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Thread: Army Doctrine Reengineering and the Loss of Any Historical Perspective

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    Default Army Doctrine Reengineering and the Loss of Any Historical Perspective

    Within the Army there is a project underway to manage doctrine more effectively by redefining what is doctrine; then producing, maintaining, and making doctrinal material more accessible to the user. This involves both reducing the number of field manuals (to less than one hundred, perhaps fifty), and reducing the size of field manuals to facilitate ease of use, ease of maintenance and clarity.

    To help reduce the size of each manual (arbitrary goal of not more than 200 pages) the use of quotes and historical vignettes will likely be discouraged. I think this is a mistake. Doctrinal manuals should not become just a series of checklists.

    Doctrinal manuals should establish fundamental principles (as a common frame of reference) and explain their application in current military operations. The use of quotes from key leaders past and present together with a series of historical vignettes should be used to illustrate how these fundamental principles have been applied during military operations in the past -- a point of departure from which the current practitioner can gain some insight into how to deal with situations that may arise in future operations.

    The recently published Army counterinsurgency field manual (FM 3-24) is a case in point -- the quotes and historical vignettes that it contains both reinforce its stated principles and make it come alive (it is a very good read that is not only a valued cornerstone in the library of current military practitioners but one that also remains on the bedside table of many in Congress). Lets not throw this baby out with the bathwater.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with you to an extent but

    am unsure that FM 3-24 is a good example on several counts. It does have a certain appeal to many due to its essentially College 101 Textbook approach to military writing. It did assemble a broad based historical perspective to remediate errors of omission over a 30 year period. I have also heard complaints from the field about undue complexity and trivial information; it is not designed for the "doers."

    It simply is too large and unwieldy for the practitioner at Battalion level and below -- and that's the bulk of the force.

    Thus we have FM 3-24.2 Tactics in Counterinsurgency designed to remedy that error -- and which suffers from the same fault; too much backgrorund information and too lengthy at 307 total pages including extracts of Kilcullen and Lawrence among others. It is no real help to the Bn and below worker bee.

    Such volume is possibly helpful in a doctrinal sense but I believe it is very disadvantageous in a Field Manual which should be concise, 100 pages or less, designed for the user in the FIELD to rapidly get to the 'how-to' issues that are of concern to him and of pocket size.

    The history that must be an interest of any thinking soldier is easily found in many places -- the aforementioned Kilcullen and Lawrence items are widely available. I'd almost be willing to bet that copies of both authors books which are cited would be available in the average deployed BCT ...

    What's need are Doctrinal Manuals, in loose leaf binder and .pdf format (everyone may not always have AKO access) which can and should be limited to less than 100 and of less than 200 pages but including background and historical material -- easily achieved by tighter writing and elimination of redundancy -- and Field Manuals, limited to less than 100 of no more than 100 pages that are the operators manuals for the technical publications that are the Doctrinal Manuals which contain all the amplifying detail and the references.

    Doctrine is doctrine, it is what should be done and an explanation of why is beneficial. How-to-do-it is rarely the same thing and generally, the 'why' is not necessary and can, in fact, impede understanding.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    What's need are Doctrinal Manuals, in loose leaf binder and .pdf format (everyone may not always have AKO access) which can and should be limited to less than 100 and of less than 200 pages but including background and historical material -- easily achieved by tighter writing and elimination of redundancy -- and Field Manuals, limited to less than 100 of no more than 100 pages that are the operators manuals for the technical publications that are the Doctrinal Manuals which contain all the amplifying detail and the references.

    Yes...Yes...Yes!!!!busy now but more later......this absolutely should be done.

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    Default FM 22-100 was the greatest manual I ever read

    There have been many great manuals, but I think that the stories and vingettes serve not only to illustrate a manual but to make it readable. However, the previous authors are right that the most important problem to overcome is just poor writing. A good writer can make almost anything interesting. The problem with many manuals is that they read like the army decided to test the infinite monkey theorem.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I have here a book written by Eike Middeldorf in the 50's. He was later responsible for the early FMs of the Bundeswehr in our Ministry of Defence.
    The book is quite general - about all relevant facets of land warfare (context Germany 50's).

    It has less than 500 pages and could easily replace a dozen manuals of that time. There's not the same degree of detail, but taken together it's the best in military writing that I've ever seen.
    Sadly, it's in great part not timeless at all - much was outdated already in the late 60's (the leadership-related parts were outstanding, though).
    (An earlier work of him was equally great (Taktik im Russlandfeldzug - tactics in Russian campaign) and claimed to have been translated in three languages (most likely including English), but I never saw any English copy.


    I personally see little problem in plenty background info. Officers should sit together with more experienced officers and most senior NCOs at times (no uniform, no rank insignia, casual and civilian atmosphere) and just discuss/interpret manuals as if they were beautiful literature.
    It would be worth two afternoons per month.



    A good example for great FMs at the vehicle/NCO level were the German Tigerfibel, Pantherfibel and Schiessfibel (fighter shooting guide) of WW2. They're almost fun to read.
    http://www.panzerlexikon.de/hinter/Tigerfibel/menu.htm
    http://www.panther1944.de/Panther/fibel/fibel.htm
    http://www.rafiger.de/Homepage/Pages/Schiessfibel.html

    They're way better than the usual weapons-specific FMs.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 08-18-2009 at 09:53 PM.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    When I see text length requirements I think that there is either an extensive over-writing problem or a poor reading problem. On the former concision is a skill not wrought by bureaucrats or dinosaurs. On the latter reading in serial is a flaw of the under-understood. The expectation a reader should or will read everything word for word is a passing futility that shouldn't be or expected of the reader. That density of the material should be arbitrarily set is also a failure. Pithy, lengthy, laborious passages give depth.

    I would suggest that we need to teach officers how to read at all ranks. It is a skill lost to many. I am not talking about grammar but an innate skill learned specifically to cover vast amounts of information with high conceptual understanding rapidly.
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Yes...Yes...Yes!!!!busy now but more later......this absolutely should be done.
    There should be one manual with 10,000 chapters/topics on a computer/online/ CD,etc. and you could download the individual chapters/topics and make/customize the manual you need for the situation instead of writing a whole new manual each time. Have a 3 ring binder with page protectors and slide in the new or relevant pages/chapters needed for the situation and/or remove older ones. Example in A'stan you may need a chapter on mules but you may not need it in.....Estonia

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Excellent idea

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    There should be one manual with 10,000 chapters/topics on a computer/online/ CD,etc. and you could download the individual chapters/topics and make/customize the manual you need for the situation instead of writing a whole new manual each time. Have a 3 ring binder with page protectors and slide in the new or relevant pages/chapters needed for the situation and/or remove older ones. Example in A'stan you may need a chapter on mules but you may not need it in.....Estonia
    How would you go about creating something like that, with todays tech?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    How would you go about creating something like that, with todays tech?
    Easy load all the current FM's into a data base and edit for duplication.....example how many FM's have the same material on the Troop Leading Procedure? should be a chapter/topic by itself and downloaded as need instead of being repeated in a bunch of manuals over and over.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    How would you go about creating something like that, with todays tech?
    Pretty simple actually. A few companies do exactly this kind of on demand publication for academia. You chose the chapter from a few different books (or many) and they create either a pdf or actual print book for what you need. You can do this all the way down to "book modules" like exercises. Pretty simple once the content is electronic.
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    Council Member Klugzilla's Avatar
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    Amen. The doctrine efforts are ongoing, but we hope the ATTP will be the useful tool that many in this thread advocate. As someone who was tangentially involved in the writing of FM 3-24/MCWP 3-33.5, acts as the current custodian of FM 3-24, and who had a hand in FM 3-24.2, I agree. FM 3-24 is essentially an operational/higher tactical manual, although some of its material is of course widely applicable. FM 3-24.2 did not build from the bottom up and link to FM 3-24 as it was supposed to; it linked to FM 3-24 and built down, but it did not go far enough in my opinion.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Doctrine is what is taught. In that respect the FMs are WHY something needs to be done and the some explicit guidance as to how.
    IMO, the "manual" should form the reference work from which the teaching is done and not aim to teach something in and of itself. You cannot throw "Infantry Platoon Tactics" at a 2nd LT and then assume he is good to go.

    The biggest problem I have with the current US FM's is the poor history, and some of the worst writing the English Language has ever been subject to, in terms of wordy, complex, high-falutting gobbledegook.
    Clarity of writing IS clarity of thought. - anyone with any doubts, look at the drivel that gets written about Operational Design.
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    Council Member Klugzilla's Avatar
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    Doctrine is a body of thought, so it certainly can be what is taught. Doctrine consists of fundamentals, TTP, terms, and symbols. TTP provide explicit guidance as to the "how," so it depends on the manual's scope and purpose on how explicit you get. You absolutely right in that you don't throw Infantry Platoon Tactics at 2LT and assume he is good to go. While there is a reason D comes first in DOTMLPF, the other pieces are obviously vital.

    What manuals do you feel are based on poor history? I can pass along your concerns to the authors.

    The writers of FM 5-0 are wrestling with a difficult problem in crafting design doctrine for the whole Army. It is challenging as there are several views on design, it's a new concept for doctrine, and it's complex.

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    Klugzilla asked "what manuals do you feel are based on poor history? I can pass along your concerns to the authors."

    Answer: Notably absent from recent draft field manuals written by authors at CADD are quotes from key leaders past and present and historical vignettes or other historical reference to illustrate the application of a doctrinal principle. Examples include the initial draft of FM 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, 24 July 2009 (shortened to 209 pages); the revised final draft of FM 5-0, The Operations Process, 5 June 2009(shortened to 268 pages) and the DRAG draft of FM 3-92, Corps Operations, 7 August 2009 (shortened to 145 pages). They are short, but lack historical perspective. This worries me.

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    Council Member Klugzilla's Avatar
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    While I think your point is a valid one, I believe the stripping of vignettes and other historical material is part of the effort to reduce the size of manuals. I will ask the authors. What I was trying to ask for, however, was examples of poor history as the underpinnings of manuals, which is what I thought was meant by the earlier post. I know the authors did their historical homework for the manuals.

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    Thumbs down

    I've made my point, so I suggest some of the other participants that may be more widely read than I weigh in to try help answer your question about poorly written history.

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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    Pretty simple actually. A few companies do exactly this kind of on demand publication for academia. You chose the chapter from a few different books (or many) and they create either a pdf or actual print book for what you need. You can do this all the way down to "book modules" like exercises. Pretty simple once the content is electronic.
    Neil Garra at s2company.com has been advocating this for a decade...


    http://www.s2company.com/files/readings/279.htm
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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Such volume is possibly helpful in a doctrinal sense but I believe it is very disadvantageous in a Field Manual which should be concise, 100 pages or less, designed for the user in the FIELD to rapidly get to the 'how-to' issues that are of concern to him and of pocket size.

    It's interesting that the Marines have 1 T&R manual (equivalent of an ARTEP) where the Army has about 7. I know it's not exactly the same as the doctrinal manuals, but it's a close comparison.
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klugzilla View Post
    What I was trying to ask for, however, was examples of poor history as the underpinnings of manuals, which is what I thought was meant by the earlier post. I know the authors did their historical homework for the manuals.
    I'm sure they did do their homework, and a bright and committed men.

    2-46. Irregular warfare differs from conventional operations dramatically in two aspects. First, it is warfare among and within the people. The conflict is waged not for military supremacy but for political power.
    Military power can contribute to the resolution of this form of warfare, but it is not decisive. The effective application of military forces can create the conditions for the other instruments of national power to exert
    their influence. Secondly, irregular warfare also differs from conventional warfare by its emphasis on the indirect approach.
    FM3 Chap 2

    That is a set of opinions. None of the statements contained therein are historically accurate, or supported by military history. FM3 also fails to use the widely accepted historical definition of Irregular Warfare, "warfare against an irregular opponent." - eg: Small Wars.

    How many more examples do you wish for?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    In one of my posts yesterday I said that the initial draft (15 June 2009) of FM 6-0 had no quotes from key leaders past or present or any historical vignettes. I was wrong (this applies only to the 2009 drafts of FM 5-0 and FM 3-92). In fact the 2009 initial draft of FM 6-0 contains eight quotes and four historical vignettes. What I should have said is that the relative paucity of quotes and historical vignettes as compared to the published version, 11 August 2003, (which has some 28 quotes and 12 historical vignettes) is startling. As Klugzilla points out, the relative paucity of quotes and historical vignettes in the 2009 initial draft of FM 6-0 may be an artifact of the recent trend toward brevity (the published version has some 333 pages). I submit we should not sacrifice the historical underpinning of the principles contained in these doctrinal manuals (and the wisdom of those who have gone before) on the altar of brevity. That would be a false economy that could get us into trouble in the long run.

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