The arrival of 77 Brigade onto the media scene in January and subsequent media furore overshadowed what to me was the more important news, the internal publication of Army Doctrine Note 15/01 “Integrated Action”. Integrated Action will be incorporated into Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) “Operations” next year. ADP Operations is the primary source of UK higher-level tactical doctrine for the land operating environment and is the capstone doctrine for the British Army, so the impact of this new doctrine is going to be significant.
General Carter spoke extensively about the new doctrine (and about 77 Brigade) in his speech at Chatham House on Tuesday this week.
… we are espousing a new doctrinal approach called Integrated Action. Now this recognises that the character of conflict has changed in this information age in which we find ourselves. Manoeuvre is now multi-dimensional. It started being two dimensional with Fire and Movement, we introduced the third dimension from air and artillery. I think we moved through sort of manoeuvre in the electro-magnetic spectrum, and we now find ourselves I sense, in an era of information manoeuvre.
… what our doctrine of Integrated Action seeks to do, is once you have identified the outcome that you are seeking to achieve, you then go through a process of analysing the audiences that are relevant to the attainment of that objective, whether they’re actors, allies or adversaries. You then take a view on what effect you need to achieve on those various actors, and then you look into your locker of methodologies which will be a range of things from soft through to hard power and you work out the best method of synchronising and orchestrating those range of effects to impart effect onto audience to achieve outcome. And commanders at all levels need to do that, but of course the full range of effects are probably going to be found at a higher level in terms of our chain of command.
Integrated Action brings the Army’s doctrine in line with Joint Doctrine (JDP 3-00) and is the Land environment contribution to Joint Action. Joint Action is defined in JDP 3-00 as:
the deliberate use and orchestration of military capabilities and activities to affect an actor’s will, understanding and capability, and the cohesion between them to achieve influence.
Joint Action consists of four elements: Manoeuvre, Information Activities, Fires and Outreach. Integrated Action will mirror these although there are some nuances with the terminology and definitions.
Clearly the experience of recent campaigns is writ large in the new doctrine, in particular the increased tempo and complexity of the information environment and its impact on all levels of war. For those who wish to read further Emile Simpson’s book “War from the Ground Up” and the concept of Armed Politics has had a significant influence on the new approach.
While the new doctrine sounds fine in theory (most doctrine does!) integrating it above the tactical level will prove challenging, especially in a coalition environment. Another factor in its implementation is that Information Activities and Outreach can often cross government departmental boundaries and the friction involved when this happens can be considerable, as recent testimony to the Commons Defence Committee makes all too clear. Clearly speed and tempo are important in gaining narrative dominance in today’s high speed multi-media saturated information environment and that need for speed is normally at odds with government processes. What is also striking is how Clausewitzian the new doctrine is. I hope that RMAS will spend more time in conceptual teaching on what war is, as this is as important as teaching how to fight one.
So where does 77 Brigade fit in? General Carter again:
What 77 Brigade does is it pulls together much of our force structure that’s involved in the employment of soft effects, whether it is the Security Stabilisation Group, the linkages we have through that to DFID, whether it’s Psychological
Operations or the Media Operations Group who are increasingly learning much about how they apply social media to achieve an effect.
77 Brigade is going to advance this approach of Integrated Action, and in a sense it is a new way of operating and I think it plays into this idea of constant competition which is my take on how the world is at the moment. At the tactical level 77 Brigade is absolutely about getting the British Army to think laterally about how it achieves the effect I’ve described.
But it is fundamentally for the tactical level.
Never mind the conspiracy theories, if you want to understand 77 Brigade simply read JDP 3-00 Chapter 3.