Randi Stenson | Mission Command Center of Excellence Public Affairs
Six retired general officers, including one former U.S. Army Combined Arms Center commanding general, are working with the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate to shape and refine the upcoming revision to Field Manual 3-0, “Operations.”
Leaders at CADD hosted a review of the draft publication, colloquially called a “murder board,” May 17-21 at Fort Leavenworth. The week-long event provided an opportunity for senior leader experts to identify flaws in logic, organization, and content. The “new” FM 3-0 is slated for publication June 14, 2022, in conjunction with next year’s Army birthday.
Rich Creed, CADD director, is leading the effort.
“General officers representing diverse experiences and professional military backgrounds are helping us review the current draft of FM 3-0, the Army’s capstone operations doctrinal publication,” Creed said. “By the end of the week, we will have reviewed every chapter in detail and have enough information to significantly revise the draft prior to sending it out to the Army and other services for review.”
Incorporating the changes from the murder board is expected to take several weeks. The revised draft will then be reviewed by leaders at CAC and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command before Armywide staffing in July, a process that will take several months. Creed said the plan is to then staff it again in early 2022, keeping it on track for the Army Publishing Directorate to post a final version by June 2022.
While not unprecedented, this level of review is not a routine part of doctrine development.
“We followed a similar process in 2017 with the current version of FM 3-0 and found it useful,” Creed said. “We do similar things either formally or informally with other critical publications on occasion, using both active-duty and retired officers depending on the topic. The idea is to get a broad amount of input and review to ensure the operational force sees the best possible draft the first time.”
Creed and his team requested volunteers from the Mission Command Training Program’s pool of experts, as well as from a group of officers CADD has worked with in the past. The goal was to bring together leaders with diverse backgrounds, an interest in doctrinal ideas, and a desire to put intellectual concepts into practical form. This board’s retired general officers are Lt. Gen. Don Holder, Lt. Gen. Claude Christianson, Maj. Gen. Jeff Colt, Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, Brig. Gen. Bill Turner, and Brig. Gen. Mark Odom.
Christianson, a 37-year veteran, career Ordnance officer and former Army G-4 and Joint Staff director for logistics, said he will continue to participate in this process as long as the team feels his input is valuable. He has been involved with writing doctrine and is familiar with the process.
“I’m also familiar with trying to use doctrine at the operational level where you’re trying to apply the principles, and having some difficulty really understanding in-depth, the doctrinal fundamentals,” he said. “So, I wanted to see if I could help make it more, for lack of a better term, more readable and therefore more usable.”
The entire event was a learning process for both the general officers and the FM 3-0 authors. According to Creed, the forum forced the team to look at sequencing and the order of ideas to facilitate learning and clarity. Fresh eyes also raised new issues.
“Something we hadn’t thought about was how to describe multi-domain operations in ways that make it applicable to all warfighting functions, branches or specialties — an important point if we want to create mutual understanding about everyone’s role in a formation during operations,” Creed said.
For his part, Christianson said he is also learning from this experience.
“Everybody brings their own depth of experience and certainly the background of each of the officers that are here is different,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, particularly in the areas of cyber, intelligence and information, and how they play into 21st century multi-domain operations.”
The goal is to deliver a product that the force will use and understand. Having multiple people with varying points of view read the same document and provide input can be a humbling experience for a doctrine author.
“When someone challenges an argument, you want to make doctrinally, it forces you to express the ideas more clearly than you might have thought necessary, which benefits everybody,” Creed said. “It is always interesting how people interpret something you might think is perfectly clear after working on it for six or eight months. You learn quickly that becoming an expert on something isn’t the same as being able to express what that something is in a clear manner.”
The Army published the current FM 3-0 in 2017, so an update is due.
“Keeping doctrine relevant is a continually evolutionary process, and the typical shelf life of our capstone operations doctrinal publications is five to eight years,” Creed said. “By the time we publish a revision we will be at about five years, a period that covered significant progress and learning about multi-domain operations. Our Army’s leadership determined that we were ready to transition multi-domain operations into doctrine as the Army’s operational concept. Publishing a revision in 2022 puts us in position for another potential revision about the time the Army has achieved significant modernization around 2028.”