Introducing 77 Brigade and a New Way Of Business

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.

Joint Action

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.

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The Other Chris
February 19, 2015 4:08 pm

Thank you for highlighting this :)

Think Defence
February 19, 2015 4:10 pm

But action speak louder than words

February 19, 2015 4:22 pm

Sorry, but all the new buzzwords set my ears to ringing. I can remember when “synergy” and “synergistic effect(s)” were all the rage with flag rank officers. What all this amounts to is figuring out now to use all the new tools at our (your) disposal.

February 19, 2015 8:04 pm

Yup, the outreach and information activities certainly works in Donetsk against the artillery…..
I don’t want to sound old fashioned, but have these guys lost the plot…
Its still about fire and manoeuvre, even if we aren’t keen on doing that anymore.

February 19, 2015 10:56 pm

This is nothing more than the Army desperately trying to reinvent the wheel and secure ground ahead of SDSR. In fact it is causing more confusion as they invent new terminology and empire-build. 77 Brigade needs to be transferred to Joint Forces Command where it belongs, so it contributes to Joint operations where it is needed rather than pontificate on the sidelines. And yes, I do know what I’m on about here as it so happens to be the day job – an interesting diversion from bouncing about the ocean.

Peter Elliott
February 19, 2015 11:29 pm

There is an argument that the only operational command structure ought to be JFC.

All the rest is force generation.

February 20, 2015 7:39 am

I can’t help but think this is another attempt by the MOD brass to justify their existence. The military jumps on every band wagon from terrorism to cyber attacks to invent a new enemy.

I don’t think the traditional armed forces are the place to build our cyber warfare capability. Just like the army was not the place to build an Air Force. It’s a job better done by GCHQ which if snowdens leaks are anything to go by are pretty good at it. It’s also worth considering a separate armed force to deal with cyber as well.

But the three traditional branches are the wrong people to be handling it for sure.

with Putin threatening Eastern Europe and jihadis running around the Med there are plenty of hard threats for the services to be dealing with. They should focus on getting maneuver warfare right before they worry about information maneuver.

February 20, 2015 9:08 am

All right and wrong. The 77th Brigade is to work to achieve the BSOS–Building Stability Overseas Strategy.

February 20, 2015 9:41 am

The fact it is in the Army suggests a much lower focus than the “grand” strategy you attribute to it Jeneral28.

What units are actually in it?!

February 21, 2015 4:07 am

Perhaps part of what is going on with 77 Bde is creating the capability to better integrate information ops into the lower tactical levels, ie bde and downwards. The implication is field deployable elements to exploit local EW successes or captured equipment and use the base capabilities to meet the tactical commanders’ needs in tactical timeframes as well as creating opportunities that are beyond the tactically deployed capabilities.

Suggesting all this can be done from Cheltenham or elsewhere in UK in tactical timeframes is cloud cuckoo land stuff, some can but some can’t. Land warfare is a tough and at times very fast moving game.

February 21, 2015 4:42 pm

TAS, Martin et al

Why the downer ? Effects based targeting is not new, its at least 15 years old if not more. Effects can be kinetic (bombs and bullets), or achieved through info ops (which includes direct EW not just cyber related stuff) and physiological effects.

Having an integrated (Brigade) unit to help deliver parts of an integrated action doctrine makes good sense to me. No one is suggesting soft effects can replace kinetic in all situations, the whole of EU and HMG are too short sighted / cowardly to deal with Putin except by “hybrid warfare” in the form of economic sanctions. Could / should economic sanctions be backed up by further info ops / psyops ? Maybe it’s time to ratchet it up before he starts trouble in the Baltic states……..

August 30, 2016 10:07 pm

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