The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Doctrine versus Technology H209

In the video above, virtually none of the technology, or even the tactics techniques and procedures used to attack Iwo Jima were available seven years earlier when the Marines issued their 1938 manual on landing operations.

In the interwar years the Germans and the U.S. Marine Corps developed concepts for operations (doctrine) before they developed the enabling technology. Ultimately, the doctrine would not have been successful without the technologies that were added later. However, without the initial doctrine the technologies may not have ever been developed, or may have been utilized in a different way. Is this the right way to transform? Should doctrine always precede technology? Are there situations where technology should precede doctrine? Which comes first in the U.S. military today?

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February 13, 2015 - Posted by | H200, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Is this the right way to transform? Should doctrine always precede technology? Are there situations where technology should precede doctrine? Which comes first in the U.S. military today?

    There is no right way to transform a military organization in terms of new technology or doctrine. There may be best (or better) practices, but to assume that there is only one way and to apply strict adherence to that method will box you in and potentially force you to miss opportunities.

    With that, I would also argue that generally speaking, developing a doctrine first seems a more natural and common sense approach than develop technology x and then finding a way to use it. Given a resource constraint environment, its not possible to have contractors ‘go crazy’ developing technologies. However, doctrine without practical application is only a theory of doctrine. Even so, it serves as a starting point for developing technology to meet a certain identified need.

    In cases where a technological break-through promises a competitive advantage in some area, developing doctrine after the fact should be appreciated. Additionally, one has to concede that the U.S. Military has always developed new doctrine, if not than at least TTP’s, to use equipment in a manner it was not originally intended. The tank in a COIN environment, the air craft carrier and the CRAM are but a few examples.

    Its my understanding that the U.S. military doesn’t constrict itself to one approach or the other. It identifies a need/capability, determines how that capability will be used in what might be termed as tentative doctrine. Then it applies a technological/materiel solution, either new development or from existing solutions. Finally, it then finalizes the doctrine-technology marriage in field testing.

    Comment by g.c. redford | February 17, 2015


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