Thinking clearly about the future of warfare

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Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is the deputy commanding general, Futures, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

By Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army

Anticipating the demands of future armed conflict requires an understanding of continuities in the nature of war as well as an appreciation for changes in the character for armed conflict. —The U.S. Army Operating Concept

Expert knowledge is a pillar of our military profession, and the ability to think clearly about war is fundamental to developing expert knowledge across a career of service. Junior leaders must understand war to explain to their Soldiers how their unit’s actions contribute to the accomplishment of campaign objectives. Senior officers draw on their understanding of war to provide the best military advice to civilian leaders. Every Army leader uses his or her vision of future conflict as a basis for how he or she trains soldiers and units. Every commander understands, visualizes, describes, directs, leads and assesses operations based, in part, on his or her understanding of continuities in the nature of war and of changes in the character of warfare.

A failure to understand war through a consideration of continuity and change risks what nineteenth century Prussian philosopher Carl von Clausewitz warned against: regarding war as “something autonomous” rather than “an instrument of policy,” misunderstanding “the kind of war on which we are embarking,” and trying to turn war into “something that is alien to its nature.”

In recent years, many of the difficulties encountered in strategic decision making, operational planning, training and force development stemmed from neglect of continuities in the nature of war. The best way to guard against the tendency to try to turn war into something alien to its nature is to understand four key continuities in the nature of war and how the U.S. experience in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

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Strengthening ties between Army capabilities and engineering

Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), tours facilities at Picatinny Arsenal Nov. 18.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), toured facilities at Picatinny Arsenal Nov. 18. The ARCIC is responsible for the identification, design, development and synchronization of capabilities into the Army’s current and future Modular Force, bringing together all Army agencies as well as Joint, Multinational and other DoD agencies to manage rapid change.

While at Picatinny, Vane met with leadership from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), including Director, Gerry Melendez. “It was an extremely productive visit,” said Melendez. “We are working towards strengthening the ties between our respective organizations.”

Since TRADOC writes requirements for Army systems, and ARDEC – along with other Army labs and in conjunction with the project manager community – designs, engineers and builds to those requirements, communications between the communities is critical to successfully delivering equipment to the warfighters.

“We discussed how we — the ARDEC — can better inform the requirements definition process,” said Melendez. “We want to work with them to define the art of the possible.”

Vane and Melendez also discussed how TRADOC may be able to assist in getting warfighters’ assessments of technologies early in development.

See more photos from Lt. Gen. Vane’s visit on Picatinny’s Flickr page