May 16, 2012
Since 1905, doctrine, the fundamental principles behind Soldiers' actions, has officially been a part of overall Army strategy. In the past 107 years, it has changed to match the way the Army fought as America battled in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Starting last December and going through 2015, the Army is seeking to simplify the complex world of Army doctrine. In "Doctrine Update 1-12," released in December by the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Army is striving to give leaders a better understanding of the Army's fundamental principles, simplify field manuals and allow more and better feedback from the field on how doctrine impacts the squad, platoon or company.
The new doctrinal publications are structured hierarchically to provide Soldiers with a broad overview of the Army's fundamental guiding principles when implemented through tactics and procedures. Already being written, "Army Doctrine Publications" are set to cover the overarching principles of how the Army does business. These 15 manuals are short reads -- no more than 15 pages -- that all leaders need to be familiar with, said Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca, command sergeant major of the Combined Arms Center.
The next level of doctrinal publications NCOs need to be familiar with are the "Army Doctrine Reference Publications," which dive deeper into the principles of ADPs and explain the reasoning behind the Army's fundamentals.
"It's really a hierarchy structure in terms of how you drive your information," Greca said. "Not every [publication] is necessarily applicable to all. All leaders need to be grounded in the ADPs. However, depending upon your MOS or career field, you're going to need to deep dive a little bit further and extract a little more information, depending on what your job is."
Previously, 550 Army field manuals were available, covering topics as varied as how to write a memo and how to operate a tank. To simplify that, the Army is consolidating them to 50 field manuals, Greca said.
"There was so much information that was flowing out there -- potentially information overload -- that we needed to make it simpler and streamline it," Greca said. "After the past 10 years of war, we've been asking our leaders to do a lot -- our noncommissioned officers to do a lot -- in terms of showing flexibility out there to the field. What were formerly fairly prescriptive ways of doing business, internal to FMs, we took a look at that system, and through Army Doctrinal Publications, in those 15 manuals, we're going to talk about the way the Army should do business fundamentally in accordance with our principles. That gives our leaders a lot of latitude in terms of operating within those parameters."
The 50 FMs will focus on tactics and procedures that the Army uses to train and conduct operations, and that are consistent with the principles found in the ADPs and ADRPs. Extra information will go into Army Techniques Publications, training circulars and technical manuals, Greca said.
"TMs deal with those 'shoot, move and communicate' pieces and [specifications of] equipment," Greca said. "They certainly sustain and maintain the force in formation. But a lot of those TMs are just applicable to a generator mechanic or a mechanic in a particular career field."
A living, breathing document
NCOs will be asked to give their feedback on doctrine through online resources, including milWiki, Greca said. MilWiki is an online collaboration available to discuss ways of conducting Army business.
"NCOs are going to be a part of the process," Greca said. "We're seeing those friction points that currently exist out there. These living, breathing documents are going to be open for all noncommissioned officers and leaders to provide their input into these techniques and procedures."
When NCOs encounter problems and devise ways to solve them, they can share information quickly with the force online, which does not require updating FMs or TCs, Greca said.
"This system is going to allow Soldiers to not only pull this information from online, but also be part of the solution in terms of identifying those things that might not necessarily be working and making the appropriate changes," Greca said.
The changes signal a dramatic shift in how the Army looks at doctrine and are based on what the Army has learned in terms of efficiency and ways of doing business, Greca said.
"This has been progressive, through our creation of doctrine 107 years ago," Greca said. "As we've systematically made our profession and our Army better, we've made some subtle changes based off the environment that we find ourselves in. In order to remain relevant, you've got to read and understand the doctrine."