Small Wars Journal

Unveiling the 2012 Army Capstone Concept

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 5:30am

Why Concepts Matter?

Strategic pitfalls are commonplace in warfare.  History is with replete with former armies that prepared for the wrong type of conflict and received the unflattering result of becoming failed military systems.  The Prussian Army of 1806, the Russian Army of 1914, and the French Army of 1940, are just a few of the well-known examples that did not escape the outcome of strategic failure.  When war came, they ceased to exist.  Whether a disparity in tactical weaponry was unveiled, absence of proper training or doctrine was prevalent, or a lack of decisive leadership persisted; the strategic outcome of pitting well-prepared forces against deficient military organizations have been catastrophic.  With this realization, the U.S. Army must continue to invest in the purposeful development of operational concepts to ensure the long term viability of the military system.  This month in December 2012, the Army will publish a new version of the Army Capstone Concept.  To support this effort, this article will provide insights on the value of operational concepts, dangers associated with flawed concepts, and the key ideas within the Army Capstone Concept to guide developments and activities for the next several years.

The Role of Concepts

Since the U.S. military today is in a period of transition, concepts can help the U.S. Army identify the next big idea or key trend in the conduct of warfare.  What is different?  The global international security environment is in the midst of fundamental change.  The U.S. economic downturn which began in 2008 continues today and has created security implications for competing military systems around the globe.  The economic environment will likely have a lasting impact on investments in military modernization and transformation – not just for the U.S. and its allies and partners, but for competitors and adversaries as well.  Not only will friendly militaries be shrinking in size, but they will experience a growing gap between their capabilities and those of U.S. forces as their research and development budgets shrink along with their ability to modernize equipment and facilities.  The resulting lack of interoperability will present a greater challenge for the U.S. to build military partnerships and coalitions.  The effect on potential adversaries may not be as severe.  As adversaries are able to focus investment and procurement of specific capabilities to address or avoid U.S. military overmatch, the potential for an increasingly level technological playing field will increase over time.  Concepts help to prepare the Army for today’s and tomorrow’s transitions.

Concepts provide a visual depiction of how the future military force will operate.  Military systems of the 21st Century are extremely complex with literally thousands of independent moving pieces and essential components.  The mere orchestration of such a complex entity can easily grind to a halt if not for a cohesive unifying concept.  The Army’s future operational concept serves such a role.  With the appropriate future operational concept, the Army’s future maneuver forces, technical branches, and supporting agencies can find their proper roles, responsibilities, and functions to bring together pieces of the whole.  In this regard, the operational concept can serve as the first level of integration by providing all organizations with the unifying framework by which to guide future developments and actions.

Concepts describe the capabilities required to carry out a range of military operations against adversaries in the expected operational environment, and illustrate how a commander might employ those capabilities to achieve the desired effects and objectives.  Through rigorous experimentation, modeling, and simulation; concept developers are able to identify future military requirements which cannot be met by incremental changes to doctrine, training, or equipment.  Some required capabilities may require long term investment to mitigate or close the deficiency.  For example, self-healing cyber systems may emerge as a future warfighting requirement during experimentation, but not have a readily available solution in the near term.  By identifying and capturing those capability requirements, concept developers set the stage for future military investment.

Concepts provide capability descriptions for future military operations beyond the programming and budget cycle.  Each concept describes problems, the components of potential solutions, and how those components work together to achieve operational success.  Additionally, concepts provide the basis for conducting capabilities-based assessments which are the first analytic step of the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System process.

What are the future threats?

Threats to U.S. national security will appear in many forms.  Although near-peer competitors will continue to expand and modernize their militaries, it is unlikely that any great power will seek overt conventional confrontation with the U.S. in the next decade.[1]  Rather, future enemies will oppose American interests using adaptive forces that operate in a decentralized manner to frustrate America’s traditional advantages in firepower and mobility.  Future adversaries have learned from recent years of conflict and will continue to adapt to exploit the vulnerabilities we create as we downsize the military.  We are in a cycle of adaptation-counter adaption with all our adversaries from peer competitors to suicide bombers.  Our challenge as a Nation and an Army is to ensure that an adaptation against one adversary does not leave us too vulnerable to another adversary.  In the next ten years, we must change while “not getting it too wrong.”[2]

From non-combatant evacuations in failing states, to coercive peace operations against warring factions to protect threatened populations from atrocities, to humanitarian relief on a regional scale at home and abroad, to forcible entry operations in an anti-access and area denial environment, to deny sanctuary to a regional threat, to major combat operations against an aggressor, the Army will require both the capabilities and capacities to ensure success in a world that will remain dangerous and unpredictable.  The U.S. Army must retain its primary role as a credible deterrent to intolerable aggression and the Nation’s force of decisive action should deterrence fail.

The ability to deter potential adversaries has long been a cornerstone of American policy.  Paradoxically, deterrence requires an unquestioned capability to compel an adversary or if needed, destroy that adversary.  Most of the likely future conflicts and contingencies in the next decade will require the United States to use significant ground forces to protect and defend American interests.  To support the requirements of both DoD and Army planning guidance,[3] the U.S. Army must provide forces capable of defeating adversaries ranging from insurgents, to hybrid threats, to state actors.  These potential opponents have understood U.S. advantages in airpower, seapower, surveillance, and targeting, and have adapted to avoid these strengths.

Purpose of the Army Capstone Concept (ACC)

The purpose of the ACC is to describe the anticipated future operational environment, what the future Army must do based on that environment, and the broad capabilities the Army will require to successfully accomplish it enduring missions in the near to mid-term future.  The ACC establishes the foundation for subordinate concepts that will describe how the future Army must fight and identify the required warfighting capabilities essential to ensuring combat effectiveness against the full spectrum of threats the Nation is likely to confront in the future.

The ACC also describes what the U.S. Army must do to retain its ability to win decisively, to protect U.S. national interests, and to successfully execute the primary missions outlined in defense planning guidance in an era of fiscal austerity.  The ACC is consistent with the Capstone Concepts for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020.  Similarly, the capabilities the ACC describes Army 2020, the Army’s contribution to Joint Force 2020.

ACC central idea

The focus for the new ACC is to provide decisive landpower through a credible, robust capacity to win and the depth and resilience to support combatant commanders across the range of military operations in the homeland and abroad.  Army forces are uniquely capable of exerting enduring changes in behaviors of populations to attain decision for combatant commanders.  Ready, robust, responsive, and regionally engaged Army forces give pause to adversaries, reassure allies, and, when called upon, deliver the punch that defeats enemies and exerts control to prevent and end chaos and conflict. The fundamental characteristic of the Army necessary to provide decisive landpower is operational adaptability - the ability of Army leaders, Soldiers, and civilians to shape conditions and respond effectively to a broad range of missions and changing threats and situations with appropriate, flexible, and responsive capabilities.  Operational adaptability requires flexible organizations and institutions to support a wide variety of missions and adjust focus rapidly to prevent conflict, shape the operational environment, and win the Nation’s wars.

How to implement the central idea

The ACC central idea is implemented through three principal and interconnected roles: prevent conflict, shape the operational environment, and win the Nation’s wars.  By building a force that is able to engage in these three roles, the Army will achieve a level of operational adaptability that makes it a relevant and preferred choice for combatant commanders to meet the demands of national strategy and defend America’s interest, both and home and abroad.  Even when required to shift focus between these roles, the Army will always retain the ability to conduct its primary mission to fight and win the Nation’s wars.

The Army will remain America’s principle land force, organized, trained, and equipped for the prompt and sustained combat operations to defeat enemy land forces, to seize, hold, and defend land areas, and to control terrain, populations, and natural resources.  To this end, the Nation requires an expeditionary Army, able to operate effectively land domain while fully accounting for the human aspects of conflict and war.

The Army prevents conflict by providing a credible land force that can fight and win to deter adversaries and avert miscalculations.  The Army provides a force that is prepared and modernized with the capability and capacity to execute the full range of military operations in support of combatant commands.

The Army shapes the operational environment by providing a sustained and stabilizing presence to gain access and understand the situation.  Additionally, Army forces build partners and capacity to develop mutual trust and set conditions future operations.  The Army projects forces worldwide into any operational setting and conducts operations immediately upon arrival.  These expeditionary operations require the Army to deploy quickly to austere areas and shape conditions to seize and maintain the initiative.  The Army leverages the breadth and depth of its means to rapidly meet joint commander’s mission requirements with scalable, tailored expeditionary force packages that complement other service capabilities. 

The Army wins the Nation’s wars as part of the joint force and contributes to the defense of the homeland by providing a credible, robust capacity that is responsive to combatant commanders and has the depth and resilience needed to deliver decision in any operation.


The U.S. Army is constantly evolving and adapting.  Confronted with a wide variety of potential hotspots around the globe, the Army will not have the luxury in the future to focus on only one potential high-end, asymmetric threat to the detriment of other preparations.  Without doubt, the need for agile, lean, adaptable Army forces and capabilities will be in high demand to a far greater degree that in the past.  With these conditions in mind, placing proper emphasis on credible, decisive landpower and operational adaptability will enable Army commanders to provide the most effective forces to meet the needs of future joint force commanders whether it involves humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, deterrence, consequence management, or major combat operations.    The Army’s global execution of these activities contributes to stability, ensuring equilibrium and balancing risk to our Nation’s interests.  Only by ensuring that Army forces are capable of fulfilling the pressing demands of combatant commanders, can we ensure that forces are properly postured, equipped, maintained, trained, and ready to deal with the pressing challenges associated with the full range of military operations.  Last, the generating force must exhibit the same expeditionary mindset as the operating force, blurring the distinction between both and producing a more effective total Army that can prevent, shape, and win.

[1] “Challenges to the Capabilities of the U.S. Army in 2020.” Unpublished paper. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Deputy Chief of Staff, G2, 17 January 2011, p. 3.

[2] Michael Howard, "Military Science in the Age of Peace," pp. 3-9.

[3] Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, Department of Defense, January 2012; 2012 Army Strategic Planning Guidance, Department of the Army, April 2012.


About the Author(s)


COL Robert M. Toguchi, Ph.D., U.S. Army retired, is a senior concept developer at ARCIC. He previously served as chief, Strategic Plans, J-5 Directorate, and deputy director, J-8 Directorate, U.S. Pacific Command. He also has served as a war plans officer in the War Plans Division, Army G-3, Department of the Army Staff.


Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/23/2012 - 6:17pm

In reply to by RantCorp

RantCorp---liked your comments on Taliban mission command techniques which is exactly as you indicate clearly the perfection of auftragstaktik---meaning they fully understand their individual commanders intent down to the lowest soldier and come hell or high water they attempt to fullfill the mission order for that operation even in the face of everything going south.

Which with our GPF is not the case as there is serious resistance to exactly this style of mission command at this level--how many platoons and or companies fully understand the BCT/BN Cmdrs clear intent and how many platoons or companies have ever seen or heard clearly defined mission orders or even understand the doctrinal concept of mission orders.

The Taliban also have a doctrine of sorts---namely keep using what works and when it does not work, analyze it and change tactics--and believe me they dialogue well inside their fighting groups. Open dialogue free of fear is the key to trust and successful mission orders--not often seen in our units.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/23/2012 - 6:02pm

In reply to by Move Forward

Move Forward---longer tours allows for a building of rapport and then transferring that rapport to the next team---how many articles are now coming out that a large amount of GPF is simply sitting in COPs and doing nothing currently as the ANSF is trying to move on their own.

If we look at the SF experiences of VN---one team remained in the same same camp or in the MIKE force units-the team remained the individuals would rotate in and out as individual replacements so there was always institutional knowledge in the team--this allowed for a steady continuation of SF presence.

Your comment on culture is interesting as CALL/JIEDDO/TBOC have determined that a large percentage of the insider attacks are because of GPF failures in cultural insensitivities---and my comment is that it now appears that what we have been teaching the deploying GPFs must have been totally wrong so the millions spent on cultural training were a waste and a profit for who?

The critical element of mission command autonomy that drives a SF team is also available for a GPF platoon if in fact the BCT/BN Cmdr has trained his unit using the principals of mission command (ADP 6.0). The interesting thing about mission command is that in the introduction in ADP 6.0 it is recommended that Officers/NCOs and soldiers should read ADP 6.0 and be taught/trained on mission command especially in the area of mission orders---which is what drives a SF team---mission command training at the company level is not happening.

Move Forward

Sun, 12/23/2012 - 11:42am

In reply to by RantCorp

<blockquote>To date the biggest attack in AF has been an assault by a few hundred light infantry on a COP in Nuristan. Compare that to the 100,000 Viet Cong and NVA regulars who assaulted over 200 US and ARVN positions in 50 different towns and cities on the night of Jan 30 1968.</blockquote>

What about Operation Medusa where a small SF team and limited ANA troops and gun trucks took on a much larger force that may have numbered nearly one thousand. Now consider Vietnam's smaller size. It is about half the square mile area of Afghanistan yet Vietnam had three times as many allied ground forces vs. Afghanistan at the time of Tet. Are you advocating that if Vietnam had only about 10,000 SOF/SF forces during Tet that they would have fared more favorably? In addition, a long thin Vietnam meant land and sea-based airpower was within minutes of nearly any point requiring assistance. Contrast that with the size of Afghanistan with most area unaccessible to sea airpower, particularly without overflight rights.

According to SF author accounts of Operation Medusa in "Lions of Kandahar," if airpower in the form of AC-130s, C-130 airdrop, F/A-18s, A-10s, Apaches, Chinooks, MEDEVAC, and indirect fire had been unavailable, it was clear their small force would have been decimated.

So the call for better integration of general purpose forces (GPF) and SOF is a necessity for SOF/SF shaping operations to <strong>survive, resupply, and move or reinforce rapidly</strong>. Combined arms wide area security, coupled with logistical/MEDEVAC support for large areas and their lengthy supply lines, together with engineer, signal, MI, MP, and EOD support require adequate GPF boots on the ground not only to support SOF/SF but also our JIIM partners. The 300,000 ANSF that now exist never could have been generated with only 10,000 SOF in a two-year time span. Would you propose that SOF spend 5-10 years on the ground trying to train indigenous forces and formal armies when they currently may be exhausted after only 6 months or less?

Note in "Lions of Kandahar" that its author returned to the same area and worked with the same ANSF numerous times which is an alternative to the longer tours you propose. Long tours by small SOF/SF units are no guarantee that large numbers of host nation security forces can be generated rapidly.

<blockquote>What Mission Command and Design need is for us to acknowledge that when personnel are deployed they must encounter less Big Army, less hardware, no moving around and much much much more time.</blockquote>

The level of Mission Command and autonomy allowed by highly experienced SOF does not necessarily correspond to that of the GPF at platoon level. For starters, we have the example of Ganjgal where inadequate coordination between adjacent Army GPF and Marines/SF/ANA led to an incident where an Army battalion staff was ill-prepared to understand and respond to the plight of forces being attacked. In Wanat and COP Keating far more assets were available and responded but the Taliban's ability to hide and exploit high terrain and hug friendly forces reduced indirect fire and bomb effectiveness. There is nothing to indicate that if SOF alone had been at Wanat, Keating, Ganjgal, or Sperwan Ghar that battles would have fared better.

In nearly all major Afghanistan battles, if communications had been unavailable to call-in indirect fires and tactical airpower, the ground force likely could not have survived. If communications exist to call-in outside fires and communicate contact and reports, then the notion that small units must survive alone and respond alone based soley on commander's intent is illogical. No SOF, SF, or platoon/squad-sized element is an island expected to operate and survive alone without command advice, external planning and coordination, external reinforcement, fires, and enablers.

Less hardware? Do you want to toss out the very enablers that helped/enable small unit survival to practice stability operations and wide area security? Didn't we note the success of rotorcraft, aerostats and drones in AfPak and Iraq? Are Afghanistan M-ATVs unnecessary or tactical airlift/airdrop of forces and supplies? Do we think SOF alone could fix a Korean conflict or an Iranian attack through Kuwait into Saudi Arabia? SOF alone would help Taiwan repel an invasion?

Airborne, air assault, and amphibious forces and forward presence and prepositioned armored land forces are essential hardware if A2/AD forces less reliance on airfields and ports as the concept suggests. Overhead RSTA and Army aviation enablers provide SOF and GPF commanders and leaders the situational understanding to assist imperiled units regardless of whether communications are available. Not sure why the concept emphasized cyber and space so extensively when space ISR lacks the timeliness and full motion video of tactical assets and manned aviation able to understand, respond, and report.

EW and GPS-jammers emit and can be targeted. G-RAMM and advanced air defenses generally are products of near-peers who many times fear the same weapons being used closer to home by Islamic extremists. Guided weapons are not cheap and as Israel's Iron Dome, C-RAM, Army Patriot/THAAD, and Navy Aegis, Israel's apparent use of cyber against Syrian air defenses in 2007, and counterbattery fire illustrate, there are technological responses to G-RAMM. Let's not simultaneously make cash-strapped foes technologically ten-feet tall while selling our own tech capabilities short.

Don't downplay our own abilities to overcome lack of cultural awareness with tools that help us overcome those handicaps. Can we send numerous Soldiers/Marines to language school for every potential conflict? Or would it be less costly to create tech-translators and smart phones/tablets that can illustrate graphically or in print an intent to allies speaking a different language. I certainly see no lack of technological prowess in SOF/SF in their efforts to work with local populations, indigenous forces, and host nation armies.


Sun, 12/23/2012 - 8:15am

I am fascinated by the suggestion that a change in doctrine or the correct application of current doctrine might significantly alleviate the problems we are experiencing in the Afghanistan. I would suggest that a unit deployed into any developing country (let alone Afghanistan) for a mere 12 months is not going to create anything of lasting value - no matter what. Even if the current doctrine is executed with perfection I am somewhat dumbfounded that folks expect to achieve anything of value in 12 months.

After thirty years of training natives in Asia and the Western Pacific and observing hundreds of round-eye advisers in-country I have never encountered a single foreign individual who was of any use to the natives in his/her first 12 months and for the vast majority it took more than 24 months in the exact same place before their efforts started gaining traction.

Strangely people are willing to acknowledge/accept the fact that despite a lengthy heads up on a CTC rotation some units are so out of sync with reality that on a conventional ‘tank on tank’ exercise in Germany they can’t be trusted to take a dump in a disciplined manner. However when the same unit is dumped into some 3rd world shit-storm and these shortcomings manifest themselves in much more dangerous ways , folks suggest the problem is a failure in adherence to doctrine rather than weigh the possibility that it is humanly impossible to get a grip on a 3rd world OE in just a year.

The gravity of the problems facing new units is compounded by the fact that like Vietnam the enemy leadership down to the platoon level is more intelligent than we are. It stands to reason that as in many 3rd World countries the Pak Army offers one of the few professional careers available to its citizens – just like Vietnam. Consequently they are more likely to attract a more intelligent individual as opposed the western military intake - owing to the much wider choice of careers in the West. More brains don’t necessarily make for a better war fighter but it certainly doesn't guarantee they are worse. Obviously we can counter this possibility as we have much better equipment and lots more of it – just like Vietnam.

The Taliban have been fighting over the exact same territory for more than thirty years so they have a pretty solid Design as to what works and what doesn’t. The commander’s intent is also well understood. Most of the Taliban leadership have their children and grandchildren fighting and dying in the line, so command aspects critical to auftragstaktik et al are more likely to have a much smoother cognitive passage up and down the chain of command than the musical chairs approach the Western military believes to be so desirable/necessary.

So if the enemy is smarter, has established a winning Design and the commander’s intent is well understood our counter to these enemy advantages is to shoe-horn some version of auftragstaktik (which the enemy has taken over 30 years to hone and absorb) into series of WGs and attempt to institutionalize the doctrine by rotating units out of the line in less than twelve months and then rinse, spin, dry and repeat! Go figure.

Folks will rightly point out that even the LRRPs and Marine Recon in VN struggled on a 12 month tab but it is important to note the enormous difference in intensity between AF and VN. To date the biggest attack in AF has been an assault by a few hundred light infantry on a COP in Nuristan. Compare that to the 100,000 Viet Cong and NVA regulars who assaulted over 200 US and ARVN positions in 50 different towns and cities on the night of Jan 30 1968.

Furthermore if by a miracle some individual does manage to outsmart, out design and out command their opposite number and hit the ground running the host national who is willing to acknowledge and accept this ‘White Savoir’ in the space of a year has yet to be born.

There are tens of thousands US military personnel who can deliver a pro-western peaceful Afghanistan but IMO it is not doctrine which is at fault. What Mission Command and Design need is for us to acknowledge that when personnel are deployed they must encounter less Big Army, less hardware, no moving around and much much much more time.

Le coup de Bamboo,


Adapting the Army

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 3:07pm

For everyone's awareness, Army TRADOC published the full Army Capstone Concept this morning. It is worth a read.

Check it out on TRADOC's website:

"... to defeat enemy land forces, to sieze, hold and defend land areas and to control terrain, populations and resources."


a. To defeat what enemy land forces -- and configured in what way(s)?

b. To sieze, hold and defend what land areas?

c. To control what terrain, populations and resources?

I would guess that the answer to these questions matter.


Sun, 12/16/2012 - 8:57am

"The ACC central idea is implemented through three principal and interconnected roles: prevent conflict, shape the operational environment, and win the Nation’s wars." If these are the only roles the Army is looking at than it has failed from the start. We don't fight wars for the glory of fighting - we fight to solve a political dispute. This has been our problem in all of the last ten years. We even redefined the battlespace in order to allow for conflict after the war - winning the peace as some call it. Was rereading John A Lynn's comments in "Turning Victory Into Success: Military Operations After the Campaign" - you need to start your planning with the desired political solution and then design your campaign to meet that end. I don't think we have learned that lesson. I don't think we really want to.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 3:49am

In reply to by Move Forward

Move Forward---when ADP 6.0 Mission Command talks about open dialogue I find the following interesting and actually you see little to none of this in many Staffs even during what currently passes for MDMP ---BUT it is demanded when doing Design.

Peter Senge highlights in his book “The fifth Discipline---“In dialogue, a group explores complex difficult issues from many points of view. Individuals suspend their assumptions but they communicate their assumptions freely.”

Bohm identifies three basic conditions that are necessary for dialogue:
1. all participants must “suspend” their assumptions, literally hold them “as if suspended before us”
2. all participants must regard one another as colleagues, and
3. there must be a “facilitator” who “holds the context” of dialogue.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 12:24am

In reply to by Move Forward

Move Forward---to start--in 1993 myself and another CWO trained non M I personnel of the 7th Infantry Light Div during a two week exercises using a NEO concept that flipped into a counter guerrilla operation planned and deployed by these non MI Infantry types against Abu Sayef when one in the US never had heard of Abu Sayef.

Strange that two CWOs were training infantry personnel in the percursors of CoIST and DATE 29 years before it is now doctrine.

I do not buy the argument that a small unit that has been trained by the Cmdr (BN/BCT) (who fostered team building, Trust, open dialogue)when fully informed via the Cmdrs Intent and his mission orders cannot when cut off from the mother ship not continue their mission sets without reaching for the radio.

When a Cmdr (all levels) visualizes, describes, and directs either in writing or verbally to all subordinates then there is no reason a lower unit does not fully understand---if it does not understand then that Cmdr and his Staff failed to simply ask questions until they are satisfied that they do in fact understand---I would expect no less from a subordinate Cmdr and his Staff---if they did not question then failure is their responsibility. By the way ADP 6.0 does not foresee a single Cmdr issuing mission orders--- mission orders can be issued by each subordinate Cmdr layer if necessary--we urgently need to get back to freeing subordinate units/Cmdrs to maneuver in fulfilling the Cmdrs Intent---it is only possible if the subordinate Cmdrs FULLY understand.

What you are describing is the current risk adverse state that units find themselves in today-ie check the recent CTC AAR for the 2ACR---operating independently and carrying out the Cmdrs Intent are difficult items in our current Force--WHY---they have ten years of being risk averse to fall back on by operating out of FOBs/COBs---which does not lend itself to maneuver.

This is actually the doctrinal theory behind an ACR formation that performed screening ops in the old brown boot army days.

Design by itself needs Trust and dialogue to succeed and we the Force finally need to admit that MDMP has reached it's shelve life in the 21st century and in an Cmdr fostered/led environment of Trust and dialogue a new problem solving process must be evolved in order to fully address the 21st century even if there is no true near peer competitor.

Move Forward

Sun, 12/16/2012 - 4:01pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

<blockquote>Yes companies are smaller than BNs but they have a Staff the last time I spoke to a Company Cmdr albeit a smaller one.</blockquote>

Are you talking about the ad hoc company intelligence support team or the XO, 1SG and headquarters section? Is the platoon leader's staff the platoon sergeant? Should we expect them to perform big picture conceptual planning Design? They are more likely to perform detailed parallel and collaborative planning with the battalion of how to shoot, move, and communicate within understood limits of how far/fast they can do any of those within their boundaries, control measures, and with external enablers/suppliers.

You may be able to count on a current experienced platoon leader and company commander given a decade of warfighting. Would you trust the new active or reserve component 2LT or squad leader thrust into combat without that experience? Isn't some detail, at least task and purpose plus graphics, in orders required at lower echelons given the experience and execution-demands of lower echelons? Pure mission orders with little "how" from the division commander to the BCT, and from the BCT to the battalion are understandable. More detail may be essential from battalion to company or company to platoon.

What of the Integrating Processes and Continuing Activities? Do we expect companies and platoons to perform IPB (arguably the legacy name for Design), targeting, and sign off on their own risk management? Do they have the personnel for liaison, information collection of the whole AO, security operations, protection, terrain management, and airspace control?

<blockquote>Some of us plead for a relook at MDMP as it does not carry over into the future hybrid theats being envisioned and exercised in DATE where one has a potential near peer opponent as well as insurgents, criminals, drug lords, and rival political elements all in a single OE.</blockquote>

CTCs expect battalions/BCTs to do so much more than you or I (especially me) could accomplish if we were in charge...let alone without a staff that has been our's for a while. Who at company and platoon level can perform long-range, mid-range, and short-range planning? The Direct Action (new name for full spectrum operations) Training Environment (DATE) probably exaggerates what a near-peer and hybrid threat is. 2006 Lebanon resulted in 125 lost Israeli troops. Contrast that with the thousands we have lost against more-primitive IEDs and pawns that blend in with civilians...and thus are hidden (or across borders in sanctuary). Against rogue states, how long would their few <strong>more obvious or signatured</strong> indirect fire, tanks, older air defenses, rotorcraft/drones, and ancient jets last, let alone their small surface naval fleet. Their long-range missiles and WMD will be underground or hugging civilians making our long-range bomber largely irrelevant.

We keep bad-mouthing the current CONOP but couldn't the initial commander's intent include COAs given to companies who in turn could return a CONOP for each COA that would assist MDMP? I keep seeing folks bad-mouth PowerPoint but then I see the famous Design-based node-diagram with lines running everywhere leading General McCrystal to say that when we can understand this, then perhaps we can win this war. How are words expressed in digital or analog format preferable to terrain depictions with graphic control measures and a task and purpose? Ever play telephone? What do you think would happen to that word-based commander's intent as it moves farther down the chain of command....assuming it is expressed adequately or even read?

IMHO, Design puts excess emphasis on the higher-echelon planning and decision-making aspects in the planning and preparation portions of the operations process. MDMP is not what actually transpires in lower-echelon planning, preparation, execution, and assessment before, during, and after contact...because no plan survives contact as von Moltke admonished. But the act of parallel and collaborative detailed planning/preparation nevertheless provides sufficient understanding of the metrics and contingencies to modify plans when things change. Fast-paced FRAGOs will result with minimal actual MDMP, and more Rapid DMP based on a commander-selected good-enough COA...and virtually no Design.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/16/2012 - 2:48pm

In reply to by Move Forward

Move Forward---are you sure you have read ADP 5.0/6.0 and ADRP 5.0/6.0 especially the comments concerning Commander's intent and mission orders---mission command is made up of two parts "art of command and the science of control". Yes companies are smaller than BNs but they have a Staff the last time I spoke to a Company Cmdr abeit a smaller one.

Secondly, one of the key/interesting things about mission orders is that if the Cmdr clearly defines/isues written mission orders and the operation goes south mission command allows the small unit Cmdr to continue driving without picking up the radio and calling his superior for further orders.

Mission command in fact supports your your idea that units will be smaller and more independent---but it takes a BCT/BN Cmdr that can in fact clearly visualize the operation, it takes a Cmdr that builds a team, develops Trust within the team, and fosters clear and open dialogue in that team, it takes a Cmdr who can clearly state his Commanders Intent in both a verbal and written form and it takes a Commander who issues clear and concise mission orders. You will notice a subtle shift in doctrine as to what mission orders are---not one of the standard three order formats currently in use.

Some of us plead for a relook at MDMP as it does not carry over into the future hybrid theats being envisioned and exercised in DATE where one has a potential near peer opponent as well as insurgents, criminals, drug lords, and rival political elements all in a single OE. Some of us plead for that review in order to come to a new problem solving process that in fact encompasses design as it is through Design that one can handle a complex hybrid threat environment.

I recently sat down with senior officers of a non Nato country and merged their totally different decision making process with the current US decision making process (MDMP)for a future combined staff exercise---I used a generic non military more academic style six step problem solving process and quess what it worked as a middle ground for both processes and a number of the academic problem solving terms come right out of the design world.

At the end of the session the non Nato country was using both the genric terms and it even fit in their language---so yes one can modify and or change MDMP.

So yes I am adamant in finding a new problem solving process incorporating design as the supporting mechanism to mission command as that is the combination that will move the Force into the coming hybrid threat world of the 21st century.

Move Forward

Sun, 12/16/2012 - 1:34pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09


You keep pushing the mission orders and anti-MDMP/pro-Design messages. This seems to both recognize and ignore the trend toward smaller organizations. Future small units often will operate more independently, spread out over larger areas, and in contiguous/noncontiguous operations. However, their independent actions must be sychronized with adjacent organizations. Limited enablers must be applied to the main and supporting efforts in a framework of decisive, shaping, and sustaining operations over deep, close, and secured terrain relative to that smaller echelon. You see lots of talk about empowering squads, platoons, and companies. That means mission command will transfer more planning responsibility to levels least experienced and manned to perform such planning.

Companies and below lack staffs and perform Troop-Leading Procedures (TLP). TLP and MDMP clearly relate so that battalion staffs can help lower echelon leaders plan. TLP and Design do not correlate, and echelons-above-reality slow-motion Design planning is not clearly relevant to small unit actions. Design is about the big picture and having time to analyze the PMESII-PT operational environment, problem, and approach. Small units are focused on the local METT-TC picture, tactical terrain, and immediate problem. They lack the luxury of time and rely on battle drills, SOPs, and actions on contact in execution and TLP tentative and completed plans related to battalion planning COAs and executed orders. During continuous execution, higher echelon staffs can use Design to reframe the OE and problem to come up with new approaches. Lower echelons, however, must make far more rapid execution (staff/leader) and adjustment (commander) decisions, adjust based on commander's intent if lacking time or communications, and plan branches and sequels based on variances between how an operation was planned and how it actually occurs after Murphy and the enemy has a vote.

Read BZ's Military Review article where he uses the game of Chess to illustrate Design. He asks philosophical questions (minimally-relevant to the tactical players/pieces) about the game itself and strategically why/how it is being played. Why the game is played is not the tactical call of most landpower leaders, staffs, and units. Civil leaders at home and in host or adjacent sanctuary nations impose constraints the military often has little control over. Civil leaders may limit the quantity or deployment of joint pieces citing concerns of risk or perceived cost. In reality, limiting deployed ground force quantity or lack of a ground forward presence actually increases A2/AD and other risk and limits/prolongs decisive action offensive, defensive, and stability operations. After every major conflict, ground pawns and other pieces often are reduced in quantity and left un-modernized making it doubly difficult to deter and fight the next contingency. Repeated deployments by small numbers of ground pieces imposes strains on our force and leads to highly capable pieces leaving the service.

One also could argue that few contests are more linear and metrics-based than chess. Pieces have priorities, and set capabilities like AND unlike military units. Sure, a queen can go anywhere rapidly like airpower and indirect fires. On the opposite extreme, a pawn is like dismounted infantry, moving slowly, and unable to influence large areas unless there are many and they possess tactical airpower and vehicle enablers for transport. Armored mechanized/motorized vehicles and rotorcraft are like bishops, knights, and rooks.

The difference is that today, the chess rules are different for the military adversary than for us. The adversary pieces don't play by our rules. In addition, in chess, both players have a clear view of the battlefield. In war, both sides attempt to hide their pieces and one side may have more pieces than the other. Multiple pieces can and should move simultaneoulsy, as well, which requires planned synchronization.

The opponent's pawn is often "king" in many conflicts. Our queens of strategic airpower and indirect fires could devastate their pawn except the enemy now chooses to hide in complex terrain, underground, and hugs populations. Our queen cannot easily/rapidly find or engage such pawns which can continue to fight after the king has been captured extending the duration of conflict. As a result, often our tactical airpower and ground pawns must find their pawns and take them out with weapons far less likely to cause collateral damage. Note that there are no naval pieces on the chess board and if there were they would be perpetually off the chess board only influencing coastal areas other than through airpower that tries unsuccessfully to target hiding and hugging pawns.

Past is no longer prologue in many conflicts. I saw Doctrine Man post a Twitter quote where Pershing claimed that war does not change. Yet obviously WWII was nothing like Pershing's WWI which was completely different than our civil war, Vietnam, or current middle east conflicts. The carpet and fire bombing of WWII cities is unlikely to occur in the future...because that has evolved to nuclear weapons possessed by all near-peers making that option unacceptable from a MAD standpoint. Similarly, nuclear weapons and dumb-bomb/fire-bomb strategic airpower against cities of non near-peers is equally unpalatable. The strategic power of such bombing plastered all over worldwide TV networks no longer makes that acceptable even if we were to stoop so low in a non-existential conflict.

In the Small Wars Council there is a thread discussing how we can get the enemy to surrender so that prolonged conflicts do not continue. What is being overlooked is that most military-age males and industrial capacity were obliterated in Japan and Germany. That was an existential war and nuclear weapons no longer make such total annihilation acceptable or one-sided.

Instead, we must accept that future conflicts must be deterred. If not deterred, those conflicts must be won with JIIM and combined arms focused on air, land, and sea. Afterwards, without total annihilation, we must accept a period of stability operations will ensue. G-RAMM and A2/AD threats will not persist and frankly have little effect on armored and dispersed/dug-in forward presence ground forces or well-protected prepositioned equipment. The adversary pawn will persist long after EBO ends the influence of the King. Only landpower can drive the pawn out into the open, kill him even next to the population, and solidify gains through stability operations after major combat operations cease. Wide area security to secure our supply lines, and safeguard large populations from the pawns that fight on is only a landpower function.

That is the reality that we currently face. Pawns now rule the battlefield and pawns are the sole irrational actors willing to use WMD. Pawns are the forces most easily deployed and resupplied. They are the forces easiest to hide or secure from enemy pawns and more powerful A2/AD strategies. Pawns can use aerial and ground reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition to find adversary pawns and hidden centers of gravity that often are invisible from space, strategic intelligence, or cyber weapons.

Finally, nation-states realize that WMD-employment is suicidal, but also know that hugging pawns and other pieces near populations makes them less susceptible to attack by our strategic airpower queens. Nation-states comprehend that small conflicts between themselves could evolve to nuclear war. Their mutual economic interdependence further deters conflict between near-peers. The primary, most likely conflicts of the future are with the rogue states and radical pawns. Some rogues and radical pawns have little to lose. They are willing to commit suicide, not caring if their own and infidel deaths also lead to destruction of the people and infrastructure in nations that provided them WMD.

Rogue nations like North Korea and Iran are the problem. Radical Islam is the problem. There is an inevitable role for landpower in deterring war with these nations and containing them within their current boundaries and areas of limited influence. It is the WMD proliferation that rogue nations may expand that is the largest cause for concern because suicide bombers don't think about MAD. They know their own death is assured but do not consider how one nuke in NYC, Japan, or Europe would lead to the deaths of millions of others.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 12/16/2012 - 2:26am

Just a side comment---if we look at the big Army shift in thinking it has been actually occurring since General Dempsey was leading TRADOC---words matter for this General.

The core problem is that the shift in thinking and direction was been coming out in drips instead of coming as a complete package which would have allowed the Force to adjust once---instead of being spread over a number of months/several years and not seeing a clear thread in the drips.

This current Force is visual--give them everything at once and they will adjust accordingly.

If we look at the drips we see doctrinal shifts ie Mission Command the 6th WFF, the announcement of the shift to CAM/WAS instead of FSO, we see Design being floated, we see a common exercise scenario DATE being released, we see"hybrid threat" being defined in TC 7-100, we see a shift away from the old guard FMs to ADPs and ADRPs, we see shifts in the PME, we now see Capstone 2012 and we are still seeing the drips coming.

What I think happened is that our senior leaders sensed two things and are trying in a fast fashion to shift the Army's focus to match reality (a highly complex interrelated world, a smaller Army, and an even smaller defense budget).

1) they felt that the agility and adaptiveness gained by Cmdrs/Staffs through COIN had to be saved and institutionalized somehow and 2) the "new world order" is far more complex than what they themselves had been trained for. While they will not admit it the military decision making process which has been standard for big Army is no longer working in this complex world of ours--but how does one change a culture?

The cultural change is through Mission Commmand which emphasizes leadership by the Cmdr in building his team, developing trust within that team and ensuring that team has the ability to dialogue in an open fear free environment---coupled with the injection of Design. How many Cmdrs especially at the BN/BCT/Divison level actually issue written "Mission Orders".

It also requires from a Staff that it is the Staff that delivers to how are going to do it based on the Cmdr's Intent and "mission orders"---the Staff is required to "think, plan, and act" within those two concepts--and not wait to have the "thinking" done for them---now that is a radical idea in this 2012 Army.

Just how many current Officers really understand "auftragstaktik" and how many current officers understood that the WW2 German Army lost every three weeks a Divisional Cmdr and every four-six weeks a Corp Cmdr as they led from the front and took risks in delivering on the "mission orders". Mission orders allows officers to take risk something is Force is definitely not use to as failure is not an option for further promotion especially to one Star.

How many Staffs actually understand the concept of "mission orders" as opposed to the standard three types of orders the Armny has been run on for years? Example---just how is it that the current Force seems to think CONOPs are actually orders---now take that and try to place CONOPs into a "mission order".

How many Cmdrs actually describe their "visualization" of the end state and clearly state that visualization either verbally or in written format to deliver their Commanders Intent to their Staffs and subordinates?

Do our MCTP AAR teams and our CTC OCs actually comment on Cmdrs Intent and Mission Orders in their AARs? How many of our current Officers/NCOs really understand the evolution behind "mission orders" and the significance of shift to "mission orders" in world of "hybrid threats".

As someone smarter than myself wrote in SWJ recently---changing culture is like poking a bear in the chest---he can "kill" you in a number of ways with the most effective ways being via the OER or ignoring/sidelining you.

A current hip hop song states---"be truth seekers and the world will know your name" where are our "truth seekers" in our current group of Commanders and Staffs and in our senior NCOs?

Bill C.

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 9:58pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Historically speaking, the need and purpose for the Army today may be more in keeping with the need and purpose of the 19th and early 20th Century American Army, to wit:

As the force that was sent out to overcome those who were unwilling and/or unable to make the state and societal changes that the modern world required.

I would include in the list of those states and societies who, among others in the long 19th Century, were unwilling and/or unable to make the changes that the modern world required and who, among others, our military was sent out to address:

a. The American Southerners,

b. The American Indians,

c. The Japanese (Commodore Perry) and

d. The Chinese (Boxer Rebellion)

Thus, precedent, justification and the more appropriate comparison and model for today's military development, deployment and usage?

Robert C. Jones

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 7:36am

"The Army will remain America’s principle land force, organized, trained, and equipped for the prompt and sustained combat operations to defeat enemy land forces, to seize, hold, and defend land areas, and to control terrain, populations, and natural resources."

I have no problem with much of this statement, but I do have one question: Just who's population and who's natural resources are you going to "control"?

The control-heavy model associated with our containment and post-containment strategies of the past 65 years are no longer appropriate for securing US national interests in the world we live in today. Efforts to exercise excessive control over situations we should only influence at best is a major driver of anti-americanism sentiments and transnational terrorism. It simply comes at a cost that increasingly exceeds the benefits.

I realize the army does what it is told to do, where it is told to do it, but at times I have to wonder if national policy is driving military perceptions or if military perceptions are driving national policy?

The American Army, due to our geo-strategic reality as a nation, and due to the principles our nation was founded upon, is a uniquely war-centric part of our national defense. Outside the anomoly of the Western European mission of the Cold War, we have had little need for a large army in peace. That is not to say that the Army has not always argued against that position, it is to say that in the past the American poeple have always won that argument.

Most lessons learned over the past decade are tactical lessons based upon the execution of an obsolete strategy. Not very helpful. We need to focus on the lessons not learned, and work to devising more appropriate straegies for the world we live in today and that continues to evolve around us.

Historically, what role have Army forces played (alone or in conjunction with other entities) in causing other states and societies to:

a. Abandon their values, attitudes, beliefs and practices -- and their associated ways of life and ways of governance (which have sustained them for possibly eons) -- and causing them to

b. Adopt vastly different values, attitudes, beliefs and practices -- and often vastly different ways of life and ways of governance?

Is this what we should be looking at when we discuss such things as Army forces being "uniquely capable of exerting enduring changes in behaviors of populations?"

Are "allies," within this context, to be understood as those who are "for" such enduring changes? And "adversaries"/"enemies," likewise within this context, to be understood as those who are unwilling -- and/or simply unable -- to make these transitions (see "a" and "b" above)?

These questions to be considered as a means of helping us better visualize -- and better understand -- what types of Army forces will be needed to achieve our state and societal transformation and assimilation goals.

(And, if not these goals, then what "enduring changes in behaviors" do we seek to achieve? And in what "populations?")

Outlaw 09

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 12:52am

In reply to by TheCurmudgeon

TheCurmudgeon---currently the Army is trying to maintain two things 1) the agility and the adaptiveness that were acquired during ten years of COIN and 2) our former tank on tank experinces.

It is interesting in that Capstone 2012 is the doctrinal basis for the Hybrid threat (TC 7-100) that is the basis now for all the DATE scenarios-and yet we do not dicuss the theoritical underpinnings of Capstone 2012.

This is where now Mission Command/Design comes in ---built on Trust, teams, and open dialogue which based on the last tens years is having difficulty being implemented as Cmdrs and Staffs are not currently built on Trust and dialogue as some of us here at SWJ have been repeating over and over and over..


Fri, 12/14/2012 - 6:31pm

This is the central issue the U.S Army is going to have to come to grips with. There is no near peer competitor. The Army we are building has little or nothing to do with the reality in the world today. We build the Army independent of the world's political reality. We build it based on a preferred enemy, one that we are comfortable with - one that our systems and doctrine can address. Yet war is a political tool. An army designed to win a war that is not a political reality is an army designed to loss future conflicts.

Vitesse et Puissance

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 12:57pm

This is not bad at all. It strikes me as a much more balanced and realistic conceptual framework than was previously the case. Admittedly, it comes off as a bit bland, but by comparison to previous attempts to characterize and deal with uncertainty and complexity, this leaner and more conservative approach is more in tune with the operating environment as likely to be experienced by Army warfighters in the future. It closes no doors, and leaves the trade space open - to evolve. I like that. The point made about loss of interoperability with allied partners also applies to force integration within the Army and sister services. If you just let the school house proponents drive the train, you end up with disjoint systems (and systems of systems) that do not mesh well to generate combat power. So this is a concern I would have. But at least this "capstone concept" does not begin the discussion by declaring what we're not going to do.

Bill C.

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 11:08am

From the paragraph entitiled: The ACC Central Idea:

"Army forces are uniquely capable of exerting enduring changes in the behaviors of populations ..."

While this may be true regarding certain Armies, for example, the Army forces of Rome -- or the combined Army forces of the Allies during World War II -- this would not seem to be true regarding the presently-sized and/or presently-configured U.S. Army; nor that of our current allies.

And an Army that is not sized and/or configured to invade, conquer, occupy and control other nations for many decades would not seem to be able to make the claim that it was capable of "exerting enduring changes in the behaviors of populations."

Likewise, and because our Army is not sized and/or configured to invade, conquer, occupy and control other nations for many decades, it would seem that our Army cannot make the claim that it can "give pause to adversaries, reassure allies and deliver the punch that defeats enemies and exerts control to prevent chaos and conflicts."