Three Perspectives on Consolidating Gains

Lt. Gen. Mike Lundy, U.S. Army

Col. Richard Creed, U.S. Army

Col. Nate Springer, U.S. Army

Lt. Col. Scott Pence, U.S. Army

Download the PDF depuy

A military government “spearhead” (I Detachment) of the 3rd U.S. Army answers German civilian questions in April 1945 at an outdoor office in the town square of Schlesingen ,Germany.

Winning battles while losing wars is an expensive waste of blood and treasure. Armies that win battles without following through to consolidate tactical gains tend to lose wars, and the U.S. Army has experience on both sides of the historical ledger in this regard. While consolidation of gains has been a consistent military necessity, it remains one of the most misunderstood features of our warfighting doctrine. Many struggle to understand the relationship between the strategic role, the responsibilities of the various echelons, and the actions required across the range of military operations. As the requirement and term “consolidate gains” is relatively new to our doctrine, this article seeks to clarify what it means and encompasses. To do so, it approaches consolidating gains from three perspectives: the tactician, the operational artist, and the strategist. By considering the perspective of each level of warfare, one may better understand how echelons and their subordinate formations consolidate gains in mutually supporting and interdependent ways.

Consolidating Operational Gains in the European Theater during World War II

“The workhorses of military government on the move were the I detachments ['Spear Detachments'] composed of three or four officers apiece, five enlisted men, and two jeeps with trailers. These detachments represented the occupation to the Germans, at once the harbingers of a new order and the only stable influence in a world turned upside down. They arranged for the dead in the streets to be buried, restored rationing, put police back on the streets, and if possible got the electricity and water working. They provided care for the displaced persons and military government courts for the Germans. … Since, in an opposed advance, predicting when specific localities would be reached was impossible, the armies sent out spearhead detachments in the first wave—I detachments whose pinpoint assignments were east of the Rhine. Their job was to move with the divisions in the front.”

—Earl F. Ziemke, “The Rhineland Campaign,” chap. XII in The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany, 1944-1946 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2003), 186.

How the Army Contributes to Winning

The U.S. Army contributes to achieving national objectives through its four unique strategic roles: shaping the security environment, preventing conflict, prevailing in large-scale combat operations (LSCO), and consolidating gains. These strategic roles represent the interrelated and continuous purposes for which the Army conducts operations across the competition continuum as a part of the joint force. Successful consolidation of gains is an inherent part of achieving enduring success in each of the other three roles in competition and conflict.

Extract from TIME magazine

“How Disbanding the Iraqi Army Fueled ISIS”

By Mark Thompson

29 May 2015

“General Ray Odierno, [former] Army chief of staff, says the U.S. could have weeded Saddam Hussein’s loyalists from the Iraqi army while keeping its structure, and the bulk of its forces, in place. ‘We could have done a lot better job of sorting through that and keeping the Iraqi army together,’ he told TIME on Thursday. ‘We struggled for years to try to put it back together again.’ The decision to dissolve the Iraqi army robbed Baghdad’s post-invasion military of some of its best commanders and troops. … it also drove many of the suddenly out-of-work Sunni warriors into alliances with a Sunni insurgency that would eventually mutate into ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]. Many former Iraqi military officers and troops, trained under Saddam, have spent the last 12 years in Anbar Province battling both U.S. troops and Baghdad’s Shi’ite-dominated security forces, Pentagon officials say. ‘Not reorganizing the army and police immediately were huge strategic mistakes,’ said [General] Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff and architect of the ‘surge’ of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq in 2007. ‘We began to slowly put together a security force, but it took far too much time and that gave the insurgency an ability to start to rise.'"
To view the complete article, visit

The operational environment is a competition continuum among nation-states. The publicly released Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy describes the requirement to defeat one peer adversary while deterring another.1 The National Defense Strategy also addresses other things the joint force and the Army must continue to do. While the Army focuses on readiness to deter and defeat a revanchist Russia, a revisionist China, a rogue North Korea, and an Iran seeking regional hegemony, it also must continue to disrupt terrorism abroad to protect the homeland while continuing to fulfill obligations to security partners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. A large part of the Total Army remains engaged in security force assistance, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and stability-related missions, the focus of which is to consolidate gains in support of host-nation governments. Consolidation of gains in present-day Iraq and Afghanistan is inherently the purpose of the advise-and-assist missions for which security force assistance brigades were designed.

While recognizing that the U.S. Army consolidates gains during competition, during conflict, and after LSCO, this article focuses on consolidation of gains within the context of the Army’s third strategic role: prevail in large-scale combat. Armed conflict against a peer adversary is likely to encompass multiple corps in large geographical areas inhabited by significant populations. Any conflict is also likely to require ground forces to defeat enemy forces in order to reestablish the sovereign control of an ally or partner’s land and population. This would be an immense undertaking and requires thinking about how to simultaneously consolidate gains from the bottom up and top down. Consolidating gains during LSCO looks different at each stage of the operation and from each level of warfare.2

Consolidating Gains in Korea

Following a successful UN amphibious counteroffensive in September 1950, the invading North Korean military was forced back north out of South Korea and eventually across the Yalu River into China. Accompanying the Allied forces as they crossed the 38th parallel were public health and welfare detachments whose mission was to administer military government in occupied areas. However, the existence of these detachments was short-lived, as Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and drove UN forces back below the 38th parallel. These detachments were subsequently replaced by United Nations Civil Assistance Corps, Korea (UNCACK) teams, which provided civil affairs support in the south with the stated missions of helping to “prevent disease, starvation, and unrest,” to “safeguard the security of the rear areas,” and “to assure that front line action could go on without interruption by unrest in the rear.” Guidance given to these units was often vague. One UNCACK officer later recounted that the only guidance he received in two years of service was, “Your orders are to see what needs to be done and do what you can.”

For more on the public health and welfare detachments and UNCACK teams, see “Same Organization, Four Different Names: U.S. Army Civil Affairs in Korea 1950-1953,” U.S. Army Special Operations Command History Office,

The consolidation area is an important feature of LSCO at the tactical level. Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, explicitly identified the consolidation area to solve an age-old problem during operations.3 Army forces consistently struggle with securing the ground between brigades advancing in the close area and the division and corps rear boundaries, particularly during offensive operations when the size of areas of operation (AOs) expand. Maintaining tempo in the close and deep areas requires that the division and corps support areas be secured as the lines of communication lengthen. However, this leaves the problem of defeating bypassed forces and securing key terrain and population centers to be solved in ad hoc fashion. “The typical solution was to assign combat power from brigades committed to operations in the close and deep areas to the maneuver enhancement brigade (MEB).”4 This proved satisfactory during short-duration simulations as long as the division bypassed only small enemy formations. “Actual experience against Iraqi forces during the first few months of Operation Iraqi Freedom [2003] indicated this approach entails significant risk” in the real world, where not accounting for both the enemy’s will and means to continue a conflict resulted in a well-resourced insurgency in a matter of months.5

FM 3-0 emphasizes that an “enemy cannot be allowed time to reconstitute new forms of resistance to protract the conflict and undo our initial battlefield gains.”6 This is based upon experience that indicates consolidating gains requires more combat power than what is required for the initial tactical defeat of enemy forces in the field. This in turn must drive planners at the operational and strategic levels to account for the need for these additional forces. If not, a short-war planning mindset using “minimum force” risks the ability to consolidate gains tactically, operationally, and strategically.

Members of a UN public health and welfare detachment, a composite allied force, meet at a crossing point on the 38th parallel

Deliberately written to empower operational planners and commanders to anticipate additional force requirements, FM 3-0 provides an expanded description of the operational framework and the consolidation area in chapter 1. While consolidate gains activities are addressed throughout FM 3-0, chapter 8 is singularly dedicated to the topic. It says consolidation of gains are “activities to make enduring any temporary operational success and set the conditions for a stable environment allowing for a transition of control to legitimate authorities.” The chapter concludes with a review of the theater army, corps, division, and brigade combat teams (BCTs) in operations and the distinctive roles they play in consolidating gains.7

The following perspectives expand upon the last section of chapter 8 by describing the considerations and responsibilities for consolidating gains at each of three levels of warfare. Instead of explicitly identifying the echelon (brigade, corps, division, field army, or theater army), we start with the tactician, advance to the operational artist, and then conclude with the strategist. The intent is to provide insight on consolidation of gains for the warfighting professionals at the level for which they are responsible, not necessarily the type of headquarters or rank.

The Tactician’s View

Those who have won victories are far more numerous than those who have used them to advantage.


The tactician focuses on battles and engagements, arranging forces and capabilities in time and space to achieve military objectives. The point of departure for thinking about consolidating gains at the tactical level is clearly understanding that the means for doing so is decisive action: the execution of offensive, defensive, and stability tasks in the ever-changing context of a particular operation and operational environment. The goal is defeating the enemy, accounting for all his capabilities to resist, and ensuring unrelenting pressure that grants him no respite or opportunity to recover the means to resist. Corps and divisions assign AOs, objectives, and specific tactical tasks for their subordinate echelons. While initially they must focus on the defeat of enemy forces, the ultimate objective is to consolidate gains in a way that ensures the enemy no longer has the means or will to continue the conflict while maintaining a friendly position of relative advantage. Divisions and corps have a critical, mutually interdependent role in making this happen.

Army and Navy Civil Affairs Staging Area (CASA) officers listen to a civilian speaker on stage with a large map of Asia at an assembly in the spring of 1945 in Presidio of Monterey, California.

While limited contingency operations over the last twenty years saw corps headquarters function as joint task forces or land component commands, during large-scale ground combat operations, corps fight as tactical formations. Corps provide command and control (C2) and shape the operational environment for multiple divisions, functional and multifunctional brigades, and BCTs. The corps plans, enables, and manages consolidation of gains with its subordinate formations while anticipating future operations and continuously adjusting to developments in the close and deep areas. As LSCO concludes in a part of the corps AO, the corps headquarters assigns responsibility, usually a division but in some cases one or more BCTs, to consolidate gains in that AO. When LSCO is largely concluded throughout the corps AO, it reorganizes the AOs of its subordinate echelons in a way that enables the most rapid consolidation of gains with the capabilities available.

A corps consolidation area is comprised of the physical terrain that was formerly part of its subordinate division consolidation areas, which the corps assumed responsibility for as it shifted the division rear boundaries forward to maintain tempo during offensive operations. The division assigned the corps consolidation area may be a unit that was specifically dedicated to and deployed for the task or one that was following in support of the close fight, or it may be a division that was already committed that remains focused on defeating enemy remnants and bypassed forces. As the corps enjoys success and its AO expands, a larger proportion of its combat power may be committed to consolidate gains. The commitment of combat power to consolidate gains should enable tempo and is not intended to draw forces away from the fights in the close and deep areas. This means that tactical and operational level planners need to anticipate the amount of combat power necessary to simultaneously defeat the enemy in the close and deep areas while consolidating gains in their AOs. Accounting for the required additional forces during operational planning and force flow development prior to conflict is essential. Again, a short-war, minimum-force planning mentality at the strategic and operational level will likely result in insufficient forces to maintain offensive tempo and continuously consolidate gains to win decisively.

Scipio’s Noble Deed (1640), painting, by Nicholas Poussin. Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus conquered the port of Carthage located in what is today southern Spain.

Because divisions begin to consolidate gains in their own consolidation areas, their decisive-action focus is heavily weighted toward offensive tasks designed to defeat all remaining enemy forces in the field and secure key terrain that is likely to encompass population centers. This means that when corps establish consolidation areas, particularly when they assume responsibility for division consolidation areas as friendly forces advance, their focus in terms of consolidating gains is likely to be broader and emphasize stability tasks, area security, and governance. The divisions should have already consolidated gains to some degree, particularly in terms of defeating enemy remnants and bypassed forces. Successful consolidation of gains at the division level creates security conditions more amenable to a higher level of focus on populations, infrastructure, and governance at the corps level because there are few or no enemies left to contest friendly forces in an AO.

For the tactician, consolidating gains at the division level is initially difficult to distinguish from other LSCO for a couple of reasons. The first is that it represents a transition within a portion of the AO that might not be readily apparent. The second reason is that establishing security within a portion of an AO requires defeating enemy remnants and bypassed forces through decisive action, and that is likely to require offensive operations, which differ only in scale from what a BCT was doing previously. When an AO is designated a consolidation area, the BCT assigned to it may already be there, so consolidating gains becomes a form of exploitation and pursuit by forces already in contact with the enemy. If an uncommitted BCT is assigned an AO to consolidate gains, the transition is more explicit even if the assigned tasks do not change. In either case, tactical planners must anticipate what additional capabilities the division should provide the BCT to facilitate area security, secure key terrain, and control the local population. Some of those capabilities are likely to be under control of the corps and must be task-organized down into the division for use by the BCT.

In all cases, every effort should be made to account for the requirement to consolidate gains early in the planning process so that adequate additional combat power is available to consolidate gains without diverting forces from other purposes and losing tempo. Similar to how the corps approaches consolidating gains, the division may pass an uncommitted BCT forward into the close area to maintain tempo and momentum and assign an already committed BCT consolidate gains related tasks in its AO. This approach avoids the complexities of a relief in place while in contact and generally saves time but adds the complexity of a forward passage of lines requiring detailed planning and rehearsals.

The BCT entrusted with the division consolidation area enables the division’s MEB to focus on the security and C2 of the support area(s) and enabling operations in the close and deep areas. MEBs are task organized with engineer and military police units to facilitate maneuver support while securing routes and sustainment sites from mid-level threats. Their focus is enabling the desired tempo of operations in the close and deep areas, not consolidating gains achieved in those areas.

The easiest way to think of the division consolidation area is as another close fight area with a different purpose. FM 3-0 states that a division consolidation area requires at least one BCT to be responsible for it as an assigned area of operations.9 No smaller force can handle the task because the BCT is the first element capable of controlling airspace and employing combined arms across an AO. As an operation progresses, multiple BCTs may be employed to consolidate gains within the division AO, particularly toward the successful conclusion of large-scale ground combat operations. Successful consolidation of gains ultimately denies the enemy the time, space, and psychological breathing space to reorganize for continued resistance. At the tactical level, consolidating gains is the preventative that kills the seeds of insurgency.


History shows that successfully consolidating gains requires a much broader approach than simply assigning additional stability tasks to existing subordinate formations. They lack the specialized capabilities to comprehensively consolidate gains in an enduring manner because it is simply not what they are designed to do; they are built for LSCO. Our Army addressed this problem effectively in the past. During World War II, the United States realized that it would need to set conditions for the governance of the territories it liberated in Europe and the Pacific.

By the D-Day landings in 1944, the U.S. Army had assessed governance aptitude and expertise amongst its ranks and identified 7,500 U.S. military personnel to train in the United States as the cadre for military governance in liberated areas. They were placed into governance detachments assigned directly to corps and division commanders during combat operations for the purpose of consolidating gains directly behind the close area. Governance detachments reestablished civil administration, cared for sick and injured locals, registered the local population, assisted refugees and displaced persons, collected weapons and contraband, organized local citizens for the cleanup of their communities, and reestablished basic services to the cities, towns, and villages occupied by Allied forces to the best of their ability.

For the tactician, the goal is to continuously create and then exploit positions of relative advantage that facilitate the achievement of military objectives that support the political end state of a campaign. All efforts to consolidate gains ultimately support that goal; therefore, they must be synchronized and integrated into the campaign plan itself.

The Operational Artist’s View

Operational artists design military campaigns to achieve strategic goals. They consider the employment of military forces and the arrangement of tactical efforts in time, space, and purpose to achieve strategic objectives. Following the initially successful invasion of Iraq in 2003, the joint force learned many valuable lessons about the importance of rapidly consolidating gains. The first and perhaps most important lesson was adequately determining the required means (forces) to accomplish not only the tasks required to defeat enemy forces in the field but also those required to establish physical control of the entire country. Identifying and deploying the necessary capabilities to defeat all potential forms of enemy resistance should be a fundamental part of any operational approach seeking to end a war with an enduring and decisive outcome. This requires breaking the enemy’s will to resist.

Consolidating gains was and remains critical to attacking the enemy’s will. Part of breaking the will to resist is denying the available means to resist, which means killing or capturing its regular and irregular forces and separating them from the population, seizing control of weapons and munitions, and controlling the population in a way that maintains order and security without creating incentives for further resistance. This provides incontrovertible evidence of defeat and removes the hope upon which those who would mount a protracted resistance feed. It generally has a sobering effect on the population, particularly when done quickly, an effect that endures if the means that secure a population and enforce its orderly behavior improve or do not excessively interfere with the economic and personal lives of the people.

Planning to consolidate gains is integral to prevailing in armed conflict. Any campaign that does not account for the requirement to consolidate gains is either a punitive expedition or likely to result in a protracted war. The planning must therefore account for the desired end state of military operations and work backward. It should determine how much damage to infrastructure is acceptable and desirable, what is required to physically secure the relevant terrain and populations, and what resources are available among both Army forces and our coalition allies. It needs to account for all the potential means of enemy resistance to ensure the defeat of the enemy in detail. Planning should also determine, based upon the available resources, where and when to accept risk in terms of balancing the need to consolidate gains against maintaining the desired tempo of an operation. Consolidating gains throughout the operation may require a slower tempo but result in a shorter conflict, while a high-tempo operation that quickly achieves tactical success may result in a longer conflict because significant parts of the enemy forces and population not engaged or influenced by the initial battles may retain both the means and will to resist.

The Roman general Scipio Africanus is an example of a successful operational artist in ancient times who understood the importance of consolidating gains. During the Second Punic War, he designed the campaigns against Hannibal’s Carthaginian armies and their Spanish allies while the authorities in Rome decided the overall strategy. In 208 BC, although outnumbered, he launched an initial assault to seize the critical port of Cartagena, Spain, and with it the base of supplies and reinforcements for Hannibal’s movement from North Africa to the Italian peninsula. Following the seizure of Cartagena, he showed mercy to the vanquished Spanish troops and built a reputation for battlefield diplomacy. Scipio made effective use of the slow reaction of other Carthaginian forces in Spain. While maintaining a defense around the perimeter of Cartagena, he allocated sufficient forces to effectively administer the population. He found work for the captured artisans and set free all of the residents that agreed to support his cause. His enlightened and innovative leadership resulted in a stable and secure environment that protected noncombatants as a means to achieve Rome’s strategic aim of denying Spain as an enemy base of operations.10 Without effective consolidation measures in Cartagena, Scipio would not have been able to control the gains he had won. News of his actions following the seizure of Cartagena won over three of the most powerful tribes in Spain and gave Scipio a numerical advantage against the Carthaginians. Months later, he routed the Carthaginians at the Battle of Baecula. Historian B. H. Liddell Hart noted, “Scipio, more than any other great captain, seems to have grasped the truth that the fruits of victory lie in the after years of peace.”11 These timeless historical lessons are ignored at our peril, and the striking similarities between conflicts over time should inform our efforts today.

Sgt. Verlan Gunnell (<em>second from right</em>) speaks with Eleanor Roosevelt <em>(third from right</em>) in this photograph from World War II. Also pictured (<em>from left</em>) are Brig. Gen. James Edmunds, administrative officer of the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS

Campaign planners designate forces to consolidate gains and advocate for strategic-level leaders to allocate the resources necessary to achieve objectives. Candor and mutual understanding critically impact this dialogue. Strategic leaders must make resource allocation decisions based upon well-informed operational-level planner estimates and informed by the actual operational environment in the context of our doctrine, not the potentially faulty assumptions that underpin a desire for easy victories. Understanding the population in the area of operations is a critical step towards avoiding faulty assumptions. Cheap and easy victories where populations do not play a significant role in the conflict are not the historic norm and are virtually impossible against capable enemy nation-states.

A Strategist’s View

In the philosophy of war there is no principle more sound than this: that the permanence of peace depends, in large degree, upon the magnanimity of the victor.

—Col. I. L. Hunt, Civil Affairs Officer, World War I12

The military strategist is most concerned with creating multiple options and conditions that place the United States in positions of relative advantage. When considering ends, ways, and means, the strategist needs to consider, and reconsider, consolidating gains before, during, and after a conflict. Military governance is a good example of potential strategic-level consideration to consolidate gains mentioned earlier. Throughout most of American military history, a lack of forethought about military governance at the strategic level has made the consolidation of gains during and after large-scale combat markedly more difficult. The reality is that military governance has been an unavoidable component of American military intervention going back to the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century.

There has been an ongoing debate, rekindled from one campaign to the next, about what the U.S. military’s proper role should be in the administration of governance to civilian populations under its control. The prewar debates center on whether the military should execute such a task or if governance should be left to professional bureaucrats. Regardless of the debate, and whether the military does or does not want to execute governance operations during large-scale combat, the military finds itself governing out of necessity both during and after conflicts even if it is rarely, if ever, labeled as such. In most cases, this happens because there is no other government entity present to do the job in the first place. The Second World War is one of the few examples of strategists linking military governance and consolidating gains to enduring strategic outcomes.

Following the surrender of Germany, the Office of Military Government United States (OMGUS) in the American Zone was established to command and control all governance operations. Control of governance detachments shifted from tactical commanders to OMGUS. Once military governance detachments were under the control of the post-surrender territorial C2 structure of OMGUS, U.S. governance efforts were better streamlined and coordinated with the German governmental system maximizing efficiency with German counterparts at the local, regional, and national levels. The alignment of U.S. governance detachments with the German governmental structure in the post-combat phase was imperative and accelerated restoring Germans to power at every level, crucially removing the U.S. Army from the governance side of the street as soon as possible.

The debate between the efficacy of the land, sea, or air power is really one of consolidating gains. People transit through the air and sea. They live on land. The initial U.S. strategy in Vietnam (1965–1968) was to use air power to bomb targets in North Vietnam in order to force the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table.13 Although the bombing imposed great suffering and material damage, the failure of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and U.S. ground forces to consolidate tactical gains in ways that earned popular support ceded those gains.

The execution of military government has proven an inescapable, crucial aspect of war that the U.S. military, specifically the Army, must consider. The U.S. military must plan and prepare for the execution of military governance before, during, and after combat operations. This planning deserves the same, or perhaps greater, level of professional forethought than combat operations received. Failure to do so results in the type of ad hoc approach that characterized our experiences in Iraq.


The U.S. Army has consolidated gains, with varying degrees of success, throughout its history. It did so in the Indian Wars, after the Civil War during Reconstruction, during the Spanish-American War, during World War II and Korea, and in Vietnam, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The success of consolidation-of-gains operations shaped how those wars and conflicts are viewed today. How we plan for, execute, and follow through with consolidating gains in our generation will determine not just the strategic advantages of the Nation but define the way history judges our actions.

By placing the reader in the shoes of the tactician, the operational artist, and the strategist, this article sought to provide a clearer understanding about consolidation-of-gains operations. The release of FM 3-0 in 2017 and the professional discussion that followed enabled an appreciation of how the Army strategic roles contribute to the joint defense of the Nation, identified organizational gaps, and began to change the Army. Military professionals must engage in thoughtful reflection and study of how we consolidate gains on the battlefield if we are to prevail in future conflicts. We welcome the insightful professional discussion that ensues.


  1. Department of Defense, Summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office [GPO], 2018), 6.
  2. Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 6 October 2017), chap. 8.
  3. Ibid., 1-35.
  4. Mike Lundy and Rich Creed, “The Return of U.S. Army Field Manual 3-0, Operations,” Military Review 97, no. 6 (November-December 2017): 19.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. FM 3-0, Operations, chap. 8.
  8. Polybius, “Book X,” The Histories of Polybius, 6.36, accessed on 26 May 2019,*.html.
  9. FM 3-0, Operations, 8-6.
  10. Polybius, “Book X,” 2.7–2.9.
  11. B. H. Liddell Hart, Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon (La Vergne, TN: BN Publishing, 1926), 45.
  12. I. L. Hunt, American Military Government of Occupied Germany, 1918-1920: Report of the Officer in Charge of Civil Affairs, Third Army and American Forces in Germany (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), vii, accessed 2 July 2019,
  13. John T. McNaughton, Draft Memorandum for Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, “Annex–Plan for Action for South Vietnam,” in The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, vol. 3 (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 24 March 1965), accessed 1 July 2019,


Lt. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army, is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and the commandant of the Command and General Staff College on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds an MS in strategic studies and is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. He previously served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and he has deployed to Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Col. Richard Creed, U.S. Army, is the director of the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth and one of the authors of FM 3-0, Operations. He holds a BS from the United States Military Academy, an MS from the School of Advanced Military Studies, and an MS from the Army War College. His assignments include tours in Germany, Korea, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Col. Nate Springer, U.S. Army, is a recent graduate of the Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program through the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds an MA in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School, an MMAS from the Command and General Staff College, and an MA in strategic studies from SAMS. He previously served as executive officer to the commanding general, Combined Arms Center, and commander of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division. His assignments include multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Scott Pence, U.S. Army, is the executive officer to the commanding general, Combined Arms Command. He holds a BA in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, an MBA from Webster University, and an MMAS in operational art from the School for Advanced Military Studies. His previous assignments include commander, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division; battalion and brigade operations officer in the 173rd Airborne Brigade; and assistant S3 and HHC commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

For more on consolidating gains, Military Review recommends the previously published article “The Particular Circumstances of Time and Place” by retired U.S. Army Col. David Hunter-Chester. The author, a trained historian, compares the U.S. occupation of Japan with the coalition occupation of Iraq, while also drawing on his personal experience working with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, to show why U.S. plans and policies for occupying any country should be tailored to the situation. To view this article from the May-June 2016 edition of Military Review, visit

Dashed line

Military Review also recommends the previously published article “Government versus Governance” by U.S. Army Maj. Jennifer Jantzi-Schlichter. The author asserts that there are two main reasons that the U.S. military has been unable to achieve success in building sustainable governments in Iraq and Afghanistan: the U.S. military has failed to differentiate between government and governance; and it does not effectively train and educate its personnel on how to execute this task. To view this article from the November-December 2018 edition of Military Review, visit

Dashed line

For those interested in older examples of successful consolidation of gains in U.S. military history, Military Review recommends the previously published article “Expeditionary Land Power: Lessons from the Mexican-American War” by U.S. Army Maj. Nathan A. Jennings. The author details the planning and execution of a campaign by Gen. Winfield Scott that is considered by many historians to be a textbook example of how consolidation of gains were effectively incorporated into an overall invasion and occupation plan. To view this article from the January-February 2017 edition of Military Review, visit


Back to Top

September-October 2019