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Army Gives Rumsfeld Doctrine A Rewrite

The '07 manual puts greater value on maintaining stability than on swift action.

Chaos Aids Insurgents

November 20, 2006|Julian E. Barnes | Times Staff Writer

The concept, according to Ancker, is akin to what battlefield medics call the "golden hour" -- the short period in which patients can be saved if their wounds are properly treated. During an offensive operation, if a military does not try to at least bandage the wounds of a society, the effort can suffer even if the battle is won. After an urban battle, commanders must try to provide basic services and security, the manual says.

"If we do not plan to account for those tasks in the immediate aftermath of a fight," Ancker said, "then there is a period of time somebody else can step in and use that failure as a lever to create disaffected parts of the population, and that can turn into ... an insurgency."

Under the new guidebook, if a unit does not have the forces to conduct stability operations after an offensive mission, the commander must request more manpower.

"When possible, the commander should consider and attempt to relieve the suffering of the local population," the manual says.

"If his resources and mission dictates that he cannot do this then he is obligated, morally and legally, to inform his higher headquarters so they can provide resources to ensure civil security and minimal essential services."

Older doctrine divided the Army's duties into war and other missions, like peacekeeping. The old manual -- completed in 2001 after the military's experience in Bosnia and Somalia -- said the Army needed to be ready to conduct offensive operations even during stability missions. The 2007 manual, written during the Iraq experience, argues that even when on offense, the Army needs to be ready to conduct stability operations.

Previous manuals have argued that if a force is trained for major war, it also will be able to handle counterinsurgency or peacekeeping. The new guidebook will note that units must be ready to do both, but it also will say training for a primarily offensive force should differ from training for stability operations.

"Operational experience demonstrates that forces trained exclusively for offensive and defensive operations are not as proficient at stability operations as those units that train specifically for stability," the guide says, alluding to lessons learned in Iraq.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who as commander of the Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth oversees the doctrine directorate, argued in a speech in September at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution think tank that the 2007 guide should have wide influence on Army doctrine.

"It will ripple throughout everything that we do, because this is the capstone manual from which all others take their lead," Petraeus said.

Some think the manual focuses too much on major combat operations, like invasions, and not enough on counterinsurgency. Others think the emphasis on stability threatens to focus the Army too much on the "soft stuff."

Ft. Leavenworth will host a conference in January to discuss the manual, and to make sure the document strikes the right balance and embraces the lessons learned in Iraq.

"We cannot move away from fighting and winning wars," Ancker said. "But the combat side is not adequate to ensure the peace."

julian.barnes@latimes.com

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