Oct 7, 2008

New Army Field Manual for Operations, FM 3-0 - Stability Operations

The Army on Monday will unveil an unprecedented doctrine that declares nation-building missions will probably become more important than conventional warfare and defines "fragile states" that breed crime, terrorism and religious and ethnic strife as the greatest threat to U.S. national security

The Army's new field manual for operations, FM 3-0 [220-page pdf], brings the first major update of Army capstone doctrine since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

"Today's Army is about half the size it was in 1970, but the U.S. military's involvement around the world has tripled since the collapse of the former Soviet Union," notes the foreword to the TRADOC information pamphlet for FM 3-0 [12-pagepdf]. "The next several decades, according to many security experts, will be an era of persistent conflict that will generate continuing deployments for our Army."

"We must emphasize doctrine as the driver for change," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. "You can't cement change in the organization until you adapt the institutions. That change begins with doctrine."

There are several changes in the new operations manual:

• The operational concept and the operational environment

• The stability operations construct

• The information-operations construct

• Warfighting functions

• The spectrum of conflict

• Defeat and stability mechanisms

• Joint interdependence and modular forces

FM 3-0 institutionalizes simultaneous offensive, defensive, and stability or civil-support operations as the core of the Army's doctrine. The concept of full-spectrum operations, first introduced in the 2001 manual, still represents a major shift in Army doctrine - forces must be able to address the civil situation at all times, combining tactical tasks affecting noncombatants with tactical tasks directed against the enemy.

According to some, the FM 3-0 is revolutionary as pertains to the following four specific points in the manual:

• The importance of stability operations is elevated to co-equal with combat (offensive and defensive operations).

• The critical nature and influence of information on operations.

• An operational concept that drives initiative embraces risk and focuses on creating opportunities to achieve decisive results.

• The critical role of the commander in full-spectrum operations, bridging battle command and operational art in leveraging the experience, knowledge and intuition of the commander.

Stability operations are viewed as important - if not more so - than offensive and defensive operations in the new operations manual.

Winning battles and engagements is important but not decisive by itself; shaping the civil situation in concert with other government agencies, international organizations, civil authorities and multinational forces will be just as important to campaign success, according to the new FM.

The new operations manual institutionalizes the need for cultural awareness, which is critical to understanding populations and their perceptions to reduce friction, and prevent misunderstanding, thereby improving a force's ability to accomplish its mission.

Soldiers and leaders must master information. To the people, perception is reality. Altering perceptions requires accurate, truthful information presented in a way that accounts for how people absorb and interpret information with messages that have broad appeal and acceptance. This is the essence of information engagement in the new FM.

But as the Army struggles to define its long-term future beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, some critics within the military warn that the new emphasis on nation-building is a dangerous distraction from what they believe should be the Army's focus: strengthening its core war-fighting skills to prepare for large-scale ground combat.

Critics challenge the assumption that major wars are unlikely in the future, pointing to the risk of high-intensity conflict that could require sizable Army deployments to North Korea, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere.

Civilian officials and nongovernmental groups voice a different concern: that the military's push to expand its exercise of "soft power," while perhaps inevitable, given the dearth of civilian resources, marks a growing militarization of U.S. foreign policy.

Some nongovernmental organizations raised concerns about the potential blurring of roles when the military carries out relief operations, saying it could compromise their independence and impartiality in the eyes of local citizens, and make relief workers targets of attack.

The organizations also objected to early drafts of the manual that suggested the military had an obligation or right to intervene in fragile states. They referred to humanitarian NGOs as partners of the military. Many NGOs might understandably object to be described as such.

Bureaucratic unrest surrounded the writing of the Army stability manual. Disputes over whether the document should enshrine "democracy" as a goal of stability operations led to that target ultimately being axed.

Jacked & Hacked WaPo & Army.Mil

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