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US Army Conventional Forces in Gray Zone Conflict

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Technical Report,05 Jun 2016,25 May 2017

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Gray zone conflict is a nascent term in the US Military lexicon. Some experts and analysts believe this concept is a new phenomenon of warfare which will shape the operational environment in the future others view it as ageless and argue that it constitutes a rule of warfare, rather than an exception. As the patterns of modern conflict reshape societies conceptions of warfare, the US Army must be prepared to meet every challenge. US Army leaders and planners must understand whether the operational environment has changed significantly and, if so, how might they employ the force they have to achieve a position of relative advantage in an operational environment that exhibits the characteristics of the gray zone. This monograph addresses the ability of US Army conventional forces to successfully conduct operations in gray zone conflict. This study is divided into four sections. The introductory section defines the gray zone and describes its context and complexity in the modern operational environment. The second section addresses the applicability of the gray zone theory of warfare to existing US doctrine and compares this to the assigned missions of US Army conventional and Special Operations Forces. The third section explores the Dominican Republic Intervention of 1965 as an example of US Army conventional forces operating successfully in a gray zone conflict. The final section draws upon lessons learned and offers conventional force solutions to modern gray zone problems.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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