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Operations Other Than War
(Emerging Doctrine)

(Extracted from the December 1992 Draft of FM 100-5)


The Army has participated in non-combat operations in support of national interests since its beginning. Thus operations other than war are not new to our Army. Their pace, frequency, and variety, however, have quickened in the last three decades. Today the Army is often required, in its role as a strategic force, to protect and further U.S. National interests at home and abroad in a variety of ways other than war.

Operations other than war may precede or follow war. They may be conducted in conjunction with wartime operations to complement the achievement of strategic objectives. They may support a combatant commander's forward presence operations or a U.S. ambassador's country plan. They are designed to promote regional stability, maintain or achieve democratic end-states, retain U.S. influence and access abroad, provide humane assistance to distressed areas, and protect U.S. interests. The National Command Authority (NCA) employs Army forces to such ends in support of our national military strategy. This serves to preserve and promote American democratic values peacefully. It minimizes the need for combat operations by defusing crises and nurturing peaceful resolution of contentious issues.

The Army conducts such operations as part of a joint team, and often in conjunction with U.S. and foreign government agencies. Operations other than war are intrinsic to a combatant commander's peacetime theater strategy or an ambassador's country plan. The total Army is involved daily in operations other than war.

Operations other than war will not always have peaceful results. Determined opponents may resort to fighting or other aggressive acts in an attempt to defeat our purposes and promote theirs. Although rules of engagement may often be restrictive, all military forces retain the intrinsic right of self-defense. Applying overwhelming combat power, normally our desire in wartime, may not be feasible if it complicates the process toward our stated objectives.


Army warfighting doctrine has long been based on well-established principles of war. Operations other than war also have principles which guide our actions. For those operations other than war which involve our forces in direct combat, the principles of war apply. Some, such as the principles of objective and security, apply to both combatant and noncombatant operations. Unity of command requires some modification and is explained later. These three principles must be supplemented with three other principles well suited to operations other than war.

The relative application of each principle will vary depending on the specific operation. The principle of patience, for example, will impact more on long-term nation assistance than during a short-term noncombatant evacuation mission. The commander must always balance these principles against the specific requirements of his mission and the nature of the operation. The principles of operations other than war are:



Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. This principle also applies to operations other than war. Each separate operation must be integrated with every other to contribute to the ultimate strategic aim. It is critical that all commanders understand the strategic aim, set appropriate objectives and ensure they contribute to unity of effort with other agencies.

Unity of Effort:

Seek unity of effort toward every objective. The principle of unity of command in war also applies to operations other than war, yet must be adapted to meet special challenges. In operations other than war, commanders may answer to a civilian chief, such as an ambassador, or may themselves employ the resources of a civilian agency. Since operations other than war often "marry" agencies which are not used to working with each other, command arrangements may often be loosely defined. This arrangement causes commanders to seek an atmosphere of cooperation rather than command authority to achieve objectives of unity of effort.


Sustain the willing acceptance by the people of the right of the government to govern or of a group or agency to make and carry out decisions. Committed forces must sustain the legitimacy of the operation and of the host government. Legitimacy derives from the perception that constituted authority is both genuine and effective and employs appropriate means for reasonable purposes. If committed forces resolve an immediate problem within a nation or region, but detract from a legitimacy of the government in so doing, they may have acted detrimentally against long-term, strategic aims.


Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capability in support of strategic aims. Operations other than war may be of short duration or protracted. Because the underlying causes of confrontation and conflict rarely have a clear beginning or a decisive resolution, it is important that commanders carefully analyze the situation and choose to apply action at the right time and place. The Army must balance its desire to attain objectives quickly with sensitivity for the long-term strategic aims and restraints placed on the operation.


Apply appropriate military capability prudently. The action of soldiers and units are framed by the disciplined application of force, including specific Rules of Engagement (ROE). The use of excessive force could adversely affect efforts to gain and maintain legitimacy and impede the attainment of both short- and long-term goals.


Never permit hostile factions to acquire an unexpected advantage. The presence of U.S. forces in nations around the world may provoke a wide range of responses by factions, groups, or other forces of an unfriendly nation. Regardless of the mission, the commander must protect the force at all times. The intrinsic right of self defense from the unit to the individual level applies to all operations.


The activities which ensue in operations other than war can occur unilaterally or with other military operations. These actions can take place at different times or simultaneously in different places. Operations other than war include, but are not limited to, the following:


Nation Assistance: It is the principal peacetime activity designed to support the host nation's efforts to promote development, ideally through the use of host-nation resources. It must be supportive of both the ambassador's country plan and the Commander in Chief (CINC)'s regional plans. The goals of nation assistance are to promote long-term stability, develop sound and responsive democratic institutions, develop supportive infrastructure, promote strong free-market economics, and provide an environment that allows for orderly political change and economic progress.

Security Assistance: It is a dynamic activity during peacetime consisting of the groups of programs authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (amended), the Arms Export Act of 1976 (amended) and other related statues. Through security assistance programs, the U.S. provides defense materiel, military training, and defense-related services by grants, loan, credit, or cash sales to further our national policies and objectives.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: Humanitarian assistance operations provide emergency relief to victims of natural or man-made disasters when initiated in response to domestic, foreign government or international agency requests for immediate help and rehabilitation. Disaster-relief operations include activities such as refugee assistance, food programs, medical treatment and care, restoration of law and order, damage and capabilities assessment, and damage control (to include environmental cleanup or other programs such as fire fighting).

Support to Counterdrug Operations: Military efforts support and complement, rather than replace, the counterdrug efforts of other U.S. agencies, the states, and cooperating foreign governments. The commitment of military resources will always remain consistent with our national values and legal framework. Army participation in counterdrug operations will normally be in support of law enforcement agencies.

Peacekeeping Operations: These operations support diplomatic efforts to maintain peace in areas of potential conflict. They stabilize conflict between two belligerent nations and, as such, require the consent of all parties involved in the dispute. The U.S. may participate in peacekeeping operations when requested by the UN, regional affiliations of nations, in cooperation with other unaffiliated countries, or unilaterally. The peacekeeping force deters violent acts by its physical presence at violence-prone locations.

Arms Control: It focuses on promoting strategic military stability.

Combatting Terrorism: The Department of Defense fulfills a supporting role to the Department of State, Department of Justice, and Department of Transportation to combat terrorism. There are two major subcomponents of combatting terrorism: antiterrorism and counter-terrorism. During peacetime, the Army combats terrorism primarily through antiterrorism - passive defensive measures to minimize vulnerability to terrorism. Antiterrorism complements counter-terrorism, which is the full range of offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism. Counter-terrorism is an activity occurring in conflict and war; antiterrorism occurs across the full scope of Army operations.

Shows of Force: This is a mission carried out to demonstrate U.S. resolve in which U.S. forces deploy to defuse a situation that may be detrimental to U.S. interests or national objectives. Shows of force lend credibility to the nation's commitments, increase regional influence, and demonstrate resolve.

Attacks and Raids: The Army conducts attacks and raids to create situations that permit the seizing and maintaining of political and military initiative. Normally, the U.S. executes attacks and raids to achieve specific objectives other than gaining or holding terrain. Attacks by conventional ground, air, or special operations forces acting independently or in concert are used to damage or destroy high-value targets to demonstrate U. S. capability and resolve to achieve a favorable result. Raids are usually small-scale operations involving swift penetration of hostile territory to secure information, temporarily sieze an objective or destroy a target. Raids are followed by a rapid, preplanned withdrawal. These operations also occur in war.

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs): These operations relocate threatened civilian noncombatants from locations in a foreign country or host nation. They may involve U.S. citizens whose lives are in danger, selected host-nation citizens or third-country nationals.

Peace Enforcement: This is a military operation in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between hostile factions which may not be consenting to intervention, and may be engaged in combat activities. Peace enforcement implies the use of force or its threat to coerce hostile factions to cease and desist from violent actions. Units conducting peace enforcement, therefore, cannot maintain their objective neutrality in every instance. They must be prepared at all times to apply elements of combat power to restore order, separate warring factions, and return the environment to conditions more conducive to civil order and discipline.

Support for Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: At the direction of the National Command Authority, U.S. military forces may assist either insurgent movements or host-nations' governments opposing an insurgency. In both cases, the military instrument of U.S. national power predominantly supports political, economic, and informational objectives.

Support to Domestic Civil Authority: When appropriate governmental authority directs the armed forces to assist in domestic emergencies within the continental U.S., the Army has primary responsibility. Army units support disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, counterdrug, antiterrorism, and similar operations.

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