Accession Number:



Army Operational Doctrine: Too Much LSCO and Not Enough Bellum Ligula

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



For much of history war was straight forward armies clashed on the battlefield, a victor emerged, and a settlement, albeit fleeting, meant an end to hostilities. True, doctrine, tactics, and weaponry evolved, and overtime armies grew larger and war more destructive, but for the most part war was easily distinguishable within a continuum that moved from peace to war. The nuclear age undermined this binary peace-war construct. The reality of nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction soon emerged, limiting the ability of states to achieve political objectives using conventional force. But states adapted, harnessing other aspects of national power and updating unconventional methods of warfare for the modern age. When the Soviet Union dissolved soon after America demonstrated its military prowess in the deserts of Iraq, an interwar period similar to that following World War I began. The Army concluded that a revolution in military affairs had occurred, with its status in a unipolar world dependent on maintaining technological overmatch in conventional arms. Her adversaries reached a different conclusion. Over the past thirty years terms such as hybrid, gray zone, and unrestricted, warfare, or what the author calls bellum ligula, the Latin term for unconventional war, rose to prominence. These age-old concepts were developed and tested in response to US power in the post-Cold War era. When the US emerged from eighteen-plus years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the threat environment had changed significantly, marking the return of great power competition. The Armys response was the publication of FM 3-0, Operations. Although it filled a gap in Army doctrine, FM 3-0 emphasized large scale combat operations in a high intensity conflict at the expense of operations that take place during the competition phase of war. However, the threat environment continues to evolve.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]