April 2017 Online Exclusive Article

Learning to Win While Fighting Outnumbered 2016 MacArthur Award 2d

General Donn A. Starry and the Challenge of Institutional Leadership during a Period of Reform and Modernization

Maj. R. Z. Alessi-Friedlander, U.S. Army

Article published on: April 26, 2017

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Learning to Win While Fighting Outnumbered
Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action … It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing in the stress and danger.

-Theodore Roosevelt

There are many parallels between what the U.S. Army is experiencing today and what it experienced forty years ago. As the Army of the early 1970s transitioned out of the war in Vietnam toward a more modernized and professional future, it sought to frame, solve, and then implement a solution to a specific military problem: winning against a quantitatively superior enemy on a battlefield of unprecedented lethality, intensity, and density. Astride this last major period of Army reform (1973-1986), the influence of Gen. Donn A. Starry loomed large and offers the current Army many lessons concerning the difficulty, but also the potential impact, of strong institutional leadership.

This paper endeavors to make two points. First, for an Army in transition, there is enormous utility in framing and attempting to solve a specific problem. In providing the Army a clear objective, such a well-framed, specific problem imparts a sharp focus, a sense of urgency, and the opportunity to generate and maintain momentum. Second, an Army in transition must demand from its leaders the imperative to combine theory and practice, for doing either in isolation carries the risk of favoring the demands of today over the requirements of tomorrow (or vice versa). Starry’s experience and contributions over this period of reform and modernization illustrate both lessons.

Whither the Post-Vietnam Army: Transition and the Problem of Mid-Intensity Conventional Combat

In 1973, the U.S. Army was at an inflection point. As it was withdrawing forces from Vietnam, it was simultaneously grappling with the transition to an all-volunteer force, a declining defense budget, a shrinking force structure, and the need to deter a rapidly evolving threat from the Warsaw Pact on the plains of central Europe. After more than a decade on the rice paddies and in the jungles of Vietnam, the U.S. Army found itself woefully unprepared for a potential attack by the Red Army and its allies.

This transitioning Army faced several other significant obstacles. First, the Army was confronting problems of poor morale and discipline as well as a lack of unit cohesion.1 Second, the Army’s leadership was attempting to reform in a more transparent environment in which the required costs of land combat were subject to greater, more immediate criticism, especially for the types of limited-objective, discretionary conflicts into which the Army increasingly found itself being drawn after World War II.2 Third, the experiences of the Army’s senior leaders during Vietnam highlighted the perceived insufficiency of draft-derived junior leadership.3 Finally, the Army’s decade-long focus on lower-intensity fighting in Vietnam had, its senior leaders believed, degraded its technical and tactical proficiency in combined-arms, higher-intensity combat.4

In anticipation of this period of reform and modernization, the Army executed a significant reorganization. The previous Continental Army Command was subdivided into operational and institutional elements: Forces Command (FORSCOM) and Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), respectively.5 TRADOC’s leaders—including its commanding general, Gen. William E. DePuy, his deputy chief of staff for training, Maj. Gen. Paul F. Gorman, and the Armor School commandant, Maj. Gen. Donn A. Starry—would shoulder the primary burden for driving the ensuing institutional change.

In October 1973, the fourth installment of the Arab–Israeli conflict dramatically illuminated the density, intensity, and lethality of the modern battlefield. The so-called Yom Kippur War provided a fertile field for the discovery of pertinent lessons and the subsequent development of new doctrine, weapons, and training methods.6 The Army organized and executed its own studies and also contributed to broader joint and interagency analytic efforts.7 Furthermore, the Army sent several less formal delegations to Israel. Unlike the quantitatively focused formal study teams, these delegations, to include a visit by Starry in April 1974, were able to explore the war’s less tangible qualitative aspects.8

Nevertheless, DePuy’s thinking on what the Army needed to do remained clear and consistent; the Army had to get back to the basics.9 Deeply influenced by his own experiences as a combat commander during World War II and the Vietnam War, DePuy believed that the Army needed well trained, mission-focused soldiers and leaders, expertly employing the right tactics and best equipment in order to achieve its objectives and minimize its casualties.10 Yet, TRADOC still had to frame the military problem confronting the Army more specifically and cogently. Like the Israelis, the U.S. Army in Europe had to fight a forward-deployed defense on a battlefield of unprecedented lethality against a quantitatively superior enemy.11 However, the Israelis’ Arab adversaries had employed a caricature of Soviet doctrine, which was also evolving and emphasized the principles of mass, momentum, and continuous operations.12 The hardest, most potentially destructive, and thus highest priority task for an Army commander would be to defend against a multiecheloned Soviet breakthrough attack followed by a rapid exploitation.13

The Army also needed to build a narrative to accompany and motivate the sense of urgency needed to effect the required institutional change. The final narrative—“win the first battle of the next war while fighting outnumbered”—has three key elements that merit further analysis.14 First, the U.S. Army would be outnumbered and thus needed to compensate by achieving qualitative superiority; Gorman iteratively developed this line of thinking with Starry throughout early 1974.15 To this premise, Starry added the imperative to win the first battle; unlike in the past, the Army could no longer afford to struggle initially and learn gradually through the crucible of combat. Finally, for an Army in transition but still requiring immediate readiness for a hard problem, winning at this point really meant surviving and preventing its presumed Warsaw Pact adversary from achieving the rapid, decisive victory its own doctrine demanded.16 At Starry’s urging, TRADOC wisely linked this emerging narrative and the military problem against which they were working to devise a doctrinal solution to the 1973 Arab–Israeli War.17 The war thus served as a powerful rhetorical device for advancing the Army’s reform agenda.

JTAC airmen reads a map

Starry played a central role in the design of the doctrinal solution that emerged over the following two years. Starry and the other doctrine writers believed that the Army’s existing concepts for mobile and area defenses as well as for layered security operations were too complicated and cumbersome for the swift tempo and high lethality of the modern battlefield. Outnumbered U.S. Army defenders would not have sufficient time to conduct multiple rearward passages of lines. Such elements would also need to concentrate sufficient amounts of fire power at the decisive places and times, namely at the point of Soviet penetration.18 The revised version of the Army’s capstone doctrine, Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, articulated how the Army needed to fight. It would conduct an “Active Defense”: a tightly synchronized defense in depth in which friendly elements maximized the employment of available fires while conducting a bounding overwatch in reverse, trading minimal amounts of space for time. The goal was to grind up the advancing enemy forces and deny them the rapid, decisive victory that they sought.19

DePuy, Gorman, and Starry believed that the Active Defense concept was the only way to survive the lethality, intensity, and density of the modern battlefield and to deny the enemy its objectives. But this doctrine pivoted the institution away from several cherished lines of thinking. First, as discussed above, the manual expressed a marked preference for the value of the defense over that of the offense. Additionally, the evolving approach to combined-arms integration afforded firepower greater value than that of maneuver, and the role of technology seemingly became more important than more subjective factors, such as the role of the human dimension.20 Finally, unlike previous twentieth-century capstone doctrine, the new FM 100-5 favored tight control and synchronization over decentralized control and the aggressive pursuit of the initiative.21

The Collision of Theory and Practice: The Incongruity of Active Defense with the Realities of the Modern Battlefield

During his tenure as the Armor School commandant, Starry, like DePuy and Gorman, had grown frustrated with the inertia of the bureaucracy. While the writers of the new FM 100-5 had done their due diligence, consulting with the Army’s NATO allies, conducting conferences and experimentation with field commanders, and coordinating closely with the U.S. Air Force’s Tactical Air Command, they had also accelerated the process in an effort to force the new doctrine through the bureaucracy.22

Starry left his position as the commandant of the Armor School in 1976 and assumed command of V Corps, one of two U.S. Army corps stationed in West Germany. He now had the opportunity to implement the new doctrine in whose design he had just played such a central role and against the problem set for which the doctrine had been designed. This was a responsibility he took extremely seriously. As the V Corps commander, he attempted to apply the principles of Active Defense, including the use of rigorous battlefield calculus.23

However, in so doing, he recognized the incongruity between the concepts articulated in the 1976 version of FM 100-5 and the battlefield reality for which he had to prepare his corps. Even if expertly conducted, the mathematical, formulaic approach of Active Defense did not appear sufficient to set conditions for the defeat of a Soviet breakthrough attack and exploitation. Principally, Starry recognized that he could not overcome the problem posed by the Soviet’s presumed follow-on echelons. Furthermore, from his vantage point as a corps commander, he was now able to appreciate the three-dimensionality of an expanded, integrated battlefield. Command at such an echelon required a decidedly different perspective, planning horizon, and sense of depth and complexity than that required at the tactical level.24

In response to this recognition, Starry began to refine the original problem frame to which he had contributed while at TRADOC. He revisited his study of the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, traveling back to Israel to rewalk the terrain of the battles and reengage the senior Israel Defense Force (IDF) commanders who had been responsible for those battles. The chaos and unpredictability of battle became increasingly apparent during this period of study and reflection—hard, enduring truths that the battlefield calculus of Active Defense aspired to eliminate.25

Whereas Active Defense called for a tightly controlled, highly synchronized, firepower-intensive, defensively-oriented fight, Starry began to understand that the IDF had triumphed through the employment of an almost completely opposite approach. The IDF favored a maneuverist doctrine with a bias for the offense, a strong commitment to the power of technology (but as an enabler in the hands of human decision makers), and a fluid, decentralized system of command in which pursuit of the initiative was the priority.26

Starry thus used his time in command of V Corps to test the Army’s current doctrine. As a result, he acquired a refined understanding of the military problem confronting the Army and an enhanced idea of what would be required to solve it. This experience and the wisdom he derived from it would serve him well in his next role: TRADOC commanding general.

Aspirational Endeavors:
AirLand Battle and the Promise
of a Modern Army

The publication of the 1976 version of FM 100-5 was met with mixed reviews. While some applauded its concepts, others reacted with howls of outrage to its defensively minded, antiseptic operational approach. Yet it forced the institution into a conversation about the Army’s role in the defense of the nation. The Army needed to revise its capstone doctrine and Starry knew it.27

The DePuy-Gorman training reforms afforded the Army with the time and space to consider more abstract and conceptual issues.28 The growing confidence in the tactical and technical proficiency of Army elements enabled the institution to focus on the complexities and uncertainties of what Starry referred to as the “Corps [or, later, the Central] Battle.”29 Moreover, while for DePuy doctrine had served as the driver for other modernization efforts (most notably, training and materiel development), Starry introduced a new modernization framework into TRADOC’s thinking. In his view, the starting point for evolutions in doctrine, training developments, materiel requirements, and organizational structures was a properly evaluated operational concept.30

Recognizing that shoving the previous version of FM 100-5 through the bureaucracy had contributed to the lack of institutional commitment to the principles of Active Defense, Starry drove a design process that more effectively engaged the Army’s many and diverse constituencies.31 The 1982 version of FM 100-5 reversed many of the trends made evident in the 1976 version. First, the manual restored the institution’s bias for the offense; Active Defense was replaced with “AirLand Battle,” a deep, expanding attack dependent upon the imperative to gain, maintain, and exploit the initiative. Second, the manual also shifted the previous version’s emphasis on firepower back in favor of maneuver. Third, AirLand Battle restored the primacy of the human dimension (over technology) and articulated a more fluid, decentralized system of command and decision making.32

The last point was central to the spirit of the Army’s new doctrine. Drawing on the lessons of history (versus an anodyne emphasis on quantitative analysis and reasoning) and the ideas of military theorists Carl von Clausewitz, Basil Liddell Hart, John Keegan, and Ardant du Picq, the new version of FM 100-5 emphasized the fundamentally psychological nature of combat: technology was important, but these devices were tools in the hands of human decision makers vulnerable to war’s inherent chaos, chance, and unpredictability. War was and would always be a contest of wills. The Army’s new capstone doctrine placed emphasis upon the ruthless pursuit and exploitation of the initiative in order to shatter the enemy’s will to resist.33

Starry had been a central participant in the creation of Active Defense, but, in his disciplined effort to implement this doctrine, he recognized the concept’s flaws and limitations. This open-mindedness enabled the institutional adaptation that followed. His experiences provided him with the motivation to elevate and expand the aperture of the Army’s thinking. In addition to introducing the concept framework, the 1982 version of FM 100-5 formally articulated the levels of war and introduced the concept of operational art, or the bridge between military strategy and the Army’s tactical actions, for the first time.34

Contemporary Value: What Starry’s Experience and Efforts Should Mean for Today’s Army

As the U.S. Army of 2017 looks into the future, it has responded to supposedly unprecedented complexity and uncertainty with an operating concept and capstone doctrine that hedge rather than commit the Army to fighting and winning an appropriately prioritized and framed problem.35 The Army thus possesses a concept and doctrine that cannot be wrong, but, in so doing, can they be truly right for the fight upon which the nation needs the Army to be ready to win? The 2014 U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World and Army Doctrine Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations, cover any potential contingency, but, in making everything a priority, is anything really a priority: upon what is the Army supposed to focus it developmental energies?

The reforming Army in which Starry played such a central role sought to bury the lessons of Vietnam.36 The current generation of Army officers is painfully aware of this choice, especially given the challenges the Army confronted conducting counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, this institutional scar tissue may risk preventing the Army from attempting to frame and solve the problem for which it must be prepared.

The Army does itself a disservice if it equates the obviousness of the problem confronting the Army in the 1970s and 1980s (a large-scale conventional attack by the Warsaw Pact) with the challenges of framing and solving that problem. Today’s Army should be under no illusions: the evolution from Active Defense to AirLand Battle demanded hard work, institutional angst, passion, professionalism, and the collision of theory and practice. Today’s problem set is less obvious, but Starry’s experience illuminates the need to prioritize these problems and then to organize and drive the institution’s efforts accordingly.

Much of the Army’s current thinking revolves around two problem sets: lower-risk, lower-intensity counterinsurgency or counterterrorism threats and those offered by ascending peer or near-peer adversaries like China and Russia. While the Army’s capstone doctrine and operating concept must nest with the U.S. government’s strategic guidance, which was admittedly clearer in the 1970s and 1980s, the Army’s current bipolar and diffused thinking has diluted and jeopardized its efforts to effectively reform and modernize.37 Historian David Johnson argues that perhaps the more appropriate problem on which to focus the Army’s intellectual and developmental energies is that posed by the hybrid threat. “Minding the middle” would force the Army to concentrate efforts to evolve our doctrine, weapons, training, education, and leader development in response to the challenges of a specific problem set. It would also set conditions for the Army to pivot down to the lower-risk, low-intensity counterinsurgency/counterterrorism problem or up to the higher-risk, higher-intensity peer/near-peer adversary problem, as required.38

Starry’s efforts over a decade of important reform and modernization should inspire the Army of 2017. The intellectual effort required to frame, solve, and then implement the solution to a relevant, hard, and important problem is obvious. Starry played a central role in driving real institutional change; he contributed to identifying the problem to be solved, articulating an accompanying narrative and conceptual vision, and creating the sense of urgency to effect the required institutional adaptation.39 He was the epitome of Roosevelt’s “man in the arena.”40 He stepped forward, as both an institutional and operational leader, and fully committed himself to ensuring the Army was postured to fight and win.


Epigraph. Theodore Roosevelt, “The Duties of Privilege,” American Idea: The Best of the Atlantic Monthly, eds. Robert Vare and Daniel B. Smith (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 555. Roosevelt’s original essay was published in the Atlantic in 1894.

  1. George C. Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (New York: Random House, 1986), 243. The most extreme indications of poor morale, discipline, and unit cohesion can be observed in the sharp rises in rates of “fragging,” attacks on officers by disgruntled enlisted draftees (more than two thousand incident reports in the 1970s), as well as the seemingly rampant drug abuse (in 1970, the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam estimated that sixty-five thousand servicemen were using drugs).
  2. Mark Lorell, Charles Kelley Jr., and Deborah Hensler, Casualties, Public Opinion, and Presidential Policy During Vietnam (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1985), vi. The study’s authors concluded that “casualties to U.S. personnel are the most visible and least tolerable cost of direct U.S. combat involvement in sustained limited wars. Mounting casualties tend to undermine public support and serve as a lightning rod for public dissatisfaction with other issues.”
  3. Paul F. Gorman, Cardinal Point: An Oral History: Training Soldiers and Becoming a Strategist in Peace and War (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute [CSI], 2011), 54. See, for example, the comments of Gen. Paul Gorman, deputy chief of staff for Training in Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) during this period of reform, on his experiences as an infantry brigade commander in Vietnam: “[Most of the leaders in] the usual company came in the Army the same year as the draftees, the shake-and-bake NCOs that were pulled out of the training centers, given a get-rich-quick course and a sergeant’s stripe. They were sent straight into the jungle; the lieutenants out of the ROTC or OCS. … They were all the same age and were in the same class of ignorance. … If you come in as a replacement, you copy the guys there before you. Standards deteriorate. Regression sets in.”
  4. Gen. William E. DePuy, “Keynote Address, TRADOC Leadership Conference,” The Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy, eds. Richard Swain, Donald Gilmore, and Carolyn Conway (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CSI, 1994), 113-20.
  5. Jean R. Moenk and Brooks E. Kleber, Operation STEADFAST Historical Summary: A History of the Reorganization of the U.S. Continental Army Command, 1972-1973 (Fort McPherson, GA: Historical Offices of U.S. Army Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command, 1 October 1974).
  6. Romie L. Brownlee and William J. Mullen III, Changing an Army: An Oral History of General William E. DePuy, USA Retired (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1988), 190. DePuy argued that the 1973 war was “a marvelous excuse or springboard, if you will, for reviewing and updating our own doctrine. Some of the evidence coming out of that [war] was awesome.”
  7. Gen. Creighton Abrams tasked TRADOC to conduct the Army’s formal study of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This study team, led by Brig. Gen. Morris Brady, was called the Special Readiness Study Group (SRSG) and published its 162-recommendation, multi-volume report, SRSG, “Analysis of Combat Data - 1973 Mideast War,” 8 vols. (Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, July 1974), boxes 1-2, 1973 War, TRADOC Military History and Heritage Office (TMMO) Historical Documents Collection (Secret Information used is Unclassified); WESG, “WESG Report 237 - Data from the October 1973 Middle East War,” vols. 1-7 (Arlington, VA: WESG, 1974-1975), boxes 2-4, 1973 War, TMMO Historical Documents Collection (Secret Information used is Unclassified). The Army also participated in two formally organized study teams directed by the office of the secretary of defense. The first was the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (WESG), which was based out of Israel and gathered data on the interactions between opposing weapons systems, and the second was a joint, interagency visit to Egypt; Lt. Gen. John J. Hennessey, “The United States Military Visit to Egypt, 14-23 July 1974,” 31 July 1974, box 2, folder 1, Orwin C. Talbott Papers, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC)).
  8. See Robert T. Davis II, The Challenge of Adaptation: The U.S. Army in the Aftermath of Conflict, 1953-2000 (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CSI, 2008), 54. In addition to the delegations discussed in this paper, there were numerous other visits and study teams of varying levels of formality and scope, including separate teams sent by the Army’s Armor School (Col. Prillaman), TRADOC (Lt. Gen. Talbott), the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as a visit by S. L. A. Marshall.
  9. William E. DePuy, letter to Creighton Abrams, 14 January 1974, box 1, Orwin C. Talbott Papers, USAHEC; DePuy, letter to Gen. Abrams, 31 July 1974, oversize box 1, 1973 War, TMMO Historical Documents Collection (information used is Unclassified); DePuy, letter to Gen. Fred Weyand, 18 August 1976, box 8, 1973 War, TMMO Historical Documents Collection; DePuy, “Implications of the Middle East War on U.S. Army Tactics, Doctrine, and Systems,” February 1975, Box 4, William E. DePuy Papers, USAHEC. An examination of DePuy’s most significant executive communications with respect to the lessons of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War demonstrates a remarkable continuity of thought. In three letters to the chief of staff of the Army and in his “traveling road show” brief, he consistently emphasized the need to improve the Army’s training, equipment, and tactics.
  10. Paul H. Herbert, Deciding What Has to Be Done: General William E. DePuy and the 1976 Edition of FM 100-5, Operations (Fort Leavenworth, KS: CSI, 1988), 11-24; Henry G. Gole, General William E. DePuy: Preparing the Army for Modern War (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008), 13-66 and 143-212.
  11. Richard M. Swain, “Introduction,” The Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy, x.
  12. Keegan, letter (with enclosure) to DePuy, 13 November 1973, box 5, folder K, William E. DePuy Papers, USAHEC. The study of evolving Soviet doctrine was a considerable point of emphasis in TRADOC over this period. For instance, in November 1973, Maj. Gen. George Keegan Jr., the Department of the Air Force’s assistant chief of staff for intelligence, provided DePuy and his staff with the first volume (on “The Offensive”) in a new translation series of significant and representative Soviet military writings; Andrus Viilu et al., An Assessment of the Impact of the October 1973 War on Soviet Doctrine, Tactics, and Materiel, Volume I: Executive Summary (Washington, DC: General Research Corporation, July 1975) (Secret Information used is Unclassified). Moreover, the U.S. Army was also investigating the question of what lessons the Soviets would draw from the 1973 War and how these would affect its doctrine and weapons development. A copy of this report was furnished through TRADOC deputy chief of staff for combat developments to DePuy on 22 September 1975, box 7, 1973 War, TMMO Historical Documents Collection.
  13. Donn A. Starry, letter to Capt. Edgar G. Kleckley, 25 February 1980, 1—4, box 20, folder 1, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  14. DePuy, “Implications of the Middle East War on U.S. Army Tactics, Doctrine, and Systems.”
  15. Paul Gorman, “How to Win Outnumbered,” sent as an enclosure to a letter to Donn A. Starry, 8 Jan 1974, box 2, folder 7, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  16. J. G. R. Allen, letter to Donn A. Starry, 7 March 1975, box 3, folder 5, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC; Donn Starry, Letter to J. G. R. Allen, 26 March 1975, box 3, folder 5, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  17. Donn A. Starry, “Rationale for Changes in Tactics, Gunnery, ATT, ATP,” back-channel message to William E. DePuy, 8 July 1974, box 2, folder 12, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  18. Starry, letter to Kleckley, 1-4.
  19. Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [GPO], 1976). Chap. 3, “How to Fight,” is the clearest expression of the Army’s new operational concept. Chapters 4 and 5 address the conduct of the offense and defense, respectively.
  20. Walter E. Kretchik, U.S. Army Doctrine: From the American Revolution to the War on Terror (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2011), 197-200; Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 204.
  21. Clinton J. Ancker, “The Evolution of Mission Command in U.S. Army Doctrine, 1905 to the Present,” Military Review 93, no. 2 (March-April 2013): 46-47.
  22. John L. Romjue, From Active Defense to AirLand Battle: The Development of Army Doctrine, 1973-1982 (Fort Monroe, VA: Historical Office, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1984), 3-6; Donn A. Starry, letter to Maj. Wilder M. Snodgrass, 25 November 1975, box 3, folder 12, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC. At the height of this process, Starry wrote: “Because of the bureaucratic lethargy at Leavenworth … the [new FM 100-5] was written by an informal power bloc whilst the formal structure stood watch in the wings. Now to avoid having all the staffs nit pick (sic) the thing General DePuy will go direct to General Weyand and then publish, thus blocking out the intervening bureaucratic phalanx(es).”
  23. Donn A. Starry, “The Corps Battle,” Briefing Script, 1977, box 60, folder 7, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  24. Matthias A. Spruill and Edwin T. Vernon, An Oral History of General Donn A. Starry, ed. Lewis Sorley (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army Military History Institute, 1986), 265.
  25. Saul Bronfeld, “The Impact of the Yom Kippur War on the U.S. Army,” The Journal of Military History 71, no. 2 (April 2007): 465-98.
  26. Donn A. Starry, letter to Dr. Richard Swain (U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies), 7 June 1995, 10. Starry wrote “[the key lesson from the IDF’s [Israel Defense Force] experience in the 1973 War] was that, while numbers do count, almost regardless of numbers battle goes to the side that sometime in the fight seizes the initiative and holds it to the end. … The best illustration at hand being the attack of Major General Musa Peled’s Division on the Golan Heights the second day of the Yom Kippur War. Here instead of deploying his reinforcing division piecemeal to plug gaps in the line, [Peled] insisted on taking the initiative, attacking onto the flank of the overwhelming Syrian force.”
  27. Kretchik, U.S. Army Doctrine, 200-4; Linn, The Echo of Battle, 205-10.
  28. Anne W. Chapman et al., Prepare the Army for War: A Historical Overview of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1973-1998 (Fort Monroe, VA: TRADOC, 1998), 69-73.
  29. Donn A. Starry, “Commander’s Notes, No. 2: Me, the Central Battle, and HQ TRADOC,” 2 May 1978, box 59, folder 1, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  30. Starry, “Commander’s Notes, No. 3: Operational Concepts and Doctrine,” 20 February 1979, box 59, folder 1, Donn A. Starry Collection, USAHEC.
  31. Benjamin M. Jensen, Forging the Sword: Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), 84-86.
  32. FM 100-5, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1982). The manual is organized into four main parts: (1) “The Army and How It Fights”; (2) “Offensive Operations”; (3) “Defensive Operations”; and (4) “Joint, Interagency, and Combined Operations.” For historical analyses of the doctrine’s key shifts in emphasis, see Kretchik, U.S. Army Doctrine, 204-8; and, with respect to the decentralized system of command, see Ancker, “The Evolution of Mission Command in U.S. Army Doctrine,” 47-48.
  33. On the integration of theory, especially concerning the moral elements of warfighting, see Romjue, From Active Defense to AirLand Battle, 55 and 70. One of the clearest expressions of importance of the human dimension in the 1982 version of FM 100-5 occurs in chapter 8, “Fundamentals of the Offense,” in which the doctrine’s writers include an epigraph from Carl von Clausewitz as a prelude to a subsection on the purposes of the offense: “… when we speak of destroying the enemy’s forces … nothing obliges us to limit this idea to physical forces: the moral element must also be considered”; see FM 100-5 (1982), 8-4.
  34. FM 100-5 (1982), 2-3.
  35. Army Doctrine Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO 2011), 1. The Army’s operational concept describes how the “Army seizes, retains, and exploits the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations through the simultaneous offensive, defensive, and stability operations in order to deter conflict, prevail in war, and create conditions for favorable conflict resolution.”; TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World (Fort Eustis, VA: TRADOC, 31 October 2014), vi. The “central idea” of the Army’s current operating concept similarly hedges and attempts to provide answers to any possible contingency: “The Army, as part of joint, interorganizational, and multinational teams, provides multiple options to the Nation’s leadership, integrates multiple partners, and operates across multiple domains to present adversaries with multiple dilemmas and achieve sustainable outcomes.”
  36. Harry Summers’s book, On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1981), provides much of the Army with the cathartic argument it needed to psychologically get beyond its failures in Vietnam. In short, Summers argues that the Army lost because it had not been allowed to attack the enemy’s true center of gravity (North Vietnam) and had instead been asked to conduct nation building in South Vietnam. For an historical analysis of the book’s impact, see Linn, The Echo of Battle, 194-95.
  37. Ronald Reagan, National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington, DC: The White House, January 1987), 6-7; and Barack Obama, National Security Strategy (Washington, DC: The White House, February 2015). Compare, for example, the discussion of principal threats to U.S. interests in the 1987 and 2015 National Security Strategies. In the former, the Warsaw Pact/Soviet Union is the clear, top priority threat, while in the latter everything, including terrorism, potential cybercrime, the deleterious impacts of climate change, and peer/near-peer threats is weighted almost equally.
  38. David E. Johnson, The Challenges of the “Now” and Their Implications for the U.S. Army (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016).
  39. J. P. Kotter, Leading Change (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1996). Starry used many of the methods articulated in the eight-step organization change model of social scientist Kotter; specifically, his model for change employs the following steps: (1) establish a sense of urgency, (2) create the guiding coalition, (3) develop a vision and strategy, (4) communicate the change vision, (5) empower a broad-based coalition, (6) generate short-term wins, (7) consolidate gains and produce more change, and (8) anchor new approaches in the culture.
  40. Theodore Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena,” (speech, Sorbonne, Paris, France, 23 April 1910), accessed 12 April 2017, http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/images/research/speeches/maninthearena.pdf.

Maj. Zach Alessi-Friedlander, U.S. Army is the Chief, Analysis and Control Element for the 82nd Airborne Division. He received his BA in art history from Columbia University and his MMAS from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he participated in the Art of War Scholars Program. He has deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a senior captain, he participated in the inaugural Chief of Staff of the Army Strategic Studies Group, where he researched the challenges of mission command implementation.