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Chapter 3

The Army in Military Operations

The Army's Purpose

The Army's nonnegotiable contract with the American people is to fight and win our Nation's wars. Our unique contribution to national security is prompt, sustained land dominance across the range of military operations and spectrum of conflict. The Army provides the land force dominance essential to shaping the international security environment.

The Army's strategic responsiveness, overseas stationing, force projection capability, and unique role as America's decisive force are powerful deterrents to would-be challengers. The Army achieves its deterrent effect through the demonstrated capabilities that make it the world's premier land force.

Should deterrence fail, The Army provides the ability to be dominant on land in war and military operations other than war. The Army's goal will be to achieve sustained land dominance, whether in closing with and destroying an enemy or keeping the peace.

Primary Functions

The primary functions of The Army, as outlined in Department of Defense Directive 5100.1, are to organize, equip, and train forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations on land. Accordingly, The Army must possess the capability to defeat enemy land forces and to seize, occupy, and defend land areas. Additionally, we must be capable of conducting air and missile defense, space and space control operations, and joint amphibious and airborne operations. These capabilities require the support of special operations forces, the operation of land lines of communication, and civil programs prescribed by law. These primary functions and the diverse, full spectrum set of missions assigned by the National Command Authorities and combatant commanders link The Army's enduring roles with The Army core competencies.

The Army's purpose is to serve the American people, protect enduring national interests, and fulfill national military responsibilities. The Army, with the other services, deters conflict, reassures allies, defeats enemies, and supports civil authorities.

Army Core Competencies

The Army core competencies are the essential and enduring capabilities of our service. While they are not necessarily unique to The Army, they define our fundamental contributions to our Nation's security. Technology may change the ways The Army contributes to America's security, but not the contributions themselves.

Army Core Competencies

The Army's core competencies are-

  • Shape the Security Environment. The Army shapes the security environment by providing presence-"boots on the ground." While many countries do not have substantial air or naval forces, virtually all countries have armies. The Army is uniquely suited to engage these armies to reassure allies, build trust and confidence, promote regional stability, encourage democratic institutions, deter conflict, and respond to crises.

  • Prompt Response. The Army's strategic responsiveness provides the National Command Authorities and joint force commanders with a broad range of land power options to shape the security environment and respond to natural or manmade crises worldwide. Army forces normally add the vital land capability to joint, multinational, and interagency operations. Strategically responsive Army forces are mission-tailored, projected from home or abroad, and capable of decisive operations immediately on arrival. Prompt land force response enhances our Nation's ability to deter conflict and provides a capability to prevent an adversary from achieving his political and military objectives if deterrence fails.

  • Mobilize The Army. The ability to expand The Army provides the National Command Authorities the means to confront unforeseen challenges and ensure America's security. The Army possesses the capability to mobilize the forces necessary to meet any crisis, including protracted, major theater war.

  • Forcible Entry Operations. Multidimensional Army forces provide a forcible entry capability to access contested areas worldwide. They can be ready to fight immediately and prepare for the arrival of follow-on forces. This capability is essential to reduce predictability, dominate a situation, deny an adversary his objectives, contain a conflict, conduct decisive operations, deter protracted conflict, and terminate conflict on our terms.

  • Sustained Land Dominance. The Army's unique contribution to America's national defense is providing the capabilities for sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict. Several specific supporting competencies allow The Army to fulfill this vital role.

    • Close With and Destroy Enemy Forces. Army forces are uniquely capable of decisive land warfare. The ability to close with and destroy enemy forces, occupy territory, and control populations achieves moral dominance over enemy will and destroys means to resist. Army forces close with and destroy the enemy to terminate conflict on our terms. Ultimately, this capability, coupled with strategic responsiveness, provides the foundation of conventional deterrence.

    • Precision Fires and Maneuver. The Army is capable of attacking an enemy, directly or indirectly, with lethal and nonlethal means, through the synergistic application of precision fires and maneuver. The Army is organized and equipped to conduct combined arms operations, which include integrating joint capabilities and operations. Precision maneuver coupled with precision Army and joint fires, give the joint force commander operationally decisive land power capabilities.

    • Information Superiority. Information superiority is essential to decisive Army operations. Technological advances will continue to enhance the common operational picture and situational understanding, the precision of fires and maneuver, and virtually every other aspect of Army operations. Through interoperable ground-, air-, and space-based capabilities, Army forces can now conduct information operations that affect an adversary's will to resist and enable decision superiority for joint and multinational forces. These capabilities will increase in the future.

    • Command and Control of Joint and Multinational Forces. The Army provides experienced leaders and adaptable organizations to command and control joint and multinational forces and promote interagency unity of effort. Although not the only service capable of performing this function, The Army's combined arms culture and long-standing experience with joint and multinational operations foster this competency.

    • Control and Defend Land, People, and Natural Resources. Conflict normally requires control of people and land to establish the conditions for self-sustaining peace. The Army has a unique capability to dominate a situation and set those conditions, especially when this control requires a sustained commitment. The Army also plays an essential role in defending both our Nation and our allies. Through its full range of capabilities, including national and theater missile defense, The Army's presence, at home and abroad, is a certain signal of America's commitment.

    • Conduct Sustainment Operations. Army forces sustain themselves and provide support to joint forces. Essential Army support includes the multifunctional theater support command and functional transportation (ground and aviation lift), supply, engineer, finance, medical, and personnel units.

  • Support Civil Authorities. As part of an interagency and joint team, The Army provides unique capabilities to support civil authorities in domestic and international contingencies. This competency includes homeland security and defense. Prompt Army assistance to civil authorities and agencies is often a decisive element in disaster relief or crisis resolution. The Army will assure all available support is provided until civil authority is reestablished or civilian relief agencies can assume the mission.

The Army will remain capable of fighting and winning our Nation's wars and will be prepared to perform any other mission across the spectrum of conflict. The Army's core competencies enable Army forces to carry out any mission, anytime, anywhere in the world.

It is people who translate The Army's core competencies into capabilities. The Army is people-Soldiers and civilians, active and reserve, retirees, veterans, and family members-drawn together by shared values and experiences, sacrifice, and selfless service to our Nation. The Army has a unique culture, where officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted Soldiers share crew compartments, tents, foxholes, and hardships. The Army employs people, not machines. These people have subordinated their own welfare to a higher calling. War in many ways is a private, personal endeavor, and Soldiers would rather perish than fail the people they serve. Quality people provide the leadership and skills necessary to ensure success in any complex military operation.

The Organization of the Army

The Army is composed of two distinct and equally important components: the active component and the reserve components. The reserve components are the United States Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.

The active component is a federal force of full-time Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians. They make up the operational and institutional organizations engaged in the day-to-day missions of The Army. Congress annually determines the number of Soldiers that The Army may maintain in the active component.

Department of the Army civilians perform critical technical and administrative tasks that release soldiers for training and performance of other operational and institutional missions. In addition, many contractors work for The Army to support our forces at home and deployed around the world. While not members of The Army, these contractors provide vital services that sustain and enhance The Army's service to the Nation.

The U.S. Army Reserve is the active component's primary federal reserve force. It consists of highly trained combat support and combat service support Soldiers and units that can move on short notice. The U.S. Army Reserve gives The Army the resources it needs to deploy overseas and sustain combat troops during wartime, contingencies, or other operations. It is The Army's main source of transportation, medical, logistic, and other combat support and combat service support units. It is The Army's only source of trained individual soldiers to augment headquarters staffs and fill vacancies in units.

Normandy, 6 June 1944—Working Together, Fighting Together

(Used with permission of the artist, James Dietz)
Normandy, 6 June 1944-Working Together, Fighting Together

At approximately 0600 on the dark gray morning of 6 June 1944, the first of several thousand men of the 29th Infantry Division fought their way onto the beaches of Normandy into the teeth of ferocious fighting. Helping to lead the way onto the European continent was the 116th Infantry Regiment of the Virginia National Guard. Although by this time a mix of active, reserve, and conscript officers and men, the 29th Division still retained its National Guard flavor and spirit. The division's leaders, still cognizant of their regiment's lineage dating back to the Stonewall Brigade of the Civil War, made sure that all newcomers-Regular Army, Organized Reserve, and draftees-knew it as well.

The 29th Division deployed to England in 1942. It was joined by the 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One." Together the two divisions assaulted Omaha Beach, the most heavily defended sector in Normandy. Soldiers, both Regulars and National Guardsmen, working together, overcame the odds and successfully broke the resistance on the beaches that allowed the Allied armies to establish a secure lodgment in Normandy.

The Army National Guard has a unique, dual mission that consists of both federal and state roles. Although its primary mission is to serve as a federal reserve force, the Guard has an equally important role supporting the states. Until mobilized for a federal mission, Army National Guard units are commanded by their state executive (usually the governor). In the state role, the Army National Guard must maintain trained and disciplined forces for domestic emergencies or other missions that state law may require. In this capacity, they serve as the first military responders within states during emergencies. In their federal role, Army National Guard units must maintain trained and ready forces, available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or other missions.

Regardless of component, The Army conducts both operational and institutional missions. The operational Army consists of numbered armies, corps, divisions, brigades, and battalions that conduct full spectrum operations around the world.

The institutional Army supports the operational Army. Institutional organizations provide the infrastructure necessary to raise, train, equip, deploy, and ensure the readiness of all Army forces. The training base provides military skills and professional education to every Soldier-as well as members of sister services and allied forces. It also allows The Army to expand rapidly in time of war. The industrial base provides world-class equipment and logistics for The Army. Army installations provide the power projection platforms required to deploy land forces promptly to support combatant commanders. Once those forces are deployed, the institutional Army provides the logistics needed to support them.

Without the institutional Army, the operational Army cannot function. Without the operational Army, the institutional Army has no purpose.

The Army Imperatives

In the 1980s, The Army developed a comprehensive doctrinal construct for assessing current capabilities and managing change. The Army maintains a trained and ready force and develops future capabilities by carefully balancing six imperatives: doctrine, organizations, materiel, leader development, training, and Soldiers.

The Army Imperatives

The Army Imperatives

The Army is doctrine based and has always been doctrine based. Throughout history, this intellectual capital of The Army has enabled us to win. To maintain our doctrine base, we have institutional schooling, training doctrine and methodology, and capstone combat training programs. Doctrine will be even more important in the future, as the rapid, worldwide flow of information allows tactical events to have strategic consequences.

Organizations refers to The Army's ability to field the appropriate capabilities, in both quantity and type, to perform assigned missions. Because of the wide range of possible missions and the variety of circumstances surrounding a particular environment, Army forces may not be optimized to conduct any one mission. As an example, employing an armored division in a peacekeeping role is often seen as a mission-capability mismatch. However, when the potential adversary's combat force has large armored and mechanized formations, an armored division may be the most effective peacekeeping force available.

Since World War II, The Army has relied on American industry to provide our soldiers with the very best materiel available. We aggressively pursue technologies that will put us ahead of our adversaries and guarantee our combat overmatch capabilities. The challenge for The Army in the 21st Century is to field the most modern equipment available at a time when technological advances are outpacing our ability to fully understand how these capabilities change the battlefield. In pursuing technological solutions, The Army will balance its modernization initiatives against threat capabilities (which are also modernizing), global deployment requirements, efficiency of acquisition and sustainment, and effectiveness for combat operations.

Good ships and good guns are simply good weapons, and the best weapons are useless save in the hands of men who know how to fight with them.

President Theodore Roosevelt
message to Congress, December 1901

San Juan Hill, Santiago de Cuba, 1 July 1898

San Juan Hill, Santiago de Cuba, 1 July 1898

The going was tough up the hill, since the Spaniards were well entrenched. Lieutenant John Parker commanded the Gatling Gun De-tachment, composed of men from four different infantry regiments. Parker believed that his guns, which normally played only a defensive role in battle, could be decisive in the attack by giving fire superiority to the infantry when most needed. Receiving permission to advance the guns, Parker brought his detachment abreast of, and sometimes in front of, the infantry, and opened fire. This was the United States Army's first use of close support machine guns in the attack and was decisive in the capture of San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Parker's initiative demonstrated that it takes adaptive leaders to exploit the promise of technology.

Leadership is the most dynamic element of combat power; therefore, growing leaders is our stock-in-trade. Our education, training, and de-velopment of Army leaders-officer, warrant officer, and noncommis-sioned officer-are critical tasks that will become more complex as we move to a future that demands increasing levels of judgment, agility, self-awareness, adaptiveness, and innovation from leaders. This situation requires continuous leader development at all levels of The Army. It also requires leaders to develop and commit to lifelong learning skills.

The Army trains. The Army spends billions of dollars each year to en-sure that our Soldiers are ready to fight and win the Nation's wars and to accomplish the many other missions necessary to protect America's national interests. These dollars are a small investment for what the Nation receives in return. This investment is necessary to ensure that America's sons and daughters never go into harm's way untrained.

Valley Forge, February 1778-Leadership and Training

Valley Forge, February 1778-Leadership and Training

At Valley Forge, the Continental Army gained a new professional competence from the training of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. General Washington had long sensed the need for uniform training and organization, and he secured the appointment of von Steuben, a Prussian, as Inspector General in charge of training. Von Steuben never lost sight of the difference between the American citizen-soldier and the European professional. He noted early that American soldiers had to be told why they did things before they would do them well, and he applied this philosophy in his training. His good humor and vigorous profanity, almost the only English he knew, delighted the Continental soldiers and made the rigorous drill more palatable. After Valley Forge, Continentals would fight on equal terms with British Regulars. Von Steuben began the tradition of effective unit-level training that today still develops leaders and forges battle-ready units for The Army.

Finally, the magnificence of our moments as an Army will continue to be delivered by our people-Soldiers and civilians. The word "Soldier" includes our veterans and retirees, Soldiers currently serving in the active and reserve components, and those Soldiers that will join our ranks in the future. Soldiers are the engine behind our capabilities and the centerpiece of our formations. We will continue to attract, train, motivate, and retain the most competent and dedicated people in the Nation. Since introducing the all-volunteer force in 1973, The Army has proven-in war, conflict, and peace-that each generation of Americans is willing to do its part to defend the promise of America. We must continue to attract and retain the highest quality people from American society to fill our ranks if we are to extend that promise to future generations. The Army will never be any better than the Soldiers who wear our uniform.

The Army has always been a learning institution and, because of this, it is an innovative one as well. We continuously assess changing technology, strategic and operational environments, national strategic objectives, and new threats and threat capabilities. In response to changing conditions, The Army determines new strategic requirements, develops operational concepts to fulfill them, and identifies the essential capabilities necessary to employ land forces as part of the joint team. Thus, strategic requirements and innovative operational concepts drive changes in Army capabilities. New operational concepts demand new equipment and materiel solutions; organizational changes to employ these capabilities; and changes in doctrine, training, and leader and Soldier development. These imperatives are interconnected, and constantly evolving; this cycle is a continuous process. In every period of change, we must carefully balance The Army imperatives. Allowing one to advance too rapidly or lag behind the others could unhinge the force. Thus, as the pace and scope of change increases, we must not only adapt, but also alter the way The Army changes. Taking full advantage of the rapid pace of development will allow The Army to retain the ability to achieve sustained full spectrum land force dominance in the future.

Full Spectrum Operations

The Army, balanced across the six imperatives, can achieve sustained land force dominance throughout the range of military operations and spectrum of conflict. Commanders can tailor agile and versatile Army forces to create combined arms teams for operations at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Strategically responsive Army forces will move wherever needed, and be capable of transitioning quickly from one type of operation to another. Forces must be capable of shifting from en-gagement to deterrence to war to postwar reconstruction-seamlessly. As missions change from promoting peace to deterring war, or from resolving conflict to war itself, operations become more complex.

Commanders conduct four types of operations-offensive, defensive, sta-bility, and support-to accomplish missions in support of the joint force commander's objectives. Offensive operations aim at destroying or de-feating an enemy. Their purpose is to impose our will on the enemy and achieve decisive victory. Defensive operations defeat an enemy attack, buy time, economize forces, or develop conditions favorable for offensive operations. Defensive operations alone normally cannot achieve a deci-sion. Stability operations promote and protect U.S. national interests through a combination of peacetime developmental, cooperative activi-ties and coercive actions in response to crises. Support operations em-ploy Army forces to assist civil authorities, foreign or domestic, as they prepare for and respond to crises and relieve suffering. Commanders synchronize offensive, defensive, stability, and support operations to defeat any enemy or dominate any environment anywhere, anytime.


The Army's fundamental purpose is to serve the Nation. We protect enduring national interests and fulfill our national military responsi-bilities. With the other services, we deter conflict, reassure allies, defeat enemies, and support civil authorities. Federal law and departmental directives further codify The Army's role in many areas, but our nonnegotiable contract with the American people is to fight and win the Nation's wars. Every other task is subordinate to that commitment.

To discharge our responsibilities to the Nation, we maintain several core competencies. These are the essential and enduring capabilities of our service. They encompass the full range of military operations across the spectrum of conflict, from sustained land dominance in wartime to sup-porting civil authorities during natural disasters and consequence management. We organize, equip, and train The Army to maintain Army core competencies-each part of the force exists to support and maintain them. We assess current readiness and manage future force development by balancing six imperatives-doctrine, organizations, materiel, leader development, training, and Soldiers. That balance results in an Army capable of land force dominance across the range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict, thereby fulfilling our fundamental purpose-serving the Nation.

Battles are won by the infantry, the armor, the artillery, and air teams, by soldiers living in the rain and huddling in the snow. But wars are won by the great strength of a Nation- the soldier and the civilian working together.

General of the Army Omar N. Bradley


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