Chapter 3:
Army Forces in Unified Action

Unified Action
How Army Forces Fight
Enhancing Joint Interdependence

3-1. Over the last century, warfare became increasingly complex. Army organizations changed from the large, predominantly infantry divisions of World War I to today's brigade-based combined arms teams. The way the Army fights evolved from a single-Service to a joint focus. As technology increased weapons ranges and enabled the application of airpower and sea power to land operations, the context for Army operations evolved from Service independence through joint interoperability to joint interdependence. Joint interdependence is the purposeful combination of Service capabilities to maximize their total complementary and reinforcing effects while minimizing their relative vulnerabilities. Army forces exploit joint interdependence to dominate land combat. Today's Army forces routinely participate in unified action, integrating their operations with those of joint, interagency, and multinational partners.


3-2. Joint doctrine defines unified action as a broad generic term that describes the wide scope of actions (including the synchronization of activities with governmental and nongovernmental agencies) taking place within combatant commands, subordinate unified commands, or joint task forces under the overall direction of the commanders of those commands. Army forces provide the bulk of landpower resources for unified action. Combatant commanders and subordinate joint force commanders integrate joint force operations with interagency activities.

3-3. Regardless of the task or nature of the threat, combatant commanders use land, air, sea, space, and special operations forces to achieve strategic and operational objectives. They synchronize their efforts with those of interagency and multinational partners when possible. They establish theater strategies and provide strategic guidance and operational focus to subordinates. They organize joint forces, designate operational areas, and direct campaigns. Their aim is to achieve unity of effort among many diverse agencies in today's complex operational environment.


3-4. The Armed Forces (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and their associated special operations forces) provide globally responsive assets for joint operations to support combatant commanders' theater strategies. These theater strategies support the National Security, National Defense, and National Military Strategies.

3-5. The President exercises authority and control over the Army through a single chain of command with two distinct branches. The first branch runs from the President through the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders. It controls the operational Army, the fighting force, for missions assigned to combatant commands. The second branch is used for purposes other than operational direction of forces. It principally controls the institutional Army, whose organizations raise, train, and equip Army forces. It runs from the President through the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of the Army. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directs the Joint Staff for the Secretary of Defense. The chairman is not in a chain of command but may be in the channel of communications between the Secretary of Defense and combatant commanders. The chairman normally conveys orders issued by the President by authority and direction of the Secretary of Defense.

3-6. Each Service retains responsibility for administration and logistic support (called administrative control-ADCON) of forces it allocates to a joint force. The Secretary of the Army exercises this responsibility through the Army Chief of Staff and the Army service component commander assigned to each combatant command. The Army service component commander is responsible for the preparation and administrative support of Army forces assigned or attached to the combatant command.

3-7. A formal chain of command exists within each combatant command. Combatant commanders establish their chains of command according to their preferences and the needs of the command. The Secretary of Defense specifies the degree of control that combatant commanders exercise over their forces. When necessary to execute a mission, combatant commanders can establish a command structure using any of the following options: a subordinate unified command, joint task force, functional component command, Service component command, or single-Service force. Some Army headquarters may provide the nucleus for the establishment of either joint task forces or functional component commands.

3-8. Army forces do not fight alone; they fight as part of a joint team. Joint operations involve forces of two or more Services under a single joint force commander. Effective joint integration does not demand joint commands at all echelons but does require an understanding of joint interdependence at all echelons. Joint interdependence combines Army forces' strengths with those of other Service forces. The combination of multiple and diverse joint force capabilities creates military effects more potent than the effects produced by any Service alone.


3-9. The instruments of national power-diplomatic, informational, military, and economic-complement and reinforce each other. Army forces enhance their effectiveness through close coordination with interagency partners. By understanding the capabilities of other agencies, senior- and midlevel commanders can add diplomatic, informational, and economic depth to their military efforts. Conversely, U.S. military capabilities allow other agencies to interact with foreign powers from a position of strength and security. Synchronizing military power with other instruments of national power substantially improves the joint force's strategic capabilities.

3-10. The links among the instruments of national power require Army commanders to consider how all capabilities and agencies can contribute to accomplishing the mission. Interagency coordination forges a vital link between military operations and nonmilitary organization activities. These may include governmental agencies of the United States, host nations, and partner nations. It may also include regional and international nongovernmental organizations. Theater strategies routinely incorporate the capabilities of the entire U.S. interagency network.


3-11. Although the United States acts unilaterally when necessary, it normally pursues its national interests through multinational operations-those conducted by alliances and coalitions. An alliance is the result of formal agreements (treaties) between two or more nations for broad, long-term objectives that further the common interests of the members. Alliance members strive to field compatible military systems and establish common procedures. They develop contingency plans to integrate their responses to potential threats. A coalition is an ad hoc arrangement between two or more nations for common action. A coalition is normally formed for a focused, limited-scope purpose. Alliances and coalitions increase the quantity and skills of available forces and allow the participants to share the cost of operations. They may enhance the perceived legitimacy of U.S. strategic aims. In some cases, the military forces of other nations contribute vital capabilities to the multinational force. For example, the infantry strength of the Army of the Republic of Korea is indispensable to the Combined Forces Command, which defends the Korean peninsula.


3-12. The Army's operational concept is the core statement of its doctrine. It drives the way the Army fights its engagements, battles, and major operations. The operational concept shapes Army tactics, techniques, procedures, organizations, support, equipment, and training. From its operational concept, the Army develops its operational doctrine, contained in FM 3-0, Operations. The Army's operational concept is not static. It evolves, shaped by the Nation's requirements for landpower, the operational environment, and emerging capabilities.

3-13. Today's operational concept is distinct from future concepts. The Army Training and Doctrine Command develops future concepts and publishes them in its 525series publications. These documents forecast landpower requirements anticipated between ten and twenty years in the future. Once validated, they provide the basis for developing doctrine, organizations, and systems. In contrast, the operational concept discussed below forms the foundation for current doctrine and applies to operations today.

3-14. Four fundamentals-combined arms, joint interdependence, full spectrum operations, and mission command-underlie the operational concept. Combined arms involves the complementary application of the different Army branches. Joint interdependence describes the complementary use of Army forces with those of other Services as part of the joint force. Full spectrum operations combine offensive, defensive, stability and reconstruction, and civil support operations. Mission command is the Army's preferred method for commanding and controlling forces. These fundamentals define the way the Army executes operations.


3-15. The Army's operational concept is seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative with speed, shock, surprise, depth, simultaneity, and endurance. The operational concept depends on flexible combinations of Army capabilities (combined arms) and joint capabilities (joint interdependence) integrated across the full spectrum of operations through mission command.

3-16. Initiative, in its operational sense, is setting or dictating the terms of action throughout an operation. The side with the initiative determines the nature, tempo, and sequence of actions. Initiative is decisive if retained and exploited. In any operation, a force has the initiative when it is controlling the situation rather than reacting to circumstances. The counterpart to operational initiative is individual initiative, the willingness to act in the absence of orders or when existing orders no longer fit the situation.

3-17. Speed is the ability of land forces to act rapidly. Rapid maneuver dislocates the enemy force and exposes its elements before they are prepared or positioned. Rapid action preempts threats to security. It reduces suffering and loss of life among noncombatants or victims of disaster by restoring order and essential services. At the strategic level, speed gives Army forces their expeditionary quality. Speed allows Army forces to keep the initiative. It contributes to their ability to achieve shock and surprise.

3-18. Shock is the application of violence of such magnitude that the enemy force is stunned and helpless to reverse the situation. It entails the use of overwhelming force at the decisive time and place. When circumstances limit the use of violence, as in some stability and reconstruction operations, the perceived ability to deliver decisive force is as important as its actual use. In noncombat operations, shock stems from employing enough military force to dissuade possible adversaries from hostile action.

3-19. Surprise involves the delivery of a powerful blow at a time and place for which the adversary is unprepared. With the exception of some humanitarian relief missions, surprise always magnifies the effects of landpower. When combined with shock, it reduces friendly casualties and ends opposition swiftly.

3-20. Depth, a function of space and reach, is the ability to operate across the entire area of operations. It includes the ability to act in the information environment as well as the physical domain. Depth may involve subordinate elements of a force executing operations in locations distributed throughout the area of operations. In stability and reconstruction operations, depth includes the ability to deliver relief, perform reconstruction tasks, or achieve deterrence at multiple sites. It increases opportunities to influence the population.

3-21. Simultaneity, a function of time, confronts opponents with multiple actions occurring at once. Multiple actions overload adversaries' control systems and overstretch their resources. In stability and reconstruction operations, the ability to handle multiple events at the same time increases opportunities to influence the population. Simultaneity is at the heart of how the Army operates: Army forces conduct offensive, defensive, and stability and reconstruction operations at the same time throughout a campaign.

3-22. Endurance is the ability to survive and persevere over time. Swift campaigns, however desirable, are the exception. To succeed, Army forces frequently conduct operations for protracted periods. Endurance stems from the ability to generate, protect, and sustain a force, regardless of how far away it is deployed, how austere the environment, or how long the combatant commander requires landpower. It involves anticipating requirements and preparing to make the most effective use of available resources. At the strategic level, endurance gives Army forces their campaign quality.


3-23. Combined arms is a function both of organizational design and temporary association for particular missions. To achieve combined arms, commanders merge elements of different branches-armor, infantry, artillery, civil affairs, combat engineering, and many others-into highly integrated tactical organizations. The strengths of each branch complement and reinforce those of the others, making combined arms teams stronger than the sum of their elements. For example, the brigade combat team has organic elements of many different branches, including, military police, intelligence, infantry, artillery, logistics, and engineers. When deployed, specialized units are added or removed according the needs of the mission. Within the brigade, the commander constantly adjusts the organization of battalion task forces and company teams into different combinations of specialties to achieve the best balance. Well-trained combined arms teams dominate close combat. Army forces using combined arms win against all types of enemies and prevail in stability and reconstruction operations.

3-24. Joint interdependence is combined arms raised to the joint force level. It reinforces and complements the effects of Army combined arms operations and makes Army forces many times more effective than they would be otherwise. Joint interdependence enables the operational concept. Joint force capabilities provide additional mobility, intelligence, fires, protection, and logistics throughout the land area of operations. Flexible combinations of Service forces break the enemy force into pieces unable to complement or reinforce each other, shattering its coherence. Tough, resilient enemies rarely succumb to a single swift action. Ultimately, land forces must maneuver against and destroy them in close combat. Continuous, sustained Army operations, fully supported by joint capabilities, erode the resolve of remaining enemies. Joint interdependence makes the landpower of the joint force the most effective in history, particularly when measured in terms of capabilities per deployed Soldier.

3-25. Combined arms and joint interdependence make land forces more effective in stability and reconstruction operations. Army special operations forces-such as, civil affairs, psychological operations, and special forces A-teams-operate with conventional Army forces, often cooperating with other governmental agencies. Conventional brigades may be task-organized for security, reconstruction, and services. Although combat is less likely during stability and reconstruction operations, the Army's requirement for joint support does not diminish. Medical and logistic operations, for example, depend on responsive air support and, when feasible, movement on inland waterways. This support is especially important when areas of operations are noncontiguous.


3-26. Army forces employ landpower throughout the range of military operations. Effective employment of landpower requires securing and maintaining the initiative and combining types of operations. During joint campaigns overseas, Army forces execute a simultaneous and continuous combination of offensive, defensive, and stability and reconstruction operations as part of integrated joint, interagency, and multinational teams. Concurrently with overseas campaigns, Army forces within the United States and its territories combine offensive, defensive, and civil support operations to support homeland security. (See figure 3-1.) Strategically, the ability to conduct offensive, defensive, and stability and reconstruction operations in overseas campaigns while supporting homeland security domestically is central to full spectrum operations. Domestic operations provide Army capabilities to support homeland security directly. Overseas campaigns contribute to homeland security by taking the fight to the enemy.

Figure 3-1. Full spectrum operations

3-27. Offensive operations carry the fight to the enemy by closing with and destroying enemy forces, seizing territory and vital resources, and imposing the commander's will on the enemy. They focus on seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative. This active imposition of landpower makes the offense the decisive type of military operation, whether undertaken against irregular forces or the armed forces of a nation state. In addition, the physical presence of land forces and their credible ability to conduct offensive operations enable the unimpeded conduct of stability and reconstruction operations.

3-28. Defensive operations counter enemy offensive operations. They defeat attacks, destroying as many attackers as necessary. Defensive operations preserve control over land, resources, and populations. They retain terrain, guard populations, and protect key resources. Defensive operations also buy time and economize forces to allow the conduct of offensive operations elsewhere. Defensive operations not only defeat attacks but also create the conditions necessary to regain the initiative and go on the offensive or execute stability and reconstruction operations.

3-29. Stability and reconstruction operations sustain and exploit security and control over areas, populations, and resources. They employ military capabilities to reconstruct or establish services and support civilian agencies. Stability and reconstruction operations involve both coercive and cooperative actions. They may occur before, during, and after offensive and defensive operations; however, they also occur separately, usually at the lower end of the range of military operations. Stability and reconstruction operations lead to an environment in which, in cooperation with a legitimate government, the other instruments of national power can predominate.

3-30. Within the United States and its territories, Army forces support homeland security operations. Homeland security operations provide the Nation strategic flexibility by protecting its citizens and infrastructure from conventional and unconventional threats. Homeland security has two components. The first component is homeland defense. If the United States comes under direct attack or is threatened by hostile armed forces, Army forces under joint command conduct offensive and defensive missions as part of homeland defense. The other component is civil support, which is the fourth type of Army operation.

3-31. Civil support operations address the consequences of man-made or natural accidents and incidents beyond the capabilities of civilian authorities. Army forces do not conduct stability and reconstruction operations within the United States; under U.S law, the federal and state governments are responsible for those tasks. Instead, Army forces conduct civil support operations when requested, providing Army expertise and capabilities to lead agency authorities.

3-32. The skills Army forces require to conduct one type of operation complement those required to conduct other types of operations. For example, the perceived ability of Army forces to attack and destroy enemies contributes to success in stability and reconstruction operations by deterring potential threats. Conversely, stability and reconstruction operations reduce the chance of offensive and defensive requirements by influencing civilians to not support enemy efforts. Defensive capabilities are employed in such homeland security missions as protecting key infrastructure during a crisis. The discipline, physical stamina, and unit cohesion developed during training for offensive and defensive operations prepare Soldiers and units to deal effectively with the ambiguities and complexities of stability and reconstruction operations and civil support operations.


3-33. Mission command is the Army's preferred method for commanding and controlling forces. The distribution, speed, and simultaneity of integrated joint operations and the design of the modular force mandate conducting operations with mission command. A climate of mission command allows Army forces to adapt and succeed despite the chaos of combat. Successful mission command rests on the following elements: commander's intent, subordinates' initiative, mission orders, and resource allocation. Under mission command, commanders provide subordinates with a mission, their commander's intent and concept of operations, and resources adequate to accomplish the mission. Higher commanders empower subordinates to make decisions within the commander's intent. They leave details of execution to their subordinates and require them to use initiative and judgment to accomplish the mission. Higher commanders expect subordinates to identify and act on unforeseen circumstances, whether opportunities or threats, while synchronizing their operations with those of adjacent unit commanders. Seizing, retaining, and exploiting the operational initiative requires subordinate commanders and leaders to exercise individual initiative and higher commanders to give them authority to do so. Training subordinates under mission command develops disciplined initiative and skilled judgment. It also gives commanders the confidence to delegate them the necessary authority during operations. Mission command enables commanders to use the unprecedented agility and flexibility of the modular force to take advantage of the chaos of war. It allows Army forces to rapidly adapt to changes in the situation and exercise initiative within the commander's intent to accomplish the mission.


3-34. Overcoming the enemy's will is the objective of combat operations; physical destruction of enemy forces, when necessary, is only a means to this end. Breaking the enemy's will signals victory but does not end a campaign. Americans fight for a better peace. Security must be established, services restored, and the foundation for lasting change set. During and after major combat operations, Army forces contribute to joint, interagency, and multinational efforts to exploit the opportunities military victory provides and provide strategic permanence to the otherwise temporary effects of combat.

3-35. Decisive resolution of conflicts normally occurs on land. Of the Armed Forces' capabilities, landpower is unique because only land forces can occupy, control, and protect vital areas. People and resources-the participants, supporters, and objectives of land operations-can only be controlled or protected by land forces. Effective employment of landpower is never purely destructive, nor is it totally benign or unobtrusive. Employing landpower requires using the appropriate level of force-for example, peaceful persuasion and long-term stabilizing presence, localized raids, or overwhelming physical destruction.

3-36. Offensive and defensive land operations have immediate and severe effects on people, institutions, and infrastructure. Concurrent stability and reconstruction operations are normally needed to sustain the integrity of noncombatants' society. Effective stability and reconstruction operations protect the society's essential infrastructure, institutions, and basic needs. In some cases, stability and reconstruction operations alter factors or institutions to promote security and effect permanent changes. They enable the fastest possible return to a stable environment. Land forces may undertake stability and reconstruction operations to prevent or contain conflicts. In doing so, they sometimes have to conduct offensive and defensive operations. In many cases, stability and reconstruction operations include communicating the clear understanding that Army forces can and will counter any threat with the force required. In other words, combat capabilities underwrite stability and reconstruction operations.

3-37. The deployment of ground forces into a region and the approach they take to the population immediately affect the population's daily life, perceptions, and politics- for better or worse, depending on the viewpoint of the inhabitants. This effect occurs even without a shot being fired. It is especially true within the United States and its territories, where law and civil authority carefully circumscribe the use of military force.

3-38. Employing landpower effectively in joint campaigns requires combining types of operations and transitioning between them. While one type of operation normally predominates during each campaign phase, other types also occur. For example, after the Baathist regime collapsed and its military forces were destroyed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the coalition campaign transitioned from one where offensive operations predominated to one characterized by stability and reconstruction operations. To counter the various insurgent groups that emerged afterwards, coalition forces again transitioned; they began to conduct offensive and defensive missions simultaneously with stability and reconstruction operations. The stability and reconstruction operations now included counterinsurgency. Simultaneous combinations of types of operations and transitions between them characterize full spectrum operations. They will be typical of the use of landpower in future campaigns. The skills required to transition between types of operations are special and critical for Army units. Mastering them requires the Army to develop Soldiers and leaders with not only combat expertise but also imagination and flexibility.


3-39. A campaign is a series of related military operations aimed at accomplishing a strategic or operational objective within a given time and space. Campaigns are inherently joint operations. Expeditionary campaigns that involve land operations almost always require Army forces. During campaigns, deployed Army forces normally conduct simultaneous offensive, defensive, and stability and reconstruction operations throughout the area of operations. The predominant type of operation and its relationship to other types of operations vary according to the joint force commander's design.

3-40. At the outset of a campaign, the joint force commander typically needs forces to respond promptly to a crisis. The Army provides rapidly deployable units able to operate in any environment-from complex urban areas to remote, austere wilderness regions. If a decisive conclusion to combat operations does not occur swiftly, the Army provides land forces with greater combat power and the endurance needed to conduct sustained operations. Campaigns that are predominantly stability and reconstruction in character may require landpower for years, as operations in the Sinai and Balkans demonstrate. The capability to conduct sustained joint-enabled land operations- the Army's campaign quality-gives Army forces their ability to preserve the gains of joint operations where necessary. This allows employment of other instruments of national power to achieve strategic objectives.

3-41. Commanders seek to win decisively as quickly as possible. However, fighting strong or resilient enemies, or facing relief or humanitarian circumstances that cannot be resolved quickly, requires the staying power only land forces provide. Army forces remain on the ground until the job is done. Army forces make permanent the effects of joint operations.


3-42. The challenges of the security environment, complexity of unified action, and capabilities required to conduct full spectrum operations make joint interdependence imperative. Joint interdependence extends combined arms synergy into the joint realm. It is more than interoperability, the assurance that Service forces can work together smoothly. It is even more than integration to improve their collective efficiency and effectiveness. Joint interdependence purposefully combines Service capabilities to maximize their complementary and reinforcing effects while minimizing their vulnerabilities.

3-43. Fundamentally, joint interdependence means each Service depends on the others and on the joint force for key capabilities. It is based on recognition that the Armed Forces fight as one team of joint, interagency, and multinational partners. Several conditions are essential for joint interdependence. Joint force commanders must establish clear command relationships among force components; clearly stating supporting and supported relationships among joint force elements is particularly important. Commanders must also determine measures that allow unity of effort with interagency and multinational partners. Commanders at all levels must realize that assured access to partners' capabilities does not require command authority over them. Joint interdependence requires confidence that the supporting force will provide its capabilities where and when needed; conversely, commitment to delivering those capabilities to the supported force is also essential. Joint interdependence rests on trust among military professionals. For Soldiers, it means their Warrior Ethos obligations apply to their joint, interagency, and multinational partners.

3-44. At the strategic level, joint interdependence allows each Service to divest itself of redundant functions that another Service provides better. Doing this reduces unnecessary duplication of capabilities among the Services. It achieves greater efficiency in all areas of expertise. Interdependence allows the Army to focus on developing capabilities that only land forces can provide. Likewise, relying on the Army for landrelated capabilities allows the other Services to achieve greater efficiencies in their respective domains.

3-45. Joint interdependence requires joint training. Organizations that operate together must train together. The Army's joint training opportunities continue to improve as it works with U.S. Joint Forces Command and the other Services to further develop a joint training capability. The planning, scenarios, connectivity, and overall realism of joint training are enhancing the joint operations skills of Army commanders and Soldiers. The Army is also learning from the strategic environment. The Nation's adversaries are elusive and adaptive. They seek refuge in complex terrain, sometimes harbored by failed or failing states. They often leverage such new and easy-to-obtain technologies as the Internet and satellite communications. The Army is incorporating these conditions into deployment scenarios, training, and education to enhance its joint warfighting proficiency. In pursuit of joint interdependence, the Army is considering joint operations at the outset when designing capabilities and establishing training requirements. Joint training and education help Soldiers and Army leaders learn about the other Services' cultures, responsibilities, and relationships. This knowledge, combined with experience in the joint environment, is enhancing Soldiers' and Army leaders' contributions to joint interdependence.

3-46. The Army's modular force combines an expeditionary capability, the ability to promptly deploy combined arms forces worldwide, and a campaign quality, the ability to sustain operations long enough to achieve the desired end state. Army forces' expeditionary capability and campaign quality allow them to contribute decisive, sustained landpower to joint, interagency, and multinational operations in any environment. An ever present challenge is to reconcile the Army's staying power-the ability to conduct long-term operations-with its strategic agility-the ability to promptly deploy forces of appropriate size and strength over vast distances to anywhere in the world. Army forces are postured, both at home and abroad, to demonstrate their agility and readiness to quickly execute expeditionary operations anytime, anywhere.


3-47. Combatant commanders are responsible for winning wars and commanding the joint forces that fight them; however, the Army is responsible for providing the bulk of the landpower needed to achieve those victories, set the conditions for an enduring peace, and sustain those conditions as long as needed to achieve that peace. The campaign quality and joint and expeditionary capabilities of Army forces offer the President and combatant commanders diverse options for security cooperation, crisis response, and warfighting. The Army's campaign quality is expressed in its ability to conduct sustained operations on land with a variety of units for as long as it takes to accomplish the Nation's political objectives. Its expeditionary capability is seen in its versatile organizations able to promptly deploy and operate in austere environments across the range of military operations. The campaign quality and expeditionary capability of Army forces make them relevant to today's operational environment and ready to meet any challenge to the Nation's security or well-being.