this, Army doctrine now gives equal importance to tasks focused on the population — stability or civil support — as it does to offensive and defensive operations. This parity is critical; it recognizes that conflict involves more than combat between armed opponents. While defeating the enemy with offensive and defensive operations, Army forces simultaneously shape the broader situation through stability actions to restore security and normalcy to the local populace. Soldiers operate in and among the people of the world, not adjacent to them or above them. They often face the enemy among noncombatants, with little to distinguish one from the other. Killing or capturing the enemy while in proximity to noncombatants complicates land operations exponentially. Winning battles and engagements is important but alone is not sufficient.
The new doctrine will result in the Army fielding more civil affairs and special forces units at the expense of traditional heavy armor and artillery units. Perhaps most importantly, the manual authors envision 100-person teams of cultural experts deploying all over the world, immersing in local cultures in order to provide expert advice in the event of a crisis that requires Army intervention in the region.
Compare this to the Air Force’s recent strategic white paper (pdf!) penned by Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley, which continues to prioritize conventional combat with high-tech enemies. The Air Force’s envisioned primary threat?
Ascendant powers — flush with new wealth and hungry for resources and status — are posturing to contest U.S. superiority. These adaptive competitors are translating lessons from recent conflicts into new warfighting concepts, capabilities and doctrines specifically designed to counter U.S. strengths and exploit vulnerabilities. They are advancing in all domains. For example:
• “Generation 4-plus” fighter aircraft that challenge America’s existing “4th Generation” inventory — and, thus, air superiority — with: overwhelming numbers and advanced weaponry; sophisticated integration of electronic attack and advanced avionics; emerging low-observable technologies; and progressive, realistic, networked training
• Increasingly lethal, integrated air defense systems (IADS) that threaten both our Airmen and aircraft, and could negate weapons used to suppress or destroy these systems
• Proliferation of surface-to-surface missiles with growing range, precision, mobility, and maneuverability — capable of delivering both conventional and non-conventional warheads.
So who’s right? The Army recognizes that “chaos is the enemy.” The Air Force, on the other hand, believes that well-armed nation states are the big bad. But even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says insurgencies represent war’s future.