Edition: Wed, March 15, 2006
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Army Capabilities to Dominate in Complex Environments

What is it? Complex environments are multifaceted operational areas with physical, social (human) and informational dimensions. Individually and collectively, they pose significant challenges to Joint Force abilities to gain and maintain situational understanding and to dominate any adversary and any situation across the range of military operations. Examples of complex environments include urban areas, mountains, jungles, and littoral areas. These are further compounded by human terrain that includes ethnic, cultural, and religious differences as well as regional and political divisions. The Army must dominate complex battlespace environments through simultaneous, integrated operations in all three of these dimensions.

What has the Army done? The Army has assembled a team to analyze complex environments and provide a recommendation for further action. The RAND Corporation Arroyo Center is providing the Army with study, analysis, and recommendations. Two recommendations include how the Army can address capability gaps in the future, specifically in doctrine, training, leader development and materiel. Concurrently, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is examining the issue to provide recommendations. In support of these research projects, the Army has incorporated the challenges inherent to complex environments into its previous and future experiments and wargames.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army is working to simultaneously address the three dimensions of complex environments, and provide Soldier-friendly capabilities that can be used in combat now, while continuing to prepare modular forces and future combat systems. The Army will continue to seek solutions that will enable it to dominate in all complex environments, anticipating evolving threat tactics, adaptations, and variations. This may require modifying Army equipping, manning, and acquisition processes.

Why is this important to the Army? Operations in Iraq make the current emphasis on urban operations understandable. Commanders can no longer bypass built-up areas to avoid bogging down in a difficult fight in complex physical terrain further complicated by the presence of civilians. Our enemies purposefully choose to fight among the civilian population (human terrain) in which it can blend in a manner similar to using camouflage to hide in wooded terrain. Their goal is to negate our ability to differentiate between friend and foe, and to create turbulence and turmoil among the population that negatively affects their perception of the U.S. Military and the United States in general. In the future, other adversaries may choose to confront the United States in other complex environments where they can reduce or eliminate our technical and/or tactical (or communications, intelligence, and firepower) advantages. When this happens, we must be prepared to operate in these environments since we may not have the time to develop solutions quickly while engaged in conflict.


March 20 - Terrorism Workshop - How Terror Groups End, featuring Chris Harmon, co-sponsored by the Army's Eisenhower National Security Series, Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars
and the RAND Corporation, Noon-1:30 p.m., Washington, D.C. For more information: