Lights, Camera, Action!

By Kate Brannen / November 24, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army is nearing the release date for its revised Capstone Concept, a document that has received a lot of attention over the last few months. A new, slick video from the Army's Training and Doctrine Command introduces the ideas behind the latest version of the paper, which will be publicly released Dec. 21.

The Capstone Concept serves as a vision paper that looks out 10 to 15 years, describing what the Army sees as the future and its role within that.

"It is a logical assumption to conclude that what we'll experience in the future is very much like what we're experiencing now," says Col. Robert Johnson in the 15-minute video. He serves as chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division at TRADOC's Army Capabilities Integration Center. Also making cameos in the video are Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, ARCIC director; Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who led the rewrite of the paper; and Gen. Martin Dempsey, TRADOC's commanding general.

This revision of the Capstone Concept is "particularly important," says Dempsey, because it captures the lessons of the last eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli experience in Southern Lebanon in 2006. One of the lessons learned is that major combat operations alone will not characterize the future operating environment, says Vane.

"The most fundamental shift in our thinking is to embrace the enduring uncertainty of war," says McMaster.

The video paints a future marked by urban population growth, water scarcity, poverty and political instability, making the case that situational awareness will require much more than advanced technology. Instead, human intelligence and knowledge of history and culture will prove crucial to success, according to McMaster.

Information dominance "was not my experience in Iraq," says Capt. Robert Green, a member of the concept-writing team. "Our information technologies and our reconnaissance and surveillance and UAVs and those kinds of things played a critical role in the operations that we did, but they probably gave us, in my experience, maybe 10 percent of the information that we acquired. Most of the information that we got was from doing reconnaissance the old-fashioned way -- going out, looking with our eyes, listening with our ears and talking to people."