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Full Spectrum Operations

What is it?
Full Spectrum Operations is the Army's core idea about how to conduct operations on land-its operational concept. Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, emphasizes that conflict involves more than combat between armed opponents. Full spectrum operations apply combat power through simultaneous and continuous combinations of four elements: offense, defense, stability, and civil support. The Army must defeat enemies and simultaneously shape the civil situation through stability or civil support operations.

"Soldiers operate among populations, not adjacent to them or above them. Winning battles and engagements is important but alone is not sufficient. Shaping the civil situation is just as important to success... Within the context of current operations worldwide, stability operations are often as important as-or more important than-offensive and defensive operations." (FM 3-0, Introduction)

Operations conducted overseas combine three of these elements: offensive, defensive, and stability operations. Within the United States, Army operations combine offensive, defensive, and civil support operations. The elements of full spectrum operations are necessary in any major operation, campaign, or Joint operation. The effort accorded to each component is proportional to the mission and varies with the situation.

What has the Army done?
With the publication of FM 3-0 in February 2008, the Army formally adopted full spectrum operations as its fundamental approach represents a major shift in the Army's approach to the security challenges posed by the 21st Century. Just as earlier editions of the Operations manual marked major shifts in the Army, this FM will be as influential as previous Army doctrine (e.g., Active Defense, AirLand Battle) (1976), and (1982), which moved the Army out of Vietnam and prepared it for the Cold War. Doctrine, operations, training, material, leader development, personnel, and facilities are all impacted. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not the only conflicts requiring an agile and adaptive Army. The Army recognizes that the new century is characterized by "persistent conflict" that will test Soldiers and the Nation for an unknown period. Field Manual 3-0 was the culmination of intense thinking about this complex strategic environment. Current doctrine stresses the importance of lethal, less than lethal, and non-lethal actions, and how land power contributes to Joint campaign success through both. The manual states,

"The Army's experience makes it clear that no one can accurately predict the nature, location, or duration of the next conflict. So this doctrine also addresses the needs of an Army responsible for deploying forces promptly at any time, in any environment, against any adversary. This is its expeditionary capability. Once deployed, the Army operates for extended periods across the spectrum of conflict, from stable peace through general war. This is its campaign capability." (FM 3-0, Introduction)

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
Following the release of FM 3-0, the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas focused its efforts on providing the Army with supporting doctrine and education for full spectrum operations. The Army published FM 3-07, Stability Operations, in October 2008, and plans to publish FM 3-28, Civil Support Operations, in 2009. In addition to these cornerstone manuals, FM 7-0, Army Training, was released in December, and new doctrine will follow.

Why is this important to the Army?
Operations is the Army's seminal doctrinal publication. It guides training, leader development, and the conduct of operations. It shapes force design and the fielding of equipment. The Army requires forces with the capability to conduct Joint and multinational operations anywhere across the spectrum of conflict; ranging from the low end of the spectrum-emphasizing stability and civil support operations-to the high end-emphasizing major combat operations where offense and defense predominate. Accordingly, FM 3-0 states that units must train for all the components of full spectrum operations.

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