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What’s Wrong With FM 3-0? Lots
Tom note: Here is the second entry in our 10 Long March posts for 2018, the 9th most-read item of the year, which originally ran on May 10, 2018. These posts are selected based on what's called 'total engaged minutes' (the total number of time spent reading and commenting on an article) rather than page views, which the T&P; editors see as a better reflection of Long March reader interest and community. Thanks to all of you for reading, and for commenting--which is an important part of this column.
It appears as though we have decided that insurgents are no longer a threat and we would rather fight a near-peer enemy. In the new Army field manual, FM 3-0 Operations, the U.S. Army has apparently decided to forget past lessons learned. FM 3-0 signals a shift in military strategy and a focus back to large-scale ground combat operations against near-peer threats, where belligerents possess technology and capabilities similar to the U.S. military. Essentially, we no longer want to do the “Vietnam or Iraq thing” again.
What’s odd here is we find similarities when comparing the latest FM 3-0, published in October 2017, to FM 100-5 Operations of Army Forces in the Field, published in September 1968 while Gen. William Westmoreland was the Army chief of staff. FM 3-0 resembles the losing strategy Westmoreland used in Vietnam. He sought victory by winning a head-to-head war by “grinding down” the enemy.
If you were to compare the two Army field manuals, you would find that they are nearly identical. There are similarities in how we determine and define the following: Combat Power, Phasing, Offensive Operations, Multi-Domain Extended Battlefield (Multi-capable Forces), Conflict Continuum and the Range of Military Operations (Spectrum of War).
Another glaring similarity is how we define “winning” in FM 3-0 – and yes, we do actually define how to win in the Army field manual.
Winning is the achievement of the purpose of an operation and the fulfillment of its objectives. The Army wins when it successfully performs its roles as part of the joint force during operations. It wins when it effectively shapes an OE for combatant commanders, and when it responds rapidly with enough combat power to prevent war thorough deterrence during crisis. When required to fight, the Army’s ability to prevail in ground combat at any scale becomes a decisive factor in breaking the enemy’s will to continue fighting. The Army wins when an enemy is defeated to such a degree that it can no longer effectively resist, and it agrees to cease hostilities on U.S. terms. To ensure that the military results of combat are not temporary, the Army follows through with its unique scope and scale of capabilities to consolidate gains and win enduring outcomes favorable to U.S. interests.
One of the biggest flaws in Westmoreland’s strategy in Vietnam was that he sought to win battles through a war of attrition. He determined success by using the number of enemy kills (i.e. the "body count"). He defined winning as fulfillment of objectives, yet the objectives were never clear in Vietnam. Westmoreland sought victory through the defeat of the enemy to such a degree that the opponent could no longer resist.
So, what’s wrong with FM 3-0? It should be quite obvious. We are essentially using the same failing strategy Westmoreland used in 1968 in Vietnam. What’s wrong with this? Well, we lost Vietnam. For those who argue that we never lost on the battlefield, I will leave you with the following conversation in Hanoi in April 1975, as related by Harry G. Summers Jr. in On Strategy:
“You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,” said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.”
Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR, is a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is a logistics officer and has served as an operations officer, planner and commander. He is certified as a Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, certified Red Team Member, and holds a doctorate from Kansas State University.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.
Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.
When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.
Two airmen were administratively punished for drinking at the missile launch control center for 150 nuclear LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, the Air Force confirmed to Task & Purpose on Friday.
Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in "beast mode," meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.
The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command revealed. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with a full loadout of weaponry on their wings.
The U.S. Senate closed out the week before Memorial Day by confirming Gen. James McConville as the Army's new chief of staff and Adm. Bill Moran as the Navy's new chief of naval operations.
McConville, previously vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed on Thursday along with his successor, Lt Gen. Joseph Marin. Moran, currently vice chief of naval operations, was confirmed Friday along with his successor, Vice Adm. Robert Burke.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is prohibiting service members who work there from being in the area of a Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled for Saturday in downtown Dayton, Ohio.