Land Warfare Development Centre Army Doctrine Publication AC 71940
Land Operations
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CGS Foreword to ADP Land Operations
ADP Land Operations is the British Army’s core doctrine. It provides the framework of
understanding for our approach to combat and to operations. It is the foundation for all of
our tactical doctrine. It recognises that the nature of warfare remains constant: it remains
visceral and violent, characterised by friction, in which the simplest things become difficult;
its outcomes are more often about the effects on peoples’ minds than they are about
physical effects; and it is always about politics. This new edition is necessary because the
character of conflict has evolved significantly due to the pervasiveness of information.
The context is complex and dynamic. We live and fight in a goldfish bowl. There are few secrets
any longer. We have access to multiple audiences and they have access to us. No longer is
there a clear distinction between war and peace. We live in an era of constant competition
and confrontation in which our adversaries exploit the grey area short of combat operations
to seek advantage. There is no boundary between what happens abroad and what happens
at home. Success is more likely to be achieved through non-military or non-lethal means, and
invariably it is the triumph of the narrative that is decisive, not necessarily the facts on the
ground. The battlefield is increasingly decentralized with a premium placed on the talent of low
level leadership and its understanding of the strategic context. And the expectations of military
restraint, as well as the complexity of the legal context, constrain commanders as never before.
The two central ideas in British Doctrine remain constant. The requirement for Mission
Command and the Manoeuvrist Approach has not changed, however the latter is focused
on the enemy – and in this complex and dynamic environment manoeuvre has to take
account of a much broader audience than simply the ‘enemy’. A new idea is therefore
required - this is called Integrated Action. It is a unifying doctrine that requires commanders
first to identify their outcome; second to study all of the audiences that are relevant to the
attainment of the outcome; third to analyse the effects that need to be imparted on the
relevant audience; before determining the best mix of capabilities, from soft through to
hard power, required to impart effect onto those audiences to achieve the outcome.
Put simply, doctrine is not just what is taught, it also captures a set of beliefs – the beliefs
that underpin how we practise our profession. ADP Land Operations should be read by all,
applied at the appropriate level, and used intelligently as the framework of understanding
to inform our Army’s development in this increasingly complex and dynamic context.
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Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) Land Operations is the primary source of doctrine for
UK land operations. Building on the foundations laid by higher-level North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Defence doctrine, it provides the philosophy and
principles that guide land forces’ approach to operations. As the capstone doctrine
of UK land forces, its philosophy and principles inform the practices and procedures
in the Army Field Manual (AFM) series, handbooks and aides-memoire.
ADP Land Operations is required reading for all land force commanders from sub-unit upwards
and for staff officers working in the land environment. They must explain the doctrine to their
subordinates and so ensure that the whole land force operates in accordance with its principles.
It is also useful for allies, joint staffs, civil servants and civilians working alongside land forces.
Unless otherwise specified, all definitions used in ADP Land Operations are consistent with
those of NATO Allied Administrative Publication (AAP) 06, NATO Glossary of Terms.
ADP Land Operations has three parts.
Part 1 establishes the context which informs the fundamentals of land doctrine.
Chapter 1 describes the nature of conflict, of the land environment and
of land forces, how the character of conflict changes, and key aspects of
contemporary conflict. It identifies important implications for land forces.
Chapter 2 examines the UK national context and describes the NATO framework
of operations and relationships within which operations are conducted.
Chapter 3 describes the three components of land forces’
Fighting Power: conceptual, moral and physical.
Part 2 describes the fundamentals of land doctrine.
Chapter 4 explains Integrated Action, a unifying doctrine, which guides
the orchestration and execution of operations whether the task is any
combination of fighting, engagement, security or support.
Chapter 5 describes the Manoeuvrist Approach, the British Army’s fighting
doctrine for the tactical level, specifically focused on the enemy.
Chapter 6 is concerned with Mission Command, the
command philosophy of the British Army.
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Part 3 introduces how operations are conducted. These subjects
are covered in greater detail in the AFM series.
Chapter 7 explains interoperability, how land forces organise for operations, and how
they support and are supported by other components.
Chapter 8 provides general guidance on how operations are planned and conducted
to achieve Integrated Action. It explains the tactical functions, operational art, various
doctrinal frameworks and provides a summary of the tactical activities that contribute to
Integrated Action.
Chapter 9 describes wider aspects of command (in the context of Mission Command),
the characteristics of the commander and staff, how operations are controlled and the
operations process.
Chapter 10 is concerned with sustainment of land operations, its philosophy and
principles and how it is planned and executed.
ADP Land Operations continues the evolution of modern land forces capstone doctrine,
from British Military Doctrine (1989) and its associated five volumes of ADPs, to ADP Land
Operations (2005) and ADP Operations (2010).
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Introduction 1-1
The nature of conflict 1-2
The land environment 1-3
Land forces 1-4
The character of conflict 1-5
Implications of the nature and character of conflict 1-8
ANNEX 1A - Principles of war 1-11
Introduction 2-1
UK context 2-1
Campaign authority, legitimacy and legality 2-2
Military frameworks of operations 2-4
Operational relationships 2-8
Joint 2-8
Inter-agency 2-9
Multinational 2-10
Whole force approach 2-12
UK land forces contribution to strategy and joint operations 2-13
Introduction 3-1
The conceptual component 3-3
The moral component 3-8
The physical component 3-13
Readiness, deployability and recovery 3-16
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Understanding and the audience
Integration of actions to achieve desired outcomes
Psychological impact of the Manoeuvrist Approach
Seizing and holding the initiative
Shaping understanding
Attacking will and cohesion
Nature of command
Mission Command
Principles of Mission Command
Application of Mission Command
Organisation of land forces
Relationships of land forces to other components and capabilities
The air component
The maritime component
The special forces component
The logistic component
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Operational overview
The tactical functions
Operational art
Doctrinal frameworks
Tactical activities
ANNEX 8A - Basis of understanding
ANNEX 8B - Centre of gravity analysis
ANNEX 8C - Operational themes and types of operations
Principles of command
The human components of command
Command relationships
Control of operations
The operations process
Philosophy and principles
Functional groupings
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Context of operations
Part 1 provides the context from which flow
the fundamentals of land doctrine. While the
nature of conflict endures, the character evolves.
Certain themes are likely to shape the character
of contemporary conflict into the early 2020s.
These include the continued proliferation and
speed of information, and the instability of a
world characterised by constant competition
between an array of actors, many of whom seek
to undermine the international rules-based order.
As well as through traditional tactics and strategies
in the physical domain, we and our opponents
increasingly use and contest the virtual domain,
through digital media and cyber. The information
age allows adversaries – unconstrained by Western
policy, ethical and legal codes – to exploit our
vulnerabilities in novel ways. It also means that
for UK land forces, and our allies and partners,
tactical success is increasingly difficult to achieve
in purely physical terms. Most importantly, it is not possible to translate tactical success into
desirable political outcomes without gaining favourable consensus among multiple audiences.
Part 1 – Context
Nature and character of conflict
National and operational context
Fighting Power
Part 2 – Fundamentals
Integrated Action
Manoeuvrist Approach
Mission Command
Part 3 – Conduct of operations
Organising for operations
Orchestrating and executing
Commanding operations
Sustaining operations
Chapter 1 describes the nature and character of conflict and their implications for land
forces. Chapter 2 summarises the national context and higher level conceptual frameworks,
common across NATO, which aid understanding of the land force contribution to operations.
Chapter 3 explains how the concept of Fighting Power is applied by UK land forces.
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 1
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Nature and character
of conflict
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Nature and character of conflict
1-01. The nature and character of conflict are different.
The fundamental nature of conflict does not
change; it is adversarial, human and political.
Yet each conflict has a different character.
1-02. The timeless aspects of land conflict are the
nature of conflict, the land environment, and the
inherent attributes of armies. The character of
conflict changes continuously, as a consequence
of a number of factors, including the politics and
technology of the age, and each conflict’s unique
causes, participants, technology and geography.
Nature and character
of conflict
Nature of conflict
Land environment
Land forces
Character of conflict
Principles of War
When the UK is a participant, our particular political, economic, geographic
and historical position becomes a factor in the character of the conflict that we
experience. Because each conflict is unique, a single description of the character
of contemporary conflict is not possible. But it is important to understand the
factors that influence character, and the general implications of those factors.
The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and
commander have to make is to establish…the kind of war on which they are embarking;
neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.
Carl von Clausewitz
1-03. The concept of the nature and character of conflict informs our approach
to doctrine, force design, education and training. Deductions from the
nature of conflict inform enduring principles and ideas, while those from the
character of conflict allow us to prepare appropriately for the requirements of
contemporary operations. It is essential to draw on both in the right balance.
1-04. This chapter first describes the enduring nature of conflict, the land environment and
armies. It then examines how the character of contemporary conflict is affected by
three particular aspects: the way people communicate; the proliferation and power of
weapons; and evolving strategies and tactics. It concludes with the implications of the
nature and character of conflict for land forces, and, in Annex 1A, the Principles of War.
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The nature of conflict
Unless you know the actual circumstances of war, its nature and its relation to other things,
you will not know the laws of war, or how to direct war and how to win victory.
Mao Tse Tung
1-05. Whether the belligerents are states or other entities, all armed conflict is essentially
adversarial, human (involving friction, uncertainty, violence and stress) and political.
1-06. Conflict is a reciprocal contest of will, in which multiple adversaries and
actors act and react to each other, often unpredictably, in a struggle to succeed.
Adversaries seek constantly to mitigate their own weaknesses, avoid opponents’
strengths, and focus instead on aligning their strengths against weaknesses.
1-07. As human dynamics lie at the heart of all conflict, it follows that the nature of conflict
will continue to be influenced by and represent the entire spectrum of human behaviour,
emotion and capability. As a human activity, it cannot be reduced to scientific templates
and principles, but relies on initiative, enterprise and intelligence. Conflict will always
be a violent contest between humans, marked by friction, uncertainty, chaos, violence,
danger and stress, affecting the participants’ will to fight and function. As social animals
who respond to leadership and friendship, we tend to organise ourselves to fight in
hierarchical groups. Our physiology limits what we can do physically; we cannot go
for long without food, sleep and shelter, for example. Our psychology means that our
decisions and behaviour are informed by our perceptions of what is happening. These
subjective perceptions contribute to the enduring unpredictability of conflict on land.
a. Friction frustrates action; makes the simple difficult; and the difficult seemingly
impossible. Friction may be mental, perhaps caused by indecision, or physical, for
example caused by the effects of violence. While friction can be imposed upon
opponents with great effect, it can also be imposed on us by an adversary or the
environment, or be self-induced, for example by a poor plan, process or organisational
b. No matter how much information there is in conflict, a ‘fog of war’ that can lead
to uncertainty and chaos will always descend. Chaos might be deliberately used by
enemies, and presents opportunities for the bold to seize.
c. The threat or use of violence is the means by which one side in armed conflict
ultimately seeks to impose their will upon the other. Violence can result in bloodshed,
destruction and human suffering. Applying appropriate violence at the right time and
place can be decisive.
d. Combat can be horrific, and violence, danger, stress, fear, exhaustion, isolation and
privation, or their prospect, adversely affect the will of all those involved. Success in
battle is as often decided by the psychological ability of each side to withstand these
shocks as it is by physical results.
1-08. The use or threat of violence to achieve political objectives has endured through
the ages. Clausewitz’s observation that “war is not merely an act of policy but a true
political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means”
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remains relevant today. Confrontation and conflict involve persistent political competition
and disagreement, which from time to time are manifested in armed violence; all
conflicts are blends of ‘battlefield’ and ‘non-battlefield’ engagements. Conflict is a
means to an end, not an end in itself. The initiation, continuance and termination of
conflict are all political decisions, and so the employment of the military instrument
of power ought to be in pursuit of political objectives. The pervasive nature of politics
in conflict shapes the manner in which operations are conducted by land forces.
The land environment
1-09. The land environment has human, information and physical aspects. Most people live
in towns, cities and villages, and increasingly in coastal regions. There are very few areas
in which no people live; even then, most apparently unpopulated space is a resource
that supports the population in some way. People exist in linguistic, cultural, social, and
political groups with specific identities, usually associated with particular territories.
These territories typically take the form of states, or regions within or between them.
1-10. The significance of territory is, therefore, associated with group identity
and access to resources; it is often rooted in deep cultural and historical
factors as well as in governments’ obligations to provide security for
their people. Competition for territory and resources, and issues such as
injustice and lack of representation are often at the root of conflict.
1-11. Because of its significance, the physical capture and occupation of territory, or the credible
threat to do so, has often been regarded as decisive. But, the ultimate decision is political
rather than physical; people have to decide whether or not to accept the facts on the
ground. Land forces, by dint of their presence among and proximity to the people, provide
an important and usually necessary contribution to achieving these political outcomes.
1-12. The land environment is also shaped by the way that information is exchanged
between individuals, tribes, ethnic and interest groups, and countries. This
communication can be verbal, directly between people, through radio, television,
and online. Human interaction is expanding and accelerating as information flows
in the virtual domain increase. In the new information landscape, any digitally
connected person has the ability to shape public understanding of and consensus for
(or against) a conflict, or be influenced by other actors who exploit these means.
1-13. Terrain in the land environment is varied and complex, with open grassland, cultivated
land, forests, mountains, deserts, jungles, rivers, swamps, urban and littoral areas.
Each creates constraints and freedoms, placing different demands on the people and
equipment that operate within them. Terrain can block or enable communication,
provide cover from detection or attack, and obstruct or enable movement. Movement
on land is impeded by obstacles that land forces must overcome. Land forces have
to be highly adaptable and resilient to operate in these different conditions.
1-14. The land itself can also be altered by human activity. Obstacles can be cleared and
roads built to enable access. Globally, the phenomenon of urbanisation is creating
physically, culturally and institutionally complex cities that are challenging for military
forces operating in them. In the littoral, the complexities of the urban environment for
land forces are amplified. Other strategic trends, including competition for resources,
economic inequality and climate change continue to dictate where and how people live.
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1-15. Climate accentuates the demands of terrain. It also affects visibility,
movement and communication. Climate can bring danger and threaten our
very survival, but it also brings opportunities that sustain life and provide
protection. Night operations can provide cover and the element of surprise,
but strain the ability to retain effective command and control.
Land forces
1-16. The capability of armed forces is often described using the concept of Fighting
Power. Fighting Power consists of three components: conceptual (the ideas behind
how to operate and fight); moral (the ability to get people to operate and fight);
and physical (the means to operate and fight). Land, maritime and air forces all
have Fighting Power, but they have different, yet complementary attributes.
1-17. The nature of conflict and the land environment are timelessly relevant to all land
forces. They inform the concept of land power, and the attributes of land forces
that inform doctrine and force design. Building on these attributes, a land force
needs certain qualities if it is to be able to exercise land power effectively.
1-18. Military power is mainly divided into complementary
maritime, land, air and space power, alongside cyber
Land power
and information capabilities. Land power is the
The ability to exert
ability to exert control within the land environment
control within the land
and to influence the behaviour of actors and the
environment and to
course of events. Air and maritime power can be
influence the behaviour
applied to the land, but cannot fully control the
of actors and the course
land; this can only be done from within the land
environment by land forces (often with the essential
of events.
support of maritime, air and space power).
1-19. All land forces, regular or irregular, have four inherent attributes. Each attribute has
advantages that can be used, but also disadvantages that have to be avoided or mitigated.
a. The primary attribute of any land force is its people. Land conflict is a human activity,
between individuals and groups of individuals. Each of these participants has their
own perceptions and interpretations of the environment. Land forces, therefore,
are complex organisations, requiring moral as well as structural cohesion and deep
hierarchies of command. They can be difficult to direct, so decentralised command
systems tend to work best. Large numbers of people can also be expensive and lead to
competition with other sectors of society requiring skilled personnel. Land forces are
particularly reliant on high quality leadership, education and training at all levels.
b. Land forces’ presence on the ground means that they operate in close proximity
to people and terrain. Soldiers are able to gain access to people and communicate
directly with them. This gives them the potential to develop detailed understanding of
the human, information and physical aspects of the environment. They can get close
enough to distinguish between different people and groups, adjusting their approach
accordingly. They present a particular kind of threat to adversaries, and are uniquely
able to reassure and secure neutral and friendly people. Land forces can manoeuvre
over ground, or via air or water, to take physical possession of terrain, or they can
physically defend or secure it. The presence of land forces, therefore, is often essential
for success which may only be achievable by fighting. The same presence, however,
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can also disturb local relationships, cause people to feel threatened, and become a
focus for resistance to which land forces are uniquely vulnerable. Sometimes this threat
is mitigated by small or discreet deployments that contribute out of proportion to their
size. To operate effectively, land forces must be able to understand and cooperate with
local actors.
c. The attribute of persistence, the capacity of land forces to extend their presence
in an area for long periods of time, gives land forces the potential to deepen their
understanding of the local context, and develop engagement, control and influence.
Presence and persistence can be highly significant, if matched by political commitment.
Persistent engagement requires sustainment and protection commensurate with the
threats, the distance of the task from the home base and its duration.
d. Land forces have inherent versatility because they consist largely of organised groups
that can relatively easily conduct a very wide range of military and non-military tasks.
So even when optimised for warfighting, land forces can be adapted to support, for
example, stability and non-conflict activities such as humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief.
1-20. Although all land forces display these attributes, it does not follow that they are all
effective on operations. To be effective, land (as well as maritime and air) forces require
certain other qualities including: balance between their human and physical aspects; the
ability to start operations at the appropriate time and place and to continue for as long
as the operation demands; and the right level of force. The key quality which alters
these properties so they are relevant in new and changing situations is adaptability.
1-21. Although land forces are inherently versatile, they must be adaptable to deal with
new and changing situations. Future conflict cannot be predicted accurately, so land
forces must prepare for the most complex and demanding operations but be able
to adapt rapidly to specific operational requirements. Having adjusted to deal with
the new situation, the force must adapt during conflict. Adversaries and enemies
seek to deceive and surprise us, and themselves adapt: if we are to succeed we must
adapt more quickly than they do. Adaptability is explained further in Chapter 3.
The character of conflict
1-22. No two conflicts are the same and none retains a fixed character. Each is the
product of its era and of the particular conditions which apply at the time. The ever-
changing character of conflict is influenced by global political, economic, social, and
technological factors. Significant developments can cause marked changes to the
general character of conflict. Examples include the growth of democracy and the
invention of mass manufacturing. But the most significant impact has often been from
changes in technology, such as gunpowder, the internal combustion engine, wireless
communications, powered flight, nuclear weapons, computers and the Internet.
1-23. In addition, the goals of belligerents, their relative strengths and popular
support, as well as their tactics and strategies, will always differ and so give
each conflict its own unique character. Further, the character of any given
conflict does not remain constant; as a contest of wills, conflicts change over
their duration. Adversaries constantly adapt their tactics and strategies to
gain advantage, whilst technologies evolve and new threats emerge.
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No matter how clearly one thinks, it is impossible to anticipate precisely the character of
future conflict. The key is to not be so far off the mark that it becomes impossible to adjust
once that character is revealed.
Professor Sir Michael Howard
1-24. It is not possible to predict the exact character of contemporary conflict, because it is
constantly changing and each conflict is unique and evolves in its own way. Nevertheless,
certain trends and developments are apparent,1 of which global connectivity and the
accelerating flow of information are currently the most important. Although each
conflict must be examined in its own right, three inter-related aspects of contemporary
conflict are clear: the way in which people communicate; the proliferation and
ever-increasing power of physical weapons; and evolving strategies and tactics.
Initially, the Israeli military response to Hezballah [in 2006] was widely seen as justified, but
as time progressed and Hezballah successfully manipulated print, broadcast, and online
media, the world increasingly saw images of civilian casualties (both doctored and real)
and the tide of public opinion turned. There was a widespread sentiment regarding Israel’s
“disproportionate response,” and Israel was not successful in turning this tide.
United States Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis
Decade of War, Volume 1. Enduring lessons from the past decade of operations (2012)
1-25. Rapid and broad communication of messages and ideas flow across physical boundaries
through the virtual domain, energising the causes for which people fight. Adversaries
can develop and exploit recruitment, manipulation, mobilisation and targeting
opportunities, while promoting their own narratives of events, in competition with our
own. Our adversaries can share information and adapt more quickly than in the past.
1-26. Because of the proliferation of information, military activity is often immediately
visible to a local and global audience. The local audience includes enemies, adversaries
and a range of actors, from allies and partners to the local population. The global
audience is unbounded. Each of these groups interprets our activity through their
own lens, and each is influenced by others. Many actors are adept at presenting
military activity to the audience, magnifying, mitigating or altering it to influence
observers’ understanding of what actually happened. This is critically important
to us, our allies and adversaries, because the audience judges whether military
action achieves its political objectives. The impact of physical military activity can
have more immediate, wide-ranging consequences than in the past, for example
more quickly deterring, demoralising or stiffening the resolve of other actors.
1-27. As we and other actors become more and more reliant on sophisticated information
services, so the threat of cyber attack increases. This novel threat has the potential to
disrupt our information services and any systems that rely on electronic control systems.
1 DCDC’s Global Strategic Trends and the Army’s Agile Warrior programme provide detailed analysis of likely future trends.
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1-28. As our military operations become more visible, and come under greater domestic
and international scrutiny and criticism, there is a higher expectation of military
restraint compared with the past. This often leads to legal and policy constraints on
our use of force additional to the requirements of international law. Many of our
actual and potential adversaries do not recognise international law, and do not have
the same constraints. They are able to exploit this situation to their advantage by,
for example, concealing themselves in the population, using tactics and weapons
not available to us, or causing us to be restricted by our own (legitimate) rules.
All planning, particularly strategic planning, must pay attention to the character of
contemporary warfare.
Carl von Clausewitz
1-29. The power of physical weapons continues to increase, and these weapons are
often available to irregular forces. Chemical weapons are used and biological,
nuclear and radiological weapons remain a threat. Fires and explosives continue
to dominate and shape the tactical battlespace, whether, for example, delivered
by long range rocket systems or in the form of improvised explosive devices.
These are what destroy things and kill and injure people; therefore they have the
greatest resonance in the eyes of the participants and observers of conflict.
1-30. Air power remains a critical factor in the successful application of land power,
and space capability is increasingly important. Aircraft are a very powerful
and effective means of delivering fires, and they are a key contributor to
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and sustainment. Those states
able to use space have particular strengths in ISR and communications.
1-31. The proliferation of commercially available technology means that secure
communications, cyber capabilities, and surveillance systems including unmanned
air systems are easily acquired or improvised, even by irregular forces.
1-32. The recent period has seen the emergence of the concept of ‘hybrid warfare’.
This describes strategies that are not new, but which are increasingly employed by
state and non-state actors. Potential adversaries are demonstrating the will and
capability to undermine Western operational capability, resolve and legitimacy
by blending conventional and unconventional forms of conflict, using both
attributable and non-attributable methods. These include posturing, provocation
and persuasion in the physical and virtual domains; subversion; and economic
and cyber warfare, with or without the employment of conventional military
forces. This ‘hybrid’ threat to the international rules-based order can be applied
in a way that remains below formal Western military response thresholds.
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Implications of the nature and character of conflict
(In spite of…changes), the task of the soldier in the front line remains as it has always
been, and the soldierly virtues and skills he needs remain remarkably unchanged. He must
be skilled in the use of his weapons and of ground; he must be alert, steadfast and brave,
and must be able to endure hardship of every kind. He must be prepared to stay where he
is or to move forward in the face of firepower…risking wounds or death, and himself be
prepared to kill.
Field Marshal Car ver
1-33. Certain implications for UK land forces and doctrine can be
derived from the land environment, the nature and character
of conflict and the attributes inherent in land forces.
1-34. There are four functions of Land Power – to fight, engage, secure and support. They draw
on the attributes of Land Forces and can be exercised independently or in combinations.
a. The fundamental capability of land forces is to
fight in the most demanding
circumstances. This capability underpins the other three functions; gives credibility
to deterrence, coercion and containment and other strategies; and is essential for
interventions and territorial defence.
b. Land forces can
engage with a range of actors and audiences, directly and indirectly,
contributing to understanding, influence and conflict prevention.
c. Land forces are particularly able to secure and protect people and places persistently
in the land environment. This includes providing security in support of inter-agency
stabilisation and reconstruction.
d. Land forces can
support and assist state and non-state institutions. They can provide
mass and presence as well as specialist capabilities.
1-35. In a single conflict environment, land forces may simultaneously perform all four
functions (fight, engage, secure, support), integrating different types of operation. For
example, while one element of the force is conducting high intensity combat operations,
others may be engaged in humanitarian relief, counter-insurgency or capacity building.
Each type of operation may also contain the full range of tactical activities – offensive,
defensive, enabling and stability. The relationship between types of operations, activities
and conflict can be visualised as a mosaic of conflict, formed of small pieces, all
of which are required to see the full picture. Each piece of the mosaic represents a
tactical activity or group of activities. This is explained in full in paras 2-16 to 2-18.
1-36. Land conflict today requires a force and soldiers with high contemporary skills. Conflict
involves new technologies, emerging threats, many potential operating environments,
and adversaries and enemies who seek to deceive and surprise us. Within the land
force, a broad range of skills are required, from highly sophisticated technical and cyber
knowledge to proficiency in languages and psychology, to individual physical robustness.
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1-37. Land forces require highly effective leadership. Morale, will, adaptation and
the ability to cooperate with others are all essential requirements of land
forces, and are given strength by leadership throughout the hierarchy and
in all elements of the force. Commanders must inspire confidence and be
decisive and resilient in the face of adversity, judicious and flexible.
We had to arrange their minds in order of battle, just as carefully and as formally as other
officers arranged their bodies; and not only our own men’s minds, though them first; the
minds of the enemy, so far as we could reach them; and thirdly, the mind of the nation
supporting us from behind the firing line, and the mind of the hostile nation waiting the
verdict, and the neutrals looking on.
TE Lawrence
1-38. As the audience’s judgement is an increasingly significant factor in contemporary
conflict, operations must be designed and conducted accordingly. No conflict has a purely
military solution, and overall success requires favourable consensus among a diverse
audience. How we say, how we behave and what we do, influence how we are seen
must be consistent and appropriate. At the margin, a neutral or nearly neutral outcome
of military action can be turned into a success or a failure by how it is perceived.
Loss of hope rather than loss of life is the factor that really decides wars, battles and even
the smallest combats. The all time experience of warfare shows that when men reach the
point where they see, or feel, that further effort and sacrifice can do no more than delay
the end, they commonly lose the will to spin it out, and bow to the inevitable.
BH Liddell Hart
1-39. Because military force is used to achieve political outcomes, it should be consciously
aimed at altering people’s behaviour. The application and threat of force, and the
gaining and retention of physical objectives should be used to affect people’s decision
making in ways consistent with our goals. For this reason, in combat physical destruction
and damage is used to achieve two things: an immediate local reduction in enemy
capability; and more importantly, wider damage to the enemy’s will and cohesion.
The most efficient and often most effective way to achieve this is by creating and
attacking weaknesses to demoralise and disintegrate the enemy, rather than attacking
strength head-on to destroy as much equipment, manpower and materiel as possible.
1-40. As well as fighting and providing security, land forces are in a position to
communicate directly with individuals and groups involved in a conflict.
To change or maintain the behaviour of these actors, land forces should
integrate the use of force with communications in a mutually reinforcing
way. In turn, to achieve political outcomes, they must integrate their activity
with that of the diplomatic and economic instruments of power.
1-41. The particular nature of friction in land conflict, coupled with the necessary organisation
of land forces, has implications for the way in which command is best conducted.
There are a number of methods, but decentralised command is highly effective in
hierarchical land forces operating in a context of friction, uncertainty and chaos. It
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empowers leaders down to the lowest level, enabling subordinate commanders to
rapidly identify and exploit opportunities to achieve their commander’s intent.
1-42. If operations are to be effective, land forces must develop a good understanding
of the important aspects of the operating environment. This requires them
to comprehend the relevant human, information and physical aspects of a
given situation. It is particularly important to understand how to influence and
assess behaviour, and how the audience is likely to perceive our actions.
1-43. Land forces must develop interoperability at a number of levels. Within the force,
different specialist branches must cooperate in the field. The land force must also
cooperate with maritime and air forces, as well as with allies and other agencies.
1-44. It is essential that forces are held at the appropriate readiness so that they
can be prepared appropriately and applied at the right time and place.
1-45. The relative ease with which our activities can be observed, commented on
and interpreted by multiple audiences makes previous operational and non-
operational distinctions less valid. Even relatively minor armed conflicts have
potentially global consequences, for example through diaspora of people with
common identities or transnational economic dependencies. Actions and challenges
at home can have repercussions for deployed forces. Threats overseas can rapidly
migrate to the home base, requiring increased focus by land forces on homeland
resilience and security tasks in support of the civil authority. Moreover, how our
armed forces are perceived when they conduct ‘non-operational’ activity, for example,
training or recruiting, is increasingly likely to influence the operational audience.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
Sun Tzu
1-46. Since the effects of even distant conflicts have consequences domestically and
for the international rules-based order, there is a strategic imperative for land
forces to contribute to improved security in relevant parts of the world. Military
power, complementary to other instruments of state power, can contribute
through early and persistent engagement overseas, capacity building of local
security forces, and by deterrence. In doing so, land forces can develop the
understanding, relationships and outlook necessary should conflict occur.
1-47. Above all, as each of these implications imply, the general character of conflict is
changing rapidly, and the conflicts in which we might be involved are many and
varied, it follows that to be effective, our land forces must be highly adaptable.
Principles of War
1-48. Throughout history, many military thinkers have proposed enduring Principles
of War, based on their assessment of the nature of warfare. These were
intended as guidelines to warfighting. Some thinkers thought that these could
be followed as if they were scientific rules, but the longstanding view now is that
effective land operations, deeply human as they are, are as much of an art as a
science. It follows that there are no rules that guarantee military success, only
guidelines. Despite the changes in the character of conflict, the UK’s Principles
of War remain highly relevant. They are listed and explained at Annex 1A.
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Principles of War
The Principles of War provide comprehensive considerations at all levels
for planning and executing campaigns and operations. They are not absolute
or prescriptive, but provide a foundation for adversary-focused military activity and
doctrine. With the exception of the master principle, which is placed first, the relative
importance of each may vary according to context, and their application according to
judgement, common sense and intelligent interpretation. While the UK’s Principles of
War are consistent with the Principles of Operations applied by NATO, there are some
differences. Allied Joint Publication 01 Allied Joint Doctrine lists the principles of Allied
joint and multinational operations.
Selection and maintenance of the aim. Selection and maintenance of the aim
is the master Principle of War. When conducting military operations, at every level,
it is essential to select and define the aim clearly. The aim provides a focus for
coordinated effort and a reference point against which to assess progress. A hierarchy
of aims at different levels is required. There should be a strategic aim supported by
a number of operational aims, themselves supported by an array of tactical aims
which are steps on the path towards that strategic aim. Following this principle
prevents unnecessary activity and conserves resources. The overall aim must pervade
subordinate operations so that they contribute to achieving the desired outcome.
In practice, uncertainty, political reality and insufficient initial understanding of a
situation frequently conspire against setting an unambiguous aim from the outset.
Nevertheless, military commanders have an obligation to their subordinates, partners,
allies and political leaders to define a mission appropriate to their level of command,
based on their detailed understanding of the operational requirement and context. This
same understanding will also avoid blinkered rigidity. It also enables, through Mission
Command, identification of when a fresh aim is required as well as, exploitation of
success and adaptation to the ever evolving environment. The maintenance of the aim
ensures that the whole force remains focused on the outcome and every subordinate
on their commander’s intent.
Maintenance of morale. Morale is a positive state of mind – a will to win – which
depends on strong leadership. It consists of fighting spirit, moral cohesion, discipline,
comradeship, pride in self and unit, confidence in equipment and sustainment, and
a firm spiritual foundation. High morale enables a land force to fight offensively and
overcome the privations of conflict, not only for a single battle or engagement, but for
a campaign. It can inspire an army from the highest to the lowest ranks. Success in land
operations depends as much on moral factors as physical ones.
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Offensive action. It is through offensive action that a commander seeks to gain
advantage, sustain momentum and seize and retain the initiative. As it is an active
rather than passive approach, it is the primary means open to a commander to
influence the outcome of a campaign or a battle. Defensive operations that do not
include offensive action are often unsuccessful and rarely tactically decisive. Effective
offensive action relies on high morale and is often a way of gaining ascendancy over
the enemy and the confidence of allies and partners.
Security. An appropriate degree of physical security and information denial is essential
to all military operations. Security enables (and is in turn enhanced by) surprise and
deception, and is essential in preserving the capability of the force; ultimately it helps
to provide freedom of action. It involves the judicious management of risk, because in
conflict it is not possible to protect everything all of the time.
Surprise. Surprise is a potent psychological weapon, causing shock through
unexpected action in time, space and method. Enabled by security, surprise involves
using secrecy, concealment, deception, originality, audacity or tempo to confuse,
paralyse or disrupt effective decision-making, and undermine an adversary’s cohesion
and morale. Surprising an adversary is a significant way of seizing the initiative and
must be central to the design of all combat operations. Surprise is by nature transient,
as shock and confusion recede over time, so its effects should be exploited rapidly and
aggressively. Commanders should anticipate the effects of being surprised themselves
and make appropriate plans to safeguard their freedom of action.
Concentration of force. Concentration of force requires the decisive, synchronised
application of effort and resource at the critical point in time and space to achieve the
commander’s intent. The nature of the force concentrated will depend on the mission
and will include elements of manoeuvre, fires, information activities and capacity
building. The main effort describes the activity where a commander assigns the
greatest concentration of force. Commanders must accept that concentration of force
on the main effort can, however, create vulnerabilities and will entail economy of effort
Economy of Effort. The consequence of concentration of force is economy of effort.
It is impossible to be strong everywhere, so if decisive strength is to be concentrated
at the critical time and place there must be no wasteful expenditure of effort where it
cannot significantly affect the issue.
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Flexibility. Flexibility is the ability to change rapidly, appropriately and effectively
to new circumstances. It comprises the versatility, responsiveness, resilience and
adaptability of the whole force. Versatility is the physical and structural ability to
perform many functions. Responsiveness is a measure of speed of action, reaction and
of how quickly the initiative can be seized or regained. Resilience is the degree to which
people and their equipment remain effective under arduous conditions or in the face of
hostile action. Adaptability embraces the need to learn quickly, to adjust to changes in
a dynamic situation, and to amend plans that, in the light of experience, seem unlikely
to lead to a suitable outcome.
Cooperation. Military operations are joint enterprises. Their success requires
cooperation between all participants. These include individuals and groups of actors
who may be military or civilian, governmental or non-governmental, national, allied
or from host nations. Within the land force, the cooperation of all arms in combined
arms forces is critical. Cooperation is best engendered through shared training,
which develops interoperability, team spirit and cohesion. It relies upon: mutual trust
and goodwill; unity of purpose, if not command; and common understanding of
responsibilities, capabilities and limitations.
Sustainability. Sustainability is the ability of a force to maintain the necessary level of
combat power for the duration required to achieve its objectives without culmination.
Fighting Power, freedom of action and operational success rest on the sustainability
of the force through every stage of a campaign, from force preparation through to
redeployment and recuperation. A rigorous assessment of logistic realities is essential to
operational planning; indeed, it is often the deciding factor in assessing the feasibility of
an operational choice.
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 2
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National and operational
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National and operational context
2-01. Chapter 2 expands on the UK national context, introduces the important
concepts of campaign authority, legitimacy and legality, and describes the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) framework of operations and relationships
within which operations are conducted. It concludes with a summary of
the contribution of UK land forces to strategy and joint operations.
UK context
2-02. The UK is a liberal democracy, an island nation in Europe, and a member of
many international political, economic and security-orientated organisations.
Notably, from a security perspective, the UK is a permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council and a member of NATO. Relatively small in size
and population, the UK has global economic, social and political responsibilities,
including for UK dependencies and citizens. Security threats include: terrorism,
cyber attack, international military conflict and the re-emergence of state based
threats, overseas instability, environmental, health and natural hazards.
2-03. In tackling these challenges, the UK government employs three instruments
of power: diplomatic, economic and military, all underpinned by information.
The military instrument can be costly and is relatively small; its resilience
depends on its ability to regenerate; and it is increasingly reliant on global
partners rather than on a national, strategic industrial base.
2-04. These geopolitical factors, as well as deductions from the nature and character of
conflict, inform the ways in which UK land forces approach and conduct operations.
a. UK land operations at any scale are almost always multinational, reflecting
relationships with allies and partners, and mitigating the relatively small size of our
land forces. Although capable of acting independently, alliances and partnerships are
fundamental to our approach to defence and security. Collective security is promoted
primarily, but not exclusively, through NATO and enduring bilateral relationships with,
for example, the United States and France. UK land doctrine, therefore, must be
coherent with NATO’s, with exceptions made clear.
b. The UK, like any country, cannot afford to lose the force. A warfighting division
constitutes the centre of gravity of the UK’s land forces. We must seek to apply
strength against vulnerabilities, always protecting the will and cohesion of the force.
c. UK land forces must be ready to deal with a wide variety of threats and conflict
situations. They must be able to adapt rapidly to new challenges, while supporting
Government strategy to prevent conflict and instability. They must be maintained
Note that NATO views information as a separate instrument of power.
See Allied Joint Publication (AJP) 01, Allied Joint Doctrine.
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at the right level of competence and readiness. Major operations will be overseas
and almost always multinational. UK land forces must be effective operating within
formations larger than they possess, requiring understanding of and influence within
higher level allied formations.
Campaign authority, legitimacy and legality
2-05. UK Armed Forces are subject to political direction, democratic oversight,
and national and international law. For military actions to be effective in this
context, they must be legitimate and lawful, and be perceived as such.
2-06. Campaign authority is the authority established by international forces, agencies
and organisations within a given situation. It comprises four interdependent factors:
the perceived legitimacy of the mandate; the manner in which those exercising the
mandate conduct themselves, individually and collectively; the extent to which factions,
local populations and others consent to, comply with, or resist the authority of those
executing the mandate; and the extent to which the audience’s expectations are
met by those executing the mandate. Campaign authority is not simply granted to
the mission, but has to be earned and maintained. Without campaign authority, it is
difficult, if not impossible, to convert military success into desired political outcomes.
Legitimacy encompasses the legal, moral, political, diplomatic and ethical propriety
of the conduct of military forces. As the justification for using force, and the manner
in which it is applied, legitimacy has collective and individual aspects, both of which
directly affect the utility of force. Legitimacy is based upon inter-related subjective
factors, such as the perceptions and beliefs of audiences, and objective legal matters.
For example, operations are increasingly subject to judicial oversight, reflecting political
responses to domestic expectations, themselves informed by regulated and unregulated
media reporting of military activities. When preparing for and conducting operations,
land forces must understand how their actions may be perceived by a global as well as a
domestic and local audience, ensuring that they act lawfully and ethically at all times.
2-08. The most fundamental and enduring requirement for campaign authority and legitimacy
is that our actions are lawful. The increasing incorporation of evolving Western civilian
norms into our legal system, resulting in increased judicial scrutiny of military conduct,
makes the legal dimension of operations both complex and potentially constraining.
The legal aspects described below are only an introduction to this important subject,
which requires focused study and training prior to and during operations
a. Law and policy are different. Sometimes, constraints are imposed on commanders as
matters of policy, rather than law. Examples of these are rules of engagement (ROE),
and directives for targeting and the handling of captured personnel, which may restrict
military activity even though the law may be more permissive.
b. UK forces, whether overseas or in the UK, operate within a legal framework. All
service personnel, wherever they serve, are subject to Service lawas provided by the
Armed Forces Act 2006. However, in the UK, civilian authorities may exercise primacy.
Soldiers are held legally accountable through the Service Justice System for offences
covered by the Armed Forces Act 2006, irrespective of where the offence is committed.
3 See Joint Service Publication (JSP) 381, Aide-Memoire on the Law of Armed Conflict, JSP 383, Joint Service Manual
of the Law of Armed Conflict, and JSP 398 United Kingdom Manual of National Rules of Engagement.
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When deployed, various international laws may also apply, including host nation law
and international human rights law. To these may be added rights and obligations
placed on the UK under a United Nations Security Resolution or bilateral/multilateral
agreements such as status of forces agreements, technical arrangements and
memoranda of understanding. On multinational operations, other nations’ forces may
not all be subject to the same legal framework – their applicable domestic laws, for
example, are likely to be different. The legal framework will vary between operations
and at different times and places within a campaign as it progresses.
c. Law governs the use of force in a number of ways. It regulates when states can
resort to using force, for example by sending their troops onto the sovereign territory
of another state. It also establishes how force can be lawfully used once those troops
have been deployed, whether in an armed conflict, on a peacekeeping mission or other
operation. It is important to distinguish between laws that regulate how a state may
act, and those that govern the conduct of individuals and units. Commanders at all
levels are responsible for ensuring that forces under their command operate within the
law. At the same time, each individual remains ultimately responsible in law for their
Despite the codification of much customary law into treaty form during the last one
hundred years, four fundamental principles still underlie the law of armed conflict. These
are military necessity, humanity, distinction, and proportionality. The law of armed conflict
is consistent with the economic and efficient use of force. It is intended to minimize the
suffering caused by armed conflict rather than impede military efficiency.
JSP 383 The Joint Ser vice Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict
d. Military operations must comply with the underpinning principles of the law of
armed conflict – military necessity, humanity, distinction and proportionality – so that
they are consistent with the wider ethical considerations from which the law is derived.
As well as governing the use of force, the law of armed conflict also, for example,
provides protections and rights for captured persons and prohibits acts of deception
that amount to perfidy. The basic principles of the law of armed conflict are described
in JSP 383 and summarised below:
(1) Military necessity requires that only the necessary amount of armed force
is applied. This force is controlled, lawful and directed towards achieving the
complete or partial submission of an enemy at the earliest possible moment, and
with the minimum expenditure of life and resources.
(2) The principle of humanity forbids the infliction of suffering, injury, or destruction
not actually necessary for the accomplishment of legitimate military purposes.
Also prohibited is the use of weapons, means and methods of warfare of a nature
that cause superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering.
(3) The principle of distinction demands that land forces distinguish between
enemy forces and non-combatants. Non-combatants include civilians and certain
individuals within an enemy force, most notably, for example, medical and
JSP 398 Annex A. 4
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religious personnel. Any intentional direct attack against the civilian population or
civilian objects is prohibited and may amount to a war crime.
(4) Armed forces only use force in proportionality to the military end sought. What
is proportionate can only be judged in the particular prevailing circumstances at
the time. This judgement requires careful deliberation and will be informed at all
stages by considerations of the above three principles by individuals throughout
the chain of command.
e. Rules of Engagement (ROE) are commanders’ directives – in other words policy and
operational guidance – sitting within the legal framework rather than law themselves.
They are expressed as permissions and prohibitions which govern where armed forces
can go, what they can do and, to an extent, how and when certain actions can be
carried out. They are designed to ensure that action taken by UK forces is lawful and
consistent with government policy. They are also used to enhance operational security,
avoid fratricide and to avoid counter-productive effects which could destabilise a
campaign. ROE do not by themselves guarantee the lawfulness of action; it remains
the individual’s responsibility in law to ensure that any use of force is lawful. ROE do
not restrict the inherent and inalienable right of an individual to act in self-defence.
Military frameworks of operations
2-09. Land forces, as a component of the military instrument of power, conduct operations
within a framework that describe the levels and types of operations. This allows them
to harmonise their contribution to alliance, coalition, national and defence objectives.
2-10. The framework of the strategic, operational and tactical levels of warfare are used to
command, categorise and define military activity. The structure and discipline of these
levels help to maintain a clear integrity of purpose between the state, its armed forces
and their missions. The levels delineate delegated responsibilities for the use of armed
force, but these distinctions are not required to control economic and diplomatic power.
The levels of warfare are not tied to specific military levels of command. Depending
on the situation, corps, division, brigade, battlegroup or unit commanders may all
operate at either the operational or tactical level. It should be noted that the levels,
if they are recognised at all, may be interpreted or applied differently, depending
on the situation, by multinational partners and other government departments.
In highlighting the importance of the strategic level, David Fraser referred to Field Marshal
Alanbrooke as regarding the art of strategy as “…(determining) the aim, which is, or
should be, inherently political; to derive from that aim a series of military objectives to be
achieved; to assess these objectives as to the military requirements they create, and the
pre-conditions which the achievement of each is likely to necessitate; to measure available
and potential resources against the requirements; and to chart from this process a coherent
pattern of priorities and a rational course of action.
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2-11. The strategic level is the level at which a nation or group of nations determines national
or multinational security objectives, and deploys national, including military, resources
to achieve them. Land forces require an understanding, at all levels, of the evolving
strategic context of their actions. In a globalised, networked battlespace, there are few
situations where tactical activity cannot have strategic consequences. Encompassing
all aspects of national, defence and military strategy, in the planning and execution
of operations, three aspects of strategy are particularly relevant to military forces.
a. A successful national strategy sets out a path, using the diplomatic, economic and
military instruments of power, to achieve government policy goals. Strategy usually
involves collaboration with other nations’ governments and armed forces and other
international organisations. In a multinational context, constituent states have their
own national strategies, which should be coherent with the remainder of the alliance
or coalition. National strategy consists of and should describe interdependent ‘ends’
(objectives of the strategy), ‘ways’ (methods) and ‘means’ (resources).
b. The military contribution to strategy is the application of military resources to
achieve national strategic objectives. During planning for operations, military planners
determine military objectives, identify freedoms and constraints, set out options for
the desired end-state and describe the military approach and resources required. This
enables coherent military advice to be given to UK Government decision-makers by the
Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chiefs of Staff. A decision is then made and the
campaign is conducted.
c. A successful campaign requires a strategic narrative, described in joint doctrine
communication that portrays a story designed to resonate in the mind of the audience
that helps explain the campaign strategy and operational plan. This message must
resonate to those deployed, and the domestic and broader international audience,
including in the conflict region. It will be contested; adversaries will create their own
narratives in support of their goals, or perhaps multiple narratives to confuse the
audience so that our narrative fails to gain traction. A compelling strategic narrative,
reinforced at operational and tactical levels and coherent with actions taken, has the
potential to be decisive in developing favourable public consensus and maintaining
campaign authority.
2-12. The operational level is the level at which campaigns and major operations are
planned, conducted and sustained to accomplish strategic objectives within theatres
or areas of operations. The operational level provides the gearing between the
strategic and tactical levels. Joint campaigns and operations are constructed and
directed at the operational level to fulfil national, alliance or coalition strategy. An
operational commander designs, plans, sequences and sustains a campaign according
to the authorised campaign plan. Joint doctrine concentrates on the operational
level, unifying tactical and environmental operations into a coherent campaign
through joint action. Joint action is defined as the deliberate use and orchestration of
military capabilities and activities to affect actors’ will, understanding and capability,
and the cohesion between them to achieve influence.
It is implemented through
the orchestration of information activities, fires, manoeuvre and outreach.
5 Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 3-00, Campaign Execution.
6 Ibid.
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2-13. The tactical level is the level at which activities, battles and engagements are planned
and executed to accomplish military objectives assigned to tactical formations and units.
It is at the tactical level that troops are deployed directly in tactical activities, using the
tactical functions. Couched in the context of the strategic and operational levels, the
focus of this Army Doctrine Publication is on how tactical land operations are conducted.
Tactics form the steps from which operational leaps are assembled; strategy points out the
A A Svechin
2-14. British Army doctrine follows the NATO codification of operations themes, types of
operation and tactical activities.
This enhances interoperability
with allies and aids understanding of the mosaic of conflict. Those
relevant to land operations are shown in Figure 2-1.
Operations themes
Types of operation
Tactical activities
activity (Counter-
insurgency, Counter-
terrorism, counter-
Military contribution to
peace support
Military contribution to
humanitarian aid
Military contribution
to stabilisation and
Military support to
Capacity Building
evacuation operation
Military aid to the
civil authority
Offensive activities
Reconnaissance in force
Defensive activities
Enabling activities
Advance to contact
Link up
Relief of troops in
combat and encircled
Obstacle breaching
and crossing
Stability activities
Security and control
Support to security sector
Support to initial
restoration of essential
Support to interim
governance tasks
Figure 2-1. Operations themes, types of operation and tactical activities
7 AJP-01. This codification replaces the framework of military activities.
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Operations may be assigned or described in terms of particular contextual themes.
These operations themes allow the general conditions of the operating environment
to be understood, informing the intellectual approach, resources available (including
force levels, rules of engagement and force protection measures), likely activities
required and levels of political appetite and risk. There are four themes, aligned
to the functions of land power: warfighting, security, peace support and
defence engagement.
These themes provide a framework for understanding
in general terms the context and dynamics of a conflict. A theme may be set at
the strategic level and form part of the narrative for operations, but this will not
necessarily happen. As a conflict evolves, the thematic designation may change. It is
important for the operational and strategic levels of command, informed by tactical
commanders, to anticipate the need for any change. Within a single operations
theme more than one type of operation will often occur simultaneously.
Within the operations themes, certain types of operation exist. They are not mutually
exclusive and are often concurrent with other types of operation within the mosaic of
conflict. As doctrinal definitions, they are neither designed nor do they necessarily correspond
to UK Defence planning tools or assumptions. Rather, they aid analysis and articulation
of complex missions and provide the essential gearing required to sequence a series of
tactical activities to achieve operational objectives. This doctrine groups types of operations
into combat, stability and military aid to the civil authority (MACA) operations. Stability
operations (which NATO describes as crisis response operations) and MACA are UK terms.
This doctrine also includes an additional, discrete type of operation described as capacity
building. Types of operation and operations themes are covered in more detail in Annex 8C.
Within all types of operation, land forces conduct all or some of a range of tactical
activities, often concurrently. The balance between the different activities varies from
one operation to another over time, as illustrated in Figure 2-2. Tactical activities are
either offensive, defensive, stability or enabling. In the mosaic of conflict a force may be
required to conduct all activities simultaneously. Also, these activities are not mutually
exclusive. A single force element may link them by a simple transition from one activity to
another without breaking contact with an enemy; for instance from a defensive activity
to an offensive one. Enabling activities are never conducted for their own sake; their
purpose is to enable or link other activities. Tactical activities are described in Chapter 8.
Figure 2-2. The balance of tactical activities, varying over time and between types of operation
AJP-01. Note that UK doctrine refers to defence engagement which is largely the same as NATO doctrine’s
description of peacetime military engagement, but is not constrained to peacetime situations.
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Operational relationships
2-18. Operations and campaigns are unlikely to be conducted by a single Service or indeed by
armed forces alone, and will most likely be multinational. Successful strategy requires
more than military means; it depends on the cooperation of diplomatic, economic and
military instruments of power, and the alignment of ends (objectives), ways (methods)
and means (resources), underpinned by a compelling narrative. Land forces always
seek to combine arms and will rarely work in isolation, more often supporting or being
supported by air, maritime, special forces and logistic components as part of a joint force.
Also, although the UK may choose to act alone, contemporary political and economic
factors suggest that in most cases its forces are likely to operate as a contributing or
lead nation, within an alliance or as part of an ad hoc coalition. They will often also
work with regional or host nation partners. Most of the operations that land forces are
likely to participate in, therefore, will require joint, inter-agency and multinational
The joint force also consists of regular and reserve military personnel,
civil servants and contractors, combined into a single team; this is described as the
whole force approach. This section provides a summary of these four relationships.
2-19. The term joint describes an operation or organisation is one in which elements
of at least two Services participate. More specifically, a joint operation is one
where scalable maritime, land, air and special forces operate together within a
single military force and/or command structure to achieve a specific mission or
missions, in peace, war or crisis. A joint approach is one of the foundations of
UK defence policy. Most campaigns in British military history have been joint; and
contemporary national, NATO and coalition operations are all joint, structured
according to the nature of the task. A joint approach combines capabilities to make
each of them more effective. In operations this requires that maritime, land, air,
special forces and logistic components are included in planning from the start.
Separate ground, sea and air warfare is gone forever. If ever again we should be involved in
war, we will fight it in all elements, with all services, as one single, concentrated effort.
President Eisenhower
2-20. In military terms, expeditionary campaigns are usually conducted by joint task
forces (JTFs), created specifically for an operation. These may be national,
coalition or NATO JTFs. JTFs are tailored to a mission, and furnished with the
capabilities necessary to achieve specified objectives. They are usually multinational
and their titles differ depending on the alliance or coalition involved.
2-21. JTF headquarters plan and conduct the campaign at the operational level. Their
subordinate force elements prosecute and coordinate battles and other tactical
engagements to achieve operational level objectives. In larger scale operations, including
major combat operations, a JTF will often exercise command through subordinate
land, air, maritime, special forces and logistic components. This structure brings
9 Commonly referred to as the combined, joint, inter-agency, intra-governmental and multinational (CJIIM) environment.
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significant coherence to environmental activities, but land forces may not experience
the same depth or proximity of joint cooperation as they might be accustomed to in a
national or land-centric context. Indeed, in a land-centric campaign, command may be
conducted by a JTF (Land), integrating the components within a single headquarters,
alongside non-military actors and agencies. The JTF structure is designed to achieve
the campaign objectives, rather than satisfy individual Service requirements. In both
cases, the detail of the organisational structure is less important than the success of
the campaign, which depends on a flexible approach to command and control.
2-22. Generally components work together through ‘supported/supporting’ relationships,
maximising the overall effect of the joint force. A supported commander has
primary responsibility for all aspects of a task or line of operations assigned
by higher authority. A supporting commander provides augmentation or other
support to a supported commander, or develops a supporting plan. Land forces
always require support from the air component and may receive support from, or
give support to, any component for particular joint objectives in a campaign.
2-23. Successful strategy requires an inter-agency approach to integrate the application of the
military, economic and diplomatic instruments of power, at all levels of command and
throughout the campaign. Ultimately states resort to the use of force when diplomatic
and economic power cannot achieve the outcome required. When military power is
used, it is in conjunction with the other two. It is, therefore, important to understand
which agencies function at the operational level, how they will affect the tactical level,
and the impact they will have on the conduct of operations. This inter-agency aspect of
operations includes supranational organisations, for example the UN; UK government
departments other than the Ministry of Defence, national intelligence agencies, host
nation or other indigenous partners, non-governmental organisations, humanitarian
groups, private security companies; and other contractors and commercial organisations.
2-24. To engender effective inter-agency relationships, the UK government seeks to engender
effective inter-agency relationships across all departments. This approach requires a
culture of collaboration and cooperation as well as structures developed to enable
shared understanding. Where activity cannot be synchronised or integrated it must
be deconflicted. This is described through the Full Spectrum Approach, which is
also referred to in other government departments as the Integrated Approach.
Similiarly, NATO doctrine describes a Comprehensive Approach in which military
and non-military actors contribute with a shared purpose, based on a common sense
of responsibility, openness and determination. This is facilitated by civil-military
interaction which applies at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.
2-25. By harnessing the three instruments of power, a full spectrum approach can increase
tactical freedom. It applies expertise where and when it is needed to improve
the prioritisation, synchronisation and coordination of activity. This approach
can contribute to a sense of stability because when power is exercised in a civil
context it creates perceptions of normality. There are also potential constraints
10 The Full Spectrum Approach will be described in the FSA Primer to be produced by DCDC. Although
both terms are current in government, the Full Spectrum Approach will be used in this book.”
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that can be caused by an integrated or full spectrum approach. There might be
different perceptions of risk, competing resource priorities, language difficulties,
differences in operating procedures, clashes of organisational culture, or variations
in empowerment and operational objectives. Even within a common strategy,
all are potential sources of friction which could impact adversely on military
activity and consequently broader operational outputs. Ultimately, the test of
success lies not in the degree of cooperation, even though intrinsically valuable,
but in the complete, integrated outcomes achieved through cooperation.
2-26. Human relationships are decisive in making the approach work or fail. Underlying
the approach is the common desire to achieve unity of effort and an acceptance
that all three instruments of power are required for success. Military headquarters
and their command posts, because they are usually relatively well-resourced and
secure, can provide the physical means to enable a full spectrum approach.
2-27. Although the UK retains the capability to conduct certain types of
overseas operations independently, Defence policy is described as
‘international by design’.
Multinational operations are the norm, whether
in alliances, coalitions or partnerships with host nation forces.
There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.
Winston S Churchill
2-28. Alliances exist between states for mutual benefits, which may be economic, diplomatic
or military. Military alliances can be between individual countries or based on an
alliance organisation, of which NATO is pre-eminent from the UK’s perspective. They
seek to develop shared strength during peacetime, working and training together
to build interoperability. Coalitions are formed as temporary alliances for common
action by two or more nations, or based around an alliance like NATO. They will
usually have an agreed lead nation. National policy envisages that most major overseas
military operations involving UK land forces will be as part of a coalition that will
probably be led by the United States. Coalitions and alliances bring mass, legitimacy
and diplomatic power but also friction. Land forces must be ready to adapt to the
requirements of a particular coalition. Although the stated purpose of an alliance
or the action required by a coalition may be clear, nations join them for a range
of reasons, explicit and unstated. Cooperation always has challenges, which are
exacerbated when alliance or coalition members do not have matched motives and
capabilities. In every case, national considerations will play out at the tactical level,
requiring commanders and staff to understand partners’ considerations and to exercise
diplomacy. There are, therefore, benefits and costs in joining coalitions and alliances:
11 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, 2015.
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a. Membership of a coalition or alliance provides many benefits, particularly diplomatic
leverage to achieve international influence, not only to pursue a campaign but also to
shape that campaign in the national interest. This benefit is broadly in proportion to
the level of equity that a nation invests in the operation, with lead nations reaping the
greatest potential reward. Membership also confers: representation in the coalition
chain of command; unity and economy of effort, and a common purpose which adds
to legitimacy and provides access to capability and mass; a sharing of risks; and a share
of the benefits of a successful outcome from the campaign. Alliances and coalitions
concentrate resources and provide a range of options which most nations could not
generate independently.
b. Membership of a coalition or alliance means bearing a share of additional risks. It
demands interoperability, the pursuit of which can be expensive and time-consuming.
Membership can dilute national and military priorities. Coalitions may also include
new allies with which the land force has not developed interoperability, requiring
the force to adapt accordingly. Other costs include the need for consensus and a
consequent reduction in freedoms. If a campaign goes badly, it is difficult to disengage
from collective responsibility. The committal of resources to a coalition or alliance
reduces the freedom to conduct other tasks. Burden sharing can also undermine the
requirement for national military capabilities and versatile forces.
Where responsibility is to be shared, it is essential to have written agreement in advance
on how decision making and governance will operate within an alliance or coalition. The
UK normally acts with allies, as it did in Iraq. Within the NATO Alliance, the rules and
mechanisms for decision taking and the sharing of responsibility have been developed
over time and are well understood. The Coalition in Iraq, by contrast, was an ad hoc
alliance. The UK tried to establish some governance principles in the Memorandum of
Understanding proposed to the US, but did not press the point. This led the UK into the
uncomfortable and unsatisfactory situation of accepting shared responsibility without the
ability to make a formal input to the process of decision making.
Sir John Chilcot, The Iraq Inquiry (2016)
2-29. The extent of a force’s multinationality depends on a number of factors. The degree of
interoperability is the foundation that governs what is achievable. However, the nature
of the task is the deciding factor. Certain tasks are not achievable at certain levels unless
interoperability is very high. Also, the more deeply a force is integrated, the more likely
it is that a nation’s forces will come under the command of allied officers. Consequently,
the higher the risks involved in tactical activity, the more likely it is that national chains
will compete with, even supersede, multinational chains of command. This is also the
case when the deployment is close to a nation’s strategic interests. This is why unit level
multinationality is more common on peace support than it is on warfighting operations.
The design of a force will depend on judgement, balancing the strategic benefits of
the multinational arrangement with the tactical feasibility, limited by interoperability.
2-30. It is essential that joint, allied and coalition forces establish effective host nation
partnerships. The degree of support offered to and by host nation governments
and security forces is linked to its own political and social context as well as to the
campaign itself. A host nation may provide access, overflight or staging facilities
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for joint forces to and from the area of operations. Alternatively it may be within its
territory that operations are conducted and it may provide military capability directly,
including its own land forces. We may work with a host nation partner to help improve
their external and internal security capability through direct or indirect capacity
building. In all cases, the nature of the relationship with host nations is likely to be
dynamic. They may exert their sovereignty in different ways during the campaign.
Their motivations and political interests may evolve and will affect how joint forces
conduct operations. Politics, culture, extant relationships, legitimacy and capabilities
all affect the character of host nation partnerships. Early engagement with and
understanding of organisations with which land forces may operate is fundamental
in forming effective partnerships. Defence Engagement provides one aspect of this.
Within a wider integrated or full spectrum approach, it sees land forces developing
relationships with host nation security forces in peacetime, and during and after conflict.
Whole force approach
2-31. The whole force approach
concerns the appropriate mix of individual people within
each group of Defence actors that contribute to operations. People are the defining
attribute of land forces, whether organised as part of or alongside combined arms,
joint or multinational formations. The operational challenges require people who are
agile, adaptable and together have the full range of knowledge, skills and experience.
2-32. The whole force approach places human capability at the heart of decision making,
ensuring that outputs are delivered by the right mix of capable and motivated
people. This mix might include regular and reserve service personnel, civil servants,
other civilians (including local nationals) and contractors. This approach enables and
requires land forces to draw on specialist expertise not normally held within regular
military establishments. In addition to seeing civil servants embedded within land
force structures, this may also include, for example, logisticians, cyber experts, or
medics from either the reserve forces or as contractors. Contractor support to
operations describes specific groups of contractors on deployed operations
(referred to as CONDO), private security companies and sponsored reserves.
2-33. The mix of individuals varies from operation to operation. Forces at very high readiness
usually comprise mostly regular personnel, while forces engaged on more enduring
stabilisation operations contain a broader mix. At the same time, the blurring of previous
distinctions between domestic and overseas operations and threats means that a whole
force approach is as relevant and necessary in the UK as in the deployed force.
Contractors need to be in our force design and generation from the outset. This will ensure
integration at the earliest opportunity and allow better planning to make certain that the
contractor produces the desired military effect.
Operation HERRICK Campaign Study (2015)
12 Previously described as “Total Support Force or the Whole Force Concept”
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2-34. In the same way that relationships with multinational and joint partners are
improved through mutual understanding, working and training together, the
whole force approach will also benefit. Civilians and contractors work under
different terms and conditions to regular and reserve personnel. Their flexibility
and security requirements will vary, as will the assurance of their input.
UK land forces contribution to strategy and joint operations
2-35. The context of operations informs the enduring contributions that land
forces make to strategy and joint operations. UK land forces can:
a. integrate the effects of national instruments of power in the land environment;
b. defeat enemy land forces;
c. secure and hold terrain objectives, including access to areas of operations;
d. directly influence the behaviours of conflict actors, in conjunction with other
instruments of power;
e. enable other Services, instruments of power, partners and agencies to operate,
including through providing security, tactical understanding and interpersonal
f. represent strong political commitment in support of national, alliance, coalition or
bilateral objectives, complementary to other instruments of power;
g. deter hostile and potentially hostile actors from aggression, as part of a credible and
capable joint force;
h. support the civil authorities in providing of homeland resilience and security; and
i. support conflict prevention and security improvement through persistent engagement
and capacity building.
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 3
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Fighting Power
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Fighting Power
3-01. Fighting Power is a concept that describes the
operational effectiveness of armed forces, or any
element of them. Common across Defence and
the concept guides force development
and preparation. This chapter explains the
contextual characteristics of Fighting Power,
and then describes its three components:
conceptual, moral and physical. See Figure 3-1.
Figure 3-1. Model of Fighting Power
3-02. The conceptual component is the force’s knowledge, understanding and application
of doctrine – the ideas behind how to operate and fight – kept relevant by its ability
to learn and adapt. The moral component is the force’s morale, leadership and ethical
conduct: the ability to get people to operate and fight and to do so appropriately.
The physical component consists of manpower, equipment, sustainability and
13 See AJP-01, AJP-3.2, Allied Joint Doctine for Land Operations and JDP 0-01, UK Defence Doctrine. Note that United States
Army doctrine does not use this model.
Fighting Power
• Introduction
• Conceptual component
• Moral component
• Physical component
• Readiness, deployability
and recovery
î‚„ Manpower
î‚„ Equipment
î‚„ Training and
î‚„ Sustainability
î‚„ Resources
î‚„ Understanding of
how to operate
î‚„ Flexibility to adapt
î‚„ Morale
î‚„ Leadership
î‚„ Ethical
| 3-1
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resources: the means to operate and fight. Training is considered as part of the
physical component, although it develops and integrates all three components. The
three components are interdependent. In some circumstances, one component can
be more important than the others. The level of Fighting Power is closely connected
to readiness: the more complete all the elements are, the higher the level of
readiness. The Fighting Power of a force element relies on the overall Fighting Power
of its Service, and on its ability to provide the necessary institutional support.
3-03. The Fighting Power of a Service or force must be adaptable if it is to be effective on
operations. A force must be balanced, able to start the operation at the appropriate
time and place, able to continue for as long as is necessary, and be large enough
for the task. These requirements point to readiness, deployability, and the capacity,
if necessary, for endurance. The nature of the task or campaign will indicate the
scale of force required, but it may be necessary to generate mass: to expand armed
forces for unforeseen circumstances, as the UK did in the world wars and for the
Korean War. Beyond the requirements of readiness, deployability, duration and
mass, the force must be adapted to the context of each unique operation.
3-04. Fighting Power is in some respects a relative as well as an absolute concept.
For example, certain forces may be assessed as having high and balanced
Fighting Power, but be fundamentally unsuited for the task. So Fighting Power
is inherently contextual, determined by how well a force (our own, allied or
enemy) is adapted to the character of the operation in which it is engaged.
Certain contextual characteristics inform assessment of Fighting Power:
a. Assessment of Fighting Power is both quantitative and qualitative. Much of the
physical component can be quantitatively measured. This constitutes the visible
combat power of a force and informs force ratio assessments, and so contributes
to understanding relative capabilities. On the other hand, the moral and conceptual
components tend more to subjective, qualitative assessment. The three components
are interdependent, although which, if any, is pre-eminent depends on the situation.
b. Military effectiveness is measured not against an absolute standard; rather it is relative
and competitive in nature. Comparison to and understanding of the Fighting Power
of other relevant actors provides the essential reference points by which land forces’
Fighting Power can be assessed and adapted in a given situation.
c. The environment in which land forces are used and for which they are prepared
also has a significant bearing on their actual Fighting Power. Given the uncertainty
of where, against whom and with whom operations might be conducted, land forces
require mental and physical preparation to operate in a range of environments. A force
optimised to fight and operate in a single environment may not have the appropriate
balance of Fighting Power to operate elsewhere. When Fighting Power is developed to
deal with the complexities of the most demanding operational environments, a force
increases its potential to adapt rapidly to new situations.
d. In contemporary operations, the Fighting Power of UK land forces is dependent on
effective interoperability with other Services, allies, partners and agencies. The moral
component is strengthened through human interoperability, the physical through
technical interoperability, and the conceptual through procedural interoperability.
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The conceptual component
3-05. The conceptual component of Fighting Power rests on the development and
application of doctrine. As the intellectual basis of Fighting Power, it guides the
physical and moral components. Deficits in the conceptual component, for example
through misunderstanding, or insufficient flexibility, severely damage a force’s
overall Fighting Power, even if the will and means to fight are well developed.
Theory exists so that one does not have to start afresh every time sorting out the raw
material and ploughing through it, but will find it ready to hand and in good order. It is
meant to educate the future commander or, more accurately, to guide him in this self-
education; not accompany him to the battlefield.
Carl von Clausewitz
3-06. The conceptual component is as important to routine military activity as it is to
operations, providing the corporate mental agility, intellectual rigour and creativity
required to adapt quickly. This section describes two elements of the conceptual
component particularly relevant in an operational context: understanding
how to operate, and the flexibility by which a land force can adapt.
3-07. Understanding how to operate, the basis of the conceptual component, requires
understanding of a given situation and knowledge of the relevant doctrine.
Understanding is the perception and interpretation of a particular situation to
provide the context, insight and foresight required for effective decision making.14
To operate effectively in complex situations, land forces must develop understanding
of the nature and character of conflict and its context. This understanding,
constantly refined through education and experience, not only ensures that the
doctrine used is relevant and useable, but also that it can be applied pragmatically,
rather than by prescription. See Annex 8A for further detail on understanding.
3-08. Doctrine is defined as a set of fundamental principles
by which military forces guide their actions in support
of objectives. It is authoritative but requires judgement
in application. Doctrine is a formal expression of military
knowledge and thought that the British Army accepts
as being relevant at a given time. Agile, not dogmatic,
it takes past experience and extracts guidance for
dealing with future challenges, providing a foundation
from which initiative can be applied with confidence.
3-09. As doctrine underpins all military activity, it is the basis for education and training.
UK land forces doctrine is founded on joint and NATO doctrine.
Where there are
deviations from this, they must be clearly communicated to all involved. The language
and terminology used in doctrine must be precise, clear, and formally agreed.
14 JDP 04, Understanding.
15 It is Defence policy that except where there is a specific need for national doctrine, the UK will adopt
NATO doctrine, with caveats or amplification where necessary. Army Doctrine Publication (ADP)
Land Operations is an example of national doctrine, albeit coherent with that of NATO.
Military Doctrine
is defined as a set of
fundamental principles
by which military forces
guide their actions in
support of objectives
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The central idea of an army is known as its doctrine, which to be sound must be based
on the Principles of War, and which to be effective must be elastic enough to admit of
mutation in accordance with change in circumstance. In its ultimate relationship to the
human understanding, this central idea or doctrine is nothing else than common sense –
that is, action adapted to circumstance.
Major General JFC Fuller
3-10. Doctrine is broadly categorised as either higher or lower level, as illustrated in Figure 3-2:
a. Higher-level doctrine establishes the philosophy and principles that underpin the
approach to military activity. It provides a framework for the employment of the
military instrument and a foundation for its practical application. While it is in part
prescriptive, it is mostly descriptive. Higher level NATO and joint doctrine is contained
in the Allied Joint Publication and Joint Doctrine Publication series respectively. If NATO
doctrine differs significantly from UK joint doctrine, UK either retains a national JDP
or adds national ‘green pages’ to the AJP, referred to as a ‘hybrid’ publication. Army
Doctrine Publication Land Operations is the British Army’s higher level doctrine, also
referred to as capstone doctrine for land forces.
b. Lower-level doctrine focuses on the practices and procedures required for the effective
employment of military forces. It is more prescriptive than higher-level doctrine and
at its lowest levels includes instructions for specific drills. NATO lower-level doctrine
for land forces is found in the Allied Tactical Publication series. For UK land forces,
the equivalents are the Army Field Manual series (of thematic, environmental and
functional doctrine), tactical aides-memoire, handbooks, and standard operating
procedures and instructions.
3-11. Effective doctrine is accessible, credible and relevant. This requires engaging with three
groups in its development: writers, teachers and practitioners. It is the responsibility of
commanders not only to understand and apply doctrine, but to impart understanding
to their subordinates, as well as to recommend improvements to those who write
it. Doctrine is reviewed and refreshed as required to account for evolving strategic
direction, emerging doctrine (from both higher and lower levels), the changing character
of conflict and relevant lessons from experimentation, training and operations.
3-12. The second essential element of the conceptual component is the flexibility
to adapt to deal with complex, dynamic challenges. Flexibility spans all
components of Fighting Power, but is guided by the conceptual component. A
dogmatic and rigid conceptual component stifles the opportunities presented by
organisational versatility. A flexible conceptual component can enable the whole
force to adapt with confidence in the face of uncertainty and in competition with
adversaries, when whoever adapts most effectively is more likely to prevail.
Flexibility is the ability to change rapidly, appropriately and effectively to new
Principle of War – Flexibility
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Joint Land
AJP -01
Allied Joint Doctrine
Land Operaons
Allied Taccal
Supporng AJPs
Handbooks, Procedures,
Aides Memoire
Special to Arm Doctrine
Army Leadership
The Staff Standard
for the Army
Higher level philosophy and principlesLower level pracces and procedures
JDP 0-01
Brish Defence Doctrine
Figure: 3-2. Doctrine organisation
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3-13. History is full of examples of military forces that have either successfully
adapted or failed to do so. Land forces that are successful in adaptation
require, though not exclusively: the right command and cognitive skills across
the force; a broad, flexible doctrine; the ability to identify and learn lessons;
organisational and technical flexibility; and broad-based preparation.
3-14. Firstly, land forces require the command and cognitive skills to be flexible and
adaptable. Essential to all aspects of flexibility is a military culture that supports and
nurtures mental agility and initiative. The British Army’s command philosophy, Mission
Command, promotes decentralised command, freedom and speed of action, and
initiative. Mission Command not only encourages but also demands that subordinates
use their initiative. It is through initiative and a culture of mutual trust providing a
safe environment for open analysis of shortfalls that a land force learns lessons, and
adopts innovative approaches to complex challenges. Initiative draws strength from
experience and realistic training. It also draws strength through understanding of
doctrine, military education and a questioning mindset across the whole force.
3-15. Secondly, a broad doctrine provides a common foundation on which land
forces can build when faced with potentially new situations. Although the
principles of doctrine endure, tactics, techniques and procedures need to evolve
rapidly, adapting to the specific situation. A land force can only gain meaningful
understanding when it has actually engaged on an operation. It can then generate
lessons from the operational theatre, enabling its own rapid adaptation, that
of follow on forces, and longer term institutional level force development.
a. Lessons are experiences, examples, or developed observations that impart beneficial
new knowledge or wisdom for the future. Lessons can be identified through historical
study, training, operations and the experiences of other forces. An effective lessons
capability depends on a military culture that strives for continuous improvement,
encouraging enquiry into and examination of what has gone well and what has not.
Fundamental to this culture are leaders who engage directly and openly in the process,
with humility, trust and a willingness to learn.
b. The supporting lessons process requires a staff structure and information management
and exploitation tools. The process initially comprises lessons capture and analysis of
observations and insights, resulting in lessons identification. The lessons identified
are assigned to those responsible for remedial action. There are two ways by which a
lesson is described as being learned. The first is when validated implementation of the
remedial action results in improved operational performance and capability. The second
is when identification of best practice is widely communicated and exploited.
It is this flexibility both in the minds of the Armed Forces and in their organisation, that
needs above all to be developed in peacetime… This is the aspect of military science which
needs to be studied above all others in the Armed Forces: the capacity to adapt oneself to
the utterly unpredictable, the entirely unknown.
Professor Sir Michael Howard
16 This framework is from Meir Finkel’s On Flexibility: Recovery from Technological
and Doctrinal Surprise on the Battlefield, (2011).
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3-16. Thirdly, the land force requires organisational and technological flexibility. A
balance of capabilities across the land force, plans for regeneration and constant
innovation together aid flexibility. A balanced force includes the appropriate mix of
force elements (combat, combat support, and combat service support), force types,
specialist capabilities, and individuals (the whole force approach). If the force is not
ideally balanced, the risk can be partially mitigated by exploiting synergies with allies
and other Services. Robust and realistic plans for the regeneration of capabilities also
contribute to the potential adaptability of the force. Flexibility can also be enabled
by the innovative use of current and emerging capabilities and technologies. While
innovation can require specialist expertise, it can also come from, for example,
wargaming and scenario based planning. The success of the German Army’s innovation
in the 1920s demonstrates the potential of such an approach (see below).
3-17. Finally, adaptable land forces conduct
realistic broad-based preparation through
military education and training. Although we cannot predict the future, rigorous
analysis, lessons from our own and others’ experiences, education and concept
development can indicate many characteristics of the conflicts likely to be faced. Realistic
and demanding training to develop core skills, based on doctrine and supported by
effective lessons processes, underpins the successful adaptation of land forces.
Learning From history – German Army 1920-30s
Under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, the German army (Reichsheer) had to be reorganised.
It was limited to 100,000 men, of whom only 4000 could be officers, and it was not
allowed to have heavy or modern equipment. As its chief from 1919, General Hans Von
Seeckt implemented the changes and instituted a major programme to examine the
lessons of the First World War.
The first experiments on mechanization and mobility were carried out in 1921 and the
lessons from these were widely distributed throughout the army. Foreign writings on
military theory (such as by Fuller, Liddell-Hart and Martel) were translated into German
and studied and debated. The review of lessons, the experimentation and study led to
the promulgation in 1933 of a coherent and realistic doctrine (Truppenführung) – that
emphasised combined arms manoeuvre; close air support; decentralized command and
control; and rapid exploitation. The 100,000 were trained as the leadership cadre of a
much larger army.
In the 1930s Germany used dummy tanks (plywood hulls mounted on a truck chassis)
and other ways of experimenting, training and refining their tactics. This allowed them to
continue the process of force development without causing the major powers to intervene.
Rapid expansion followed soon after Hitler came to power in 1933, but the foundation for
the early, shattering successes of the Wehrmacht in the Second World War was laid by the
conceptual preparation of Seeckt’s Reichsheer.
17 The NATO force types are heavy, medium and light. This is explained further in Chapter 7
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The moral component
3-18. The moral component concerns the human aspect of Fighting Power. It consists
of three mutually dependent elements, described in turn in this section: morale
is the will of the force and its soldiers to fight; leadership is the essential
element of morale, inculcates the ethical foundation, and directs the force across
all three components of Fighting Power; and the ethical, moral and legal
foundation underpins the way in which land forces conduct operations.
3-19. The moral component is easily corrupted. To be sound, its three elements must be strong
and balanced. A force can have high morale, be willing and able to fight very effectively,
but if its actions are not legitimate, it risks becoming like the Waffen SS in the Second
World War. Such forces can never be the instrument of a democracy. Likewise, when a
force’s ethical, moral and legal foundations are sound, but its leadership or morale is
weak and it will not fight, it is at best useless, at worst a danger to the wider force.
3-20. Morale, the first element, resides at the heart of Fighting Power. Maintenance of Morale
is a Principle of War because high morale enables the land force to fight and overcome
the privations of conflict. High morale is possible without an ethical foundation, but this
would be ultimately self-defeating for the land forces of a democratic country. Indeed, the
morale of the land force is strengthened by its moral integrity and legitimacy. Morale is
not a discrete entity, but is the product of the synergy of all three components of Fighting
Power. Of the many contributory factors to morale, which include the Army’s Values
and Standards, seven stand out and are described below. These are mutually supporting
and developed most effectively through leadership and challenging, realistic training.
Morale is a state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and
zeal and loyalty. It is élan, esprit de corps and determination. It is staying power; the
spirit which endures to the end – the will to win. With it all things are possible, without it
everything else, planning, preparation, production, count for naught.
General George C Marshall
a. Fighting spirit unifies all who serve in our armed forces. Comprising initiative,
courage, resilience, determination and toughness, fighting spirit drives soldiers forward
in the most arduous and adverse of conditions. Through fighting spirit, soldiers accept
both the legal right and duty to apply lethal force, and also the potentially unlimited
liability to lay down their lives in the service of the nation. Fighting spirit requires moral
and physical fortitude. By testing fighting spirit in demanding training, it is hardened
and made more resilient to the realities of potentially brutal land conflict.
b. Moral cohesion is the sense of shared identity and a determined purpose that gives a
force the will to fight and succeed. Cohesion binds individuals into teams, and teams
into effective fighting forces. Strong moral cohesion makes forces emotionally resilient
in adversity. It also helps to make individuals more likely to use their initiative and
exploit opportunities, because they will be confident of the support of their comrades
and unit or formation. The nature of conflict puts significant pressure on moral
cohesion, but without it, the force is susceptible to shock and collapse. Leadership
enhances moral cohesion by building shared identity and values. Individual friendships
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and collective bonding grow when teams are kept together over time, developing a
sense of belonging. Common experiences and histories strengthen comradeship and
pride. Together, these build identity, ethos and cause, which individuals can value even
above their own lives.
Discipline underpins fighting spirit and moral cohesion. It is the glue that holds
soldiers together when threatened; it is the primary antidote to fear. When discipline is
sound, commanders can be confident that their orders will be carried out, and soldiers
know that their commanders and comrades will not let them down. Commanders
at all levels are responsible for maintaining discipline in terms of obedience to the
law, regulations, orders, instructions, procedures and standards. The best discipline,
however, is self-discipline. Commanders must be confident that their subordinates will
strive to do their duty under the worst conditions of war, and do so with initiative and
d. Comradeship is the basis of moral cohesion and the wider morale of the land force.
Land conflict is ultimately a human activity conducted by groups of people, whose
comradeship gives them the friendship and mutual trust necessary to endure and
overcome danger, fear and privation. Honed on operations, comradeship is forged in
the common bonds developed between individuals and teams working, training, living
and socialising together. Comradeship embraces former comrades-in-arms and the
families of soldiers, often making units families themselves.
e. Pride in oneself, one’s unit, Service, country and cause can be a potent moral force.
As a sense of worthy achievement, pride inspires individuals and teams to the greatest
heights of sacrifice and valour. It also generates a common goal of avoiding shame
by doing the right thing, upholding the ethical foundation and abiding by the Values
and Standards. Pride without arrogance brings people from the widest variety of
backgrounds together, strengthening the ties of moral cohesion.
f. Confidence and trust placed in the equipment and sustainment of the physical
component are also instrumental to morale. Living conditions, rations, ammunition,
vehicles, weapons, communications, and medical support, for example, all underpin
morale. The nature of land conflict means that a disconnect between expectations and
reality is inevitable, but a force with high morale and strong leadership can usually
overcome this. However, when failures in equipment or sustainment become or are
perceived to be systemic, unnecessary or irreversible, morale suffers.
g. Field Marshal Slim concluded that “only spiritual foundations can withstand real
strain”. The spiritual foundation relates to belief in a cause, which may be religious,
cultural or political. In the same way as the ethical and legal foundations of the moral
component require nurturing and protection, so will the spiritual foundations. Spiritual
support comes in many forms. It is provided by chaplains and lay persons in units, by
families and wider social networks, and by strong leadership, developing shared belief
in the cause to be fought for.
3-21. Leadership is the central element of the moral component; it is so important to morale
and the whole conduct of operations that it is treated as a separate subject. Land
forces rely completely on the strength of their leadership at all levels, from the force
commander to the most junior non-commissioned officers. Leadership is not, however,
constrained solely to the chain of command or to those of rank; anyone, including private
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soldiers, can motivate those around them through initiative, example and courage. In
battle, it is leaders who break the paralysis of shock amid fear, uncertainty, death and
destruction. Their vision, intellect, communication and unceasing motivation paves the
path through chaos and confusion. They inspire the force through boldness, courage,
personal example, compassion and resolute determination to win. Then, and at all other
times, it is leaders who shape and control the conduct of the force, for good or ill.
3-22. Leadership, therefore, is the critical element of the moral component, vital to the
success of operations, particularly in their darkest moments. It is also the cornerstone of
command, as the trust and mutual understanding engendered by good leadership are
central to Mission Command. It is instrumental in inculcating the ethical, moral and legal
foundation of the force. Leadership provides the inspiration, purpose and direction to
the development and protection of all components of Fighting Power. Bad leadership,
often masked in the hierarchy of land forces, has far reaching and damaging effects.
It rapidly demoralises and destabilises a land force and its combat effectiveness.
Definition of Army Leadership: A combination of character, knowledge and action that
inspires others to succeed.
Army Leadership Doctrine
3-23. Army Leadership Doctrine exists because land operations and the nature of land forces
require a distinctive approach to leadership. Leadership on operations is conducted
in a challenging context, which, because of the nature of conflict, is sometimes at the
extremes of human experience. It is constrained by doctrine and policy (for example
levels of authority), orders, and the ethical, moral and legal foundation of the force.
It is important to understand three particular elements of operational leadership.
a. Land forces have to be deeply hierarchical, with leaders (commanders) appointed
to the lowest levels. The adversarial and human characteristics of operations place
particular demands on leadership in the land force, requiring it to be developed in and
exercised by all ranks. Fostering junior leadership and initiative at all levels enables
Mission Command.
b. Leaders at all levels establish the command culture and climate of the force and
any element of it. If either culture or climate is inappropriate, it damages morale, and
therefore operational effectiveness. Culture is relatively stable and enduring, and is
established by senior leaders whose attitudes and behaviours shape that of the wider
force. Climate is more specific, susceptible to change and heavily influenced by lower
level leadership. It is most relevant in smaller groups, such as at unit level and below.
Leaders of all ranks must establish an appropriate climate and culture that promotes
and is consistent with the Army’s Values and Standards.
c. UK land forces’ reputation for and practice of good leadership is vital to operational
success. We remain a reference point, domestically and internationally, for leadership
throughout the force. Because campaign authority includes how the members of
the force conduct themselves, collectively and individually, it is essential to maintain
the reality that underpins this reputation. The reputation, built over a long time, is
therefore a key factor of our operational effectiveness, but it is easily damaged by bad
leadership and misconduct.
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3-24. Army Leadership Doctrine explains what is expected of leaders on operations and in all
other activity. It explains the Army Leadership Framework (what leaders are/know/do),
the Army Leadership Model (the three roles and six functions) and the Army Leadership
Code. The key operational requirement is for good practice of British Army leadership to be
translated into good practice by those in command, and for it to be adopted by all ranks.
a. The Army Leadership Framework explains the characteristics of leaders. ‘What
leaders are’ is about integrity, example and personal impact. Leaders set the
example as role models, accept responsibility and are able to influence people and
events. They routinely apply and promote the British Army’s Values and Standards
and in all situations. Leaders care about the people they lead, the example they
set, their own leadership and the Army’s Values
and Standards. ‘What leaders know’ is about
professional competence. It is grounded in the
fact that leaders are soldiers first and foremost,
and should be experts in their technical field. In
the operational context it requires, for example,
thorough understanding of doctrine, the context
of operations, and higher commanders intent.
‘What leaders do’ is about translating values
and competence into action. Leaders develop
the individuals under their command, and build
effective teams. But above all, they lead their
people to achieve their tasks.
b. The Army Leadership Model
describes the
generic role of a leader performing three interdependent roles: achieving the task,
building teams and developing individuals. Obviously highly relevant to operations,
the leader requires contextual understanding and has six further leadership functions:
defining the task, planning, communicating, executing, supporting and evaluating.
c. The Army Leadership Code consists of seven behaviours that define how Army
leaders should lead. It assists them in translating Values and Standards into action and
reminds them of the desired leadership behaviours.
I contend that fortitude in war has its roots in morality; that selection is a search for
character and that war itself is but one more test - the supreme and final test if you will -
of character. Courage can be judged apart from danger only if the social significance and
meaning of courage is known to us; namely that a man of character in peace becomes
a man of courage in war. He cannot be selfish in peace and yet be unselfish in war.
Character, as Aristotle taught, is a habit, the daily choice of right and wrong; it is a moral
quality which grows to maturity in peace and is not suddenly developed on the outbreak of
war. For war, in spite of what we have heard to the contrary, has no power to transform, it
merely exaggerates the good and evil that are in us, till it is plain for all to read; it cannot
change; it exposes
Lord Moran
18 Based on Adair’s theory of Action Centred Leadership.
The Army Leadership Code
Lead by example
Encourage thinking
Apply reward and discipline
Demand high performance
Encourage confidence in the
Recognise individual strengths
and weaknesses
Strive for team goals
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3-25. The third element of the moral component is the ethical, moral and legal
foundation. To be effective, a force’s actions must reflect a sound and appropriate
ethical, moral and legal foundation, and be perceived as such by the audience. If
they are not, campaign authority will be undermined, reducing, if not removing, the
opportunity to translate tactical military success into desired political outcomes.
3-26. The actions of land forces are guided by their obligations as soldiers and an ethical
foundation shared with that of UK society. These ideas inform two of the Army’s
values – selfless commitment and respect for others. This ethical foundation is based
on the concept of inalienable natural rights, granted not by a particular government
or culture, but universal and non-negotiable. Modern Western liberal democracy
emerged from the belief that every individual has the natural right to life and liberty.
From these natural rights stem three moral principles. First, everyone in the world
is morally equal, including before the law. The second principle is that of intrinsic,
individual moral dignity: a person’s status is defined not by what they do, but by
the fact that they are human beings. Third, everyone has moral worth, residing in
their potential. While always acting lawfully, land forces apply these principles in
their engagement with other people, in conflict and non-conflict situations.
3-27. However, UK soldiers have responsibilities to the country and their comrades not expected
of other parts of society, and voluntarily place their inalienable right to life and liberty
behind that of service to the nation. They must be prepared to accept risk to their own
lives, and they are required when necessary to use lethal force. To ensure they conduct
themselves appropriately, they must comply with the Army’s Values and Standards and
fulfil their commitment as part of the mutual obligation of the military covenant.
3-28. The practical expression of the Army’s ethical foundation
are the Army’s Values and Standards that guide the
conduct of every soldier. They are a fundamental part of
morale. Operational effectiveness and the reputation of
land forces depend on the ability of every individual to
demonstrate absolute professionalism in the most intense
of circumstances. Adversaries and enemies will seek to
manipulate situations and our understanding to not only
test our resolve, but also our ethical foundation. Our
Values and Standards are the practical code that fulfils
this foundation. The Values of courage, discipline, respect
for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment
together guide our actions. They define who we are as
individual servicemen and women and collectively as a
land force. The Standards define the manner in which serving personnel are required
to behave in every aspect and dimension of their life, professional and private. They
demand that our actions are lawful, appropriate and totally professional. The Army’s
Values and Standards publication provides a detailed and authoritative explanation.
3-29. Service personnel are bound by service to the country in what is effectively a mutual
military covenant. This arrangement is inherently unequal in that they may have
to contribute more than they receive: their liability is total. In putting the needs of
the country, society and their comrades before their own, they forgo some of the
rights and freedoms enjoyed by their fellow citizens. In return, UK service personnel
• Courage
• Discipline
• Respect for others
• Integrity
• Loyalty
• Selfless commitment
• Lawful
• Appropriate
• Total professionalism
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should be able to expect the country, and their commanders, to provide them
with the necessary resources and leadership to: achieve the objectives required
of them; treat them fairly; value and respect them as individuals; support their
families; and provide long term support, should they need it, during and after their
service. As a covenant, it imposes moral rather than contractual obligations.
The physical component
3-30. The physical component of Fighting Power provides the means to fight. Comprising
principally manpower, equipment, training, sustainability and resources (METS-R), it
is also referred to as the combat power of a force. Manpower and equipment are
converted into ready, deployable forces by training. Training, although described within
the physical component, has an essential part in the development of Fighting Power as
a whole, building the moral and conceptual components as much as the physical.
3-31. The Fighting Power of a land force is founded on its people – manpower. The Army’s
ability to attract, recruit and retain the right people, with the right skills, in the right
quantity and at the right time is critical to its Fighting Power. Land forces require
soldiers who are ready and prepared, individually and collectively. UK land forces also
demand that soldiers place the needs of the Service above their own. Manpower
is, therefore, absolutely dependent on the moral component if it is to be effective
and sustainable. It also relies on the conceptual component to ensure required
knowledge and skills. This pool of manpower does not consist solely of soldiers,
regular or reserve, but also of civil servants, other civilians and contractors. Each will
come with differing terms of service, experiences, requirements and expectations
that must be accounted for in forming a cohesive and effective land force.
3-32. Land forces require sufficient and effective equipment, designed, manufactured and
scaled according to the likely or directed operational requirement. Equipment can be
operational or non-operational, deployable or non-deployable. Equipment care is the
responsibility of all soldiers to ensure that equipment is serviceable for
use on operations and training and money is not wasted.
3-33. Equipment programmes follow a cycle of concept, assessment, demonstration,
manufacture, in-service use and disposal. This process can be time and resource
intensive and may not be sufficiently responsive to the needs of an adaptable
land force. Alternative procurement methods exist through the urgent capability
requirement process, but these can be expensive. The Army, therefore, seeks to
reduce the difference between programmed and urgent procurement. This requires
first an understanding of the nature and character of conflict and of doctrine. It
also depends on a coherent research and development programme between the UK
Government and industry, experimentation, and operational analysis. Additionally,
harnessing initiative, creativity and innovation through lessons processes improves the
equipment availability of the force and identifies novel ways of
adapting its use.
3-34. Training is the essential vehicle by which all three components of Fighting Power are
developed. Force preparation relies on a structured training progression, tailored to the
operating context, tempo and the resources available. The overall progression begins with
19 This is not quite the same as the Armed Forces Covenant, a policy codification of the military covenant, in which the UK Government
encourages community support to service personnel, veterans and families.
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turning recruits into soldiers. They are then trained in a specific role, individually and as
part of a team. The team is trained to be a coherent part of a sub-unit. The sub-unit is
then trained to operate within a combined arms grouping; the combined arms grouping
is then trained within a formation context. Once in units, through the progression
soldiers develop interoperability not only with other arms and Services but also allied
nations. This continuous flow can be divided into individual and collective training.
These two elements are best delivered separately to avoid training a force of individuals,
at a time when that force needs to be training as a whole. Training continues during
operational deployments, not only to maintain core skills, but as part of adaptation, so
the force can employ new tactics, techniques and procedures, and use new equipment.
It cannot be too often repeated that in modern war…the chief factor in achieving triumph
is what has been done in the way of preparation and training before the beginning of the
Theodore Roosevelt
3-35. AFM Training provides guidance on how to plan and conduct training in
accordance with prioritised direction given by higher headquarters. The
principles of training reflect the cumulative experience of many military
generations and form the bedrock of the Army’s approach to training.
3-36. As people are the foundation of a land force’s Fighting Power, training is designed
around individuals first. Intimately related to education, individual training provides
the essential skills needed to conduct operational tasks as a soldier, apply trade skills in
the field and operate as part of a team.
Physical fitness, shooting and fieldcraft
are the essential foundation of military
skills for all soldiers, but are insufficient
for contemporary operations. Other
skills are required, such as the ability
to access and use information, and
to communicate and cooperate with
allies, partners and other actors in the
area of operations. Individual training is
delivered after recruitment, and continues
throughout careers, building upon special-
to-arm expertise. This is essential for
the maintenance and development of
military skills, as they quickly fade if they
are not practised. Individual training is
one of the first responsibilities of commanders; they should ensure that standards are
maintained by, among other things, a cycle of annual skills testing. Strong collective
performances are based on strong individual capabilities, and weaknesses in collective
performance can often be traced to gaps or weaknesses in individual training.
The principles of training:
• Is a function of command
• Is a continuous and progressive process
• Must be challenging and interesting
• Must be realistic
• Must have an aim and objectives
• Training methods must be continuously
reviewed for effectiveness
• Must reflect operational doctrine
• Must be permissive of error
• Must be appropriately safe
• Must be exploited
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3-37. Collective training is the iterative process by which competent individuals are gradually
forged into teams of increasing size, complexity and capability. A force is not ready for
operations until it has undergone robust and realistic collective training, to training
objectives and conditions consistent with the operational requirement. Collective
training seeks to replicate, through simulation and field training, the challenges of
complex operations. The primary purposes of forms of collective training vary, but
each complements the others. Collective training builds competence over time,
beginning with low level team skills, through special-to-arm and combined arms to
joint training. Commanders and staff at all levels participate in command training.
In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or
so irrevocable as in the military.
General MacArthur
3-38. Collective training is described as either foundation or mission specific training. The
collective skills developed are not bound to a single category; rather this description
informs the purpose and resourcing of the training conducted. Foundation training
develops the flexible core competences of the land force, providing it with a firm
foundation from which to adapt to specific operational situations. It takes account of
how the operating environment might change or broaden as well the unchanging aspects
of the nature of conflict. Foundation training seeks to replicate high-intensity, complex
warfighting. It reflects the nature and character of conflict, the austerity of expeditionary
campaigns, and the requirement to fight in both the physical and virtual domains, with,
against and among multiple actors and in view of the rest of the audience. Mission
specific training then addresses inevitable shortfalls in foundation training, and enables
a unit’s adaptation to meet its specific, intended mission. Mission specific training
continues both on arrival in a theatre of operations and during deployment, ensuring
that the force trains in the most current and relevant tactics, techniques and procedures.
3-39. Education contributes, in parallel with training, to the development of Fighting
Power as a whole. Training without education will not be sufficiently sophisticated
to deal with the complexity of conflict and operations. Education without training
does not prepare people to apply the theory. Military education equips individuals
with the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills to assume greater responsibility
and increase their employability. Courses, academic placements and private study
are examples. The adaptability of land forces depends on continuous investment
in, encouragement of and reward for appropriate education. Most importantly,
education gives people the intellectual edge and confidence to improvise, innovate
and find solutions to problems which do not fit the contingency expected.
3-40. Sustainability is essential: even if the force is fully manned and has all the necessary
equipment, if it cannot be sustained, it cannot be employed as intended. Sustainment
also underpins the path from force preparation to deployment. This encompasses
the sustainability of individuals and teams, of training, and of infrastructure and
training space so that soldiers can live and train together in suitable conditions.
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The more I see of war, the more I realize how it all depends on administration and
transportation . . . It takes little skill or imagination to see where you would like your army
to be and when; it takes much more knowledge and hard work to know where you can
place your forces and whether you can maintain them there.
Field Marshal Wavell
3-41. The physical component is also reliant on wider resources. Manning, equipping,
training and sustaining armed forces costs money. Ultimately, if there are
insufficient resources available on and between operations to recruit, train,
equip, deploy and sustain the force, Fighting Power is severely undermined.
Readiness, deployability and recovery
3-42. Fighting Power can only be applied if the force is held at the appropriate readiness, can
be deployed in time, and then recovered for the next operation. Forces are generally
held at readiness, or notice to move, from their home base or a mounting centre in
the UK. A force at 6 months notice to move, for example, needs that time to train
and gather the necessary resources to complete its Fighting Power. Notice to effect is
largely dependent on the resources, including time, required to deploy and be ready
for employment. Readiness applies to all components of Fighting Power: conceptual
readiness reflects the required understanding and intellectual readiness to adapt to
expected and unexpected contingencies; moral readiness is represented by the leadership
and morale of the force; and physical readiness by the physical state of the force.
3-43. The deployability and recovery of the force requires internal and usually
external, including joint, enablers. For example, the joint force may enable the
deployment of a land force to a point of disembarkation from which it may
need to project itself overland for hundreds of kilometres. These factors must be
accounted for when considering the readiness and overall military effectiveness of
a land force. Enabling actions include: pre-deployment leave; reception, staging,
onward movement and integration (RSOI); the relief in place of the in-place force;
extraction and recovery; decompression; and post-operational tour leave.
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3rd Division - France 1940
The distinction that can be made between pure numbers of troops and their actual
Fighting Power is well illustrated by the contrasting experiences of the British 3rd and
12th Divisions in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in May 1940. Soon after the
German invasion of France on 10 May 1940, the Allied forces were split by a bold and
massive armoured thrust that forced the BEF to fall back towards the port of Dunkirk.
Though having similar numbers of infantry battalions to the 3rd Division, 12th
Division’s actual Fighting Power was compromised by a range of powerful
disadvantages. The 3rd Division, as one of the pre-war regular divisions, was a long-
standing force, one of the best equipped in the Army, and had been in France since
late 1939. Its GOC, Montgomery, had trained them hard for 6 months before the
German invasion. But 12th Division was only recently created. The troops had not
trained together; they lacked cohesion, being a collection of disparate battalions; the
senior officers did not know their men; and the division had virtually no anti-tank
weapons, combat support or combat service support.
12th Division’s Fighting Power was further compromised by the circumstances in
which it found itself. Deployed to defend lines of communication and so spread over
a wide area, a German breakthrough led the division to be tasked suddenly on 20
May with the defence of the towns of Albert, Amiens, Abbeville and Arras against
Guderian’s advancing XIX Panzerkorps. Though 3rd Division’s circumstances were also
difficult, the force having to conduct a fighting withdrawal, they were able to do so
closed up with other divisions to either flank.
Under these circumstances, the contrasting experiences of the two divisions become
easier to understand. In fighting lasting no more than seven hours, 12th Division was
effectively annihilated and was utterly defeated and dispersed. Eight days later, during
the final stages of the withdrawal to Dunkirk, the left flank of the BEF was suddenly
exposed due to Belgium’s surrender. The 3rd Division (at this stage reduced to almost
50% combat effectiveness after 18 days of continuous combat and withdrawal) was
ordered to disengage from one flank and move to the other. This involved a 50 mile
move across the rear of the BEF and occupation of a position on the Yser Canal.
Though exhausted and in a nearly defeated army, 3rd Division remained a cohesive
fighting force and completed the move in a single night.
Thus, though comparable in numbers, the Fighting Power of the ill-fated 12th Division
was not equal to that of 3rd Division because the 12th laboured under significant
physical, moral and conceptual difficulties brought about by deficiencies in equipment,
training and the circumstances in which the unit had to fight.
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Part 1 described the nature and character of
conflict, and the implications for land forces.
These indicate a need for doctrine that addresses
the increasing global flow and availability of
information as well as the enduring human,
adversarial and political nature of conflict. This
doctrine is Integrated Action – the application of
the full range of lethal and non-lethal capabilities
to change and maintain the understanding and
behaviour of audiences to achieve a successful
outcome. It is a unifying doctrine which guides
the orchestration and execution of operations
whether the task is any combination of fighting,
engagement, security or support. In particular
it provides the conceptual framework for land
forces to succeed in an interconnected world
where information is pervasive. While only
formations at the higher tactical level and
above are routinely resourced and structured
to orchestrate Integrated Action, it governs the way of thinking about all operations,
and informs how they are executed. Integrated Action is explained in Chapter 4.
Integrated Action is supported by the tenets of the Manoeuvrist Approach and Mission
Command. The application or threat of lethal force in accordance with the Manoeuvrist
Approach, explained in Chapter 5, is central to combat operations. The Manoeuvrist
Approach is an attitude of mind that seeks indirect approaches in applying strength against
the vulnerabilities of the enemy. It is the British Army’s fighting doctrine for the tactical level,
specifically focused on the enemy. It is a particularly important aspect of Integrated Action as
combat operations can have far reaching effects at the operational and strategic levels. Mission
Command, the subject of Chapter 6, is our command philosophy. It emphasises decentralised
command, empowers leaders down to the lowest level, and makes them responsible for
acting to achieve their commander’s intent within designated constraints. Integrated Action
guides the land contribution to joint and multinational operations. It is consistent with the
UK doctrine of Joint Action
. Integrated Action and Joint Action are also consistent with
NATO operational and tactical doctrines. These emphasise the military contribution to an
inter-agency full spectrum approach through the orchestration of the NATO joint functions.
Together, Integrated Action, the Manoeuvrist Approach and Mission Command
form the fundamental ideas of UK land forces’ doctrine. The Chapters that follow
in Part 2 provide the intellectual foundation for Part 3, which introduces how
operations are conducted and provides the capstone for the AFM series.
20 Joint Action is defined as the deliberate use and orchestration of military capabilities and activities to affect actors’
will, understanding and capability, and the cohesion between them to achieve influence. (JDP 3-00)
Part 1 – Context
Nature and character of conflict
National and operational context
Fighting Power
Part 2 – Fundamentals
 Integrated Action
 Manoeuvrist Approach
 Mission Command
Part 3 – Conduct of operations
Organising for operations
Orchestrating and executing operations
Commanding operations
Sustaining operations
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 4
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Integrated Action
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Integrated Action is the application of the full range of lethal and non-lethal capabilities to
change and maintain the understanding and behaviour of audiences to achieve a successful
4-01. Integrated Action describes how land
forces orchestrate and execute operations
in an interconnected world, where
the consequences of military action
are judged by an audience that extends from
immediate participants to distant observers.
Integrated Action requires commanders and staff to
be clear about the outcome that they are seeking and to
analyse the audience relevant to the attainment of
their objectives. They then identify the effects that
they wish to impart on that audience to achieve
the outcome, and what capabilities and actions are
available. These lethal and non-lethal capabilities
may belong to the land force itself, or to joint, inter-governmental, inter-agency, non-
governmental, private sector and multinational actors involved in the operation. What is
important is for commanders and staff to work out how to synchronise and orchestrate
all the relevant levers to impart effects onto the audience to achieve the outcome.
4-02. Integrated Action, with the audience as its major consideration, requires
sophisticated understanding, integration of all capabilities available, and is
outcome-focused. These are the four fundamentals of the doctrine. Within
land forces, the tactical functions are the primary levers of influence.
a. People are at the heart of conflict; it is their decisions and behaviours that determine
how conflict is conducted and resolved. Integrated Action requires consideration of
the diverse audience that is relevant to the attainment of our objectives, globally,
nationally and within theatres of operations.
b. Integrated Action is founded on the land force’s understanding of its task and
environment. A dynamic approach to understanding, built on a learning culture, allows
the force to adapt and innovate in response to evolving situations.
c. Land forces create desired effects by the integration of lethal and non-lethal
capabilities. Effective integration relies on the cooperation and interoperability of the
Integrated Action
Integrated Action
• Introduction
• Fundamentals
• Orchestration and
• Understanding and the
• Integration of actions to
achieve desired outcomes
• Examples of Integrated
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land force, multinational, host nation, inter-governmental, non-governmental and
inter-agency partners, as well as of tactical combined arms formations and units.
d. Integrated Action needs commanders to think about how their actions contribute to
the desired outcomes, in a broad and evolving context. This approach encourages
a wider and longer-term view of a situation, relative to the task and role of the land
4-03. This chapter explains how these fundamentals of Integrated Action are put into
practice. The first section describes what land forces need to understand, with the
priority being the human aspect of the land environment – the audience. The second
section introduces how the land force integrates lethal and non-lethal capabilities
to achieve desired outcomes. The chapter concludes with three examples.
4-04. The doctrine of Integrated Action applies at all levels to land forces,
from the land component of the joint operation, to tactical formations,
units and sub-units. There is, however, an important delineation
between responsibilities for its orchestration and execution.
a. It is only at the higher tactical or operational level (usually the division or corps) that
Integrated Action can be orchestrated and fully aligned with joint, inter-agency and
multinational operations. In certain circumstances, brigades or units may be the
highest level of UK land command in a particular theatre and so may be required to
operate at the operational level. Examples include conducting capacity building or non-
combatant evacuation operations. In such cases, they must be resourced appropriately.
b. Brigades and units at the tactical level plan and execute their contributions to
Integrated Action. They routinely integrate their capabilities and activities to deliver
single tactical actions, as part of a longer term higher tactical or operational level plan.
Understanding and the audience
4-05. Central to Integrated Action is analysis and understanding of the audience relevant
to the attainment of our objectives. We must also develop understanding of the
information and physical aspects of the operating environment, and of the context
and consequences of our actions. However, no amount of analysis can achieve
complete understanding in advance of an operation; and predictable relationships
between cause and effect are rare in adversarial human conflict. Therefore, it is
essential to set the force to learn throughout an operation, generating dynamic and
continuous understanding. This will require specific planned effort, to collect and
analyse information to test deductions, and to refine decisions as to future action.
a. The audience is made up of all the groups and individual people whose perception
and interpretation of events and subsequent behaviour contribute to the success or
otherwise of military action. These groups range from the global audience right down
to immediate participants, as illustrated in Figure 4-1.
b. Within the wider audience are actors – those individuals or groups who take action
or directly exert influence. They include our own forces and allies, as well as others
who are friendly, neutral or hostile to us. Although the audience and actors are not
constrained geographically, tactical level land forces are primarily concerned with
changing or maintaining the behaviour of actors within an area of operations, while
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promoting the consent of the wider audience. These local actors, ranging from armed
groups to non-governmental and private sector organisations, may be, or have the
potential to be supportive, neutral or hostile.
c. Adversaries are a sub-set of actors; they seek to prevent us from achieving our
objectives. They may have many different motivations and may be subject to a broad
range of influences. Adversaries will often present hybrid threats, combining the threat
or application of armed force with deniable or ambiguous actions that may not cross
the threshold of armed conflict.
d. An enemy is a particular kind of adversary, who seeks to oppose us through armed,
lethal means.
The boundaries between these groups are not fixed. For example, adversaries may be
persuaded or elect to become neutral or even friendly actors. Conversely, the unintended
consequences of our actions may see previously neutral actors become our enemies. It is
important to identify how groups and individuals relate to each other, what motivates and
influences them, how they can influence us and how land forces might seek to achieve
advantageous behavioural outcomes while preventing those that are undesirable.
4-06. Commanders must also understand the information aspects of the land environment:
how it can influence the audience, and how, as a resource of the land force, it
supports the integration of actions. As a means of influence, we must understand
what information is relevant and, to whom, how it is received, and how it might
influence people’s decision-making and behaviours. We must also understand how
we and other actors compete for influence by using information, in both the physical
and virtual domains. Information is also a fundamental resource of land forces, our
partners and adversaries. It is generated, maintained and transferred primarily in the
virtual domain, which will be contested and potentially denied by adversaries.
Audience. All the groups and individual
people whose perception and interpretation
of events and subsequent behaviour contribute
to the success or otherwise of military action
Actors. A group or person that
takes action or directly
exerts influence
Adversary. A group or person that
seeks to prevent us from achieving
our objectives
Enemy. A group or person that seeks
to defeat us through armed lethal means
Figure 4-1. Audiences, actors, adversaries and enemies
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4-07. Understanding how we and others operate in the virtual domain informs how we
protect our own information, and how we might challenge our adversaries. We seek
information superiority, but must be able to operate without it. Understanding the
physical geography of the land environment underpins the effective integration
of physical actions, such as manoeuvre and fires, with other levers of influence,
for example, information activities or those delivered by other instruments of
power. First, we must understand the military relevance of the terrain, both as
an objective of land operations and as the medium through which operations
are conducted. Factors include the ground, weather, climate and infrastructure.
Secondly, we need to understand the relevance of the physical geography to the
audience. Different people perceive and use the physical environment in significantly
different ways. For example, a particular building may hold cultural significance to
a key audience, and so should not be considered solely for its physical utility.
4-08. The context comprises the historical, political, economic, cultural and social
background to the situation or conflict. It shapes what resources and missions are
allocated to land forces, their freedoms, constraints and relationships with other
actors. It also shapes, but cannot predict, the likely consequences of our actions,
which in turn contribute to the evolving context. Actions will have both intended
and unintended effects. These can be positive or negative, immediate, short or
long term, and will be perceived and interpreted differently by different parts of
the audience. Commanders, therefore, need to constantly assess and re-assess the
consequences of their actions, as perceived by the audience, and adjust accordingly.
Integration of actions to achieve desired outcomes
4-09. Understanding is a means to an end; nothing happens until action is taken. What
is important is to draw from the available relevant information what effects and
combinations of actions are required, and then to act appropriately and quickly, relative
to other actors. Furthermore, it is through action that understanding is often best
developed. Only so much can be learned through observation and study; early actions
should usually be seen as a bridge from preliminary understanding to Integrated Action.
4-10. Integrated Action blends lethal and non-lethal actions to have effects on the
understanding, physical capability, will and cohesion of the audience. Organised into
attainable objectives, these effects are ultimately realised in people’s minds, influencing
their decision making, to achieve the desired outcomes. Although not all tactical
activities are directed against people, the ultimate targets of land power are the audience
and actors (including enemies, adversaries, allies and civilians). Integrated Action is
planned from desired outcome back to actions, through objectives and effects, and
adjusted in execution in response to what has been learned and the changing situation.
4-11. Informed by continuous analysis of the audience, the commander describes the desired
outcomes, an outcome being a favourable and enduring situation. Where appropriate
to the tasks assigned and the resources available, outcomes are described in terms of
changed or maintained understanding and behaviour. In all cases, however, land forces
operate in a context where the success of military actions is judged by a wide audience.
4-12. Because military operations are unpredictable, they must be designed to
allow those executing the plan to focus on clearly defined and attainable
tactical objectives, in the context of desired and potential outcomes.
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4-13. Objectives are achieved by effects that bring about changes (or not) in a particular
object, for example maintaining the support of particular actors or denying an enemy
access to a piece of terrain. Integrated Action, seeks effects on the understanding,
physical capability, and will and cohesion of actors, consistent with the desired outcome.
a. The decision-making of actors is, like ours, grounded on their understanding, how
they perceive and interpret particular situations. Actions can affect their understanding
directly or indirectly. Often, how key individuals understand a situation can affect
the decisions and behaviour of larger groups. For example, enemy commanders who
have been deceived, or denied the ability to make accurate assessments, will give less
effective direction to their subordinates; a force might show additional resolve as a
result of the actions of just one individual; or a community might leave a town or stay
in it, support an enemy or not, depending on how a few influential people interpret
the situation.
b. Our actions can damage, build or maintain physical capability in the form of people,
equipment and infrastructure and the means to sustain or direct them. For example, an
enemy’s physical capability can be destroyed or denied; partner forces can be equipped
and trained; and communities can be provided with or given improved access to
resources and infrastructure.
c. Our actions can seek to affect actors’ will and cohesion positively or negatively,
depending on the desired outcome. Land forces can use Integrated Action to bolster
or maintain partner and community will and cohesion, for example, by using capacity
building or fire support to improve partner forces’ morale.
4-14. Having identified the effects required, a commander integrates the actions and
capabilities available to achieve them. Those actions taken by the land force are
normally worded as tasks, which, together with their purpose, constitute subordinates’
missions. At the tactical level, such missions are typically fixed: they require
specific activity, such as attacking, seizing terrain, building a bridge or providing
logistic support. A capacity to think laterally beyond these missions is, however,
required; commanders must always consider the wider impact of their actions and
how they might contribute to first and second order effects and outcomes.
The Tactical Functions
4-15. The tactical functions are the primary levers of influence, representing the full
breadth of the force’s activities that are integrated when orchestrating and executing
operations. These are, however, rarely sufficient. Commanders and staff must
also seek to integrate a range of different levers not under their direct control;
they must, therefore, cooperate with joint, inter-governmental, inter-agency, non-
governmental, private sector and multinational actors involved in the operation.
4-16. Those tactical functions mainly directed towards actors are: manoeuvre, fires,
information activities and capacity building.
Their successful application
depends on command and intelligence which set the operation’s direction,
and protection and sustainment which enable the mission. These tactical
functions can also have direct and indirect effects on the audience as well as
on the mission itself. For example, how a force collects intelligence, protects or
sustains itself may directly affect the audience’s perceptions of the force.
21 Capacity building is the land force contribution to outreach in Joint Action.
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4-17. The nature of the task determines how the tactical functions are applied. When fighting,
for example, the main effects sought are on the will of the enemy and so this aspect of
Integrated Action is guided at the tactical level by the Manoeuvrist Approach. As each
operation is unique, however, there is no single way by which actions are integrated.
Rather, there are doctrinal frameworks, common to varying degrees in joint and NATO
doctrine, which aid the organisation and visualisation of Integrated Action. These are the
operational and tactical frameworks, which link groups of actions by their purpose,
and the geographic framework which does so by their location in relation to the
force. The tactical functions and doctrinal frameworks are explained in Chapter 8.
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Gulf War - 1990/1991
In August 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait. Soon after, the United Nations
Security Council authorised a coalition of 34 nations to eject Iraqi forces. The
campaign lasted from 2 August 1990 to 28 February 1991. The fighting in 1991 is
remembered by many as being largely about fires and manoeuvre. But from national
capitals to the battlegroup level, there were important political and information
activities aspects to the operation, integrated with fires and manoeuvre, which
included many of the elements of Integrated Action in a warfighting operation.
At the strategic level, the first challenge was to assemble the Coalition in Saudi Arabia.
This was hugely sensitive because the arrival of thousands of Western soldiers and
airmen in the cradle of Islam was unprecedented and in many quarters unwelcome.
Part of the solution was to place Coalition forces under overall Saudi command,
with the components commanded by US generals. The Coalition was eventually
700,000 strong with the major contributions from the United States, UK, Saudi
Arabia, France, Egypt and Syria. Subsequently, the major issues were building and
maintaining consent for the operation, keeping the Coalition together, and retaining
campaign authority. In the time before the internet, print and broadcast media played
a key role in informing opinions at home. Live TV, used by both sides to inform
audiences, was particularly prominent. The cohesion of the Coalition was critical,
and also a potential vulnerability. Retaining campaign authority was essential.
At the operational and tactical level, psychological operations played an important role
in demoralising Iraqi forces. Initially Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait were reached by
using smugglers to get small radios and cassette tapes into Kuwait. The 50,000 tapes
that were smuggled in had popular Arabic music on them and also messages from the
Coalition, crafted by the Saudis to appeal to their intended audience. When the six
week air campaign began in January 1991, coalition air raids deliberately destroyed
the Iraqi TV system, and filled the void with their own broadcasts, again designed
and presented with Saudi assistance. Indeed, the air campaign itself was intended to
be a powerful political and psychological instrument. Whilst preparatory air attacks
failed to coerce Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait, the impunity with which Coalition
air attacks were conducted provided compelling evidence of the Coalition’s military
superiority. These air attacks also imposed significant physical and psychological attrition
on defending Iraqi forces. Iraqi defences were bombed and leafleted to encourage
desertion and later, honourable surrender. Some battlegroup objectives were also attacked
with lethal force while surrender was encouraged and enabled by loudspeaker.
The manoeuvre of the land component of the campaign delivered the decisive coup
de grâce. Controversially, the ground operation was brought to a close after only 100
hours, largely because of the threat of the loss of campaign authority. The reaction of
the audiences at home to what seemed excessive destruction of defeated Iraqi forces
on the Basra Road; the threat of the disintegration of the Coalition if the Western
members were to go on to Baghdad; and the willingness of the Iraqis to negotiate
a surrender were all considerations that brought military operations to an end.
Thus, Coalition success required the careful integration of political, psychological,
and military activity in order to achieve the campaign’s limited declaratory goals.
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Operation HAMKARI - Afghanistan 2010
In 2010 the surge of United States forces into Afghanistan allowed the International
Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) to attempt to regain the initiative in Kandahar
province. In Regional Command (South), Kandahar City was the key, because it
was the heart of the Pashtun south, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, the
former de facto capital of the Taliban government, and the home of President Karzai.
For the Taliban, if they could not seize and hold Kandahar, then contesting it was
important for their attempts to appear a viable rival to the Afghan government.
The commanding general realised that efforts in Kandahar province could not simply comprise
a physical effort to drive out the Taliban; there would also have to be a political effort to re-
connect the people to the Afghan government. The preliminary requirement was to understand
the physical, human and information aspects of the environment. A particular focus was to
establish which actors could enable or undermine the operation, and to determine who it was
that could provide the conduits within the Government, and also from within the population
at large, to effect the necessary change. It was also essential to understand what tools or
levers could be applied to achieve the desired behaviour from these actors. Certain actors
might be supportive if their agricultural and economic problems were addressed; others
might have to be removed and replaced; others empowered by another authority; some
might join the Afghan security forces; many would need to be defeated by military action.
Operation HAMKARI (from the word ‘cooperation’ in Dari and Pashto) was launched
in July 2010 as a combined civil-military operation to deny the Taliban control of key
terrain around the city and to improve governance and development. Taliban access into
Kandahar City was dependent on their control of the surrounding districts, where they
had a relatively secure refuge from which they controlled or influenced the population.
Phase One involved extensive shaping operations. These operations included efforts
by the Afghan Government to place the right personnel in key appointments in order
to improve the capability and legitimacy of local government. They also included
targeted raids to capture or kill Taliban leaders. Afghan government forces established
physical control of Kandahar city enabling them to control the flow of population in
and out, and therefore also cutting off the insurgent supply and infiltration routes.
Subsequently, the division’s brigades executed overlapping decisive phases. Each brigade
was assigned one of the surrounding districts which they cleared sequentially. Arghandab
district was first. It was historically and physically important terrain for the Taliban and a
major centre of improvised explosive device (IED) production and arms caches. Afghan
and ISAF forces began the clearing operation in late July, targeting the strongholds
in west-central Arghandab, and by the beginning of October they had cleared the
enemy positions and IED belts. These activities were accompanied by parallel efforts to
improve the effectiveness of civil government. The other districts, and more fighting,
followed, but the Taliban in the region were defeated. The remaining Taliban fighters
either fled or laid down their arms; some joined ISAF cash-for-work programmes.
Operation HAMKARI consciously blended all non-lethal and lethal means available to
the commander to change the physical capability, will and cohesion, understanding and
behaviour of key targeted actors. It was, effectively, an exercise in Integrated Action.
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Operation GRITROCK - Sierra Leone 2014
A task force under command of a brigade headquarters deployed to Sierra Leone in
September 2014 to assist the UK Department for International Development (DFID)
to support the Government of Sierra Leone in countering the outbreak of the ebola
virus. Although there was a security risk, the main threat was not an armed enemy,
but a lethal virus. Since the security threat was not primarily military in character,
Defence was in a supporting role at the strategic level. Nevertheless, on the ground
the military were required to provide a framework of command and control,
coordination and action which proved critical to the success of the operation.
The tri-service force was initially commanded by a logistic brigade headquarters. It included
combat and combat support force elements (infantry, combat engineer, communications,
intelligence, and information activities forces) and combat service support to enable the mission.
Critical force elements were joint or drawn from other components, including: a tri-service
medical group, RAF strategic lift and RFA ARGUS. Although it was clear that the British military
was not in the lead, the force was a key resource, and the command and control and medical
capabilities provided by the military were particularly valuable to the UK-led international effort.
At the initiation of Operation GRITROCK, the threat was extreme and the situation
was deteriorating. There was an infection rate of 600 people per week (and climbing),
many hospitals and medical centres had closed, there were dead bodies in the streets
and health care workers were contracting the disease at an unsustainable rate.
The brigade commander’s first task was to begin to understand the problem and to build
relationships with key individuals and organisations. The commander had had some first-
hand experience of the country, and the Army had been engaged in Sierra Leone for over
14 years. There was considerable local knowledge, some key personal relationships already
existed and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence were well-
disposed to the British and competent. By developing an understanding of the nature and
outlook of all the key actors in Sierra Leone and in London, the brigade commander was able
to begin to work out how best to assist DFID’s team on the ground, and their 2* overall lead.
The efforts of the Sierra Leone Government, DFID, NGOs and the supporting military task
force turned the situation around over a period of months. Many more people died, but the
virus outbreak was stabilised, contained and eliminated. The military contribution, although
a supporting effort, was vital to the success of the operation. It had a very significant
influence on planning, strategy, conduct of the operation, the maintenance of morale of
NGOs and Sierra Leonean health services, and the continuance of effective governance in
the country. For example, the military were able to deploy trained and equipped medical
staff immediately into theatre; they built and then operated ebola treatment centres;
they provided a framework for the training of local medical, police and government
personnel; they provided critical logistic capabilities for the ebola treatment programme.
The doctrine of Integrated Action did not exist during Operation GRITROCK, but
the brigade commander consciously used the tools of operational art and counter-
insurgency doctrine to guide his actions. His approach focused on identifying the
desired outcomes and objectives, and the human audience and actors whose behaviour
would be essential for success. Some of those actors were his superiors in London and
partners in Sierra Leone. Some of them he could influence personally or by the words
or deeds of his task force; others had to be reached vicariously through the Sierra
Leonean authorities and media, DFID, and relevant NGOs. Operation GRITROCK is a good
example of the ideas of Integrated Action being applied in a non-conflict situation.
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 5
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Manoeuvrist Approach
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Manoeuvrist Approach
5-01. The Manoeuvrist Approach is the Army’s fighting
doctrine for the tactical level. It determines the
way we fight enemies across the different types of
operation, and because fighting can have extremely
significant consequences, it is set in the broader
context of the audience and Integrated Action. It
is an indirect approach which emphasises effects
on the will of the enemy. It blends lethal and non-
lethal actions to achieve objectives which shape
the enemy’s understanding, undermine their will
and break their cohesion. It aims to apply strength
against vulnerabilities. Significant features are momentum, tempo and agility, which
in combination lead to shock and surprise. It entails doing the unexpected, using
initiative and seeking originality, combined with a relentless determination to succeed.
5-02. This section describes the requirements of the Manoeuvrist Approach; ways
of seizing and holding the initiative; and how to shape the understanding of
enemies, undermine their will and break their cohesion. Although explained
separately below, gaining the initiative and attacking vulnerabilities must
be seamlessly connected. Each reinforces and enables the other.
5-03. The Manoeuvrist Approach, enabled by Mission Command, has two specific
requirements: an attitude of mind and understanding of the enemy’s vulnerabilities.
5-04. First, the Manoeuvrist Approach requires an attitude of mind that seeks indirect
solutions to reduce the enemy’s will to fight, by pitching our strength against enemy
vulnerability, rather than strength. This indirect approach emphasises the use of initiative
to act in original ways unexpected by the enemy and a relentless determination to
retain the initiative and exploit success. It does not preclude destruction of the enemy
so long as the results sought are disproportionately greater than the resources applied
and the enemy’s will to fight is undermined and their cohesion shattered. It depends
on practical knowledge, agility, Mission Command and the willingness to accept risks.
5-05. The second requirement is an understanding of the enemy’s vulnerabilities, both before
contact and as they appear and evolve during battle. Centre of gravity analysis can be a
useful tool for this. The Manoeuvrist Approach guides us to find, attack, and exploit these
vulnerabilities in an enemy’s strength. Additionally, commanders must consider carefully how
the enemy themselves might apply the Manoeuvrist Approach. They must understand their
Manoeuvrist Approach
• Introduction
• Requirements:
• Understanding
• Attitude of mind
• Psychological impact
• Seizing the initiative
• Shaping understanding
• Attacking will and cohesion
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own centre of gravity and critical vulnerabilities, and protect their forces accordingly. Contextual
understanding is also necessary. The Manoeuvrist Approach is not executed in isolation
from wider contextual and operational factors, for example, domestic appetite for risk and
casualties (of friendly and enemy forces), or second and third order effects of actions taken.
Psychological impact of the Manoeuvrist Approach
5-06. The tools of seizing the initiative, shaping understanding and attacking will and
cohesion are means to an end. By holding the initiative and operating at higher tempo
than the enemy, we aim to impose multiple, simultaneous dilemmas, forcing the
enemy to make decisions favourable to us or, when necessary, to induce shock and so
render the enemy incapable of rational decision making. The classic physiological and
psychological symptoms of shock are numbness and irrational behaviour, preventing
the enemy from responding effectively to a developing situation. It is most debilitating
when the full range of the force’s capabilities, lethal and non-lethal, is applied against
enemy vulnerabilities. As an effect, shock is both unpredictable and temporary, so
its effects must be rapidly exploited before the enemy can respond effectively.
Seizing and holding the initiative
5-07. The initiative is the ability to dictate the course of events, to decide and act
before our opponents do and so gain advantage. In contact with an enemy,
gaining, regaining and retaining the initiative requires: tempo, surprise, pre-
emption, momentum, simultaneity, exploitation and avoiding culmination.
They cannot be applied in isolation, but are mutually reinforcing.
5-08. Tempo is the rate of activity of operations relative to an enemy’s. It is about acting more
quickly than the enemy. The side which consistently decides and acts fastest should gain
and hold an advantage. Speed and quality of decision-making, while necessary to gain
and hold the initiative, is not sufficient. Action must follow swiftly, enabled by Mission
Command and good battle procedure. Often a perfect plan made and executed too
late will fail, whereas an imperfect one made before an enemy can act will succeed.
5-09. Surprise is an important way of seizing and retaining the initiative. It must be central
to the design of all combat operations and be sought by commanders at all levels.
a. Surprise is a potent psychological weapon, causing shock through unexpected action in
time, space and method. For example, surprise can be achieved by: attacking an enemy
earlier or more rapidly than anticipated, including through cyber electromagnetic
activities (time); attacking the enemy’s rear, or preparing well concealed depth
defences (space); unforeseen employment of air manoeuvre or indigenous forces, the
concealment and employment of reserves or sudden withdrawal to defensive positions
b. The increasing visibility of a land force’s actions places increased importance on the
use of deception to achieve surprise and to protect the force’s own vulnerabilities.
Deception is defined as those measures designed to mislead the enemy by
manipulation, distortion, or falsification of evidence to induce them to react in a
manner prejudicial to their interests. There are two methods of deception: simulation,
which deliberately allows an enemy to see false activity (for example through a
demonstration); and dissimulation, which is hiding the reality by concealing it or
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making it appear to be something else. Deception plans must have a clearly defined
aim, be convincing by playing to enemy’s perceptions, prejudices and likely reactions,
and be flexible, without consuming disproportionate resources or time. Enemies will
also employ deception, requiring commanders and staff to have a sceptical mind-set.
c. The acme of surprise is when it combines high tempo physical manoeuvre, superiority
in the virtual domain, and concentrated application of violence – sometimes termed
‘shock action’. Enabled by security, surprise involves using combinations of secrecy,
concealment, deception, originality, audacity and tempo to confuse, paralyse or disrupt
effective decision-making, and undermine an adversary’s morale. Thus it is instrumental
not only to gaining the initiative, but also subsequently to attacking and defeating the
enemy. It need not be total, but merely sufficient to instil doubt, delaying a decision
or an action until it is too late. The effects of surprise are transitory, as shock and
confusion recede over time, so its effects should be exploited rapidly and aggressively.
5-10. Pre-emption is to seize an opportunity, which may itself be fleeting, to deny the enemy
an advantage before they act. It denies them the initiative and frustrates their plan.
Its success lies in the speed with which the situation can be subsequently exploited.
5-11. Momentum is the driving force of a moving object. Maintaining momentum
keeps an enemy off-balance and enables a commander to retain the
initiative. As a product of velocity and mass, it is liable to be reduced through
either a loss of speed or of combat power, stalling the operation and so
allowing the enemy to regain the initiative. Exploitation of momentum
creates the bridge from seizing the initiative to achieving success.
5-12. Simultaneity seeks to disrupt the decision-making process of opponents by confronting
them with a number of concurrent problems. By attacking or threatening enemies in
many ways and from many directions at once, in the physical and virtual domains,
they cannot concentrate on any one attack, nor establish priorities between them.
They cannot choose how and where to react; they are torn between multiple threats
and find it hard to respond coherently. Enemy cohesion is particularly susceptible
when several layers of their command system are acted against simultaneously.
5-13. Exploitation is defined as taking full advantage of success in battle and following
up initial gains.
If not exploited, the effects of surprise and shock, pre-emption, tempo,
momentum and simultaneity are likely to be local and temporary. A capable enemy
will try to recover and seek ways of regaining the initiative. Therefore success should
be exploited to maintain the initiative, extend and expand its effects and encourage
collapse. Exploitation can be planned or opportunistic. Planned exploitation is designed
in advance to follow anticipated success and may require fresh, echeloned forces.
Opportunistic exploitation is a way of building on local success. It should be carried out
with the resources at hand and should be initiated as soon as an opportunity is recognised,
particularly at lower tactical levels. The most effective exploitation integrates the full range
of lethal and non-lethal capabilities available to the force, appropriate according to the
task and environment. For example, a combat action may be exploited by manoeuvre
and information activities or, in a counter-insurgency context, by a combination of
information activities and capacity building. Exploitation is enabled by Mission Command,
effective understanding and balanced, mobile and flexible reserve or echeloned forces,
which can be deployed rapidly to take advantage of the opportunities presented.
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5-14. Avoiding culmination is also key and must be constantly balanced with the advantages
presented by exploitation. The culminating point is defined as the point in time and the
location at which a force no longer has the capability to continue an operation under
current conditions and so loses the initiative. An operational pause may be required: a
temporary and deliberate cessation of certain activities during the course of an operation
to avoid reaching the culminating point and to be able to regenerate the combat power
required to proceed with the next stage of the operation. Anticipation of when or where a
force might reach a culminating point requires detailed understanding of the environment
as well as of friendly and enemy forces. Implementation of an operational pause at a
place and time to the advantage of friendly forces allows the initiative to be maintained.
Shaping understanding
5-15. The Manoeuvrist Approach seeks to manipulate an enemy’s understanding to produce
behavioural outcomes favourable to the friendly force. The perception of failure is the
best mechanism by which to promote actual failure, convincing the enemy of the futility
of their actions. The shock induced by surprise and an enemy’s loss of initiative all
contribute to this perception of failure. Security, deception and information activities
amplify their effects and are therefore central to the Manoeuvrist Approach. They
are not, however, sufficient. Shaping the enemy’s understanding conclusively is rarely
achievable without the application or threat of force, attacking will and cohesion.
Attacking will and cohesion
5-16. The will and cohesion of a force are indivisible. Will is the determination to
persist in the face of adversity. It has two aspects: intent and resolve. Both can be
influenced, attacked and undermined. The enemy’s intent is thwarted when they
believe that their aim is no longer achievable, and so desist from their course of
action. The enemy’s resolve is their strength of will. It is overcome when they are
demoralised and no longer have the desire to continue. It is intimately linked to
the cohesion of the force. The same principle applies to our own force; we must
protect our own will and cohesion from the actions of enemies and adversaries.
5-17. Troops who have moral cohesion stick together: they continue to fight despite adversity
and local reverses. It relies on leadership, perception of success, confidence and trust
that forces will be supported and sustained. It cannot, therefore, be separated from the
physical cohesion that gives a force its potential to mass forces and effects at the time
and place of its choosing. Physical cohesion relies on sustainment, freedom of movement,
and effective command systems of leaders, command posts and communications.
5-18. Physical capability is also a feature of cohesion. If key combat forces, combat service
support or command nodes are lost or threatened, then both moral and physical cohesion
of the enemy are reduced, while the freedom of action and initiative of friendly forces are
enhanced. Attacking and often destroying physical capabilities is therefore required by
the Manoeuvrist Approach as a means to an end of defeating the enemy’s will to fight.
5-19. Ultimately, without moral and physical cohesion, a force becomes less than the sum of
its parts and readily susceptible to shock. As well as using surprise and pre-emption,
cohesion and will can be attacked through dislocation, disruption and destruction.
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a. Dislocation denies the enemy the ability to bring their strengths to bear, or to
persuade them that their strength is irrelevant. Its purpose is wider than the frustration
of the enemy’s plan; it is about ensuring that their strengths are in the wrong place.
It may be deliberate or a fortunate consequence of other actions. Deep penetration,
envelopment and deception are three methods of dislocation. Another method is
distraction, encouraging the enemy to cover more options than they can afford.
b. Disruption can be used to break apart and confuse assets that are critical to the
employment and coherence of the enemy’s fighting power. It aims to rupture the
integrity of a force, to render it incapable of deciding and acting purposefully. Military
targets might include communication networks, command centres, transport nodes,
or logistic facilities. Against irregular forces, disruption can be achieved by attacking
vulnerabilities in the enemy’s networks.
c. Destruction, when unsupported or unfocused, is not normally a major contributor
to shock, other than when used on a massive scale. Otherwise, the careful selection
and destruction of discrete capabilities or force elements amplifies the effects of
surprise, dislocation and disruption, and can be decisive in undermining an enemy’s
will to fight. Such targeted destruction may well be the focus of all of the forces
of a particular formation or battlegroup within a wider concept of operations. The
effects of destruction also extend beyond the elimination of a particular capability and
demoralisation of the wider force. Second order consequences may include adverse
or positive reactions from across the audience, or a later requirement to reinstate the
same capability for use by friendly forces or the local population.
Attacking will and cohesion - Falkland Islands 1982
42 Commando assaulted Mount Harriet in the Falklands on the night of 11 June 1982 in
a surprise attack from the enemy’s rear. The 4th Argentine Infantry Regiment, defending
Harriet, expected an attack from Mount Wall to the west; a diversionary attack by 12
Troop of 42 Commando reinforced that perception. The main body attacked from the
south-east and approached to within about a hundred metres of the Argentine positions
before it was detected. The assault was very rapid: leading elements reached the crest of
Mount Harriet within 40 minutes; the crest line was cleared within about two hours; and
the fighting was largely complete within 5 hours.
The Argentine regimental command post and mortar platoon were overrun early in the
assault. This was a lucky consequence of the chosen axis of attack but the effects of this
selective destruction were significant. The Argentines lost much of their primary indirect
fire support and command and control of their forces; both affected their cohesion. An
Argentine company commander attempted to organise a counter-attack force on the
north side of the ridgeline; however a sudden, concentrated artillery fire mission broke up
the attack. The survivors were seen fleeing east towards Stanley through the smoke and
darkness. The surprise attack, shock action and some aspects of the destruction achieved
had overcome the 4th Infantry Regiment’s cohesion; it collapsed and was effectively
destroyed as a fighting force.
Abridged from Nicholas van der Bijl, Nine Battles to Stanley (1999)
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Colonel John Boyd and the OODA loop
Boyd was the USAF officer who developed the ‘OODA loop’: a decision-action cycle of
observe, orient, decide and act. It came from his experience of air combat between USAF
F86 Sabres and Chinese MiG 15s in the Korean War. In many ways the MiG 15 was a
better aircraft than the Sabre, but the Sabre was far superior in combat. Boyd wanted to
understand why.
Boyd concluded that the Sabre’s bubble canopy gave US pilots better visibility and
situational awareness than their opponents. Also, Sabres had early hydraulic flight controls,
unlike the MiGs, so pilots could more rapidly manoeuvre the aircraft. The psychological
stress of being in combat with a Sabre increased USAF superiority as it caused many MiG
15 pilots to panic and underperform.
He posited that pilots operated a decision making process in a continuous cycle of: observe,
orient, decide and act (OODA). Later this idea was expanded to describe the cycle that
any dynamic organisation goes through. Boyd saw that the goal was to go more rapidly
through the cycle than the opponent, and try to slow the opponent’s cycle. The critical
proviso was that the orientation phase was most important: if the wrong judgements were
made this would lead to incorrect and possibly fatal decisions irrespective of the speed of
the cycle.
We see it now as a helpful way to understand the concept of tempo. A force and its
adversaries observe the unfolding situation. They orient themselves to the situation,
decide what to do, and act. The decision and action stages give continuous feedback to
observation and so the process goes on.
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 6
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Mission Command
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Mission Command
6-01. Command is the authority vested in an
individual of the armed forces for the direction,
coordination, and control of military forces.
The manner in which command is exercised by
armed forces is described as their command
philosophy. The British Army’s command
philosophy is Mission Command. This philosophy
is founded on the clear expression of intent by commanders, and the freedom of
subordinates to act to achieve that intent. Mission Command is common across Defence
and is the allied concept for command and control of NATO land forces.
As a command
philosophy, it comprises commonly understood principles and guidelines for application;
its expression will, however, vary in relation to cultural, task and operational factors.
This chapter places Mission Command in context, explaining the nature of command.
It then describes Mission Command, its principles and how it is applied in practice.
6-02. Historically, land forces have employed different command philosophies, ranging
from Mission Command to more centralised control.
Centralised control seeks to
impose order and certainty on the battlefield. It does not, however, account for the
adversarial and dynamic nature of conflict, where success comes from the speed
of appropriate reaction to a changing situation, and from the initiative and will to
fight of every soldier and unit. Higher commanders responsible for planning and
executing operations cannot feasibly make timely and appropriate lower level tactical
decisions; these are best made quickly by subordinate commanders on the spot.
6-03. In conflict, even the most robust communication systems are not completely
reliable. This failure occurs through either the friction inherent in conflict or an
adversary’s cyber or electromagnetic attack. In such circumstances, subordinates
require freedom of action, within the constraints of their commanders’ intent,
to prevail over friction and chaos. Success demands a command philosophy
which draws strength from but is not reliant on improving communications,
enables the rapid identification and exploitation of opportunity to match strength
against vulnerability, and harnesses the disciplined initiative of all forces.
22 There is no formally agreed NATO definition of Mission Command. This
chapter is consistent with NATO and joint descriptions.
• Introduction
• Context
• Nature of command
• Mission Command
• Principles
• Application
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Nature of command
6-04. For UK Armed Forces, command authority has a legal and constitutional
status, codified for the British Army in Queen’s Regulations, and is vested in
commanders by a higher authority that gives direction and assigns forces for
them to accomplish missions. The exercise of command is the process by which
commanders make decisions, impress their will on and transmit their intentions
to subordinates. With authority comes responsibility and accountability – all
three of which must be correctly aligned for command to be effective.This is
particularly important when responsibility is delegated, as it usually is.Authority
is the power and right to give orders and enforce obedience.Responsibility is the
ability and obligation to act independently and make decisions.Accountability
is the requirement and expectation to justify actions and decisions.
a. Authority may come with a specific appointment, by virtue of rank, or be delegated
by an appropriately authorised superior. When a commander delegates authority, the
scope of that authority is stated in orders, including the command relationships of
subordinate force elements. When a commander delegates responsibility, it must be
matched with the required delegated authority. Too little authority and the subordinate
will not be able to assume full responsibility. Too much and a subordinate may
misjudge and over-reach. It is essential that subordinate commanders and staff officers
do not exceed their authority.
b. With the authority granted to
commanders comes a wide range of
standing responsibilities, dependent
on their position, rank or delegations.
In addition to these, military operations
in general and Mission Command in
particular rely on subordinates receiving
additional responsibility for missions
and tasks so that they can achieve their
commander’s intent. It is essential that the
responsibility assigned over the forces and
resources matches the mission or task, and
that the requisite authority accompanies
it. Otherwise, the subordinate will not
have the required materials and power to
succeed. Responsibility also involves an
obligation to complete the task to the best
of a commander’s ability.
c. Accountability ensures that authority is exercised appropriately and that
responsibilities are fulfilled. Whoever has authority and responsibility for anything will,
if necessary, be required to justify their actions, and will be responsible in law for their
decisions and actions.
Figure 6-1. Functions of command
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6-05. By delegation, commanders use their authority to ensure that along with resources,
subordinates receive the appropriate authority and responsibility for their missions
and tasks. Whoever has authority delegated to them becomes accountable for the
mission and the conduct of the forces under their command. Delegation does not
detract from the authority of superior commanders (delegation can be rescinded),
and since they are responsible for the decision to delegate and for the actions of
subordinates, the superior commanders retain overall accountability. So, commanders
and subordinates to whom they delegate share authority, responsibility and
accountability for delegated missions and for the forces under their command.
6-06. Military command at all levels is the art of decision making, motivating and directing
forces into action to accomplish missions. It is founded on understanding and constant
assessment of the operating environment and its various actors and audiences, people,
resources, risk and desired outcomes. A commander determines courses of action to be
taken, leads the force and controls the execution of the mission. The three functions
of command, which are inter-dependent, are decision-making, leadership and control
(see Figure 6-1). A command system comprises not only the commander, but also the
staff who, depending on the level of command, contribute to the effect of all three
functions, with particular emphasis on control. Deficiencies in any of the constituents
of command have a detrimental effect on a force’s fighting power as a whole.
a. Timely, accurate and effective decision-making (including assessing risk) increases
tempo relative to opponents, thereby increasing the probability of success on
operations. Decision-making stems from a blend of structured military processes
and intuition, developed through experience, education and training. Intuition and
judgement are key when making difficult decisions, evaluating risk and exploiting
fleeting opportunities on the basis of incomplete information. Knowing when to
be resolute and when to consider a change in direction are fundamental skills of
a commander and are features of strong leadership. Making major decisions is
a commander’s responsibility, including judgements relating to the whole force,
especially those relating to less quantifiable aspects of the art of war, for example
when to decide and when to act. The staff also make certain decisions on behalf of the
commander, appropriate to their delegated authority, as well as assist the commander’s
b. The way in which commanders exercise leadership of their staff and subordinates
necessarily impacts on the conduct of the force. Commanders must be strong leaders,
capable of adapting their leadership style to the requirements of the operation and
force. Different circumstances demand varying degrees of regulation, delegation,
inspiration and coercion. Army Leadership Doctrine explores in detail this critical
constituent of command.
c. As a function of command, control is the oversight, direction, and coordination
of assigned forces in accordance with the commander’s plan and intent. Control is
achieved through employing common command doctrine, including standardised
procedures for the control of operations and forces. Above sub-unit level, it may be
delegated to staff, but at all levels commanders may need to control activity personally
to ensure that their intent is achieved.
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Mission Command
6-07. Mission Command is the British Army’s command philosophy. This is an approach which
empowers subordinate commanders and promotes initiative as well as freedom and
speed of action. Critically, it focuses on achievement of higher intent through mission
type orders. It empowers leaders at every level and is intended to generate agility and
tempo. This enables us to overcome an enemy in the most chaotic and demanding
circumstances and unlocks everyone’s potential to seize winning opportunities, however
fleeting. Supporting Integrated Action, Mission Command focuses on outcomes,
objectives and effects, rather than specifying the detailed ways in which these are
to be achieved. Mission Command depends on: the duty of commanders to express
their intent clearly and to ensure that it is understood; the duty of subordinates
to act to achieve that intent; and the presumption by subordinates of delegated
freedom of action to achieve the intent, within specified and implied constraints.
6-08. For Mission Command to work, the three functions of command must be in harmony.
Commanders must ensure that subordinates understand the context and their
commander’s intent. Commanders at all levels must use good judgement and initiative
to achieve intent and develop a mind-set focused on identifying indirect solutions to
problems. Mission Command requires commanders who will make sound decisions
without recourse to their higher headquarters and who are comfortable with freedom
of action rather than tight control. It also depends on effective leadership at all levels of
the force, with the most junior commanders and private soldiers confident and willing
to use their initiative and tactical understanding to exploit opportunities. It also requires
control: actions must be deconflicted, and resources shared, and some subordinates
will need more control than others. If Mission Command is to be instinctive, it must
be well understood and practised, not only on all operations and during field training,
but every day. Commanders must empower their subordinates routinely because this
gives them the confidence to act boldly and independently on the battlefield.
6-09. In practice, there are circumstances when commanders must apply greater
control of their subordinates. Factors to be considered include: the nature of
the task, including how complex or time critical it is; and the aptitude and
capability of subordinates and staff to apply Mission Command in a given
context. In these circumstances it is a superior commander’s duty to ensure
that their intent and detailed guidance is understood and followed.
6-10. In a multinational and inter-agency environment, even when Mission Command
is formally advocated, it may be subject to differing national, organisational and
individual interpretations and applications. This can be extremely challenging.
Improved interoperability may assist to some degree. Commanders and staff must
be prepared to adapt, recognising also the requirements of potential partner nations
and agencies that will not recognise or be able to practise Mission Command.
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Principles of Mission Command
6-11. Mission Command comprises one guiding principle and five further principles.
The fundamental guiding principle of Mission Command is the absolute
responsibility to act to achieve the superior commander’s intent.
6-12. Mission Command requires unity of effort. This stems from the commanders
ability to formulate a clear intent and mission statements; the use of common
doctrine and tactics; a common language of command; a high standard of
collective training; and the designation of priorities and a main effort. Taken
together, these provide a framework of common understanding throughout
a force. They also assist the coordination of actions in time and space and
the ability to anticipate and respond swiftly to changes in the situation.
a. Unity of effort is further enhanced by: commanders’ nesting their plans in the context
and intent of superiors, at least two levels up; and ensuring that their own direction
is resourced two levels down. This is described as vertical integration. The concept
of horizontal integration, which helps subordinates understand how their missions
interact with others at their own level, is equally important. Horizontal and vertical
integration are essential to delivering cooperation between units and formations within
the framework of the commander’s intent.
b. In support of unity of effort, commanders should state a main effort – the activity
which the commander considers critical to the success of the mission. However, in
the orchestration of complex operations stating a single priority may not always be
possible. A main effort is given substance in three ways. Firstly, it attracts resources
and sufficient fighting power. Secondly, it has relevance for all subordinates, even
those who are not part of it; they may lose resources to it, and are expected to support
it without further direction should circumstances require it. Thirdly, these main and
supporting efforts are integrated into a concept of operations. This might require
narrowing boundaries to concentrate force, requiring economy of effort elsewhere.
c. Although there may be a sequence of main efforts, there cannot be more than one
at any one time. The main effort should be expressed as a single action together with
the principal force undertaking it. Commanders may choose to shift the main effort in
response to changing situations.
6-13. In Mission Command, subordinates must exercise freedom of action,
within specified and implied constraints, to act as they see fit to
ensure the achievement of the higher commander’s intent.
a. To do so through the inherent friction and chaos of conflict requires subordinates to
have the determination, drive, vigour and disciplined initiative to take the plan through
to a successful conclusion. Subordinates have the most up-to-date information about
the situation in front of them and must make decisions and act quickly without waiting
for further orders. When the situation changes, subordinates must rapidly adapt their
plans or what they are doing to achieve the intent, using their best judgement and
without asking for permission. To nurture boldness and promote a will to win across
the force, superior commanders should always support the subordinate’s decision, only
overruling it if it is unsuitable. This enables the force to sense opportunities, tackle
threats quickly, and generate and maintain tempo.
23 Allied Tactical Publication (ATP) 3.2.2, Command and Control of Allied Land Forces describes ‘decentralised execution’ rather
than ‘freedom of action’. Note that UK joint doctrine does not explicitly refer to principles of Mission Command.
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b. Decentralisation of execution is the means by which freedom of action is achieved. For
it to work, commanders provide guidance and constraints that allow subordinates to
use their initiative. Commanders must also allocate sufficient resources, including time,
information and intelligence, manpower, equipment, materiel, rules of engagement,
and space. Critically, decentralisation requires delegation of authority for decision-
making within particular constraints. These freedoms and constraints may be clearly
stated or implied in orders. The extent of delegation will depend on the superior
commander’s judgement of their subordinates. A commander must understand which
subordinates will thrive and excel with fewer constraints, and which will require more
direction and control. This is likely to inform the kind of tasks different subordinates
6-14. Trust is a pre-requisite of command at all levels. Trust improves speed of decision
making, and, therefore, tempo. While trust must be earned and not demanded, the
default should be for commanders to trust their superiors and subordinates. In particular,
they must trust that their subordinates will sensibly interpret their intent and persevere
to achieve it. Personal trust can only be built up over time with experience, rather
than by reputation. The spirit of Mission Command requires a bond of trust between
superiors, subordinates and peers that will develop through shared experience. These
bonds are strengthened when commanders tolerate mistakes and foster a climate
where failure is an opportunity to learn. This is not about encouraging recklessness or
gambling, but about accepting errors in the pursuit of calculated risk-taking, boldness
and initiative. If a subordinate cannot trust their superior to support them in such
circumstances, the bond of trust will be eroded; the subordinate will not act on their
own initiative; and the moral fabric of Mission Command will be lost. Trust is based on
a number of qualities, including personal example, integrity, professional competence
and attention to detail. The basis of trust is respect and mutual understanding.
6-15. Like trust, mutual understanding is established over time and through the application
of common doctrine and concepts. With experience, commanders gain understanding
of the issues and concerns facing their subordinates, partners and peers. Professional
knowledge and study, and the cultivation of personal relationships give subordinates,
in turn, an insight into command at higher levels, enabling them to anticipate and
apply their initiative to good effect. Mutual understanding is also based on common
doctrine and command philosophy and so cannot be assumed when operating in
a multinational and inter-agency context. Where shared experience and common
doctrine do not exist, commanders should pay particular attention to developing and
sustaining mutual understanding as a central pillar of effective interoperability.
6-16. Successful command requires timely and effective decision-making at all levels.
Timely decisions allow our forces to act more quickly than adversaries and enemies
can cope with. Despite the increasing availability and speed of information, it
remains essential for commanders to make decisions on the basis of incomplete
and imperfect understanding. This can seem risky, and good judgement is required
to decide when is the right time to act or not act. In general, however, it is often
less risky to act quickly than it is to wait for more information and give adversaries
more time. Developing an intuitive understanding of when to decide is as integral
a component of the art of command as knowing from where to command.
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Application of Mission Command
6-17. Founded on the principles above and the absolute responsibility to act to
achieve the superior commander’s intent, there are practical, sequential
actions that guide the effective application of Mission Command.
a. Commanders ensure that their subordinates understand the intent, their own
contributions and the context within which they are to act.
b. Commanders exercise minimum control over their subordinates, consistent with the
context and nature of mission, and the subordinates’ experience and ability, while
retaining responsibility for their actions.
c. Subordinates are told what outcome they are contributing to, the effect they are to
realise and why.
d. Subordinates are allocated sufficient resources to carry out their missions.
e. Subordinates decide for themselves how best to achieve their superior’s intent.
Modern… warfare demands quick movement, quick thinking and quick decisions… There
simply is not the time to put a decision into writing or the opportunity for putting it into
effect may be lost: and it is the effect of the decision that matters, not the writing of it
out… Recent operations have shown that… situations develop and change so rapidly that
more and more it is becoming necessary for subordinate commanders to be ‘in the mind’
of their superior so that they will instinctively take the right course of action in accordance
with his general intention, acting upon the briefest of instructions and often upon none at
War Office report on operations in the Western Desert, 1940
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Conduct of operations
Part 3 describes how land forces conduct
operations, adhering to the fundamentals of
land doctrine and in the context of
contemporary conflict. Before land operations
begin, land forces must organise appropriately
and develop sufficient interoperability with
other participating actors. This is the subject
of Chapter 7. Chapter 8 then introduces how
land forces orchestrate and execute Integrated
Action. Chapters 9 and 10 focus on two
specific areas critical to all operations –
command and sustainment. The AFM series
expands on the concepts and themes
introduced in Part 3.
Part 1 – Context
Nature and character of conflict
National and operational context
Fighting Power
Part 2 – Fundamentals
Integrated Action
Manoeuvrist Approach
Mission Command
Part 3 – Conduct of operations
 Organising for operations
 Orchestrating and executing
 Commanding operations
 Sustaining operations
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ADP Land Ops
Chapter 7
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Organising for operations
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Organising for operations
7-01. This chapter explains interoperability, how
land forces organise for operations, and how
they support and are supported by other
components. The aim is to provide the baseline
knowledge necessary for interoperability
within a land force, and between it and
other components within a joint force.
7-02. Integrated Action requires significant cooperation
between all elements of the combined arms,
joint, inter-agency and multinational force.
The key enabler for military cooperation is
interoperability – the ability to act together
coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve
tactical, operational and strategic objectives. The
purpose of professional study and working and training together with other forces and
nations is to build interoperability. Interoperability strengthens and amplifies the unique
contributions of all forces and agencies, at every level. Multinational and inter-component
interoperability is usually more challenging and needs more effort and resources than
interoperability within UK land forces, but even this requires conscious effort. The
exact requirement for interoperability is determined according to operational need.
Military operations are joint enterprises between formations, arms, services, government
departments, agencies, allies and host nation partners, so depend on cooperation
for success. Cooperation is best engendered through shared training, developing
interoperability, team spirit and cohesion.
Principle of War – Cooperation
7-03. Land operations are conducted by combined arms forces because no single arm of the
land force can operate entirely independently of other arms. So even within land forces,
a high degree of interoperability is required: each arm must be interoperable with every
other arm. The start point for interoperability for force elements at all levels, therefore,
is competence and the ability to advise with authority on their particular capabilities
and limitations. So, when establishing interoperability with other components and
contributing to joint campaigns, land forces, by virtue of their professional credibility,
Organising for operations
• Interoperability
• Organisation of land forces
• Structures
• Force elements
• Force types
• Specialist capabilities
• Combined arms forces
• Relationships
• Air
• Maritime
• Special forces
• Logistic
• Cyber
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knowledge, skills and expertise, are the authority for the planning and execution of land
operations. A force element, formation or component seeking to be interoperable with
other arms, components or agencies from any nation, must also seek to understand its
partners and establish strong working relationships with them. Above this, individuals
in the land force must understand the theory and process of interoperability. The
requirement for interoperability is defined by the answers to three questions: with
whom, to what level and in what functions will force elements organise for operations?
A good inter-Service staff officer must first be a good officer of his own Service.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Slessor
7-04. The level of interoperability required for each relationship varies. In some cases an
awareness of a particular activity and suitable de-confliction may suffice. Defence policy
defines three levels of interoperability. Integrated means that forces are able to merge
seamlessly and are interchangeable. Compatible means that forces can interact with each
other in the same geographical battlespace in pursuit of a common goal. De-conflicted
means that forces can co-exist but not interact with each other. Additionally, in certain
cases, the actions or capabilities of a force or agency may even have a damaging impact
on those of others, making even co-existence challenging. The level of interoperability
within a multinational force is seldom uniform. For example, a multinational corps or
division might consist of compatible force elements from contributing nations with
some multinational integrated elements (such as the headquarters, some combat
support and combat service support force elements). In other circumstances, such as
a combined arms battlegroup, full integration lies at the heart of mission success.
7-05. High levels of interoperability take time and resources to develop and maintain, and
must be honed through training and by learning lessons during operations. Challenges
to achieving interoperability arise from differing cultures, structures, equipment, laws
and languages, and critical variations in doctrine, tactics, techniques, procedures and
sustainment. These are commonly categorised into three dimensions of interoperability,
as illustrated in Figure 7-1. Technical interoperability concerns systems and equipment.
This involves issues such as communication and information systems, connectivity,
standardisation of ammunition and other combat supplies. NATO standards are often
used to enable technical interoperability. Where possible, procedural interoperability
is based on NATO doctrine, procedures and terminology. Human interoperability,
which includes language, creates trust and mutual understanding by strengthening
relationships on operations and in training. It can mitigate shortfalls in the other
dimensions of interoperability and so is the responsibility of all members of land
forces to nurture and promote. A human interoperability approach is particularly
important for defence engagement and capacity building tasks. It has five aspects.
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Figure 7-1. Interoperability model
a. Language proficiency is central to multinational interoperability, assisting
comprehension and relationship building. Even when working in English, it is essential
that native speakers communicate clearly, avoiding slang, idioms and ‘quasi-doctrinal’
terms; even formally agreed doctrinal terms may be interpreted differently across a
multinational force.
b. Effective personal rapport between commanders influences cooperation at all levels.
Commanders must strive to develop genuine and robust relationships with each other.
c. Mutual respect for the professional ability, culture, history, religion, customs and
values of participants strengthens relationships. Cultural understanding is particularly
important to maintaining and promoting the cohesion of a multinational force, and
when working with a host nation partner, particularly during capacity building tasks.
d. Time taken to improve knowledge of the doctrine, capabilities and aspirations of
partners will pay dividends. It is important that forces and agencies assume a role
commensurate with their aspirations, tempered by their capabilities.
e. Patience is essential as differences of opinion, perspective and understanding, whilst
natural, may generate friction. A patient approach built on mutual trust and respect,
and combined with effective cooperation takes time, but will ultimately bear fruit.
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Organisation of land forces
7-06. Land forces are generally structured hierarchically into formations, units and sub-
units and categorised by function, type and specialist capabilities. They are organised
operationally by combining arms to form a cohesive and versatile whole. The
principle of combining arms demands high levels of technical, procedural and human
interoperability between all arms. This overview explains how land forces organise
within combined arms formations – the basis for land environment interoperability.
7-07. A typical hierarchy flows down from army group to army, corps, division, brigade,
unit and sub-unit. Formations and units are designed to be modular and scalable,
so that elements can be easily added or taken away, and they can be expanded
or contracted. The greatest capacity for this lies in corps and divisions.
a. A corps commands a number of divisions, functional brigades and task forces,
comprising all types of force element. It is the link between the operational and tactical
levels of conflict. It can command at the operational level (as a JTF (Land), or land
component headquarters, for example), but in major coalition or alliance operations,
it may be a subordinate tactical formation in the land component, operating at the
higher tactical level. In the British Army, the corps is the highest level of deployable
headquarters and is assigned to NATO as the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. A corps is
fully resourced and structured to orchestrate Integrated Action in a joint, inter-agency
and multinational context and can plan and execute large-scale complex operations
b. The division is a tactical formation that commands brigades within a corps, JTF
(Land) or theatre framework. A divisional headquarters may form a land component
headquarters for specific operations. It is the lowest level formation that routinely
commands all types of force element. A division has integral intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (ISR), combat support and combat service support force elements,
enabling it to conduct continuous operations. It usually also has at least one
manoeuvre brigade. A divisional headquarters, capable of planning and executing
simultaneously, can also command at the operational level as a land component
headquarters. For example, a combat operation of just one brigade or a capacity
building operation made up of several smaller groupings is likely to require command
by a divisional headquarters. The division is the lowest level capable of orchestrating
Integrated Action and routinely interacting with joint, inter-agency and multinational
A division… is the smallest formation that is a complete orchestra of war.
Field Marshal Slim
c. The brigade is a tactical formation with combat, combat support and combat service
support force elements. Its primary focus is on achieving tactical effects. It is at the
brigade level that task organisation between combat units takes place to create
combined arms battlegroups. A brigade’s capacity to plan and execute operations
simultaneously is contingent on the intensity and type of operation.
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d. A unit is the smallest grouping capable of independent operations with organic
capability over long periods. It contains integral combat service support and limited
combat support elements, and is normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel. Units
typically have between 400 and 1000 people, the majority of which are of one arm or
Service. Units of the British Army are called regiments or battalions. A Royal Marine
unit is called a commando. In more demanding types of operation including combat, a
unit battlegroup does not normally have the capacity to plan and execute battlegroup
level operations simultaneously; it generally does one or the other.
e. A unit contains a number of sub-units, usually three to five. Sub-units are normally
commanded by majors, and typically have between 60 and 150 personnel. British
sub-units are called squadrons, companies or batteries. Sub-units are usually grouped
into battlegroups or task forces but are, for limited periods, capable of independent
operations, if they have been provided with suitable combat support and combat
service support elements.
7-08. Land forces are categorised functionally as either combat, combat
support or combat service support force elements.
a. Combat force elements are those that engage the enemy directly. They manoeuvre
and fight, typically employing direct fire weapons, to gain ground, find and defeat the
enemy, or acquire information. They include armoured, reconnaissance, infantry, and
attack and reconnaissance aviation units.
b. Combat support force elements provide operational assistance, including fire and
manoeuvre support to Combat force elements. They include support helicopters,
artillery, combat engineers, intelligence, communications, command support and
information activity specialists.
c. Combat service support is the organisational support provided to the whole force,
primarily in the fields of administration and logistics. It includes logistic, health service
and equipment support, personnel, welfare and administration force elements. Certain
combat service support functions are also provided by combat engineers, such as
providing water and electrical power supply, infrastructure and supply routes.
7-09. Complementary to functional categorisation, land forces are also distinguished
by their force type, commonly described in NATO as heavy, medium or light.
Combined arms groupings generally comprise more than one force type, but with
one being predominant. These force types are brought together (task organised)
for specific roles or tasks. For example, in the British Army, armoured infantry
brigades are built around heavy force types of tanks, armoured infantry, self-
propelled artillery and armoured engineers. In creating a force of a particular type,
force design has to make trade-offs between protection, firepower, operational
and tactical mobility, and logistic demand. All forces are strategically mobile. They
can go by sea or in the case of light forces, by air, to anywhere in the world.
a. The forces with the most firepower and protection tend to be equipped with heavy
armoured vehicles. To maximise firepower and protection, a compromise is made with
operational and tactical mobility. Their operational mobility is limited by high logistic
24 Traditionally the major combat and combat support functional branches of the British Army were known as arms (leading to the expres-
sion “combined arms”) and the combat service support branches were known as services.
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demand. But their tactical mobility is excellent, except in the most densely complex
terrain, particularly when enabled by armoured combat engineers. On the other hand,
dismounted light forces have limited firepower and intrinsic protection. Yet they
can theoretically go anywhere that human beings can go – into mountains, forests,
marshes, buildings, caves or subterranean structures. But their operational mobility,
without assistance, is limited to how far and fast a soldier can march. Of course, when
light forces are supported, by aircraft or vehicles, they can go anywhere within a
theatre very quickly.
b. The operational mobility of a force can be enhanced by trading off firepower and
protection. The force can be equipped with armoured vehicles that are optimised
for long range manoeuvre, but still have some valuable protection and firepower.
This reduces the range of threats that they can deal with, but can give advantages,
particularly if access to the theatre by sea or air is challenged or denied. Also, this level
of mobility can enable rapid concentration and dispersion of a force, enhancing the
scope for security and surprise.
7-10. A further categorisation is of particular specialist capabilities, which
include: ISR, air manoeuvre, amphibious and capacity building forces
Several NATO countries also have specialist mountain forces.
a. The primary purpose of ISR forces is to collect, process and disseminate the
information and intelligence required to enable understanding of the human,
information and physical aspects of the land environment. They can be close, medium
or long range and can support all force types. Task organised into combined arms
groupings, their composition depends on the level at which they operate and their
task; they also often include forces from outside the land component (for example
special forces or human intelligence specialists). At the higher tactical level, ISR
tasks may be allocated to a combined arms battlegroup or formation. Although
reconnaissance and surveillance
tasks differ in scope and duration, when resourced
and prepared appropriately, ISR forces are generally capable of conducting both
tasks. These forces include, but are not limited to: manned and unmanned air
systems including aviation reconnaissance; certain combat, combat support (including
intelligence specialists) and combat service support force elements; and technical ISR
assets exploiting cyber electromagnetic activities of all actors in the area of operations.
Although ISR forces generally avoid armed contact, reconnaissance forces, when
supported by fires, can provide guards and screens, or be used to degrade enemy ISR
b. Air manoeuvre forces are a specialist type of light force. They exploit the mobility
of aircraft to provide reach and speed. Air manoeuvre forces include attack, support
and reconnaissance helicopters, air assault and airborne infantry with organic combat
support and combat service support. Their actions are closely integrated with all
forms of air power and the actions of ground manoeuvre forces if also deployed. Air
manoeuvre forces are also intrinsic to amphibious manoeuvre, used to project force
onto objectives beyond a specific beach or landing site. Once on the ground, air
manoeuvre forces have the strengths and weaknesses of light forces.
25 Capacity building forces are not a separate category in current NATO doctrine.
26 For definitions of reconnaissance and surveillance, see Allied Administrative
Publication (AAP) 06, NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions.
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c. An amphibious force consists of a naval force and a landing force, together with
supporting forces that are trained, organised and equipped for amphibious operations.
Amphibious forces undertake littoral or riverine operations, deployed and supported
(at least initially) from ships. Amphibious forces conduct landing force operations in the
littoral environment, which are land areas predominantly susceptible to engagement
and influence from the sea. Landing force operations, conducted in accordance
with Joint Action, require close integration of joint forces, routinely comprising: an
amphibious task group; landing force; battlefield helicopters and air group; and joint
d. Capacity building tasks can (and often must) be conducted by any appropriately
skilled and prepared force element. UK land forces, however, include specially trained,
structured and equipped capacity building forces. These include those designed to
develop the capacity of host nation security forces as well as those able to assist with
physical and organisational infrastructure development.
7-11. The combination of capabilities provided by different force elements and types, when
they have sufficiently high levels of interoperability, produces extremely powerful
combined arms forces, where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. This
combination of forces is the norm for all formations and units on operations. As a guide,
during warfighting operations a combined arms force is designed to be capable of the
four complementary and concurrent functions of the tactical framework: find, fix, strike
and exploit. It should also always have a reserve. These functions do not require equally
sized forces for each; rather they are resourced according to the tactical requirements.
7-12. Task organisation is the process by which combined arms forces are formed.
Task organisation during operations increases flexibility. It depends, however,
on appropriate interoperability, enabled by common doctrine and common or
compatible procedures, and developed during training. Commanders must balance
the flexibility of frequent task organisation with a potential reduction in tempo.
7-13. In the British Army, the term battlegroup has a particular meaning. A battlegroup is a
combined arms force commanded by a combat unit headquarters. It comprises sub-units
drawn from armoured, reconnaissance, infantry or aviation units. A task force refers to
a combined arms force created for a specific purpose. It is based on the headquarters
of any type of force, at unit and formation level, and is not limited to a combat arm.
Relationships of land forces to other components and capabilities
7-14. Interoperability is also required between land forces and other components and
capabilities. The basis of this form of interoperability is an understanding of
their characteristics, and of the relationships, dependencies and mutual support
between them and land forces. This is just the start. Interoperability, at whatever
level required, can be improved through deeper study and training together.
27 An example would be an engineer unit allocated an infantry sub-unit for local protection. Note that in the United States Army, task
force usually refers to a unit-level combined arms grouping, and combat team to a brigade level grouping.
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The air component
The development of air power in its broadest sense, and including the development of all
means of combating missiles that travel through the air, whether fired or dropped, is the
first essential to our survival in war.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Trenchard
7-15. Air is the most important physical environmental interface for land forces, which also
have their own integral air assets (primarily unmanned aircraft and helicopters). Gaining,
maintaining and exploiting control of the air is critical to success in most operations in
the land environment. Air power is also an accelerant to actions in the land environment:
generating intelligence, delivering fires, and significantly enhancing options for
manoeuvre at far greater speed and reach than can be achieved on the ground alone.
Seizing the potential of the air environment is not discretionary for land forces. They must
understand the attributes of airpower, the fundamentals of air-land integration, and how
the separate air and land components can complement their strengths and mitigate their
weaknesses. Land operations are conceived, planned and executed as air-land operations.
7-16. The core attributes of air power, whether drawn from air, maritime or land
components, are the exploitation of height, speed and reach. Height allows
manoeuvre in three dimensions; speed projects power rapidly and responsively;
and reach opens up adversaries’ vulnerabilities otherwise protected.
a. These core attributes enable and enhance additional characteristics. Air power’s reach
combined with increasing persistence gives it ubiquity; it can pose or counter threats
simultaneously across a wide area. Its speed gives it tactical agility and operational
flexibility, able to achieve multiple effects over distance and in a short period. For
example, aviation can rapidly switch from intelligence gathering to fires in different
parts of the battlespace. Speed and reach also mean that effects can be quickly
concentrated in time and space, amplified by precision technology.
b. Air power also has inherent constraints. The most significant are its relative
impermanence, limited payload and vulnerability. The latter includes the fragility of
aircraft, the effects of weather and the requirement for well-found and secure basing,
logistic and equipment support.
7-17. Air power has four fundamental roles; control of the air; intelligence
and situational awareness; attack; and air mobility. These roles provide
the basis for understanding air power and also frame how air power,
including from the land component, can support land forces.
a. Control of the air is crucial. It enables freedom of manoeuvre in all of the physical
environments. Control of the air helps commanders to seize and hold the initiative.
Rather than talking of air ‘superiority’, it is more accurate to define control of the
air as the freedom, bound by time, to use a volume of airspace, while, if necessary,
denying its use to an opponent. Adversaries who possess advanced air forces and
some non-state adversaries are able to challenge control. This is particularly the
case at lower altitudes which are likely to be contested with portable air defence
systems, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. Rotary and slow fixed-
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wing aircraft (including unmanned aircraft), cooperating closely with or as part of the
land component, necessarily operate within the envelope of these weapons, so are
vulnerable, particularly during take-off and landing.
If we lose the war in the air, we lose the war and lose it quickly.
Field Marshal Montgomery
b. The high vantage point afforded by air and space allows a view of the land battlespace
across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, enhancing intelligence and situational
awareness. Aircraft and space platforms, including unmanned air systems, provide
layers of sensing in depth that, integrated with other sources, allow commanders to
search out information on the human and physical aspects of the land environment.
Unmanned aircraft, because of their flexibility, endurance and the risks that can be
taken, are changing the way the air environment is exploited to find information.
c. Land forces can also be supported by air targeting the enemy and their infrastructure,
or by using the psychological effects of air power to attack will, for example by making
shows of force. Air attack can be executed to shape the strategic context or to
support operations or tactical engagements. Air interdiction seeks to destroy, disrupt,
divert or delay enemies’ surface potential before it can be used effectively. Close air
support provides land forces with firepower to destroy, suppress, neutralise, disrupt, fix
or delay an enemy, often in close proximity to friendly forces. Close air support requires
detailed integration with the fire and manoeuvre of land forces for targeting guidance
and to avoid fratricide. It can be delivered by a combination of fixed-wing aircraft and
helicopters. Helicopters can be task organised to a land formation, included within its
scheme of manoeuvre or given their own mission and area of operations.
d. Air mobility supports deployment, sustainment and manoeuvre. It includes air drop,
air manoeuvre missions, personnel recovery and aeromedical evacuation. Air mobility
enables the global, regional and local deployment of personnel and materiel, both
military and civilian. It is the fastest way to move supplies and mass forces. Intra- and
inter-theatre air mobility is often the only way to get wounded personnel to medical
facilities quickly enough to save lives and to conduct an efficient relief of troops.
The understanding of air power has been hard won, but to maintain ‘air mindedness’
into contingency, training in air power and specific air and aviation capabilities needs to
continue to be part of the land training syllabus at all levels.
Operation HERRICK Campaign Study (2015)
7-18. Air-land integration (ALI) is a particular form of interoperability between the air
and land components. It describes the creation and execution of simple operational
and tactical plans by land and air forces, synergistically blending land and air power
across all activities, from ISR to fires, manoeuvre and sustainment. ALI is a concept
that requires strong relationships built over time, effective training and resourcing,
an awareness of joint doctrine and capabilities, and detailed co-ordination and
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liaison between air and land components. To achieve ALI, air staff are fully integrated
within core planning teams from the outset; and land formations maintain sufficient
numbers of air-minded personnel at tactical and operational levels. Common and
assured procedures between air and ground forces are essential, particularly because
in multinational operations, the air component is also most likely to be multinational.
7-19. Effective interoperability between air and land components is particularly important
for the planning and execution of air manoeuvre operations. These provide
commanders with an ability to deploy light land forces rapidly, and to support
all force types across the battlespace, either as part of land manoeuvre or as a
means of projecting land power in its own right. They are initiated and controlled
by land forces (with the exception of certain amphibious operations). The air
component plays a key role in air manoeuvre. The cooperation between components
has an air to air element, as battlefield helicopters are usually part of the land
component or amphibious task group. Air manoeuvre takes different forms.
a. Airborne operations involve the movement of combat forces and their logistic support
into an objective area by air. Forces reach their objective by parachute (referred to as
air drop by NATO) or air-land delivery.
b. Air assault operations deliver combat forces by helicopter within direct fire of their
In amphibious operations, this is part of ‘ship to objective manoeuvre’.
c. Airmobile operations are those in which combat forces and equipment manoeuvre by
aircraft to engage in ground combat. Unlike air assault, airmobile operations do not
deliver forces directly onto an objective and so require less specialist training.
d. Independent helicopter tasks are also carried out within a force’s scheme of
7-20. The relationship between land and air components is synergistic, with the land
component providing critical support to, and enhancing the effectiveness of, air
operations. First, land forces share airspace with air forces, including for the use of their
own aircraft and weapon trajectories. Through understanding of ALI and associated
control measures, land forces coordinate and arrange ground troops and their activities
with regard to the air environment. Second, land forces mitigate the vulnerabilities of air
power by defending airfields, supporting essential logistics requirements and suppressing
or destroying enemy air defences. Third, land forces can seize and hold terrain from which
enemy air assets can be engaged or which might be used as forward operating bases or
airfields. Finally, land forces can operate to make the enemy more vulnerable to air power.
The maritime component
7-21. As an island nation with global interests and responsibilities, UK land forces rely
on the maritime component for sustainment, projection and support of land
operations. Furthermore, as urban-littoral populations grow, land forces will
necessarily conduct operations at this interface of land and maritime components’
battlespace, where each component supports the other. For land forces, this
requires an understanding of: the attributes of maritime power projection,
the littoral environment, and where mutual support can be offered.
28 Air assault is not a NATO concept.
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7-22. The principal attributes of maritime power are: access, mobility, sustained
reach, posture, versatility, resilience, leverage and lift capacity. Maritime forces
also have the ability to remain poised at sea for extended periods as an act of
coercion, with limited political liability, and then take direct action against targets
ashore. These attributes can be exploited through the three roles of maritime
power: warfighting, maritime security, and international engagement.
7-23. Maritime capabilities can create a broad range of effects and influence from the sea into
the land environment in support of land forces. These include demonstration of political
intent, early theatre entry, enduring littoral operations, long-term sustainment and
support to operations, and the application, or the threat of maritime strike. Maritime close
air support, other joint fires and air mobility are significant enablers to inland activity,
especially in the early stages of an operation, before a land foothold has been established.
Maritime platforms contribute intelligence, area surveillance and communications
capabilities to land forces. They can provide: air defence over littoral areas; logistic
support; clean facilities for deep maintenance and casualty treatment; and locations from
which to exercise command. Maritime forces can also protect land forces by providing
a sea-based defensive barrier, or by preventing enemy manoeuvre from the sea.
7-24. Over two thirds of the world’s population live within 200 kilometres of the sea and
most states have a coastline. Operational theatres with coastlines present both
opportunities and challenges for land forces. Complex coastlines with navigable
inlets, estuaries and offshore islands may see land and maritime forces operating
in very close proximity, thus presenting battlespace management challenges. It
is in this littoral environment that amphibious operations are conducted.
Lying offshore, ready to act, the presence of ships and Marines sometimes means much
more than just having air power or ship’s fire, when it comes to deterring a crisis. The ships
and Marines may not have to do anything but lie offshore. It’s hard to lie offshore with a
C-141 or C-130 full of airborne troops.
General Colin Powell
7-25. Amphibious operations are maritime activities, launched from the sea by a
naval and landing force embarked in ships or other craft, with the principal
purpose of projecting the landing force ashore tactically into an environment
ranging from permissive to hostile. Primarily conducted to create effects in
the land environment, there are four types of amphibious operation.
a. Amphibious raids involve swift incursion into or temporary occupation of an objective
followed by a planned withdrawal. Concentrated in time, space and resources, they
seek to destroy or disrupt adversary infrastructure, gain information, create a diversion,
capture or evacuate individuals and/or equipment.
b. Amphibious assault is the principal type of amphibious operation, establishing, with
some permanence, a force on a hostile or potentially hostile shore. Amphibious
assaults exploit the full effect of maritime power for the rapid build-up of landing
forces ashore.
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c. Amphibious withdrawal concerns the extraction of forces by sea from a hostile or
potentially hostile shore in preparation for re-deployment.
d. An amphibious demonstration seeks to deceive an enemy by a show of force with
the expectation of deluding the enemy into an unfavourable course of action. An
amphibious demonstration must pose a credible threat to the enemy, requiring them to
allocate sufficient forces to counter the apparent threat.
The integral aviation and surface manoeuvre craft, stores capacity and diverse skill sets
make amphibious forces well suited to a range of other operations, including non-
combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
7-26. Land and maritime forces operate together not only in the littoral, but also in
the riverine operating environment. This is an inland, coastal or river delta area
comprising both land and water, characterised by limited land lines of communication.
Waterways are extensions of the littoral, and so provide an important conduit for
the conduct of amphibious actions, offering natural penetration points as well as
obstacles. Riverine actions can provide freedom of movement for land operations or
deny it to an adversary. Although amphibious forces can be structured and trained
for riverine operations, they can also be conducted by other maritime or land
component forces. These must be able to exercise command of the riverine operation
and also control the riverine environment, including the sub-surface element.
Since men live upon the land and not upon the sea, great issues between nations at war
have always been decided – except in the rarest of cases – either by what your army can
do against your enemy’s national life, or else by fear of what the fleet makes it possible for
your army to do.
Sir Julian Corbett
7-27. There is potential for tactical synergy between land and maritime components beyond
amphibious operations. Land forces can neutralise threats to naval forces from the shore,
undermining adversary anti-access and area denial efforts. They can seize and guard
onshore infrastructure required by naval forces and also provide landing forces and fires
for amphibious operations. For instance, land forces might secure naval infrastructure
or suppress coastal defences while maritime forces conduct shaping operations in
depth. Having mutually enhanced the joint commander’s freedom of action, land forces
might then exploit along a coastline, supporting and supported by maritime forces.
The special forces component
7-28. Special forces provide strategic insight and precision effects in all operating environments.
Designed, trained and equipped to operate at the strategic and operational levels,
they create effects beyond the reach, capability or expertise of conventional forces.
7-29. The degree of cooperation between land forces and special forces
depends on the nature of the operation. Routinely, special forces operate
at the strategic level, which may, or may not, require detailed planning
and cooperation with the land force and other components.
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7-30. At the operational level, they usually form a component alongside those of maritime,
land, air and logistic forces, either within an integrated JTF headquarters or in
supporting/supported relationships with other components. From a UK perspective,
command and control of UK Special Forces (UKSF) operations is directed on a case
by case basis by the Chief of the Defence Staff. On joint operations, special forces
operations will typically be deconflicted in time and space from land forces. Even
then, there are likely to be interests common with land forces. These include how
the audience and key actors respond to military activity, target deconfliction, access
to intelligence and communications systems, management of the electromagnetic
spectrum, fire support coordination, sustainment and personnel recovery.
7-31. Even though special forces will rarely be deployed for tactical effect, there will be
occasions demanding closer cooperation between them and land forces at the tactical
level. These include circumstances when land forces’ tactical actions have operational
or strategic level consequences, resulting in closer proximity of force elements or the
sharing of particular capabilities. For example, on a capacity building mission, land forces
may operate alongside special forces. Or, specific counter-terrorism or hostage rescue
skills, only held by special forces, may be required within the battlespace of a land force.
7-32. Effective cooperation with special forces requires an understanding of their
principles of employment, roles, planning considerations,
limitations and dependencies. Each nation’s Special Forces vary according to national
requirements. The term special operations forces (SOF), common in NATO, encompasses
a breadth of units with unique capabilities; they are not necessarily equivalent
in terms of capability or role to UKSF. Commanders and staff must understand
where NATO SOF and UKSF differ and plan accordingly. The description here is
focused on that of UKSF,
with key differences to NATO doctrine highlighted.
7-33. Special forces operations are underpinned by a number of characteristics.
allows them to provide military options in situations that require a tailored and focused
effect. Operations are conducted with tempo to gain and retain the initiative. Maintained
at very high readiness, special forces have the agility to enable responsive strategic
and operational deployment. They also have the ability to operate at reach, globally, in
the most hostile and politically complex environments beyond the capabilities of many
conventional force elements. Special forces levels of endurance allow operations to be
conducted in hostile environments for extended periods, isolated from main combat
forces and surviving on relatively limited resources. Operators accept a commensurately
high level of individual and collective physical risk. Special forces maintain high levels
of secrecy in respect of their operations, capabilities, information and personnel.
7-34. Special forces are a scarce and valuable resource. UKSF and NATO SOF are
employed according to similar enduring principles. Used for strategic effect,
they are commanded at the highest appropriate level and involved in the earliest
stages of planning to enable timely decision-making. They are provided with
access to the best intelligence available and have their security protected.
29 For example, some NATO SOF include civil-military cooperation and psychological operations
teams, language and environmental specialists, as well as other capabilities not generally
held by UK. See AJP-3.5 Allied Joint Doctrine for Special Operations.
30 See JDP 0-40 UK Special Forces Doctine for further detail on UKSF.
31 AJP-3.5 refers to five attributes of SOF: high tempo; pre-emption; disruption; deception; and initiative.
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7-35. Special forces have three broadly defined roles, each of which has a number of
associated tasks or activities.
Surveillance and reconnaissance delivers strategic
insight, support to planning, target development, assessment and liaison. Support and
influence is achieved through capacity building of security forces, military assistance
to irregular forces, civil-military cooperation and information activities. Offensive
action seeks to seize, destroy, capture or inflict damage to an opponent’s offensive
capability or infrastructure to create specific and often time-sensitive effects. It includes
sabotage, raids, strikes and ambushes, counter-terrorism, and bespoke operations.
7-36. UKSF, while maintaining specific protocols for their own operations, in a joint
context apply operational level planning processes. The Special Forces Component
Commander and Special Forces Task Group Commander, represented by a Special
Operations Planning and Liaison Element or Special Forces Cell, should be involved
in the planning process from the outset so that advice on capability and the best use
of scarce resource can be included within the evolving campaign design. They can
then support and shape the operation, within the freedoms and constraints laid down
in the operational directive. In an operational environment, liaison officers are also
likely to be deployed to land (and other) component headquarters to advise on the
coordination, integration and de-confliction of special forces’ activities as required.
7-37. While a significant force multiplier, special forces have limitations. Special forces
are small in number and must be employed appropriately, focusing effect at critical
times and places. They are not a substitute for land forces, which have greater mass
and firepower, and can potentially be reconstituted more quickly. They should not
be employed for tasks which may appear attractive, but against which conventional
forces are more appropriate. As a finite resource with a relatively high cost to train
and equip, UKSF will routinely be assigned to the strategic main effort. Although
UKSF can operate for extended periods in hostile territory, they do not generally
hold ground. However, through integrated planning and execution of operations
special forces may magnify the effectiveness of land operations in a joint context.
7-38. Access to intelligence, sustainment and means of force projection are all key
dependencies for special forces. They are normally deployed against high value
targets, often at short notice, and require intelligence of the highest fidelity. The
nature of special forces operations also requires bespoke and flexible sustainment.
This tends to be small-scale but more complex compared to that of conventional
forces. Finally air support is a critical enabler for special forces operations.
32 AJP-3.5 describes: special reconnaissance, military assistance and direct action.
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The logistic component
It is no great matter to change tactical plans in a hurry and to send troops off in new
directions. But adjusting supply plans to the altered tactical scheme is far more difficult<