This doctrine was expressed in the 1976 edition of FM 100-5. It pointed the
way for the hardware and force structure modernization that are currently in
progress. It also touched off the extensive doctrinal debate that continues
The 1976 manual reoriented the Army on the problems of war against a major
power. It had many good points. It familiarized U.S. leaders with Soviet
tactics, and it made us consider problems that we ignored in Vietnam. These
Fighting when outnumbered.
The 1976 manual also built on a foundation of tactical lessons learned in
Vietnams. Fundamentally, however, the 1976 doctrine was a radical departure
from the Army's operational tradition.
It underrated the key elements of
depth, maneuver, and initiative. It ignored the operational level of war.
It did not pay sufficient attention to the human element of war. In 1979,
Army leadership decided to revise FM 100-5.
Army commanders became convinced that Soviet defeat would be impossible
using the defense oriented doctrine of 1976.
shifting uncommitted or lightly committed forces to the enemy's main effort.
This implied a shallow, linear defensive battle. It did not recognize the
realities of the tempo of modern operations.
Attrition of the enemy's committed combat force was to be the means of
winning; that is, the forces deployed to fight in areas of the enemy's own
This meant pitting the defender's smaller strength against the
enemy's main effort.
It also meant relying on firepower delivered from
advantages of maneuver and yielding the initiative to the attacker.
Defense doctrine tended to equate combat power with firepower and its
A major void in this equation was the discounting of
the effects of maneuver.
The intangible factors which have historically
decided battles were also unaccounted for.
Relative combat power was
determined by an inventory of weapons present.
This approach accommodated systems analysts and computers, but its effect on
tactics was deadening. Tactics degenerated to a fall-back-and-mass in front
of the enemy's main attack.
The process discouraged use of the offensive by the defender. It discounted
the human dimension of battle.
It promised little chance of defeating
committed enemy forces. It also left the enemy's follow-on