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The Army Operating Concept 2020–2040: Winning in a Complex World

April 1, 2015

Recent and ongoing conflicts reinforce the need to develop a future force that balances the technological focus of U.S. Army modernization with the recognition that the human, cultural and political nature of armed conflict will endure, while technology has its limits.

The Army of the future must be prepared to deal with an operating environment that will include reduced budgets, reduced force structure and the increased momentum of human interaction. In addition, the Army will have to operate in cities with dense populations while the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and enemy overmatch capabilities continue to grow. In the future, a diverse array of enemies will most likely employ a mixture of traditional, unconventional and hybrid strategies to threaten U.S. security and vital interests. Threats may emanate from nation states or from nonstate actors such as transnational terrorists, insurgents and criminal organizations. These threats will employ strategies intended to avoid U.S. strengths and to disrupt access, freedom of movement and freedom of action. Simultaneously, the proliferation of technology will allow them to emulate technical and tactical capabilities that will lessen the current U.S. advantages as adversaries expand their influence through proxies and criminal networks.

To meet these challenges, the Army has created the new Army Operating Concept (AOC) to address prompt conduct of joint operations in sufficient scale and duration to prevent conflict, shape security environments and win wars. The AOC describes how the future Army forces, as part of a joint, international and multinational effort, will operate to accomplish campaign objectives and protect U.S. national interests by winning at the tactical, operational and—most important—the strategic level of war.