The release of FM 3.07, Stability Operations, is an important step in the Army's - and the nation's - process of understanding the fundamental changes in the international system since the end of the Cold War. In conjunction with FM 3.0, Operations, and FM 3.24, Counterinsurgency, 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.
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:
Also see It's Time for an Army Advisor Corps by Dr. John Nagl.