Exploring the Army Operating Concept

As the U.S. Army draws down after nearly fifteen years of war, the service is reflecting on lessons learned as well as looking ahead to future conflicts and challenges. A central product of this analysis is the new Army Operating Concept called “Win in a Complex World.” Published October 2014, this document from Army Training and Doctrine Command seeks to characterize the nature of the world we now live in (unpredictable, quickly evolving, and increasingly complex) and shift attention away from weapons, technologies and systems in favor of a focus on the capabilities at all levels (tactical, operational, and strategic) that will be needed to win future conflicts.

The Army Operating Concept took center stage in Huntsville, Alabama at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium. Serving as the keynote speaker for the symposium, General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, highlighted the challenges the United States is facing around the world; from West Africa to North Korea, the U.S. is confronted with a broad range of enemies and enemy capabilities. Many of these threats are long-term in nature and will require sustained operations to bring them to an end. At the same time, the Army and all other services are entering an era of tightened budgets which, according to the service chiefs, including GEN Odierno, severely threatens the Army’s readiness and modernization efforts. It is these modernization efforts that are needed to achieve the capabilities needed to win in a complex world.

Given the lessons learned from the past fifteen years and the budgetary difficulties that lie ahead, the Army is indeed at what GEN Odierno described as “a strategic reflection point.” Tremendous challenges await the service and its major commands. However, GEN Odierno reminded the audience that “it’s people who win wars,” and that the U.S. Army remains the world’s best land force because of its men and women in uniform who are out in the world making a difference.


Almost every session at AUSA ILW Global Force Symposium centered on the Army Operating Concept.  Do you think the AOC will drive real change in the Army, or will it fall victim to various constraints such as contracting, personnel systems, and the ever-changing budget situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can view GEN Odierno’s full remarks via the AUSA YouTube Channel: