Preparing for the Future, Looking to the Past: History, Theory, and Doctrine in the U.S. Army
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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The Army is in transition. It is reflecting on its experiences during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while preparing for evolving threats. This is not a new predicament. In the past, the Army has been able to effect change by drawing lessons learned from its experience and from theory, and by articulating institutional ideas about the nature of future warfare in doctrine. The most recent evolution of the Armys operations doctrine is Unified Land Operations. However, this doctrine does not explicitly identify a clear threat focus and does not appear to have an explicit overarching theory of war. Without a clear threat focus or an overarching theory of war, the Armys readiness to face future threats comes into question. At the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, officers receive instruction on the relationships among history, theory, and doctrine. U.S. Army operations doctrine today is an iterative, organic process. Analysis of the development of the U.S. Armys FM 100-5 from 1976 to 1986 illustrates that key individuals have influenced the Armys operations doctrine. Often the ideas developed by these key individuals emerged from the study of military history and warfare theorists, personal experiences, and lessons learned. In 2013, after 11 years of war against an unconventional adversary, the Army once more finds itself debating and theorizing about the changes it needs to make to face future threats. Although the Armys concept of future warfare does not identify either an explicit threat focus or overarching theory of war, that does not imply that it will be ill-prepared to meet future challenges. No matter what the Army prepares for, it will be wrong because of the dynamics of friction and chance in warfare. The Armys challenge is to not be so wrong that it cannot quickly adapt.
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics