Strategic Implications of Doctrinal Change: A Case Analysis
The United States Army of 1972 was an internally fractured army. The Vietnam War cost the Army a decade of tactical literacy. The very scope of the controversy alternately bemused and disturbed Army leaders unaccustomed to seeing tactical arcana debated on the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. The former are the more easily defined, given the furor over AirLand Battle doctrine's far less explicit strategic content. In seeking to fulfill its doctrinal commitment to "winning the first battle," the Army was accused of becoming so preoccupied with fighting the first battle that it forgot all about winning the last. As reaction against the 1976 doctrine intensified, several related developments occurred to accelerate the movement toward doctrinal revision. As doctrine-writers struggled to reconcile these competing requirements, they were gradually but irresistibly driven to the same deeper regions of the battlefield on which conventional threat analyses had begun to focus.