Professional Readings Full Archives

Series: 140
That Elusive Operational Concept
Series: 139
Grant’s Disengagement from Cold Harbor (pages 176-209 found in the book Cold Harbor to the Crater)
Series: 138
Countering the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Threat
Series: 137
Thinking Like a Russian Officer
Series: 136
The Future of the Army
Series: 135
Letter to President George W. Bush et al re Predicting the Future
Series: 134
The Culture of Strategic Thought Behind Russia’s Modern Approach to Warfare
Series: 133
Expeditionary Land Power: Lessons from the Mexican-American War
Series: 132
Running Things
Series: 131
Selected Foreign Counterparts of U.S. Army Ground Combat Systems and Implications for Combat Operations and Modernization
Series: 130
The Strategic Value of Conventional Land Forces
Series: 129
Tooth to Tail
Series: 128
Transforming the Force: The 11th Air Assault Division (Test) from 1963-1965
Series: 127
Cyber Beyond Third Offset: A Call for Warfighter-Led Innovation
Series: 126
NATO's Land Forces: Strength and Speed Matter
Series: 125
The Institutional Level of War
Series: 124
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant v1 Chapters XXXII & XXXIII
Series: 123
Landpower and American Credibility
Series: 122
The US Army’s Postwar Recoveries
Series: 121
The Panther Brigade in Operation Inherent Resolve
Series: 120
The Area Under the Curve
Series: 119
US Naval Forces Before and Beyond Battle
Series: 118
The Islamic State's Militarization of Children
Series: 117
Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield: An Exemplar of Joint Combined Arms Maneuver
Series: 116
The Future Operating Environment 2050 - Chaos, Complexity and Competition
Series: 115
War Goes Viral
Series: 114
Mobility, Vigilance, and Justice: The US Army Constabulary in Germany, 1946-1953
Series: 113
Is the Conduct of War a Business?
Series: 112
Putin's Information Warfare in Ukraine
Series: 111
Beyond Coastal Artillery
Series: 110
The Battle of Manila (pages 91-122)
Series: 109
Precision and Consequences for the Modern Battlefield
Series: 108 A
Rediscovering the Art of Strategic Thinking
Series: 108 B
The Strategic Development of Tactical #Leadership
Series: 107
What It Means to be Expeditionary
Series: 106
NATO's Next Act
Series: 105
Vicksburg and Multi-Domain Battle
Series: 104 A
Innovation: Past and Future
Series: 104 B
The Relevance of Culture
Series: 103
Cross-Domain Synergy-Advancing Jointness
Series: 102 A
Into the Greasy Grass
Series: 102 B
The Uncertain Role of the Tank in Modern War: Lessons from the Israeli Experience in Hybrid Warfare
Series: 101
Hawks, Doves and Canaries: Women and Conflict
Series: 99
The 1974 Paracels Sea Battle and China's Maritime Militia
Series: 100
The Mud of Verdun
Series: 98
Cheap Technology Will Challenge U.S. Tactical Dominance
Series: 97
Landpower and American Credibility
Series: 96
The Lure of Strike
Series: 95
The Hell After ISIS
Series: 94
Tactics and Mechanization
Series: 93
Cyberwar in the Underworld - Anonymous versus Los Zetas in Mexico
Series: 92
Strategic Landpower in the Indo-Asia-Pacific
Series: 91
The Next Korean War: Drawing Lessons From Israel’s Experience in the Middle East
Series: 90
A Retrospect on Close Air Support (Chapter 11 Page 535)
Series: 89 A
The Future Is Growing Brighter For U.S. Combat Vehicles
Series: 89 B
Reimagining and Modernizing U.S. Airborne Forces for the 21st Century
Series: 88 A
Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
Series: 88 B
Aerial Interdiction: Air Power and the Land Battle in Three American Wars
Series: 87
Confronting the Threat of Corruption and Organized Crime in Afghanistan
Series: 86
Eurasia's Coming Anarchy
Series: 85
Cyber Threats and Russian Information Warfare
Series: 84
The U.S. Is Losing the Social Media War
Series: 83
Colombia - A Political Economy of War to an Inclusive Peace
Series: 82 A
Definition of ‘Decisive’ Depends on Context
Series: 82 B
How Should We Think About “Gray-Zone” Wars
Series: 81
The Contemporary Spectrum of Conflict: Protracted, Gray Zone, Ambiguous, and Hybrid Modes of War
Series: 80
Concepts, Doctrine, Principles from "Technology and Military Doctrine Essays (Essay 3 Page 19)
Series: 79
The Sinister Shadow of Escalating Middle East Sectarianism
Series: 78
Strategy and Grand Strategy: What Students and Practitioners Need to Know
Series: 77
Arming Our Allies: The Case for Offensive Capabilities
Series: 76
Forging Australian Land Power: A Primer
Series: 75
How to Win Outnumbered
Series: 74
Frontline Allies: War and Change in Central Europe
Series: 73
To Change an Army
Series: 72
The Use and Abuse of Military History
Series: 71
ARCIC Professional Reading #29 and Professional Reading #43
Series: 70
Gaming the "System of Systems”
Series: 69
Chief of Staff of the Army’s Speech to the National Guard Association of the United States
Series: 68
Information Warfare: What Is It and How to Win It?
Series: 67
War and the Art of Governance
Series: 66 A
General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis Email About Being 'Too Busy To Read' Is A Must-Read
Series: 66 B
Fiction Belongs on Military Reading Lists
Series: 65
How the U.S. Army Remains the Master of Landpower
Series: 64
Testimony of Walter Russell Mead to the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services
Series: 63
In Defense of Classical Geopolitics
Series: 62
The Islamic State and Information Warfare
Series: 61
Wake Up, America, to a Strategic New World
Series: 60
Limiting Regret: Building the Army We Will Need
Series: 59
The Use of Indigenous Forces in Stability Operations (page 69)
Series: 58
Pursuing Strategic Advantage: The Utility of Armed Forces in Peace, War, and Everything In Between
Series: 57
Gangs of Karachi
Series: 56
Experimental Units: The Historical Record
Series: 55
Governing the Caliphate: the Islamic State Picture
Series: 54
Will Humans Matter in the Wars of 2030?
Series: 53
The Case for Deterrence by Denial
Series: 52
Precision Firepower - Smart Bombs, Dumb Strategy
Series: 51
Conventional Deterrence in the Second Nuclear Age
Series: 50
Hybrid Warfare and Challenges
Series: 49
Experimentation in the Period Between the Two World Wars: Lessons for the Twenty-First Century
Series: 48
Chapter 3, Shape, Engage, and Consolidate Gains from Army Field Manual 3-98, Reconnaissance and Security Operations
Series: 47
Predicting Future War
Series: 45
UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE ARMED SERVICES, Hearing, Tuesday, April 28, 2014, United States Policy on Europe
Series: 44
Top Russian General Lays Bare Putin's Plan for Ukraine
Series: 43
8 Unique Values: Why America Needs the Army
Series: 42
Post Crimea Europe: NATO In the Age of Limited Wars
Series: 41
American Landpower and the Two-war Construct
Series: 40
Operations of the Natural Resources Counterinsurgency Cell (NRCC): Theory and Practice Implementing Non-lethal Unconventional Warfare Approaches in Eastern Afghanistan
Series: 39
Bridging the Planning Gap: Incorporating Cyberspace into Operational Planning
Series: 38
Defeating the Islamic State: A Financial-Military Strategy
Series: 37
Series: 36
Clausewitz Out, Computer In: Military Culture and Technological Hubris.
Series: 35
Robotics on the Battlefield Part II: The Coming Swarm
Series: 34
Why Wargaming Works
Series: 33
Louisiana Maneuvers (1940 - 41)
Series: 32
'It Just Took a Few': the Tank in New Guinea Campaign
Series: 31
The Shadow Commander
Series: 30
Rethinking Operation Protective Edge, The 2014 Gaza War
Series: 29
Why do we need an Army?
Series: 28
DARPA: Nobody's safe on the Internet
Series: 27
States, Insurgents, and Wartime Political Orders
Series: 26
The Future of Military Innovation Studies
Series: 25
A Case Study in Innovation
Series: 24
The Joint Force Commander's Guide to Cyberspace Operations and FireEye Cyber Threat Map
Series: 23
The Power of Discourse
Series: 22
Management's New Paradigms
Series: 21
The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050; Chapter 10
Series: 20
To Change an Army
Series: 19
Where Good Ideas Come From
Series: 18
Series: 18
When Superiority Goes Wrong: Science Fiction and Offset Strategies
Series: 17
Thinking About Innovation
Series: 17
The Anatomy of Change: Why Armies Succeed or Fail at Transformation
Series: 16 A
The M1 Abrams Today Tomorrow
Series: 16 B
Bringing Mobility to the Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Series: 16 C
Losing Our Way The Disassociation of Reconnaissance and Security Organizations from Screen, Guard, and Cover Missions
Series: 15
The Rhyme of History Lessons of the Great War
Series: 14
France's War in Mali, Lessons for an Expeditionary Army
Series: 13
More Small Wars Counterinsurgency Is Here to Stay
Series: 12
"Big Five" Lessons for Today and Tomorrow
Series: 11
The Human Dimension White Paper
Series: 10
The Great Revamp: 11 Trends Shaping Future Conflict
Series: 9
Threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qa'ida, and other Islamic extremists; written testimony of General James M. Mattis, USMC (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
Series: 8
Land Warfare Doctrine 1; The Fundamentals of Land Power 2014
Series: 7
The Strategic Utility of Land Power
Series: 6
Observations on the Long War
Series: 5
The Nightmare Years to Come?
Series: 4
Ensuring a strong US Defense in the future
Series: 2
Toward a Secure and Stable Northern Mali
Series: 1
Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth

Series: 140 4/22/2017

Acting Director Major General Robert “Bo” Dyess’ Comments:


For centuries military strategists and practitioners understood that a fundamental conception of war was necessary to inform military thinking to prepare for future conflicts. An examination of the history shows many examples of leaders who understood this necessity. For example, in 1864, Prussia and Austria-Hungary went to war with Denmark over the duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. Unlike previous European conflicts, the war with Denmark was conducted within a conceptual framework created by the Prussian Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. Helmut von Moltke led the Prussians to victory against Danish forces that were ensconced in an earlier conception of war, one rooted in early nineteenth century. Following Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. military attributed much of its success to the efficacy of the AirLand Battle concept. This week’s reading underscores the importance of concepts in thinking about the problem of future war and providing a method for militaries to grow and solidify their understanding of what future combat may look like. This can often be the difference between success and failure on the battlefield. As General Donn Starry stated in his Commander’s Note #3, 20 Feb 1979: “A concept is an idea, a thought, a general notion. In its broadest sense a concept describes what is to be done; in its more specific sense it can be used to describe how something is done.” Concepts provide the intellectual foundation and framework for future force development.

In his 2001 essay, “That Elusive Operational Concept,” Brigadier General (Retired) David Fastabend, former ARCIC Concept Development and Learning Directorate Director, analyzes concept development. Fastabend’s argues that concepts have common characteristics. Characteristics that concepts should possess:

  • 1) An idealization of war. The operational concept is an image of combat: a concise visualization that portrays the strategic requirement, the adversary and his capabilities, and the scenario by which that adversary will be overcome to accomplish the strategic requirement.
  • 2) A reflection of strategic context. Operational concepts vary between nations and over time because they must reflect the wide range of strategic environments for those who would employ them.
  • 3) A link among theory, strategic context and doctrine. The operational concept filters theory through the lens of geopolitical circumstances, national culture, historical context and technology to frame a doctrine of war—the codification of practice.
  • 4) A choice. An operational concept comprises a fundamental choice: a clear decision that selects among an array of potential approaches, the preferred technique for success.
  • 5) A component of conflict. Operational concepts are essential components of conflict because they compete with those of our adversaries.

To develop a clear articulation of how the future Army will fight, Fastabend stressed the importance of overcoming challenges to concept development:

  • 1) Ideas Matter. The operational concept is fundamentally an idea, and ideas matter. A list of concepts is not an image of future combat; they offer no real choice.
  • 2) Debate Matters. Because ideas matter, good ideas create good debate. Without debate good ideas may fail.
  • 3) Clarity matters. Debates matter, but they are not possible if the disputed ideas lack clarity. Concepts that are recognizable only through the lens of historical retrospect lack utility. It is not enough if the composite elements of an effective operational concept are unrecognizably buried in doctrine.
  • 4) Resources matter. The common thread that links the history of concepts is resources. Once developed, concepts must be fielded and embedded in the force. Concepts require widespread understanding; they cannot be put together on the fly.
  • 5) Leaders matter. Concepts need leaders who recognize ideas that matter, refine those ideas through effective debate, distill them with clarity, and bring resources to their implementation. If the Army does not offer a simple, clear depiction of how it will fight in the future, development efforts will result in a concept that is easy to sell but impossible to execute.

The Army modernizes and develops the future Army using the Think-Learn-Analyze-Implement paradigm. While doctrine explains how current Army forces operate and guides leaders and Soldiers in the conduct of training and operations, concepts describe how commanders might employ future capabilities against anticipated threats to accomplish missions. Concepts are the result of Army leaders thinking about the problem of future warfare to illustrate how future joint and Army forces may operate, describe the capabilities required to carry out the range of military operations against adversaries in the expected operational environment, and explain how a commander might employ these capabilities to achieve desired effects and objectives. Concept development is informed by known shortfalls; technology, threats, technologies, missions, and lessons learned from previous operations, experimentation, and research. The absence of a well-developed concept has potential to adversely affect the Army’s ability to innovate, resource, and prepare for the future.

As the Army develops the Multi-Domain Battle concept leaders must be mindful that the concept requires broad debate and the expression of new ideas and the consideration of old ideas used in new ways. Leaders must consider when and who will debate the ideas and ensure the debates do not turn into parochial arguments. Leaders must strive for clarity and simplicity while capturing the complexity of war. Leaders must refine concepts through experimentation and testing to validate ideas in realistic and challenging. Leaders must ensure concepts allow for a grounded projection into the future to ensure we can meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. Lastly, leaders must remember that concept development is not completed overnight. The development of AirLand Battle was years in the making. Given that DOTMLPF solutions are derived from concepts the Army doesn't have to get it completely right but it does have to be more right than our enemies.

See the following webpage for MDB information, ideas, articles, and videos related to Multi-Domain Battle:

To contribute to the Multi-Domain Battle Dialogue: #MultiDomainBattle

The following Army Warfighting Challenges are directly related to this week's topic:
#1 Develop Situational Understanding:

How to develop and sustain a high degree of situational understanding while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#2 Shape the Security Environment:

How does the Army influence the security environment and engage key actors and local/regional forces in order to consolidate gains and achieve sustainable security outcomes in support of Geographic Combatant Commands and Joint requirements.

#4 Adapt the Institutional Army and Innovate:

How to maintain an agile institutional Army that ensures combat effectiveness of the total force, supports other services, fulfills DoD and other agencies' requirements, ensures quality of life for Soldiers and families, and possesses the capability to surge (mobilize) or expand (strategic reserve) the active Army.

#5 Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction:

How to prevent, reduce, eliminate, and mitigate the use and effects of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives (CBRNE) threats and hazards on friendly forces and civilian populations.

#6 Conduct Homeland Operations:

How to operate across multiple domains and with multiple partners to defend the homeland and mitigate the effects of attacks and disasters. Recently updated.

#7 Conduct Space and Cyber Electromagnetic Operations and Maintain Communications:

How to assure uninterrupted access to critical communications and information links (satellite communications [SATCOM], positioning, navigation, and timing [PNT], and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR]) across a multi-domain architecture when operating in a contested, congested, and competitive operating environment.

#8 Enhance Realistic Training:

How to train Soldiers, leaders and units to ensure they are prepared to accomplish the mission across the range of military operations while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#9 Improve Soldier, Leader, and Team Performance:

How to develop resilient Soldiers, adaptive leaders, and cohesive teams committed to the Army professional ethic that are capable of accomplishing the mission in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.

#10 Develop Agile and Adaptive Leaders:

How to develop agile, adaptive, and innovative leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos and are capable of visualizing, describing, directing, and leading and assessing operations in complex environments and against adaptive enemies.

#11 Conduct Air-Ground Reconnaissance and Security Operations:

How to conduct effective air-ground combined arms reconnaissance and security operations to develop the situation rapidly in close contact with the enemy and civilian populations.

#12 Conduct Joint Expeditionary Maneuver and Entry Operations:

How does the Army deploy and project forces, conduct forcible and early entry, and set conditions across multiple domains to rapidly transition to offensive operations to ensure access and seize the initiative.

#13 Conduct Wide Area Security:

How do Army forces establish and maintain security across wide areas (wide area security) and across multiple domains to protect forces, populations, infrastructure, and activities necessary to shape security environments, consolidate gains, and set conditions for achieving policy goals.

#14 Ensure Interoperability and Operate in JIM Environment:

How to integrate joint, interorganizational, and multinational partner capabilities and campaigns to ensure unity of effort and accomplish missions across the range of military operations.

#15 Conduct Joint Combined Arms Maneuver:

How to conduct combined arms air-ground maneuver to defeat enemy organizations and accomplish missions in complex operational environments.

#16 Set the Theater Sustain Operations and Maintain Freedom of Movement:

How to set the theater, provide strategic agility to the joint force, and maintain freedom of movement and action during sustained and high tempo operations at the end of extended lines of communication in austere environments.

#17 Employ Cross-Domain Fires:

How to employ cross-domain fires to defeat the enemy and preserve freedom of action across the range of military operations (ROMO).

#19 Exercise Mission Command:

How to understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations consistent with the philosophy of mission command to seize the initiative over the enemy and accomplish the mission across the range of military operations.

#20 Develop Capable Formations:

How to design Army formations capable of rapidly deploying and conducting operations for ample duration and in sufficient scale to accomplish the mission.

Continuous feedback, collaboration, and teamwork are keys to the success of the Campaign of Learning and driving innovation in the Army. Please use the Army Warfighting Challenges as the framework to contribute your ideas and recommendations with respect to this topic to improve our ability to innovate as we develop the current and future force.

The Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFC) framework may be accessed here:

Please contribute to the Army Warfighting Challenges.

  • Public site (not requiring a CAC or password): ARCIC Website
  • MilBook collaboration site
  • SIPR Net collaboration site:

For previous weekly readings go to: ARCIC Professional Readings

All the best,