Army Senior Leaders Consider Strategic Landpower AT UQ 2013 Seminar


March 19, 2013

As Quoted in TIME Magazine: Army Senior Leaders Consider Strategic Landpower AT UQ 2013 Seminar

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Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno and other military and civilian leaders today meet to consider the land service’s capability to shape the environment, prevent conflict and win the nation’s wars as part of the Unified Quest 2013 Senior Leaders Conference.

Land power is the basis of the Army, and Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), and deputy commanding general, Futures at the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has been leading a year-long exploration of efforts to prepare the Army for current operations while transitioning to a force able to deal with national security challenges in 2020 and beyond.

The connection between strategic success and land power is something that ARCIC has been examining over time, working to define terms, capabilities and capacity.

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Land power is fundamental to achieving strategic success in peace and war, and the idea of “strategic land power” is the application of land power to achieve national strategic objectives, Walker told a conference last month.

Interestingly, there is no joint definition of land power–or air or sea power, he said, though Army doctrine pub 3-0 defines it as “the ability–by threat, force or occupation–to gain, sustain and exploit control over land, resources and people.”

Strategy is defined in Joint Publication 3-0 as “a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives.”

“Our thesis is that strategic land power is fundamental to our nation’s strategic success and it involves the intersection of land power and the human domain,” Walker said.

For example, an important lesson from World War I is that the allied failure to occupy a defeated Germany allowed militarism to survive, he said. The German people never felt themselves defeated, thus World War II came within two decades.

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“We are entering a period of innovation and should be led by reflection and ideas,” he said, similar to the period between World War 1 and II. It was also a time of “forced austerity,” that taught the Marines and Army that “thinking is free.”

Much consideration of the future at TRADOC, the Army’s architect, has been that the complex future will be one of “global volatility,” economic distress, and bad governance where the United States will find it hard to intervene, holding to its humane standards while adversaries seek to deny technological advantage.

The continuous forward engagement of land forces is increasingly more crucial to the future, Walker said, as they demonstrate commitment to the peace and stability of a region, deter and shape environment, preventing consequential events and, of course, they are there, if hostilities erupt. One future complication is the “rising velocity” of human interaction, he said.

“It is becoming ever more difficult to calculate the expected effects of any action, as increasing interconnectedness multiples the number, scale and speed of second-, third-, and fourth-order effects,” Walker said. “Only forces working with local populations, security forces, and governments have the capacity for the discriminate use of force able to influence events in real time.

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Basically, strategic land power is another option for the nation’s strategic leaders in understanding the complex environment, he said.

During the recent Joint Winter Wargame Unified Quest 2013 in Carlisle, Pa., a senior leader discussion centered on the idea of strategic land power. It was pointed out that “references to things ‘human’ is almost totally absent from our doctrine.” Another point that arose was that discussing the human domain refers to the physical—something the Chinese, for example, to not limit the idea to “tangible aspects.”

When the nation commits its land power, it sends an important message about the objective, Walker said. Within the next two decades, there is a “high likelihood the United States will once again find itself in combat, and when it comes it is unlikely to be an easy war.”

The United States must never enter a conflict with a strategic plan limited to engaging and destroying the enemy order of battle, he said.

“A successful strategic outcome rests, as it has since time immemorial, on the ability of our soldiers marines and special operations forces to defeat an enemy force, seize and hold territory and by direct physical interaction with the local populations, security forces and their governments in order to create the conditions for a lasting peace, i.e., strategic victory,” Walker said.

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