Esli mentioned once that I’m more comfortable writing about the Army’s superseded Cold War doctrine, AirLand Battle, than the current doctrine. Well, that’s true. Partly because I haven’t read the latest capstone doctrine manual APD 3.0 (.pdf files gladly accepted!). But also partly because the story of AirLand Battle is pretty interesting.
AirLand Battle Doctrine was published as FM 100-5 Operations on 20 August, 1982, the culmination of over six years of work, replacing an earlier edition of FM 100-5.
Now, I’ve used the term doctrine several times in several ways over the years. When I speak in terms of FM 100-5 or in its current form APD 3.0, that refers to the Army’s overview of how it intends to fight. The nuts and bolts of how that is done are explained in pretty much every other Field Manual the Army and the subordinate arms and services publish.
As a young rifleman assigned to a squad, there was no need for me to ever read or understand AirLand Battle. Pretty much the only field manual I really had to be familiar with was FM 7-7, The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. And I did read and virtually memorize FM 7-7.
But I’m something of an odd duck in that I’ve always been fascinated by field manuals. In fact, the very first one I read was the 1982 edition of FM 100-5. I had stopped by the local recruiting office and flipped through a copy of it sitting on the coffee table there. The recruiter (he was a diesel generator mechanic) let me keep it. This was in 1983 or so, and AirLand Battle was still new to the Army. I read that thing cover to cover. By the time I started to grasp the concepts contained in it, a new edition superseded it.
More thoughts on doctrine to follow.