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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection draws from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within the Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Linking Conventional and Special Operations Forces

Linking Conventional and Special Operations ForcesThe U.S. armed forces have consistently demonstrated their skill in conducting joint operations. However, their capability exists almost exclusively on the operational and strategic levels. To cope with nonstate enemies in the global war on terrorism, jointness must extend down to the tactical level. Small and agile joint units, self-sustaining or with reachback logistics, executing missions independently but based on national source real-time intelligence, are the wave of the future. The interface between special operations and conventional forces on the division and corps level is a critical seam in joint doctrine. Likewise, the special operations forces (SOF) community must examine its doctrinal interface at the seam between joint and combined operations. As an Army element, special forces have traditionally been concerned only with other Army SOF units. In joint and combined warfare, however, it must coordinate all SOF–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and allied forces operating within the area of responsibility of its supported unit. Additionally, special forces qualification course exercises would enable students to learn joint planning challenges firsthand.

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Joint Concept Development at Joint Forces Command

Joint Concept Development at Joint Forces CommandWith political certainties no longer certain and technological advances progressing faster than ever, the U.S. military must be intellectually and substantively agile enough to adapt to change faster than its adversaries. To attain this agility, the military must test novel concepts and construct an environment of experimentation that rapidly identifies new challenges and opportunities and examines lessons learned from operations worldwide. The military must identify options to further explore through wide-ranging “discovery” experiments in hypothetical crisis situations. Robust follow-on experimentation using detailed hypotheses will ensure that the capabilities observed in the experiments are, indeed, the right ones, and rapid prototyping will place capabilities in the hands of warfighters to obtain their feedback before major investments in time, resources and intellectual capital. Each of the services, combatant commands, and defense agencies must adjust to changing circumstances to field the best capabilities. U.S. Joint Forces Command in particular must bring together new ideas from throughout the military through joint concept development and experimentation . Rigorous and sustained testing of new ideas will ensure that future U.S. forces will be relevant instruments of national power to protect the nation.


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Understanding Fear's Effect on Unit Effectiveness

Understanding Fear's Effect on Unit EffectivenessBy the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, fire and movement had largely replaced close-order tactics and the battlefield became a much lonelier place. Long-distance weapons required soldiers to disperse, and combatants in both world wars found it increasingly difficult to maintain an offensive spirit. The military historian John Keegan wrote: “What battles have in common is human: the behaviour of men struggling to reconcile their instinct for self-preservation, their sense of honour and the achievement of some aim over which other men are ready to kill them.” Adversaries will continue to use fear as a weapon, especially in asymmetrical warfare. In Fight or Flight, Geoffrey Regan states: “[Fear] must be channeled so its control becomes the first step in becoming an efficient soldier.” Understanding the psychological advantage that effectively led, well trained, and cohesive organizations have over an opponent should encourage commanders to train their units to recognize and overcome fear. Controlling fear is within reach of well-trained units. Realistic and demanding training provides a soldier advantages in the struggle of natural instincts for self-preservation against real or perceived threats.


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Operational Command and Control in the Information Age

Operational Command and Control in the Information AgeAdvances in information technology and communications allow senior leaders to observe events in near real time from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This condition often promotes a false impression that remote headquarters can perceive the situation better than tactical commanders on the scene. In these circumstances, operational commanders often bypass immediate subordinate commanders and issue direct orders to tactical commanders in the field. This situation prevails because of the inability or unwillingness of operational commanders to delegate authority. In general, leaders bypass subordinates because they distrust their competence. A narrow tactical perspective is another reason for micromanagement despite lessons of the past, which indicate that such practices are invariably detrimental to an organization in combat. Overcentralized command and control also undermines morale and encourages an unwillingness or inability on the part of subordinates to act independently and take responsibility for their actions. The problems of centralized command and control could be solved by adopting the tenets of task-oriented command and control and accepting that war is not a science but an art. Advanced information technologies can reduce uncertainty but not eliminate it.


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