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Conducting Decisive Full Spectrum Operations

Part Three discusses the four types of operations—offensive, defensive, stability, and support—that Army forces conduct. It illustrates how to apply the concepts described in Part Two within the operational environment described in Part One.

Chapter 7 discusses offensive operations. The offense is the decisive form of war. The will to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative defines the spirit and purpose of the offense. It is essential to success in all operations—defensive, stability, and support— as well as offensive. Combined with a demonstrated combat capability, it makes Army forces credible in any situation. Circumstances may require defending; however, victory requires shifting to the offense as soon as possible. The offense ends when the force accomplishes the mission, reaches a limit of advance, or approaches culmination. It then consolidates, resumes the attack, or prepares for another operation.

Chapter 8 discusses defensive operations. Commanders direct defensive operations to defeat enemy attacks, buy time, economize forces, or develop conditions favorable for the offense. Although the defense is the stronger form of war, it normally cannot achieve a decision. Thus, commanders simultaneously or sequentially combine defensive operations with offensive operations.

Chapter 9 discusses stability operations. Stability operations include a range of actions that Army forces conduct outside the US and US territories. Their purpose is to promote and sustain regional and global stability. Stability operations are diverse, continuous, and often long-term. However, the credibility and staying power of Army forces allow them to maintain stability until the situation is resolved. Army forces may execute stability operations as part of a theater engagement plan, smaller-scale contingency, or follow-on operation to a campaign or major operation. They are inherently complex and place great demands on leaders, units, and soldiers. Stability operations require the mental and physical agility to shift among situations of peace, conflict, and war and between combat and noncombat operations.

Chapter 10 discusses support operations. Army forces conduct support operations to relieve suffering and help civil authorities prepare for or respond to crises. Support operations are divided into two categories: Domestic support operations are conducted within the US and US territories. Foreign humanitarian assistance is conducted outside the US and US territories. Domestic support operations include civil support—operations to help civil authorities protect US territory, population, and infrastructure against attacks. Other government agencies have primary responsibility for these areas; however, Army forces have specialized capabilities and provide important support. Support operations usually aim to overcome manmade or natural disaster conditions for a limited time until civil authorities no longer need help.

In all environments, the initiative of Army leaders, agility of Army units, depth of Army resources, and versatility of Army soldiers combine to allow Army forces to conduct decisive full spectrum operations. Commanders synchronize offensive, defensive, stability, and support operations to defeat any enemy or dominate any situation—anywhere, anytime.

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