Academic journal article Military Review

Field Manual 3-0: Doctrine Addressing Today's Fight

Academic journal article Military Review

Field Manual 3-0: Doctrine Addressing Today's Fight

Article excerpt

It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.

-Carl von Clausewitz

Published in October 2017, Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, emphasizes the Army's four strategic roles as part of the joint force: shape the security environment, prevent conflict, prevail in large-scale combat operations, and consolidate gains to make temporary success permanent (see figure 1, page 8).1 This is a significant departure from previous operational-level doctrine, which tended to focus on the tactical-level operations from the line of departure to a limit of advance with little discussion of linkages between strategic policy goals, operations, and the tactical tasks units conduct to achieve a desired end state across the conflict continuum. The new approach is necessary to account for an operational environment that is very different than those in Afghanistan and Iraq, an operational environment characterized by peer threats able to contest the joint force in all domains.

Because this is a significant emphasis change for Army forces, the Combined Arms Center is using mobile training teams to educate the force about the implications of FM 3-0. To integrate this new doctrine, the Command and General Staff College has placed renewed emphasis on division operations in the context of large-scale ground combat against peer threats to ensure that our field grade officers enter the force prepared for the most demanding environments that their units will face.

FM 3-0 is the large-unit tactical doctrine that we use to fight a peer or near-peer threat today. Mastering it requires significant time and effort. But has this transition in focus been executed deliberately enough? Are we too obsessed with more flashy future concepts and modernization efforts that divert attention away from doctrine, which already incorporates not only multi-domain conceptual thinking but also the priorities of the National Security Strategy?2 This article addresses the sense of urgency and cultural transition required to incorporate FM 3-0 into the U.S. Army and to prepare to meet peer adversaries capable of placing our nation at risk. Our culture is not yet aligned with our latest doctrine, intended to address training and experience gaps resulting from fifteen years of prioritizing counterinsurgency and stability operations.

FM 3-0 candidly states that the Army no longer enjoys superiority across all the warfighting functions. Peer threats, particularly Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, can contest both the Army and the joint force across all domains.3 Depending upon the regional context, we may be at a disadvantage in some warfighting functions and may only have relative parity in others. While this article does not address all of these challenges, it highlights some areas where we may experience overmatch from a threat in order to generate thought. Friendly intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, when faced with the contemporary integrated air defense capabilities of our adversaries, is one such area.

Comparing U.S. and Russian Use of Fires in Relationship to Maneuver

When comparing our ability to find the enemy against a near-peer threat such as Russia (or an increasingly capable China), significant friendly capability disadvantages immediately become apparent and must be offset. FM 3-0 defines reconnaissance as "a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area"4 By this definition, we must look at every capability, across all domains, to understand the existing disparities in our ability to collect information against current threats.5

Russian integrated air defense systems (IADS) make sustained air superiority questionable, especially at the beginning of operations when geographical proximity to positioned Russian forces enables their deliberate emplacement. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.