We are now beginning the final phase of our transition from Iraq, and the first phase of the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. As we refocus on the future, we face a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive strategic security environment. World economic, political, and social conditions have given rise to multiple hybrid threats – combinations of decentralized and syndicated irregular, terrorist, and criminal groups that possess capabilities once considered the sole purview of nation states. As the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate combatants fades, our understanding of, and ability to master, full spectrum operations will remain central to our future success.
Recently, The Army Operating Concept introduced the idea that success in the future security environment requires Army forces capable of defeating enemies and establishing conditions necessary to achieve national objectives using combined arms maneuver and wide-area security to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative as part of full spectrum operations. As we translate this idea from concept to doctrine, we are focusing our efforts on our Army’s ability to successfully conduct both combined arms maneuver and wide area security, both independently and simultaneously. They are neither separate nor separable, but intrinsically linked within the context of joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational efforts.
Establishing a shared understanding of Combined Arms Maneuver (CAM) and Wide Area Security (WAS) is essential to us as we move forward. Combined arms maneuver is the application of the elements of combat power to achieve a position of physical, temporal, or psychological advantage over the enemy. Wide area security is the application of the elements of combat power to maintain a position of physical, temporal, or psychological advantage over the enemy, or deny such a position to the enemy. CAM leverages decisive combat power against an enemy to seize the initiative, while setting and dictating the terms of action and degrading the enemy’s ability to mount a coherent response. WAS leverages the coercive and constructive capabilities of the force to consolidate gains and establish conditions on the ground to reestablish a stable and secure environment, address immediate humanitarian concerns, and prepare for the transition of responsibility to a legitimate civil authority.
Together, CAM and WAS are underpinned by mission command, essential to operational adaptability. Mission command drives initiative and fosters our ability to decentralize authority, allowing our forces to consistently and coherently act faster than the enemy, or the situation. In a complex and uncertain operating environment, mission command allows the force to combine the two core competencies to conduct successful, decisive full spectrum operations.
The critical linkages that underpin CAM and WAS are initiative, risk, and opportunity. They are inherently linked within the context of full spectrum operations, and fundamental to their successful execution. In CAM, they spur the spirit of the offense and drive audacity. In WAS, they inform distributed and decentralized operations and form the nexus of trust and candor between leaders and their subordinates.
As we work to reinforce our commitment to full spectrum operations, we share a mutual obligation to discuss the future of our Army, and where CAM and WAS fit into the complex equation of the strategic environment. I encourage each of you to read the article, Beyond the Horizon, and take the time to consider the article as well as the thoughts written above, and to share your own here. This is an essential discussion, and one that your contribution will only make more important. I look forward to your feedback.
LTG Robert L. Caslen, Jr.