Small Wars Journal

The Army wants your comments on its new Capstone Concept

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster has sent to Small Wars Journal the latest draft of Army Capstone Concept version 2.7. McMaster leads a team at TRADOC that is charged with revising the Capstone Concept, which provides fundamental guidance to the Army's doctrine and training efforts.

By December, McMaster and his team will complete their work on the Capstone Concept. Between now and then, he wants to hear from you. So please open this file, read it, and provide your comments, either here or at the Capstone Concept comment thread at Small Wars Council. McMaster and his team will read these comments and use them to improve this important document.

(You will note that the Capstone Concept draft we received is marked "For Official Use Only." I assure you that we received this document openly from the Army and for the purposes explained above. McMaster and his colleagues at TRADOC want Small Wars Journal's readers to help them improve the Capstone Concept.)

UPDATE (1515 EST 24 Sept 09): TRADOC sent me a version of the file without the "For Official Use Only" notation, which I have inserted.


"Improvements in computing technology--specifically the development of quantum computers--will enable virtually 100 percent secure communications, non-satellite based precise positioning, navigation, and timing, and advanced image resolution and sensing capabilities."

This is such a scam.
Replacing classical communications by a quantum ones is a really dumb idea; doing so would be phenomenally expensive and totally unnecessary. There are known classical cryptographic codes which cannot be broken by a classical or quantum computer, so there is no need for quantum cryptography, or a "quantum Internet", or "quantum money", ever. Why should a carpenter replace his perfectly adequate steel hammer (classical networks and classical encryption methods) by a pure gold one?

George Fella (not verified)

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 5:42pm

Good document. Here are a few capabilities that need to be considered:

1. Strategic Financial Management. The topic refers to "Money as a Weapon System" and CERP as a "game changing" capability. See article on this topic in the Resource Manager magazine 3d qtr 2009 issue that provides a good forward thinking concept on the role of finacial mgt,. in the strategic context, particularly for stability operations.

2. Biometrics and Forensics. This should be added as a capability to identify friendly civilians from insurgents, and provide the means to do forensic analysis of IEDs to trace back to the source and penetrate terrorist networks.

3. Contingency Contracting and Contract Management. The document vaguely covers contractors in a few sentences. The Gansler Commission report highlights the capability gaps in contracting. The Army needs the capability and force structure to (i) effectively award and administer contracts, (ii)track and control contractors on the battlefield, (iii) ensure contractors are meeting commanders' intent, and (iv) are properly integrated with the Joint force. Because of the expansive role of contractors in war, commnaders need to be trained in dealing with contractors and fulilling oversight responsibilitioes.

4. Role of Other Federal Agencies. The document needs to discuss the "whole of government approach" and the increasing role of USAID, Treasury, and Agriculture in future contingency operations.

5. Biological Threats. The most likely WMD threat is biological. The recent Army leadership concerns about H1N1 impact on our deployed forces raises the bar to apply more conceptional thinking in this area and how commanders would adapt.

Some off the cuff thoughts from the battalion echelon:

Paragraph 3-2: Other than combat how will the

US Army support foreign security assistance?
I think the question here is will the Army expand its IDAD and FID missions, traditionally core competencies of the SF community, to the rest of the force? While on one hand, this may be a way to "take the burden off" of the SF groups who could remain fully committed to the GWOT in OIF, OEF, OEF-P etc... , yet at the same time it presents a double edged sword. By giving up one of their traditional niches, the SF Groups would both lose the opportunities to train its members in a permissive or semi- permissive environment and more importantly it may also degrade their future capabilities as they no longer have the contacts with HN forces that they might have established through training evolutions.

Paragraph 3-3: calls for leaders at all levels who are comfortable with collaborative planning ambiguity etc... while paragraph 3-4 (line 697) talks of decentralized command and execution.

At the tactical level, does the Army as an institution practice this? We often hear the mantra, that we must train as we fight, in fact it is a tenet of our training doctrine, yet all too often companies and platoons are stifled in training by leaders and a mechanism that restricts their opportunity to "push their limits," in the name of looking bad or failing. While not an expert, I believe that this is a holdover from the Army of a decade ago. Our senior field grade leaders are used to being evaluated on how their units perform in training and in an attempt to perfect this, the small unit leaders are not given the opportunity to truly make their own decision (thus develop cognitive problem solving skills) prior to deployment. Once deployed, they are forced to make decisions on their own, but may not have been as fully trained in this as we would like. Unofficial feedback from recent rotations at the NTC has been that platoons are woefully unprepared to execute rudimentary platoon and company operations, and I cannot help but wonder if that is due solely to personnel turbulence and the current conflict or if the lack of 'decision making repetitions for our junior leaders at home station has something to do with it. It is often said that we have the most battle tested and experienced junior officers and senior NCOs that we have ever had-can we better empower them and treat them that way? (Along those same lines, many of our junior NCOs (and officers) have yet to learn 360 degree, 365 day round the clock leader duties and responsibilities that we require when in garrison, but this is another issue.)

Lines 702-703 talks about a Combined arms force robust and flexible

My musings here are really just in the realm of reconnaissance and thought points more than solutions:
Recon Training:
• Do we as an Army fully exploit the full range of reconnaissance assets available to us? For example, how often do we integrate HUMINT collection into our cavalry and scout formations when they are training recon missions for the higher supported headquarters (BN or BDE)
• Do we train our R&S forces to include HUMINT, SIGINT, or other government agencies in their planning and employment? At what echelon is this done? (habitually in training) Is there value added by pushing HTT, HCT comproised of 97B and 97E to all R&S units, say down to the BN echelon and add an OMT to the battalion S2 shop as well to manage them? Or do they remain at BCT echelon-and if at BCT how do we better employ these INTs.
• This theme is repeated on page 18 when the box talks about having to both fight for information and fight degraded
o Do we have a recon formation left in the Army that can truly fight for information? (With the recently official announcement of the conversion of the 3rd ACR to an SBCT I would say no.)
o Do we have the right mix of HUMINT and training to do the latter? That is to employ the only truly all weather sensors we have-HUMINT and boots on the ground.

PME Inset Box on page 12
• Concur totally. NCOES is often a rank or two behind where it needs to be taught and has become such a check the block that it not needed at all in many cases. What About making the NCOES more rigorous both academically and tactically? Incorporate more college curriculum into it so that by the time an NCO has graduated from the Sergeants Major Academy, he has (ICW with work) completed the coursework for a Bachelors Degree? Think of the benefits that could be reaped by teaching a college level writing and composition and math class would have to NCOs while writing NCOERs or doing the math to plan demolitions or the radius of a curve for a route recon? Think of the benefits that could be reaped in retention if NCOES were longer (giving NCOs the opportunity to 'take a knee) and were either taught at home station or included a PCS move (like the CCC or ILE) for families.
o If possible I would like to expand the GSP for commissioned and warrant officers and add more slots for NCOs as well. If we can get an NCO who enters the service with a high school diploma or GED a BA or BS prior to retirement, lets get our NCOs and officers who enter the service with the bachelors in hand Masters degrees prior to their retirement.

Line 762: "... what the enemy desires most... "

• I think that "what the enemy desires most" has been overlooked in our search for the Center Of Gravity in the current conflicts, at least at the tactical level. "What the enemy desires most" could be but is often not necessarily the COG. So, how do they, the COG and the enemys objective, interrelate and how can you connect the dots. This connecting the dots could provide input to friendly HPTLs and HVTLs. (wow, four terms from FM 1-02 in the same sentence, does this mean that one does not necessarily need to relegate the COG or COG analysis to Stability or COIN operations and that it could be applied to conventional as well as UW/COIN?)

Paragraph 3-5, line 933:
• At what echelons do we discuss defeat and stability mechanisms? Are the term neutralize and disrupt salient here or would they be subsets of disintegrate?

Paragraph 3-6a: Security Force Assistance (SFA):
• Who has the lead for SFA? The manual states that like OIF and OEF we will continue to see an increase in general purpose forces augmenting SF or conducting SFA unilaterally, but who leads this? Maybe it is the SF Group/BN/CO commander who is aligned with the general purpose MND/BCT/BN unit responsible for an AO. That SF command team, with its experience in FID/IDAD/SFA would seem to be the natural subject matter experts for leading SFA at any echelon. This would have a number of positive effects: it would link the conventional and SF command teams for an AO, it could ensure that all HN forces were receiving the same type of training and could pull draw on the expertise of the SF units in the AO to advise and assist the GPF who might be doing the bulk of the heavy SFA lifting. Is it an SF unit that runs the show as that is a core competency?

Paragraph 3-6g Network Enabled Mission Command
• Again, based on my personal experience, there is not standard of digital employment at the battalion level. Some units, whose commanders are comfortable and experienced with systems like FBCB2 really leverage them while others prefer to go analog except when forced to operate digitally. Having spent several years operating in strong digital units, it has been my experience that we do not do a great job of educating everyone on how the systems work. Because of this lack of knowledge, personnel and equipment/systems turbulence (contractors fielding new systems up to and during a deployment) we spend so much time learning our systems and how to fight then that we do not perfect the battle drills of fighting in degraded mode; we know the concepts but do not get the amount of reps doing so that wed like.
o One digression on the fielding of digital programs-ABCS and otherwise. During our most recent deployment to Iraq, I observed that we lost allot of intel at the battalion and brigade level because of the myriad of systems that were emplaced. Debriefs were sent up in the BDE and DIV standardized formats (which were good) but who knows what happened to them once they left the S-2s computer, while the CA reports went into CIDNE, the THT and HCT reports went somewhere else, and some units used TIGRNet. At the end of the day we had three or four systems tracking the same information yet none of them had all of the information. The second order effect of this was the lack of motivation to really do a good debrief or report as the Soldier on the ground rarely saw the end result of his work. Not to plug a specific system, but this was a great win we had with TiGRNet in that a Soldier looked up an area or submitted a report and was able to see his and others earlier handiwork. (The Soldier was still required to do a debrief in the standard unit format so while he could cut and paste some, he still had to do double work.) While the system may have had its limitations the concept was excellent and user friendly Bottom line: Success for the boot on the ground is one easy to use system with varying degrees of access based on need to know, but accessible to all.
• What happens when the satellites go down? Is there a terrestrially based tactical internet that uses say old school bulletin boards ILO web pages that we could transfer to? Something pre HTML that would use less bandwidth but could be used to transfer more data than what can push through FBCB2 or a NTDR.

Hopefully my spelling has not been too horrible, and I apologize as I wish I had some concrete answers instead of merely asking questions.


Okay, a little better with HTML:

One issue I have is with the use of the term "friends", particularly in sentences like this (line 101-103):

<i>Thus, the task of the Army will be to assist its friends, to reassure and protect populations, and to identify, isolate, and destroy the enemy. In the end, this concept will inform the education, training, and organization of future forces.</i>

Call me cynical, but we don't have "friends"--we have interests and allies. Certainly, nations with which the US might be strategically opposed to (e.g, China) are operating to prevent piracy off the coast of Africa. Nations and other organizations are fickle with friendship: "allies" might be a more appropriate term.

One issue I have is with the use of the term "friends", particularly in sentences like this (line 101-103):

<i>Thus, the task of the Army will be to assist its friends, to reassure and protect populations, and to identify, isolate, and destroy the enemy. In the end, this concept will inform the education, training, and organization of future forces.</i>

Call me cynical, but we don't have "friends"--we have interests and allies. Certainly, nations with which the US might be strategically opposed to (e.g, China) are operating to prevent piracy off the coast of Africa. Recommend the use of "allies" instead of friends. Nations and other organizations are fickle with friendship--"allies" might be a more appropriate term.

Ralph Morten (not verified)

Mon, 09/28/2009 - 5:04pm

Thank you for your comments and support.

The capstone article you referred is certainly interesting, but does not address the Combat Policing issues listed above. There is a big difference in doing "observation police work" on the street in a high crime area where and just having siutational awareness. We have to physically take Squads on foot into the towns and urban areas in places like Helmand Province and teach them the concepts, which cannot be learned in a classroom, even though that is where the process begins. And that explains why Taliban members are walking and observing with Soldiers and Marines on their patrols and are not being removed from the street like we would hard core gang members. All based on 35 years of big city counter-gang and crime-based patroling. You have to see it in action to appreciate the difference that Combat Policing can produce in our military patrols. We can minimize IED's, minimzie our casualties and take back control of the urban areas if we do this with the necessary support.


Ralph Morten

Ralph Morten (not verified)

Mon, 09/28/2009 - 12:37pm

For the past six years we have developed a program known as "Combat Policing", which incorporates proven counter-gang and police patrol methods in a counter-insurgency effort. There are several moving parts to this program, which has proven to be very successful with USMC Battalions that used it in Iraq and Helmand Province. We must move away from traditional patroling methods and adopt the Combat Policing methods to be successful in the urban areas of Afghanistan. That includes the hunt daily for IED components, which will greatly slow down the IED process and is proven with other countries that have adopted that plan years ahead of us. Here is the one page summary on Combat Policing. Do not sell the program short until you see it in action. Once Marines are trained their first question is, "why hasn't someone given us this before?" Below is a summary of the program. Thank you.

Combat Policing is grounded in counter-gang tactics, community policing and real-time intel led TTPs. It includes cueing on significant behavior patterns, patrolling in areas of criminal activity 24/7 and identifying those involved in illegal drug use and street sales. It also includes the 24/7 hunt for bomb components in the marketplace.

Combat Policing patrols produce three tangible results:
1. Minimize coalition casualties
2. Reduce the possibility of collateral damage scenarios
3. Remove insurgent/enemy groups like the Taliban from control of the local population

Combat Policing tactics enables warfighters to:
• Identify areas of prevalent criminal activity, drug use, street drug dealing locations, fencing stolen property, stolen vehicle rings, chop shops, gun dealers, forgery locations, safe houses, bomb factories, IED cells, etc.
• Understand and connect criminal activity including drug dealing efforts with the Taliban resulting in their detection and removal from the environment.

Combat Policing is aligned with the recent DoD Directive 3000.07 regarding Irregular Warfare, which is to defeat the network by working left of the attack or explosion. And to focus patrol and intel efforts by going after the criminal and terrorist network members around the clock. The Taliban closely resemble criminal gangs in the United States, especially with their deep involvement in opium and heroin drug trafficking.


Ralph Morten
Senior Advisor
Irregular Ops
Lockheed Martin

While I have not had time to read the document, I would like to posit the following:

As an intel guy for the last 40 plus years, we must get away from following the sun. We need analysts that are an inch wide and a mile deep not a mile wide and inch deep. DIA must forgo the idea of going native, we need those natives, something we don't have today.

It is only when the folks who represent the bad guys, that is intel's job, actually can speak as a bad guy do the planning folks have the ability to construct plans that actually work.

Bob F (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2009 - 7:46pm

Starting at line 599:
"Improvements in computing technology--specifically the development of quantum computers--will enable virtually 100 percent secure communications, non-satellite based precise positioning, navigation, and timing, and advanced image resolution and sensing capabilities."

There is a flipside to the specific cited advancement of quantum computing. While quantum technologies will provide new capabilities for secure communications such as quantum cryptography, quantum computing technology itself will seriously reduce the effectiveness of our current cryptosystems (asymmetric cryptosystems especially.) Given the complex task of upgrading our entire set of communication and computer security systems, the initial impact of quantum computing (as opposed to quantum cryptography) will likely benefit those seeking to defeat security.

For references with more detail:


Fri, 09/25/2009 - 12:55am

General McMasters:

The observations and comments herein are based on over 62 years of observations of the US Army at war in the War of Independence, Civil War, Pacific, Europe, Korea, Viet Nam, and the recent actions in Iraq and Afganistan.

Simultaneously, warfare related journals and papers from TRADOC, JFCOM, FMSO, and Carlisle Barracks were selectively scanned. Also acquired knowledge while serving in the US Artillery. My technical background included advanced systems design and analysis of Automatic and Adaptive Navy Anti-Air-Warfare systems, USAF ISR and Fighter systems, and advanced CNS/ATM systems.

Combining all this experience together and assessing the results, the one single most critical factor never evaluated and examined further has been the assumptions underlying the pseudo-scientific statements voiced in all the papers, books, and journals. This paper is full of what could be called False Assumptions.

A glimpse of this missing factor was brought out by the recent papers by Elkus (SWJ) and Vego (JFQ). Within the "hole" discovered one can find a well developed and proven body of knowledge pertaining to Logic, the Art of Reasoning, a complete Scientific Methodology, a complete System of Science, a complete System of Logic, and other application ready knowledge. This vast storehouse of knowledge has been ignored by all of the Civil and Military services.

Much of this knowledge is already known to our existing and future adversaries. We have ignored their advice.

Until the problem is solved by evaluating the missing knowledge, the Army and the other Services will continue to go around in circles repeating the same mistakes and coming up with wrong solutions.

The CCJO and JOE are similarly "Intellectually Impoverished" (borrowing Adam Elkus's term; the actual condition of the intellect is tantamount to mindlessness). This is a problem of the Western World; Russian, East Asia, and the Islamist are free of this deficiency. We the West did it to ourselves in the 14th Century.

Thank you.
Very respectfully,

surferbeetle (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2009 - 1:24am

BG McMaster & Robert Haddick, rank can sometimes act as both a shield and a filter and so I applaud your initiative and willingness to engage a much wider and nontraditional demographic using commonly used/cost effective means for comments and ideas. I have downloaded your document, have read it, and have made some preliminary notes, but I will take some more of the time granted before submitting a preliminary set of comments. Good job on the footnotes by the way...

Papa Ray (not verified)

Wed, 09/23/2009 - 11:21pm

Someplace during the last year I was reading material either generated by the U.S. Marine Corp or generated for them. I'm sorry I just don't remember exactly. I read so much I'm nearly blind.

It covered things that would have to be implemented or improved to fight small wars.

It covered (to the best of my recollection):

The need for every Marine to be as fluent as possible in the major language where he was deployed.

The need for improved ways of maintaining area security that encompassed the civilian population .

The need for Marines trained in specialisms that are needed in third world countries as well as being combat trained. This is in addition to regular engineering companies.

The need in improving information gathering from the population through gaining trust (I don't remember specifics), offering of incentives by using project consideration and/or completion and using different sects (tribes) either against one another or by forcing "competition" between them.

Dedicating large numbers of Marines who specialize in training of foreign troops (akin to the SOF methods)

There were many other points that I don't remember and the wording I used here I am sure is not correct with the document. But the reason I mention this is that sometimes the Marines, Army and other branches seem to be re-inventing stuff that sometimes a branch has already spent time and money working out or has investigated.

They don't seem to talk to each other as much as I would think they would.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Michael Church (not verified)

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 9:36pm

Modern warfare will always be fought the same way it was during WWII, in what the military calls full spectrum operations. And as the usual American military way of thinking prevails, and we now begin to focus on getting new high speed gear to the war fighter, we are forgetting that there are countries out there that actually have a large and considerable sized force equipped with tanks, and armored fighting vehicles, helicopters, artillery. We continue to make cuts to key weapon systems that continue to give us the edge on the battle field because they are way too heavy, or the concept is way too old to supposedly deal with threats on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

But that does not stop there...development of key weapon systems are being too reliant on technology, and not reliant on concepts that we know work such as survivability, maneuverability, and deployability. We are too busy trying to develop computers for force tracking and command of forces rather than developing a concept on how to win actual wars. We are too busy developing the next generation MRAP rather than developing a new vehicle that can take the hit of a KE or heat round from a tank and be survivable enough to bring all inside back alive.

As I said before, warfare should be planned as a full spectrum battle. From insurgencies to full blown tank battles on a new battle field with a new advisory. Current planning should not reflect the battle fields in Afghanistan and Iraq as the way all future wars are going to be fought,because history has proven they are not. The money is out there to buy the latest anti shipping missiles launched from land. The money is out there to buy armored personnel carriers. And as history has proven,its not always the rich and powerful nations that have these items. Now days, its insurgent groups such as Hezbollah, and other no nation insurgent groups and poorer countries in the third world. And they have the money and know how and political backing from state sponsor nations to either purchase equipment, or "borrow" the items needed. And history has also shown us that the battle field may not be a may be a palm grove or a orchard that is the battle field instead.

"To achieve this mindset, the Army must hone its ability to gain, sustain, and exploit physical control and psychological influence over land, resources, and people by threat, force, or occupation." -GEN Dempsey

Wow, and that's just part of the foreword.



Neil Baumgardner (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2009 - 5:23pm

Taking from the JOE - specifically "Competition and conflict among conventional powers will continue to be the primary strategic and operational context for the Joint Force over the next 25 years" - I would suggest that your Projection of Potential Threats and Challenges needs to consider the potential for a hostile state to threaten and/or strike an Ally (even if not the United States directly). This may be particularly more true for the latter part of your 2016-2018 timeframe - not just the immediate future characterized by current operations.

In this regard I would suggest taking a look at some of Colin Gray's work, particularly Another Bloody Century.

Neil Baumgardner