The myriad changes that the U.S. Army has undergone over the past dozen years of war serve to highlight the dynamic nature of an organization serving the nation on a global basis.
Based on that reality, there is some inherent risk in attempting to project 17 years hence and describe the U.S. Army of 2030 in any detail. After all, a look back at the Army 17 years ago would show an organization that had absorbed countless lessons from Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm and was preparing to explore new facilitators to similar armored combat operations in the 1997 Task Force XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment at the National Training Center. While many of those technologies were successfully applied to the Army over the next decade and a half, many of the underlying scenarios were of dubious validity when compared to subsequent real world challenges.
The Army Capstone Concept
However, while there may be some inherent risk in future projections, there is a much greater risk in failing to look at the future and attempting to anticipate the challenges that may be faced. And so it was at the end of 2012 that the U.S. Army released the latest iteration of the U.S. Army Capstone Concept, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-3-0.
The December 2012 TRADOC pamphlet builds on the prior release of critical documents like the 2010 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, “The Army Operating Concept,” which described how Army forces in the 2016-2028 timeframe would conduct operations in a wide range of contingencies and future operational environments.
In addition, the new document replaces the previous Capstone Concept, which had been focused in great part on ensuring that the Army was well postured with regard to the fights being waged. In contrast, the latest release focuses on posturing and transitioning the Army to meet the needs of an emerging operational environment and a new defense strategy.
According to service representatives, the latest version of the Army Capstone Concept provides a framework for service leaders to think about future war, to guide service modernization and to describe the Army’s role as part of a future joint force that will achieve the nation’s strategic objectives. In short, it describes the required capabilities that the future Army will need to prevent conflict, shape the environment, and win the nation’s wars.
“This is an important part of how the Army ensures that we remain relevant and ready for the missions that our nation expects us to fulfill,” explained Maj. Gen. William Hix, director of the Concept Development and Learning Directorate at TRADOC’s Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC).
“We have done this sort of work as an Army throughout our history,” Hix said, referencing a history of strategic service studies dating back to the “Color Plans” of 1919-1938.
“That really helped us understand the future operating environment and the potential threats that we would face; gaining an appreciation of the lessons learned from World War I,” he related. “That was then embodied in a series of ‘experiments,’ if you will, that included tabletop games at the War College and [also] the famous Louisiana Maneuvers that were done under the oversight of the Chief of Staff, Gen. George Marshall, just before World War II unfolded.