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“Ideas matter. Emerging from specific human, historical, and technological contexts, ideas affect understanding and influence behavior. Ideas can serve as the driving force behind significant institutional change. Because the need for change will always be with us, the exchange of ideas and conceptual development must be among our top priorities.”
Sound thinking; ideas do matter. As stated above, “ideas can serve as the driving force behind significant institutional change.” Consistent with this view, few would challenge the assertion that the United States Army is one of the most capable and effective “learning organizations” that exist within the United States, military or civilian. One can easily reflect on the Army’s learning and adaptation over the last ten years of combat due to the demand for a more rapid introduction of doctrine and doctrinal concepts sufficient to the needs of the operational formation. Unfortunately, we must acknowledge that there is in fact a difference between positive change, and change that creates chaos, confusion and disruption within the ranks. When formal introduction of ideas ultimately become more like “square pegs being driven into round holes”, we have an obligation to assess and reflect on the idea in context, make judgment on its continued value in application and make bold, sweeping adjustments as necessary to prevent continued chaos and confusion within the ranks of the Army. We have several recent historical examples of “doctrinal reflection points” resultant from “square peg ideas” like the original distinction of CMETL-DMETL and the initial introduction of Design, both of which required institutional course corrections in a very short period of time after being formally codified and published in the Army’s foundational doctrine. With the recent introduction of U.S. Army Doctrine 2015 and the first formally published Army Doctrine Publication (ADP), ADP No. 3-0, Unified Land Operations dated 10 October 2011, we find ourselves at a similar “doctrinal reflection point”.
The purpose of this article is to explore the latest “square peg idea” within Army doctrine by identifying and outlining the obvious clutter and confusion being generated by the introduction of the Army’s newest operational concept known as Unified Land Operations (ULO). In fairness and with supportive acknowledgement, the overarching premise of ULO in and of itself is sound and is a solid direction for the U.S. Army. The concept provides a distinct and clear description of the purpose of the Army and its contributions to Unified Action and the anticipated needs of our nation. However, there is a clutter within the concept due to ambiguity and the overlap of ideas communicated by the distinct sub-components of ULO which is causing confusion within the serving formation. Specifically, the “old” idea of Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) [now known as Decisive Action (DA)] and the “novel” ideas presented as the Army Core Competencies of Combined Arms Maneuver (CAM) and Wide Area Security (WAS) are sufficiently similar in thinking that there is a developing struggle to separate and operationalize the ideas as intended. With this acknowledgement, this article argues that the Army must clearly define the relationship between DA and the newly described core competencies and our recently published doctrine does not meet that obligation. Therefore, the Army is now faced with three possible solutions to this problem as potential “ways ahead”. These solutions include; (1) do nothing and allow the formation to struggle with the ill-defined, misunderstood and competing sub-component “ideas” of the ULO construct, (2) adapt, modify and “reframe” the construct and sub-component “ideas” in order to retain the fundamental vision as originally intended or (3) completely redefine the construct as we did with the transition from Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) to ULO by removing one of the two competing sub-component “ideas”.
Option 1 – do nothing and allow the formation to struggle with the ill-defined and misunderstood sub-component “ideas” of the ULO construct. In order to make judgment on this course of action, first we need to explore the published construct of ULO, its sub-components and identify why the confusion as claimed by this article is emerging in the serving formation. In the preface of ADP No. 3-0, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD) presents a graphic that represents the “underlying logic” of ULO (see ADP No. 3-0, Figure 1). This section will challenge the logic and sub-components as presented by this “logic map”. [During a presentation on 24 April 2012 by the U.S. Army Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD) to the Department of Army Tactics (DTAC), Command and General Staff School (CGSS) the briefer referred to Figure 1 of ADP No. 3-0 as a “logic map”. This article will use the same label for purposes of discussion.]
In accordance with ADP No. 3-0, ULO is described as “….how the Army seizes, retains, and exploits the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations through simultaneous offensive, defensive, and stability operations in order to prevent or deter conflict, prevail in war, and create the conditions for favorable conflict resolution.” However, in the “logic map” contained within ADP No. 3-0 (Figure 1) the visual representation of this description is slightly reorganized by presenting Decisive Action and the Army Core Competencies as sub-componentsof the ULO construct leaving the now separated and overarching principle of ULO more refined and more representative of the traditional approach utilized by the U.S. Army as a task/purpose statement construct (see Figure 1).
Although more concise and intended to provide greater clarity, the first issue resulting from this rewording of the overarching description is the blurring of two tasks and two purposes. As written one may see the task of ULO as to “seize, retain, and exploit the initiative” with a purpose to “gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations”. However, the overarching purpose of ULO is to “create the conditions for favorable conflict resolution”. So, another way to view this description (and what is believed to be the developing interpretation of ULO in the serving formation) is more like task-1 of ULO is to “seize, retain, and exploit the initiative” and task-2 of ULO is to “gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations” with a singular purpose to “create the conditions for favorable conflict resolution”. This is important for the argument presented within this article because the description of ULO has a direct bearing on the description, definition, relationships and understanding of the ULO sub-components of Decisive Action (DA) and the Army Core Competencies of Combined Arms Maneuver (CAM) and Wide Area Security (WAS). Therefore, if one accepts that there are in fact two primary ULO tasks that “create conditions for favorable conflict resolution” in accordance with the ULO construct, then we need to understand how DA and the Army Core Competencies (CAM and WAS) complement and reinforce each other related to these tasks and herein lies the confusion.
As we follow the logic map (and review what was expressed in the textual description of ULO), the construct states that we execute the tasks of “….seize, retain, and exploit the initiative” and “ gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations” through the “….the simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive, and stability operations….appropriate to the mission and environment.” This thinking is consistent with the same idea previously known as Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) that was initially introduced to the Army formation in 2001. Subsequent to 9/11 and resultant from the operational experiences in early Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army made major institutional investments to inculcate the serving formation’s understanding of FSO and through operational application this foundational, operational concept in fact created the desired effect of “significant institutional change”. Therefore, it is safe to assume the fundamental idea of Decisive Action (old FSO) in and of itself is not problematic with the current serving formation (even though the decision to rename FSO is questionable).
What is problematic is the introduction of the “novel” idea of Army Core Competencies (CAM and WAS) which are for the most part easily interpreted as another way of expressing the “simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive, and stability operations” as described in the definition of ULO. ADP No. 3-0 (Oct 11) defines the core competencies as follows: “Combined arms maneuver is the application of the elements of combat power in unified action to defeat enemy ground forces; to seize, occupy, and defend land areas; and to achieve physical, temporal, and psychological advantages over the enemy to seize and exploit the initiative…..Wide area security is the application of the elements of combat power in unified action to protect populations, forces, infrastructure, and activities; to deny the enemy positions of advantage; and to consolidate gains in order to retain the initiative.” However, ADP No. 3-0 further expresses two other characteristics related to the core competencies generating the confusion. First, the doctrine states, “Offensive, defensive, and stability operations each requires a combination of combined arms maneuver and wide area security; neither core competency is adequate in isolation.” Second, the doctrine states, “While an individual tactical action may be predominately characterized as reflecting either combined arms maneuver or wide area security, campaigns and operations invariably combine both core competencies. For example, an offensive operation often features wide area security employed as an economy of force measure, allowing for the concentration of combat power for combined arms maneuver.” These descriptions are precipitating the clutter and confusion within the formation. Through ten years of operational application resulting in an intense doctrinal investment, it is acknowledged (and internalized) that the Army does not conduct any singular type of operation in isolation. All military actions in today’s and the anticipated future operational environments (OEs) will have “simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive and stability operations.” With that understanding, the Army as an institution must decide on its way forward and the remainder of this article addresses two other possible options to the Army to overcome the current clutter and confusion within the ULO construct.
Option 2 – adapt, modify and “reframe” the construct and sub-component “ideas” in order to retain the fundamental vision as originally intended. Resuming the previous discussion and interpretation of the described tasks and purpose contained within the ULO description, a possible course of action is to change the hierarchy as currently presented. If we break down the current construct using an adaptation of joint service doctrine Ends-Ways-Means analysis it might inform a modified relationship between DA and the core competencies resulting in a greater understanding of the entire construct.
The first action is to ensure we have clarity on the desired (ends) of ULO. If we start our analysis with the current overarching description of ULO and subsequently separate the stated tasks from the true overarching purpose (ends), it is logical that we must completely separate these tasks from the (ends). For the purpose of this analysis, these tasks subsequently become the (ways) to achieve the desired (ends) (see Figure 2).
A recommended modification to the current construct is to use the Army Core Competencies (CAM and WAS) as the doctrinal concepts that relate to these two distinct and now separated tasks (ways) (see Figure 3).
At this point we use an adaptation to the Ends-Ways-Means model by using Decisive Action (DA) as an adapted “means” for the purpose of reorganizing the ULO construct (see Figure 4).
In order to ensure we do not lose the last ten years of learning related to the previous operational concept of FSO which is now diluted by the competing ideas of DA and the core competencies, we can clear up the clutter and confusion by retaining the fundamental principle of DA (old FSO) by subordinating it to the core competencies (see Figure 5).
It is important to note at this point that although not well described in current and anticipated doctrine, CADD has provided numerous doctrine updates and presentations that emphasize the following regarding the core competencies; “Combined arms maneuver primarily employs defeat mechanisms against enemies and is dominated by offensive and defensive tasks…..Wide area security primarily employs stability mechanisms against enemies and is dominated by stability tasks.” Said another way, Decisive Action (DA) is inherent in each core competency and not the other way around.
If this logic is sound, we would be better off by making an adaptation to the ULO construct that puts primacy in the construct on the core competencies, their role in ULO and contributions to Unified Action as represented in Figure 6.
However, if we cannot better define the linkages and relationships between DA and the core competencies, we would be better served to make a clean break and eradicate one from our doctrinal lexicon to relieve the current clutter and confusion within the serving formation. [It should be noted that during the course of researching this article, the author was presented a draft “issue paper” entitled FM 3-0 Issue Paper: Combined Arms Maneuver and Wide Area Security. This writing provides insight to some initial thinking related to the integration of the emergent ideas regarding CAM and WAS as described in TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The United States Operating Concept 2016-2028, dated 19 August 2010. The stated purpose of the issue paper was to “….recommend[s] a way to incorporate the central ideas of the Army Operating Concept into future Army doctrine.” It is the opinion of the author that we may have lost something in translation between TRADOC PAM 525-3-1, the draft FM 3-0 Issue Paper and the resultant publication of ADP NO. 3-0, Unified Land Operations. The issue paper states the following: “The Army’s operational concept is full spectrum operations: Army forces conduct combined arms maneuver and wide area security through simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive, and stability or civil support tasks using combined arms to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative, accepting prudent risk to create opportunities and achieve decisive results.” Said another way, “Army forces execute combined arms maneuver and wide area security by means of simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive, and stability or civil support tasks….” If this was in fact the visualization of the relationship between the core competencies and DA, the recommendation proposed by Option 2 is reasonable and a potential adaption of current published doctrine.]
Option 3 – completely redefine the construct as we did with the transition from Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) to ULO by removing one of the two competing sub-component “ideas”. If we agree that there is in fact “clutter and confusion ” in the serving formation due to the overlapping ideas represented by the core competencies of CAM-WAS and DA and we cannot find a logical way to express the linkages and relationships between the two, then our only recourse is to make a bold, doctrinal shift as we did in the recent history of our doctrine [ie, deletion of CMETL-DMETL, adaptation of Design to Army Design Methodology (ADM), etc].
That said, if we have to choose between the two (either the core competencies or DA), the most logical choice would be to remove the core competencies as currently communicated (see Figure 7).
As previously stated, the Army made huge investments over the last ten years with the introduction, refinement, and inculcation of Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) [now entitled Decisive Action (DA)]. The serving formation made the appropriate adaptations of FSO in the Iraq and Afghanistan operational theaters, the concept served the force well and a return to what is already known and inculcated within the formation would be less challenging for the force. Assuming this is in fact a reasonable course of action which is a bold adaptation of recently published doctrine, the Army might also be well served to delete Decisive Action (DA) from our lexicon and return to FSO which is already well understood within the currently serving formation.
The alternative is to retain the newly introduced core competencies with an acknowledgement and emphasis that simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive and stability operations are inherent within each competency (see Figure 8).
Of course this is a bold shift away from the ten years of doctrinal evolution and investment in FSO. However, if we successfully describe the foundational ideas of each competency and effectively communicate the original concept of FSO (now DA) as components of each competency, our currently serving formation and future generations should internalize these new doctrinal concepts without risk of returning to the perceived primacy of offensive and defensive tasks over those required for sustained stability operations.
Importantly, adopting this particular approach requires acknowledgement of the challenges related to the core competencies regarding linkages and relationships in ULO. Consistent with the evolution of FSO we also have an emerging visualization of the Army’s role in Unified Action described by the core competencies. Although convoluted by continuing expressions of simultaneous application of CAM and WAS [which this article argues is already described by the idea of DA (FSO)], the “logic” of ULO actually implies transitions over time related to conditions in the environment (seize, retain and exploit the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage). This representation ultimately translates to a primacy and sequence of Army action(s). In the simplest terms of interpretation, we seize and exploit the initiative through CAM and gain and maintain a position of advantage through WAS (see Figure 9).
We have struggled with this particular aspect of our visualization of what the Army does (or needs to be prepared to do) in today’s and the anticipated future operational environments. Our recent historical doctrine (FM 3-0, Operations, 2008) originally presented what was commonly referred to as the “Tennessee” chart. The graphic represented a “spectrum of conflict” and supporting operational themes. Ultimately the “Tennessee” chart became problematic internal and external to the Army based on competition between FSO messaging emphasizing simultaneity and the concept of operational themes because the published, doctrinal definition itself stated that, “An operational theme describes the character of the dominant major operation being conducted at any time within a land force commander’s area of operations.” As described in the FM 3-0 Issue Paper, “Change 1 to the 2008 edition of FM 3-0 (FM 3-0, C1) ….removes the so-called “Tennessee” chart depicting the spectrum of conflict and operational themes. Among the main reasons for this change was the tendency of this graphic to portray Army operations as “either-or” propositions depending on the alleged location of a given conflict on the spectrum and the operational theme in play. The most typical example of this tension is the false choice between major combat operations and irregular warfare or counterinsurgency.” With the introduction of CAM-WAS, it seems as though we are now trying to find a creative way to overcome the same obstacle regarding the competencies (or “false choice” as claimed above). In multiple introductory CADD presentations and emerging published doctrine describing ULO the Army’s current messaging is emphatic that CAM-WAS are not mutually exclusive and we do both simultaneously. However, if each competency already includes simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive and stability tasks doesn’t that in essence say the same thing?
Consistent and related to the argument of this article, the Army would be well suited to acknowledge that the operations the Army has been and will be employed in are in fact dominated by one competency at a time and we do not do both (CAM-WAS) simultaneously. We fight to seize control and dominate the environment through “traditional maneuverist” actions (ie, combined arms maneuver). This is the most important competency of the Army as acknowledged in TRADOC PAM 525-3-1, The United States Army Operating Concept, 2016-2018 dated 19 August 2010. It states, “Combined arms maneuver is the application of the elements of combat power in a complementary and reinforcing manner to achieve physical, temporal, or psychological advantages over the enemy, preserve freedom of action, and exploit success….. Army forces’ ability to conduct combined arms maneuver to achieve these advantages will remain the Army’s most fundamental and important competency. “ However, at a point in all operations as informed by the last ten years of operational experience the formation will transition to wide area security which is dominated by “sustained stability operations” and activities. This specified transition is logical and since we already acknowledge that regardless of the dominant action (CAM or WAS) there are simultaneous offensive, defensive and stability tasks there is no longer a need to say we do simultaneous CAM-WAS.
In closing, “ideas matter” and more importantly “ideas can serve as the driving force behind significant institutional change.” Although embraced as a sound philosophy, the recently introduced “logic within the ULO construct” is cluttered and causing confusion within the serving formation due to two reasons. First, the sub-components of the ULO construct are ill-defined and contain overlapping “ideas”. Specifically, the old idea of FSO [now Decisive Action (DA)] which emphasizes how all operations include simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive and stability tasks is in direct competition with the novel idea of the Army Core Competencies (CAM-WAS) which also attempts to emphasize simultaneity. Second, the ULO construct offers little in the way of describing how DA and the Core Competencies relate to each other.
Accordingly the Army has reached another “doctrinal reflection point” resulting from the rapid introduction of these developing “square peg ideas” and is faced with three options on its way forward relative to what is professed as the newly described operational concept of Unified Land Operations (ULO); (1) chose to do nothing and allow the formation to struggle with the ill-defined, misunderstood and competing sub-component “ideas” of the ULO construct, (2) adapt, modify and “reframe” the construct and sub-component “ideas” in order to retain the fundamental vision as originally intended or (3) completely redefine the construct as we did with the transition from Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) to ULO by removing one of the two competing sub-component “ideas”. Even though Option 1 is in fact feasible, we have been faced with bold adaptations to immature doctrine in our recent past and the Army would be well served to chose Option 2 or 3 as opposed to allowing the “clutter and confusion” within the current ULO construct to grow within the serving formation.
 U.S. Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-3-0, The Army Capstone Concept, Operational Adaptability: Operating under Conditions of Uncertainty and Complexity in an Era of Persistent Conflict (Fort Monroe, VA: Training and Doctrine Command, 21 December 2009): p. i.
 Learning Organization definition - “[An] Organization that acquires knowledge and innovates fast enough to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. Learning organizations (1) create a culture that encourages and supports continuous employee learning, critical thinking, and risk taking with new ideas, (2) allow mistakes, and value employee contributions, (3) learn from experience and experiment, and (4) disseminate the new knowledge throughout the organization for incorporation into day-to-day activities.” Online at < http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/learning-organization.html> accessed on 24 April 2012.
 ADP NO. 3-0, p. 1.
 This graphic is a modified extract from ADP NO. 3-0, Figure 1. Unified land operations underlying logic, p. iii-iv.
ADP NO. 3-0, p. 1. Interpreted from the definition of Unified Land Operations (ULO).
 Ibid, p. 5. Although not formally presented as the definition of Decisive Action, ADP NO. 3-0, paragraph 21 states the following, “Army forces conduct decisive and sustainable land operations through the simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive, and stability operations (or defense support of civil authorities) appropriate to the mission and environment.”
 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-0, p. i.
 U.S. Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [GPO], 27 February 2008), p. 3-1. “The Army’s operational concept is full spectrum operations: Army forces combine offensive, defensive, and stability or civil support operations simultaneously as part of an interdependent joint force to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative, accepting prudent risk to create opportunities to achieve decisive results.”
 ADP NO. 3-0, p. 5.
 Ibid, p. 6.
 Ibid, p. 6.
 Ibid, p. 6.
 Ibid, p. 5.
 Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Operation Planning (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [GPO], 11 August 2011), p. III-1. “Through operational art, commanders link ends, ways, and means to achieve the desired end state….This requires commanders to answer the following questions: (1) What is the military end state that must be achieved, how is it related to the strategic end state, and what objectives must be achieved to enable that end state? (Ends) (2) What sequence of actions is most likely to achieve those objectives and the end state? (Ways) (3) What resources are required to accomplish that sequence of actions within given or requested resources? (Means)”
 U.S. Army Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD), Doctrine 2015 Information Briefing presented to Department of Army Tactics (DTAC), Command and General Staff School (CGSS) on 24 April 2012, slides 19 and 20.
U.S. Army Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD), FM 3-0 Issue Paper: Combined Arms Maneuver and Wide Area Security, 27 January 2011. Although draft and unpublished this issue paper seems to support to the argument for a change in the proposed primacy relationships between the core competencies and Decisive Action (DA).
 Ibid, p. 1.
 Ibid, p. 6.
 FM 3-0, Operations, 27 February 2008, “The spectrum of conflict is the backdrop for Army operations. It places levels of violence on an ascending scale marked by graduated steps….The spectrum of conflict spans from stable peace to general war.” p. 2-1.
 FM 3-0, Operations, 27 February 2008, p. 2-3.
 FM 3-0 Issue Paper: Combined Arms Maneuver and Wide Area Security, 27 January 2011, p. 2.
 This is an original labeling presented by the author.
 U.S. Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-3-1, The United States Army Operating Concept, 2016-2028 (Fort Monroe, VA: Training and Doctrine Command, 19 August 2010): p. 13.
 This is an original labeling presented by the author, but it is consistent with “sustained land operations” included in the ULO construct.
 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-0, p. i.