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We've Been Here Before: The US Army's Transition to Large Scale Ground Combat after Vietnam

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2018,31 May 2019

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Currently, the Army is undergoing a major transformation away from limited contingencies in Iraq and Afghanistan and relearning how to conduct Large Scale Ground Combat Operations LSGCO. While this marks a fundamental divergence in the Armys concentration over the last 17 years, a modern historical example of this transition exists. From 1974-1991, the Army underwent a comprehensive restructuring that turned the attention from limited contingency operations in Vietnam to fighting a major land war in Europe. To understand this transformation, this study examines changes in doctrine and division-level organizations and how the Army validated those changes from the end of Vietnam through the Gulf War. This monograph uses a structured and focused approach to assess this transition. Eight focused research questions frame the inquiry around one detailed case study. Additionally, three tenets from the Armys Operating Concept provide the focus of the paper lethality, innovation, and adaptability. The empirical evidence collected supports the studys thesis that transformations in doctrine and organizations, validated in training and operations, enabled the Army to become a lethal, adaptable, and innovative force during its transition to LSGCO after the Vietnam War.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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