Combating a Combat Legacy   [open pdf - 369KB]

"The combat-centric legacy of the US Army is stable and durable. It developed during World War II and has persisted relatively intact throughout the Cold War, the post-Cold War period, and even in the post-9/11 era. The legacy endures not only in organizational form, doctrine, and equipment but also in training, education, and culture. Its persistence impedes the ability to conduct either sequential full-spectrum operations (occurring in traditional multiphase operations) or simultaneous full-spectrum operations (occurring in complex insurgencies such as those manifesting in Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF)). And it dramatically limits the US Army's capacity to adapt to other noncombat or untraditional roles and missions. The stability of the legacy, despite the experiences of OIF, typifies the inertial qualities of the institutional US Army, which has, as Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster describes, 'developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare.' Furthermore, the legacy signifies a rejection of the hard-fought organizational adaptations realized in Iraq that made the force more full-spectrum capable than perhaps it had ever been...The duration and degree of adaptation in OIF are relevant if imprecise measurements of how unsuitable the post-9/11 force was for translating tactical and operational action and success into strategic and political victory. Whether the adaptive and truly full-spectrum capable force created under fire during OIF will be retained in the future is unclear, but early indications suggest that a return to the legacy through 'modernization' and 'rebalancing' is not only likely but preferred despite strategic requirements. Instead of focusing on rebalancing, modernization, and a return to a combat-centric, legacy force, the Army should instead incorporate lessons from OIF to create a truly full-spectrum proficient force capable of supporting national interests and strategic requirements."

2010 Chad Serena
Retrieved From:
U.S. Army War College, Parameters: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/
Media Type:
Parameters: United States Army War College Quarterly (Spring 2010), v.40 no.1, p.47-59
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