Stabilization Operations
Capt. Patrick Jenkins, 769th Engineer Battalion, takes a moment to talk with children before handing out school supplies in their south Baghdad neighborhood. The Army's new FM 3-0 elevates the importance of such stabilization operations.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 28, 2008) -- The Army's new field manual for operations, FM 3-0, brings the first major update of Army capstone doctrine since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

"This change in operational doctrine is designed to ensure that our Soldiers have the very best tools, training and leadership they need to succeed," said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the commanding general of the United States Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Gen. William S. Wallace, commanding general of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, unveiled the 15th edition of the field manual at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 28.

"Today's Army is about half the size it was in 1970, but the U.S. military's involvement around the world has tripled since the collapse of the former Soviet Union," Wallace noted in the foreword to the TRADOC information pamphlet for FM 3-0. "The next several decades, according to many security experts, will be an era of persistent conflict that will generate continuing deployments for our Army."

"We must emphasize doctrine as the driver for change," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. "You can't cement change in the organization until you adapt the institutions. That change begins with doctrine."

The rise of transnational terrorist networks, religious radicalism, ethnic genocide, sectarian violence, criminal networks and failing nation-states all imperil the United States and its national interests.

"A tremendous amount of change in FM 3-0 has come from lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Caldwell. "It was important for us to go back and take those lessons that we have learned over time and incorporate them into our doctrine, training and leader development."

There are several changes in the new operations manual:

Aca,!Ac The operational concept and the operational environment

Aca,!Ac The stability operations construct

Aca,!Ac The information-operations construct

Aca,!Ac Warfighting functions

Aca,!Ac The spectrum of conflict

Aca,!Ac Defeat and stability mechanisms

Aca,!Ac Joint interdependence and modular forces

FM 3-0 institutionalizes simultaneous offensive, defensive, and stability or civil-support operations as the core of the Army's doctrine. The concept of full-spectrum operations, first introduced in the 2001 manual, still represents a major shift in Army doctrine - forces must be able to address the civil situation at all times, combining tactical tasks affecting noncombatants with tactical tasks directed against the enemy.

According to Caldwell, FM 3-0 is revolutionary. There are four specific points in the manual that he calls revolutionary:

Aca,!Ac The importance of stability operations is elevated to co-equal with combat (offensive and defensive operations).

Aca,!Ac The critical nature and influence of information on operations.

Aca,!Ac An operational concept that drives initiative embraces risk and focuses on creating opportunities to achieve decisive results.

Aca,!Ac The critical role of the commander in full-spectrum operations, bridging battle command and operational art in leveraging the experience, knowledge and intuition of the commander.

Stability operations are viewed as important - if not more so - than offensive and defensive operations in the new operations manual.

"Whatever we do and wherever we go in the world today, fundamentally, the operations are going to be conducted among the people," said Lt. Col. Steve Leonard, chief, Operational Level Doctrine, Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, and one of the lead authors of FM 3-0.

"The operations are going to be focused on the well-being and the future of the populations we are operating in," Leonard said. "The lesson that we all brought home was that the mission we completed was a little bit different than the mission we set out to do. We all had a much greater appreciation of the importance of stability operations and the need to integrate stability operations with the traditional combat operations that the Army performs."

Winning battles and engagements is important but not decisive by itself; shaping the civil situation in concert with other government agencies, international organizations, civil authorities and multinational forces will be just as important to campaign success, according to the new FM.

The new operations manual institutionalizes the need for cultural awareness, which is critical to understanding populations and their perceptions to reduce friction, and prevent misunderstanding, thereby improving a force's ability to accomplish its mission.

Soldiers and leaders must master information. To the people, perception is reality. Altering perceptions requires accurate, truthful information presented in a way that accounts for how people absorb and interpret information with messages that have broad appeal and acceptance. This is the essence of information engagement in the new FM.

"We have come to recognize that in the 21st Century, the information domain is a critical component," said Caldwell. "It is how you perform information operations, how you perform psychological operations, how we take and embed and link all of these together while we are performing non-lethal forms of stability operations. This is a major change and one of our key elements of combat power."

The new operations manual asks leaders to embrace risk, focus on creating opportunities to achieve decisive results and take initiative. With Soldiers fighting door-to-door one minute and rebuilding schools the next, they have to be able to adapt and make the right decisions in any given situation.

"We're not teaching Soldiers what to think in the school and centers; we're teaching them how to think, how to think critically and how to think creatively," said Caldwell. "There is no way that we can properly prepare Soldiers for the challenges and diversity of the threats they will face on the battlefield today. They are too diverse. The asymmetrical threats are absolutely unpredictable and will continue to be in the 21st- century battlefield. Therefore, we must ground Soldiers in the principles and the art of creative and critical thinking. That has been what we are pushing back into the school houses."

FM 3-0 brings a philosophical shift of how Soldiers and commanders are empowered to complete their mission and adapt to their surroundings.

"This manual moves away from the focus of the 90s which was more on process, science and technology," said Leonard. "It emphasizes the human dimension of command and leadership. One that focuses instead on the commander as a leader who draws on experience, intuition, knowledge and the human aspect of what leadership is about. When this is applied in an operation, it provides the flexibility, adaptability and creativity that are necessary to operate in what we recognize as a fundamentally dynamic and volatile operational environment."

The Army's senior leadership has been hands-on with the creation and writing of FM 3-0.

"This manual was shaped by the senior leaders of our Army," said Leonard. "It has the flavor of combat. It has the experience of mid-grade officers who can communicate between the senior leaders and the junior leaders and noncommissioned officers. It was fundamentally shaped by senior leader engagement. With a manual of this importance, we made sure that what we presented to the force was something that rings true from that new Soldier coming off the street, to the most senior leader in the Army, the chief of staff."

(John Harlow writes for TRADOC News Service.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16