Important as these doctrinal manuals are in correctly understanding the nature of conflict in the 21st century - one in which weak states rather than strong ones are the greatest threat to our security and the smooth functioning of the international system - they are but a first step. Doctrine drives the way we organize and train our forces, educate our leaders, and select and promote our people. The Army now faces the difficult task of implementing significant changes in all of those areas to build the military we need for the 21st century.
Nearly three years ago, Department of Defense Directive 3000.05 stated that "Stability operations are a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support. They shall be given priority comparable to combat operations and be explicitly addressed and integrated across all DoD activities including doctrine, organizations, training, education, exercises, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and planning." Since then, much progress has been made, but much more work remains to be done. Secretary of Defense Gates felt compelled to note just a week ago today that "Support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in our budget, in our bureaucracy, in the defense industry, and in Congress. My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support - including in the Pentagon - for the capabilities needed to win the wars we are in, and of the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future."
The publication of FM 3.07 is an important step in the direction of preparing the Army for the wars we are in and the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future. Now comes the hard part of building the capabilities we need to win the wars of today and tomorrow.
SWJ Editors Notes:
FM 3.07, Stability Operations was released / posted this morning by the US Army Combined Arms Center.
Also see It's Time for an Army Advisor Corps by Dr. John Nagl.
It is well known by the readers that I am not a fan of CNAS and this post by John Nagl reinforces that view. While I am a strong proponent of improving DOD's and USG's ability to conduct irregular warfare, I'm a supporter of using logic and science, not simply ideology.
Mr. Nagl writes:
"this document codifies a longtime but unacknowledged reality - that it is the Army's task not just to win the war, but to create a lasting peace in the aftermath of conflict."
Reality or choice? Mr. Nagl takes considerable liberty to claim his "opinion" is reality, much less a longtime reality. It is repeated claims such as these that cause me to question the value of CNAS. They don't offer insightful analysis, they're simply advocates for a questionable doctrine.
He writes, "Important as these doctrinal manuals are in correctly understanding the nature of conflict in the 21st century"
Based on our relatively poor performance in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world in irregular conflicts it is a very bold statement to claim we now have the correct understanding of conflict in the 21st century! One would be better informed if they read the Joint Operating Environment (JOE), The Wrong War, and some of Wilf's articles and comments (throughout SWJ), to get views counter to the accepted wisdom in our new doctrinal manuals. The point is we collectively don't have the "correct understanding" yet, and to claim we do means there is nothing new to learn. CNAS does not promote learning, they promote/advocate a particular view.
More advocacy hardly concealed in this comment, ""Support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in our budget, in our bureaucracy, in the defense industry, and in Congress. My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support - including in the Pentagon - for the capabilities needed to win the wars we are in, and of the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future."
While it is absolutely true that our modernization programs are almost hopelessly mired in a bureaucratic process that limits our ability to evolve, the questionable comment (again advocacy) is that he implies that the most likely wars we're going to participate in, in the future are "major" irregular warfare conflicts. That is a choice, not a mission we "have" to commit to. On a smaller scale the U.S. has always been involved in IW conflicts around the world using SOF, CIA, State Department, USAID, etc. Assuming we're going to downsize the military (another debate), then it may be appropriate for our conventional forces to focus on developing their conventional warfighting skills for wars that may or may not be unlikely, but wars none the less that will present a greater threat to our national security than instability in certain parts of the world that have been unstable for decades. In those areas we can continue to slowly push reform using our other elements of national power, SOF (which I would argue is a new element of national power separate from the military), and working with the international community (UN, regional groups, etc.). I suspect that parking a large conventional unit on their soil to conduct stability operations is one of the least desirable options.