Forging the Sword
Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army
Benjamin M. Jensen


Contents and Abstracts
1 To Change an Army
chapter abstract

This chapter establishes the core argument of the book: the role of incubators and advocacy networks in enabling doctrinal change. Change is not necessarily natural or easy in complex bureaucracies like the military. Therefore, catalyzing change requires a unique configuration of institutional factors and environment shocks. The chapter explores this dilemma and reviews different perspectives on how military officers escape the iron cage of bureaucracy to imagine new ways of war. The work defines military doctrine and discusses various impediments to change as well as past accounts of how new ways of war emerge in a defense bureaucracy. In reviewing these different approaches, the work makes the case for a special role for the profession of arms and the role of knowledge networks in overcoming bureaucratic inertia.

2 The First Battle of the Next War
chapter abstract

This chapter historically traces the emergence of the Active Defense doctrine in 1976. Specifically, the chapter will empirically examine the strategic context in terms of how military planners reconciled the Nixon doctrine and constraints implicit in the all-volunteer force and declining domestic resources. Senior leaders like General William DePuy used their analysis of the Arab-Israeli War as a means of conceptualizing what a future conventional war in Europe might look like. It was the operational problem necessitating new doctrine. From this vantage point, the chapter explores the institutional reform initiatives that gave birth to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). TRADOC was a principal incubator that provided DePuy and his "boathouse gang" of young officers the space they needed to rewrite Cold War conventional doctrine.

3 The Central Battle
chapter abstract

The chapter traces the emergence of the AirLand Battle doctrine as a response to shifting perceptions of the Soviet threat and new military concepts. First, the chapter examines the threats that drove national security considerations in the late 1970s and 1980s emphasizing the specific concerns voiced by Army leaders. Two stand out: the conventional balance in Europe and increased planning for non-NATO contingencies in Southwest Asia and the Far East Second, the analysis elucidates the conceptual underpinnings of doctrinal innovation in the development of AirLand Battle. Specifically, the emergence of two concepts, the Central Battle and Extended Battlefield, drove doctrinal development in the early 1980s. In both cases, incubators and advocacy networks proved central to helping military professionals define operational problems and spread their new concept across the organization.

4 The New Warrior Class
chapter abstract

The chapter traces how senior military officers in TRADOC and the Department of the Army articulated threats following the Cold War. The case examines TRADOC initiatives linked to establishing a new war-fighting paradigm that crystallized in the June 1993 publication of FM 100-5, Operations, and the follow on 1994 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations. The new FM 100-5 embodied the broader realignment to a contingency-based force after the end of the Cold War. Force XXI linked together this vision of threat everywhere with new concepts governing the optimal mix of information technology. In tracing the episode, the chapter uncovers how incubators and advocacy networks helped officers develop and diffuse new ideas about how to array forces at the operational level.

5 Hearts and Minds Revisited
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the development of FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency Operations, as an episode of doctrinal innovation. While the episode reflects doctrinal change, it is less dramatic than heralded at the time. Incubators and advocacy networks were present and appear to have enabled a group of thinkers around General David Petraeus, the "coinistas," to shift how the US defense establishment thought about counterinsurgency. The manual and subsequent surge did change the battle in Iraq, but the core ideas within the manual were neither new nor novel. Rather, they reflected a long tradition in military thinking about how to counter insurgents and guerillas to wage what was referred to during the American Revolution as petite guerre. The doctrine was old wine in a new bottle.

6 Incubators, Advocacy Networks and Organizational Change
chapter abstract

This chapter summarizes the key findings and the role of incubators and advocacy networks in enabling doctrinal change in the U.S. Army. First, the conclusion reviews the evidence of these institutional mechanisms in each of the historical cases of doctrinal change. Second, it uses these findings to reflect on how military organizations change and the implications for defense policy. The major recommendation that emerges is a need to sustain intellectual vibrancy in the profession of arms. The chapter calls for sustaining funding for education and experimentation as a means of ensuring new ideas enter the profession. In addition, it highlights the need to maintain a professional culture where leaders publish new ideas and encourage subordinates to do so.