The Army Adopts Full Spectrum Training

One of the major criticisms leveled by skeptics in the COIN vs. Conventional debate has been that the focus on COIN training needed for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan has already degraded the Army’s readiness for conventional combat operations. So this item from the Army Times caught my eye:

After seven years of war in a counterinsurgency environment, theArmy will resume training next summer on major combat operations byusing simulators in scenarios against a hypothetical uniformed force.

But the brigade-level exercise won’t look anything like exercises did before Sept. 11, 2001.

For the first time, commanders will incorporate stability operations in the same proportion as offensive and defensive combat, or full-spectrum operations. . . .

“It will be amongst people and it will have urban terrain. The difference is that we’ll be fighting against, instead of insurgents … a uniformed threat with combat vehicles, dismounted capabilities, anti-armor, unmanned aerial vehicles, armed aerial vehicles … we’ve never fought against those,” [Brig. Gen. Robert] Abrams said.

That should reassure the COIN critics, and force the COIN prosletyzers to integrate their thinking into a conventional operational environment. But it also puts the new “full spectrum” emphasis to the test of whether the various schools of thought can actually work together compatibly and, apparently, concurrently.

I wonder, too, if I’m alone in thinking this is a direct response to this summer’s Russia-Georgia War, which presented a clear example of the kind of mid-range conventional scenario that would involve the spectrum of force being used in the training operation. It will be interesting to see the location and scenario of this training exercise when it’s announced, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it involves the need to support a friendly government under attack from a stronger conventional force in both urban and open terrain.

More World Politics Review