FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 16, 2018) – Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke about the “Battlefield Framework of the Future” during the final day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, Jan. 11.
Perkins referenced Field Manual 100-5: Operations, the doctrine on AirLand battle, that was originally published in 1982 to outline the fundamentals of operating within the air and land domains at once.
“As you read 100-5, it really is even more insightful now that I look at it, kind of facing a similar problem: how do you change the Army,” he said.
During the Cold War, Perkins explained, synchronizing air and land operations was a new concept that required extensive planning to implement. The generals of that time used a process similar to what the Army is doing now while implementing cross-domain maneuver: define the problem, discuss how to engage the enemy at depth and then decide how to put it together into one construct.
The AirLand doctrine also introduced a term that is still being used to this day. Battlefield framework is the term used to describe the layout of the battlefield. In 1982, the battlefield framework consisted of close, engaged adversary echelons; deep, uncommitted adversary echelons; and rear.
“That battlefield framework became incredibly important,” Perkins said. “Because then we knew how to organize the Army, we knew how to equip the Army, and – equally important – we knew how to interface with the joint force.”
As the Army now enters the new era of cross-domain maneuver and Multi-Domain Battle, Perkins said the battlefield framework must also evolve. Close, deep and rear echelons, which were largely defined and contained by geography, must change to accommodate the realities of today’s technology. For instance, a brigade of Soldiers in Europe can potentially be influenced by echelons in the cyberspace domain, which physically reside in North America.
Unlike in AirLand battle, in which the Air Force adopted Army doctrine, Perkins said one service will not be able to dictate how the other services should operate. The onus will be on the joint services to build a cohesive plan for operating harmoniously throughout the different domains on the battlefield.
“From the very beginning, every problem is inherently multi-domain,” he said. “We want to have a converged, an integrated solution from the beginning, versus a synchronized solution of federated answers later on.”
Perkins affirmed that the services are coming together to make this new concept a reality.
“What we’re really looking at is common visualization of what the world is like and where the problems reside,” he said. “And then we start thinking about how we go after them.”
Pictured above: Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, talks about battlefield framework of the future on the third full day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia, Jan. 11, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Suhyoon Wood)