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NCOs share what they need to support FM 3-0

By Kimball Johnson

NCO Journal

Feb. 16, 2018

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NCOs share what they need to support FM 3-0

With the update in October 2017 of Field Manual 3-0, the Army has announced its commitment to preparing, once again, for possible large-scale, peer-to-peer, combat operations.

What this means for noncommissioned officers is that they will need to consider how future training and technological innovations support everything from brigade combat team-size missions up to division formations.

In response to that need, various NCOs in units across the Army provided their input on how the Army can help them meet future challenges associated with FM 3-0's new doctrine.

Why the Changes?

In 2011, the Army published FM 3-0, Unified Land Operations. At that time, Army doctrine was "primarily focused on operations where counterinsurgency and stability tasks made up the bulk of what both units and headquarters were expected to do," according to Lt. Gen Michael D. Lundy, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and commandant of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Col. Richard D. Creed Jr., director of the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in their article, "The Return of U.S. Army Field Manual 3-0, Operations."1

"Since 2003, seldom have units larger than a platoon been at risk of destruction by enemy forces, and no units faced enemy forces able to mass fires or maneuver large-scale forces effectively."2

Since then, however, the Army has recognized the changing environment associated with current areas of conflict and the potential for future changes as well:

Today's operational environment presents threats to the Army and joint force that are significantly more dangerous in terms of capability and magnitude than those we faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Major regional powers like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are actively seeking to gain strategic positional advantage. These nations, and other adversaries, are fielding capabilities to deny long-held U.S. freedom of action in the air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains and reduce U.S. influence in critical areas of the world. In some contexts they already have overmatch or parity, a challenge the joint force has not faced in twenty-five years.3

Recognizing the need to prepare for these expanding areas of threat now, the Army updated its operational doctrine in the new FM 3-0.

NCO Training Considerations

With these new doctrinal changes comes a need for NCOs to focus on the multi-domain battlefield and where their particular MOSs can play a part.

According to FM 3-0, Operations, the multi-domain battlefield takes into account an operational framework that includes, physical, temporal, cognitive, and virtual considerations.

The physical and temporal considerations pertain to space and time, and have been with us a long time. Cognitive considerations are those things pertaining to enemy decision-making, enemy will, our will, and the behavior of populations. Virtual considerations are in regard to activities and entities that reside in cyberspace, both friendly and threat.4

No one understands the potential threats in these various areas better than NCOs. They will be the first to know, on the ground, what is needed to counter and overcome threats from these four environments. Their intimate knowledge will be of utmost value in helping commanders decide how to counter, contain, and consolidate on the battlefield.

NCOs are also advocates for their Soldiers and their specialties. It is their duty to recommend changes to their specialties in regards to training, tactics, and equipment. It is this advocacy which drives improvements and innovation, helping to keep their specialties relevant and responsive to new doctrine.

Every Monday over the next six weeks, the NCO Journal will publish articles written by NCOs that offer insight on how to improve training and equipment for their specific specialties.

Feb. 19, 2018: A Look into the Future of Army Aviation by Sgt. 1st Class Juan C. Ayon

The NCO Journal invites our readership to add to the discussion and we extend an invitation to submit your thoughts on paper.


  1. Michael Lundy & Richard Creed, "The Return of U.S. Army Field Manual 3-0, Operations," Military Review (November-December 2017), 15.
  2. Michael Lundy, "The Return," 15.
  3. FM 3-0, Operations (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 6 October 2017), Forward.
  4. Michael Lundy, "The Return," 20.