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Winning the Competition, Not Just the Battle

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U.S. Army
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A key and evolving Army strategy focuses on pre- and post-war operations that new doctrine refers to as the period of “competition.”

“The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028,” a new U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command pamphlet that focuses on future fighting concepts, includes a section about operations when the U.S. isn’t at war, either because one hasn’t started or has just ended.

The military objective in this situation is to defeat or counter an adversary’s attempts to destabilize an area, to prevent violence from erupting and to be prepared to escalate into armed combat if fighting begins. “In the past, the U.S. military—due to cultural, statutory and policy reasons—has often remained reactive in competition below armed conflict,” TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1 says. The new concept calls, instead, for “active engagement by the Joint Force, and particularly the Army, in competition to defend U.S. interests, deter conflict and, when needed, create the most favorable conditions for the Joint Force’s rapid transition to armed conflict.”

To do this, the Army must be able to conduct intelligence and counter adversary reconnaissance. Such efforts can “create uncertainty for the adversary as to whether it can achieve its objectives through a surprise attack,” the pamphlet says. When adversaries conduct maneuvers and snap drills, the Army and joint force will need to study the movements to be able to identify and exploit weaknesses. U.S. forces will also need to be familiar with the territory, especially any dense urban terrain that would be strategically or operationally important.

“Army forces, as part of the Joint Force, compete with a near-peer adversary by defeating their operations below the threshold of armed conflict and deterring an escalation of violence,” the concept paper says.

The full paper can be downloaded here:

https://www.tradoc.army.mil/Portals/14/Documents/MDO/TP525-3-1_30Nov2018.pdf