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Commanders employ forces within the three states (peacetime, conflict, and war) of the theater strategic environment. Army commanders, particularly at the operational level, operate with other services, government agencies, United Nations (UN) agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and multinational partners. These unified operations--joint, multinational, and interagency efforts--require a thorough understanding of Army capabilities as they contribute to the unified structure. Combatant commands and theaters form the unified structure for this organizational environment. A combatant command is one of the unified or specified commands established by the President. A theater is the geographical area outside the continental United States (CONUS) for which a commander of a unified command has been assigned military responsibility. Combatant commanders conduct unified operations.

To discuss the US Army in theater operations at the operational level of war, commanders must understand the theater strategic and operational environment. To do that, they must understand the fundamentals that define that strategic environment and how the application of those fundamentals affects Army operations. Chapter 1 discusses planning and execution of major operations, operational art, operations in war, and military operations other than war (MOOTW). Chapter 2 describes the national and theater strategic environments and provides a means to assess Army operations at the operational level. Chapter 3 examines how the commander in chief (CINC) and the Army service component commander (ASCC) apply operational art and design. Operational art and design are the linkage between execution of tactical operations and campaign plans to obtain strategic objectives in theater. These chapters provide the basis necessary for understanding Army operations at the operational level.

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