View Full Version : What’s doctrine between allies......?

05-22-2010, 03:05 PM
I have recently completed reading two documents which I think will interest members of the SWC, and, I hope, generate constructive/heated debate. The first is a monograph written by Maj. A. D. Firth (British Army) for the US Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) in 2003; United in Fact? A Critical Analysis of Intent and Perception in the Application of American and British Army Doctrine ( http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA416114&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf). Of course the monograph is seven years old and much has changed within and between both armies. But that’s all grist to the mill aint’it?

The primary research vehicle for this work was a survey conducted amongst American officers attending the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, and UK Army officers at their Joint Service Command and Staff College, Watchfield. The study examined the two armies’ respective approaches to some fundamental components of operational design, asking whether their perspectives betrayed physical or conceptual foundations. The responses to this survey were set against the intent of respective doctrinal publications, the US Army Field Manual 3-0 and the British Army Doctrinal Publication 1, both of which are entitled Operations.

While confirming the nesting of British Army doctrinal intent and understanding the results of the survey sound an alarm bell for US Army operational doctrine. Instead of providing a conceptual framework for deployments across the spectrum of contemporary conflict as the
authors had intended, Field Manual 3-0 has been received as having more utility for war-fighting than operations other than war, for the tactical level of warfare than the operational, and about doing rather than thinking about and framing its approach to the environment. Based on this research the author argues that, unlike the British Army’s manoeuvrist [sic]approach to operations, the US Army has no theoretical framework on which to base practical activities.(from Abstract)

In one of the questions asked British and American (US Army) officers were asked to choose a definition of “lines of operation” from the following:

“a) The physical linkage of friendly force progress from its home base towards closing with the enemy, or;

b) The conceptual linkage of inter-agency actions within a campaign towards a common objective or set of objectives”
75% of Britons chose a) while 100% of Yanks (and 25% of Brits) chose b).

Every [sic!] UK officer who responded identified ADP 1’s meaning of the phrase as, ‘the conceptual linkage of inter-agency actions within a campaign towards a common objective or set of objectives’. In comparison, most US officers were drawn towards describing them as, ‘the physical linkage of friendly force progress from its home base towards closing with the enemy’. This discloses a physical approach to the issue to be more comfortable to the US audience, despite the fact that the two nations’ armies deal with the issue of lines of operation in fairly similar manner in their current publications. Lines of operation, as first defined by Jomini, have played a vital part in operational planning throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There is little value in prolonging their employment in a strict, geographical sense in the contemporary operating environment that is characterised by a non-contiguous, non-linear battlefield framework and that a conceptual approach is needed at the operational level. Evidently this is not present in the interpretation of current US Army doctrine which clings to geography to portray battlefield relationships.(pp.39-40)

Another survey question was framed thus:

The concept of ‘deep, close and rear’ operations is best described as:

a) ‘Deep’ is the enemy’s rear area, ‘close’ is where the fight is and ‘rear’ is the friendly force’s communications zone.
b) ‘Deep’ is the adversary’s linkage to its power base, ‘close’ is where I can influence the current environment directly and ‘rear’ is the linkage of friendly forces to their Centre of Gravity.(p. 42)
85% of Brits answered a) while 96% of US Army officers answered b)

For the American officer this is a strictly geographic application through which to understand the battlefield framework. The British Army has evidently succeeded in conceptualising the concept, however, with ‘deep, close and rear’ being analogous to the USMC definitions of shaping, decisive and supporting functions. In this way the framework can be truly applied across the spectrum of conflict and at all levels of war. For example, when UK forces moved into Kosovo in June 1999, the accompanying artillery regiment assumed responsibility for ‘deep operations’. This did not imply the threat of indirect fire missions on retreating Serbian forces, but shaping the operational environment by locating and liaising with the Kosovo Liberation Army in order to ‘neutralise’ a potentially volatile influence. (pp. 42-3)

A further example is;

What is more important to you as a commander?
a) Your designated task.
b) Your designated purpose.
c) The commander’s intent you received from higher.(p.45-6)[quote]
31 % of US officers answered a), 27% of US officers answered b) (as did 18% of UK Army officers), whilst 42% of the US Army and 82% of the UK officers responded c).
[quote] Both US and UK officers surveyed noted the importance of the purpose, the majority going one step further in saying that their most important direction came from ‘the commander’s intent received from higher’. Of some concern, however, is the fact that nearly one third of US officers thought that the task was the most important component in governing one’s action.(p.47)

This dovetails rather nicely with the second paper US/UK Mental Models of Planning: The Relationship between Plan Detail and Plan Quality ( http://www.ara.com/KleinDiv/documents/RasmussenSieckSmart_2008.pdf), published in 2008, which provides a different angle on the issues raised above through a examination of UK and US military planning and the influence of organisational culture. The authors state that...;

... the US and UK agree on a very fundamental notion of what planning is about. They both note that planning is about identifying an end, or a goal, figuring out ways to get to that end, and with what means you are going to get there. Our results also indicate that the US and UK planners agree on another high level planning notion, namely that there is a relationship between amount of detail in the plan and overall plan quality. Both US and UK planners indicate that the plan should be somewhat detailed in order to be a high quality plan. However, interestingly planners from these two nations seem to have different ideas about which dimension of the plan should have a relatively high level of detail. Overall, the US planners indicated that a plan should specify action at an ‘adequate’ level of detail. The UK planners, on the other hand, emphasized that a good plan should have sound and coherent logic.(p.4-5)

The data collected was via semi-structured interviews...

...with fourteen experienced campaign planners in the US (6), at Fort
Leavenworth General Staff College, and in the UK (8), at Cranfield Defence College. All the planners were Lieutenant Colonel rank. All the American planners were Army and four of the UK planners were Army, three were Air Force, and one was from the Royal Marines. All planners had between 18 and 33 years of experience in the military. One of the planners we interviewed in the US was from the UK, and three of the planners we interviewed in the UK were not from the UK.(p.3)

The conclusions put forward for the differences in planning style are threefold;

We propose that there are at least three different types of explanations that can be brought forward to account for differences in how the US and the UK conceptualize planning. The first concerns the potential historical influences on current planning concepts. It is possible that differences in US and UK military histories may have lead to different potential to adopt an agile and adaptive mindset today. British military history reveals a long-standing tradition for emphasizing adaptation. In contrast, US Army culture currently still places too much value on process.

A second explanation of our findings considers the effects of national policies on planning concepts. It appears that the US and UK historically have developed mindsets that are more (the UK) and less (the US) ready to adopt a fourth-generation vision for command and control. National policies in both the US and the UK have been implemented in an effort to modernize official doctrine to reflect the global shift towards fourth-generation warfare . However, it may be that the US and the UK have been differentially successful in inculcating the spirit of new command philosophies in their armed forces.

Finally, the third type of explanation regards differences in the tools available to support planning as a potential influence on how planners conceptualize planning. Tendencies to use different tools to develop and represent plans as well as differences in general attitudes towards tools and the role of tools in the planning process are also potential sources of differences between the US and UK conceptualizations of planning. The US uses PowerPoint to capture and brief plans whereas the UK tends to use Word documents. This makes for an important difference in the work processes between the two nations. Within the interviews, the US planners expressed strong opposition to using Word, and the UK planners expressed the opposite sentiment.(p.7)

The jpegs attached below come from page 5 & 6 of the above paper.