Academic journal article Military Review

Designing the Victory in Europe

Academic journal article Military Review

Designing the Victory in Europe

Article excerpt


THE U.S. ARMY is currently wrestling with the concept of "design" as an advanced application of problem management. (1) Design was first inserted into U.S. Army doctrine in 2006 with the incorporation of a campaign design chapter in Field Manual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, which was followed-up with references to design in both the U.S. Army's capstone manual, FM 3-0, Operations and the revised manual for dealing with post-hostility operations, FM 3-07, Stability Operations. The inclusion of a chapter outlining the design process in the current version of the Army's key doctrinal reference for planning--FM 5-0, The Operations Process--has elevated the concept of design to the level of capstone doctrine.

Despite the previous years of debate and revision of design doctrine, acceptance and inculcation of design into the problem-management processes of U.S. Army units in the field appears tentative. (2) The probable explanation for this is that the concept of design was not thoroughly tested by the field prior to its inclusion in doctrine. This is a lesson the Army has learned before, catalogued in exacting detail in two remarkable TRADOC publications, John Romjue's From Active Defense to AirLand Battle: The Development of Army Doctrine 1973-1982, published in 1984, and Major Paul Herbert's Deciding What Has To Be Done (Leavenworth Paper #16), published in 1988.

To summarize these two works, the publication of the Active Defense doctrine in the 1976 version of FM 100-5, Operations, led to a period of "spirited debate" and--more significantly--serious experimentation by the field headquarters (such as V Corps) who would have to operationalize the concepts. "While generally well accepted, [the 1976 version of FM 100-5, Operations] raised penetrating questions, even among its admirers, and the general critique was wide ranging." (3) As a result, in 1979 then-TRADOC commander, General Donn Starry, instituted a new doctrinal process that emphasized "operational concepts [that] did not become doctrine until tested, approved, and accepted" by the field Army force. (4) In other words, General Starry and his doctrine team recognized that only experimentation with concepts would address "the misgivings that existed within the Army itself about the doctrine of the active defense--misgivings which the debate did not satisfactorily resolve." (5)

Until the experimentation process can catch up, another way to alleviate the hesitation of units to accept design might be the examination of practical, historical examples upon which to base understanding. Although obviously the critical concepts inherent in the current military application of the Army Design Methodology, such as systems-theory, complexity, and problem framing, would not have been familiar to military planners, the basic premise of how design "fits"--the integration of conceptual thinking and detailed planning--is not necessarily new. (6) The purpose of this article is to provide a sort of "case-study" for the application of design.

In January of 1943, one year before General Dwight Eisenhower or Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery began to consider the problem-set of Normandy, the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the United States and United Kingdom decided "the time had come to begin the detailed development of the Overlord plan." (7) Subsequently, the chiefs appointed British Lieutenant General F.E. Morgan as Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), and tasked him to build and lead a team to provide "the basis for the subsequent development of detailed plans." (8) The efforts of the COSSAC staff and their relationship to the subsequent preparations made by Eisenhower and his staff are a case study for the development of a campaign design that was operationalized through detailed planning. (9)

Understanding Design

The U.S. Army views the Army Design Methodology as a broad problem-solving approach that integrates detailed planning with "critical and creative thinking" through iterative problem-framing to generate "a greater understanding, a proposed solution based on that understanding, and a means to learn and adapt. …

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