Defense Media Network

TRADOC’s Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane on the Army’s New Operating Concept

The recent release of the U.S. Army’s new Army Operating Concept 2016-2028 in Training and Doctrine Command [TRADOC] Pamphlet 525-3-1, dated Aug. 19, 2010, marks the latest step in a process designed to accelerate the process of change into that service.

According to Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, deputy commanding general, futures, and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army TRADOC, the latest concept emerged as part of the “Task Force 120” activities that followed the demise of the Future Combat Systems program.

In a recent briefing to the media, Vane explained that those task force activities, supported by “a comprehensive look at lessons learned,” led to the issuance of an Army Capstone Concept (U.S. Army TRADOC Pamphlet (PAM) 525-3-0).

“[The] central idea [of the Army Capstone Concept] is that of operational adaptability in describing the ‘why’ of the environment that the Army is in, and lays out a list of things that the Army must do to help us with a strategy that is tied in with the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations and National Military Strategy.”

Following on the heels of the Army Capstone Concept, the recently released Army Operating Concept 2016-2028 describes the “how.”

According to Vane, the “how” addresses the creation of capabilities in a future force while still maintaining capabilities in the current force.

A line of Strykers convoy in the early hours of Aug. 16, as part of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, United States Division-Center’s last patrol through Iraq as they leave theater. The 4th SBCT was the last combat brigade to leave Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson.

Among the lessons learned “from seven years of war,” he offered, “Some of the key ones included perhaps an over reliance on technology that looks very promising and is a good goal to achieve. But, as the enemy has changed and become less of a force-on-force enemy and more of an enemy that is in among the population – and the security of the population is the goal – we have got to continue to make sure that we can both retain relevancy for the war we are in, win the war we are in, and posture ourselves for that next potential set of circumstances.”

In terms of a changing paradigm for viewing threats, he pointed to the “need to look at this from a perspective of not only what the threat is that we need to overmatch or be equal against but we need to ensure that we are looking at what kinds of capabilities we need in our Army to be able to have a versatile set of organizations that can counter those threats.”

Vane identified two “big ideas” in the new Army Operating Concept: combined arms maneuver and wide area security.

Acknowledging the belief by some that combined arms maneuver “sounds really like an old term,” Vane clarified that it reflects “a new way to look at combined arms maneuver,” that leverages both Field Manual 3-0 [Operations, February 2008] and seven years of war.

“[That combination] tells us that the military alone is not going to be the final determinant and hasn’t really been the final determinant in many of these counterinsurgency operations,” he said. “Historically it takes a ‘whole of government’ approach, interagency coalition, and intergovernmental capability. And the combined arms maneuver capability we need in order to sustain the gains that we would achieve through wide area security.”

Jumaa Sayeed , director, Wasit Independent Media Center, and Steve Smith, public diplomacy officer with the U.S. State Department’s Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team, meet in the new headquarters of the WIMC, in Kut, Iraq, March 19, 2010. The WIMC is a non-governmental organization working toward an Iraqi media able to perform competently and independently of political and business influence. The new Army Operating Concept recognizes the need for a whole of government approach in achieving the nation’s goals. Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Carney, USDS Public Affairs.

“Wide area security, being the second ‘big idea,’ is to consolidate gains, stabilize environments, and ensure freedom of action in areas that, for example, might have been described by some in the past as ‘within white space’ – or early entry operations – or even in ‘Phase 0,’ building partnerships – are components of trying to achieve wide area security,” he added.

Current doctrinal efforts focus on identifying functional concepts to support the new operating concepts across the Army’s six warfighting functions: movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, command and control, and protection.

The results of that process will then be presented to senior service leadership as “a very macro cost / benefit capability for the Army.”

The resulting decisions will drive recommended solutions into both the Total Army Analysis (TAA), which determines Army force structure, and the Program Objective Memorandum (POM), which determines money and equipment.

“So every two years we are going to review our concepts in order to drive change in the POM, to achieve change in the Army every five years instead of the current way we do business, which has allowed us to change once every 10 – 12 years,” Vane added.


Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...