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Dav Harzin

On War: Understanding the Importance of Doctrine

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On War: Understanding the Importance of Doctrine

Doctrine is an important topic in warfighting, and perhaps the most important area for an intelligence officer to understand.  Doctrine defined is The guiding principles that an adversary uses to plan and execute his operations.

When we understand adversary doctrine, we’re better informed about what he might do in the future because we understand what he’s been trained to do. Adherence to doctrine is stressed in training to ensure that each unit commander and his troops can work in unison with others to accomplish the mission. Doctrine applies to conventional adversaries — tanks and infantry soldiers; what we call ‘maneuver warfare’ — much more than it does to irregular adversaries like insurgents, guerrillas, or gangs. That’s not to say that irregular threats don’t rely on doctrine. Unlike the soldiers who make up professional militaries, amateur warfighters grouped together in bands or cells typically don’t share the same type of training regimen as any other band or cell. But we can still observe what insurgents do, find similarities in their tactics, and then deduce some common doctrinal themes that our irregular adversaries share.

There was an old Army Logistics document — literally the stuff of urban legend — that contained quotes about doctrine that read:


“One of the serious problems in planning against the American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals nor do they feel any obligations to follow their doctrine.” — From a Soviet document

“The reason that the American Army does so well in wartime is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices chaos on a daily basis.” – A German General Officer

“If we don’t know what we are doing, the enemy certainly can’t anticipate our future actions.” – Anonymous US Army soldier        ......................


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