This chapter provides background and context for the Statement of Task (SOT) and the committee’s study approach. It discusses important study assumptions and/or limitations, the approach taken to achieve the study objectives, and the organization of the report.
In March, 2010, the leadership of the National Research Council (NRC) Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) met with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology [ASA(ALT)] to discuss how to make the Soldier1 more decisive on future battlefields. At the request of the Assistant Secretary, Dr. Malcolm O’Neill, the next three BAST meetings included presentations related to the individual Soldier and small unit operations. As a result of these board meetings, the BAST recommended that an unclassified study was needed to review and examine technology areas with potential to make U.S. Soldiers in small units decisive and dominant on future battlefields.
In accordance with the BAST recommendation, the ASA(ALT) approved the SOT shown in Box 1-1 and requested that the NRC establish an ad hoc study committee consisting of experts in appropriate fields to accomplish the study tasks under the oversight of the BAST.
This section defines terms used in the SOT, describes assumptions made by the committee, and clarifies the areas of focus for the study as agreed upon with the ASA(ALT) sponsor. At the beginning of the study, the committee chair
1In December 2003, Army Chief of Staff GEN Peter J. Schoomaker directed that all command information products, including base newspapers, capitalize the word “soldier” to give U.S. Army Soldiers “the respect and importance they've always deserved” (Coon, 2003). GEN Schoomaker’s directive has become standard practice in Army communications, including doctrine documents. Although it is not the general policy of the National Academy Press or the editorial staff of the NRC, the committee requested and received permission to capitalize “Soldier” in this report when referring to U.S. Army soldiers.
met with the Army Chief Scientist to clarify the scope of the study. The following guidance resulted from that meeting.2
The U.S. military does not believe its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines should be engaged in combat with adversaries on a “level playing field”. Our combat individuals enter engagements to win. To that end, this country has used its technical prowess and industrial capability to develop decisive weapons, weapons that over-match those of potential enemies, such as the M1A2 tank, the F-22 fighter, and the Seawolf attack submarine. The country is now engaged in what has been identified as an “era of persistent conflict” in which the most important weapon is the dismounted soldier operating in small units. More than for soldiers in Vietnam, Korea, and WWII, today’s soldier must be prepared to contend with both regular and irregular adversaries. Results in Iraq and Afghanistan show that while the US soldier is a formidable fighter, his contemporary suite of equipment and support does not enjoy the same high degree of overmatch capability exhibited by large weapons platforms—yet it is the soldier who ultimately will play the decisive role in restoring stability.
A study is needed to establish the technical requirements for overmatch capability for dismounted soldiers operating individually or in small units. What technological and organizational capabilities are needed to make the dismounted soldier a decisive weapon? How can technology help those soldiers remain decisive on a changing, uncertain and complex future environment? The study will examine the applicability of systems engineering to soldiers and small units, as well as specific technology areas that are relevant to making soldiers decisive, particularly in conditions where we still take casualties today (movement to contact and chance encounters). Technology areas to be considered should include (but not be limited to) situational awareness, weapons, mobility, and protection, adaptation to battlefield environments (e.g., clothing, cooling), communications and networking, human dynamics (e.g., physical, cognitive, behavioral), and logistical support (e.g., medical aid, food, water, energy).
The NRC will establish an ad hoc study committee to examine these requirements. The committee will:
1. Determine the elements of overmatch capabilities necessary for a dismounted soldier to be a decisive weapon on the battlefield, Consider both the individual soldier as well as the soldier as part of a small (squad-size or smaller) unit.
2. Identify technical requirements for optimizing soldiers and small units to achieve overmatch capabilities on the battlefield. Consider technology and societal trends that may affect the balance between U.S. forces & adversaries both now and in future years.
3. Identify near-term, mid-term and far-term technologies in which new or enhanced S&T investments would facilitate the development of decisive soldier capabilities.
4. Determine the relative importance of such investments in making the soldier decisive on future battlefields.
The study will address the operations by dismounted infantry Soldiers and squad-size or smaller units in the future and include the full
2Quoted text is from the discussion paper used in the meeting between Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, and LTG (U.S. Army, retired) Henry J. Hatch, Chair, Committee on Making the Soldier Decisive on Future Battlefields, April 5, 2011.
spectrum of operations3 extending from stable peace to general war in an environment of persistent conflict. The latter introduces the requirement that the Soldier be resilient—physically and mentally. ‘Future land operations’ exclude the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan although the study will draw on those and other experiences as appropriate.
The primary focus of the study will be the equipped, trained, and supported (full Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel and Facilities) individual Soldier, and the study will address both materiel and human capabilities. The human component includes physical (health and fitness), mental, and social attributes including cognitive (knowledge and skills) and noncognitive (temperament, strength of character, social awareness, etc.). Each Soldier is unique, and talents and traits, including cognitive abilities, will vary considerably among the Soldiers in a particular unit. The Soldier is an integrated system—materiel and human.
The intent is to avoid the traditional approach of “building material systems around the Soldier,” and to facilitate the development of an Army composed of Soldiers and small units that can be adapted to whatever mission is assigned.
This clarifying guidance became crucial to the study approach adopted by the committee, serving as a touchstone for affirming what many readers of this report may initially see as controversial premises assumed and positions defended.
The SOT contains several terms that are defined below for the purposes of the study:
• Decisive: An adjective that refers to the ability to settle or decide an outcome; to be conclusive. The focus for this study is on making Soldiers in small units the successful decisive element on future battlefields and other areas of operations. Soldiers must take decisive action in the continuous, simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive, and stability or defense support of civil authorities tasks (U.S. Army, 2012, Pp. 5-6). In doing so, Soldiers and the tactical small unit (TSU) must be effectively inside the opponent’s decision-making cycle to act preemptively and not just reactively. For Soldiers and TSUs to be decisive, they must overmatch their opponents in all missions.
3“Full spectrum operations” was the Army’s operational concept at the time the SOT and the clarifying guidance were drafted (U.S. Army, 2011a). As of November 2011, “unified land operations” became the Army’s operational concept, and “range of military operations” replaced “spectrum of conflict” (U.S. Army, 2011b; U.S. Army, 2012). See Appendix C for current doctrinal terminology.
• Overmatch: To be more than a match for an opponent by greatly exceeding comparative measures of the opponent’s capabilities. Overmatch implies sufficient superiority to ensure operational success.
• Near, mid, long terms: For this report, the near term is within 5 years, mid-term is 5-10 years, and long term is beyond 10 years.
The SOT charged the committee with identifying both technological and organizational capabilities that are needed to give a dismounted small unit decisive overmatch against future adversaries. Technical requirements for optimizing Soldiers and small units to achieve overmatch were to be identified in areas including but not limited to situational awareness, communications and networking, weapons, mobility, protection, human dynamics, and logistical support. To address its charge, the committee conducted an extensive information-gathering effort that included visits to Army training facilities and service laboratories, presentations from and discussions with Army leaders from both the requirements development and acquisition communities, and meetings and interviews with Soldiers and small unit leaders recently returned from deployment in overseas operations. The committee also identified and reviewed key publications in the open literature and shared the individual members’ experiences and expertise with representatives of both the Army science and technology community and the operational Army. The committee’s formal meetings and site visits are listed in Appendix B.
From the outset of the study, the committee noted that the soldiers and tactical small units in Iraq and Afghanistan were expected to perform in a variety of operations in addition to traditional combat and that the “battlefield” had become far more complex. These additional roles, referred to as wide area security and combined arms maneuver, were discussed with the Army during data-gathering and later articulated in documents that were released during the study. (U.S. Army, 2011b; U.S. Army, 2012).
In the revised doctrine, the range of military operations holds infantry soldiers and tactical small units equally as responsible for stability operations, such as wide area security, as they have been in the past for offensive and defensive combat operations alone. The increased scope of responsibilities provided the committee with perspective on what would be needed to achieve decisive overmatch in the future, and it also affected the approach to the study.
As a result, it was clear to the committee that the Army had begun a transition to the future TSU in its current operations and that the TSU would depend much more heavily on the abilities of Soldiers in the future. The study approach would have to evaluate existing and contemplated technologies in light of this expanded operational mission set for the dismounted Soldier and TSU.
During the course of the committee’s deliberations during its information-gathering activities and in the subsequent report-drafting phase, four principles kept emerging that, to the committee, seemed essential for the Army to embrace if it is serious about providing dismounted Soldiers and small units with decisive overmatch across the range of potential missions and tasks envisioned for future unified land operations. Without rigorous adherence to these principles, the “optimization” of Soldiers and small units to achieve overmatch across the expanded range of military operations, will not be achieved, no matter what piece-part technologies are developed to facilitate “decisive Soldier capabilities.”
1. The human dimension, as defined by the Army, needs to be expanded in scope, and more emphasis needs to be placed on this expanded concept of the human dimension and other non-materiel aspects of potential solutions to provide overmatch capability. The committee’s view of what the human dimension should include is discussed below.
2. The complexity of what the dismounted Soldier does and of the means available to accomplish those tasks requires that the Soldier be viewed as a system in which components and subsystems must work together seamlessly and without interference with or diminishment of other functions of this Soldier-system. The committee thus agrees with the assertion, made by the Army and advanced in numerous prior reports to the Army, that the Soldier is a system—albeit a human-based system unlike platform-based systems such as tanks, submarines, or fighter aircraft. If the Soldier is a human-based system, then a dismounted TSU is a system of these Soldier-systems. From this perspective, a comprehensive, analytically based systems engineering capability is essential to evaluate and make trades among capability options that encompass all the domains of TSU performance captured under the military rubric of DOTMLPF: Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel and Facilities.
3. Metrics (e.g., attributes, measures of performance, and measures of effectiveness) for the Soldier and TSU are needed at the outset to guide and measure actions to provide capability improvements in all facets of the Soldier and TSU acquisition life cycles (conceptualization, development, test and evaluation, training, etc.)
4. The Army’s acquisition system needs to be integrated, streamlined, and tailored to embrace the three principles above and to ensure that solutions identified through a systems engineering methodology are developed, tested, and delivered in an expeditious and efficient manner.
The committee devoted considerable time and energy to distilling and illustrating these four principles while continuing its efforts, in response to the
SOT, to identify specific technologies that seemed to have the greatest potential to contribute to the ultimate overmatch solution. Although the SOT did not explicitly charge the committee with exploring these overarching principles, the committee sees them as an essential part of any adequate answer to the stated question, “How can technology help those Soldiers remain decisive on a changing, uncertain, and complex future environment?”
The first essential principle enumerated above calls for an expansion of the Army’s current conception of the human dimension. As it came to understand the non-materiel side of TSU and Soldier capabilities, the committee decided that the greatest returns on Army investments for improvements in the near, mid, and far terms would be achieved by integrating the materiel aspects of technology developments with non-materiel aspects found primarily in the human dimension. The committee learned during its study that there are known advances in individual and collective human performance that offer potential to meet the identified capability needs of future dismounted operations but that have not been applied by the Army.
Decisive overmatch capabilities will only be achieved if adequate attention to and investment in human dimension solutions are fully coordinated with solutions from the materiel dimension. The dimensions cannot be applied in isolation; the dismounted TSU and the Soldier will only have decisive overmatch when both dimensions come together in capabilities superior to those opposing them, across the full range of missions and tasks expected in unified land operations.
This assessment is consistent with the opening 50 pages of the seminal study report on the human dimension by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), where a half dozen quotations put Soldier attributes ahead of weapons in determining battle outcome (TRADOC, 2008a). From Abrams and Ardant du Picq through Marshall and Patton to Sun Tzu and Van Riper, the best military minds have expressed in their own way the view stated in the Army’s 2005 edition of its capstone document, The Army (Field Manual 1):
First and foremost, the Army is Soldiers. No matter how much the tools of warfare improve; it is Soldiers who use them to accomplish their mission. Soldiers committed to selfless service to the Nation are the centerpiece of Army organizations.
(U.S. Army, 2005, p. 1-1)
That TRADOC study report, and the more summarizing TRADOC concept document that followed (TRADOC, 2008b), used a definition of “human dimension” more suited to a lay audience or the popular press than to a scientific study or disciplined analysis: “… the human dimension encompasses the moral, physical, and cognitive components of Soldier, leader, and organizational
development and performance essential to raise, prepare, and employ the Army in full spectrum operations” (TRADOC, 2008a, p. 9). Throughout that study, and especially in the chapter devoted to the moral component, the meaning of “moral” is extended beyond its dictionary definition to include unit morale and cohesion, language skills, and cultural awareness (TRADOC, 2008a). The chapter on the cognitive component of the human dimension is devoted exclusively to training. Neither selection of recruits nor placement of Soldiers with different cognitive attributes is discussed. Finally, Soldier attributes of temperament or personality were not discussed in either TRADOC document, but these attributes have a profound influence on the success of the ubiquitous “strategic corporal” and the collective squad.
In presentations from Army briefers, the committee frequently heard the term “human dimension” or read it on briefing slides, but the usage implied little beyond “other-than-materiel.” A more useful characterization of what should be included in the human dimension occurred in a two-page information paper on the human dimension written in June 2011 and approved by the Chief of the Human Dimension Task Force (Johnson, 2011). The paper refers to “cognitive, physical, and social” attributes of Soldiers; accession and selection of personnel; training and education; Soldier readiness; development of Soldiers, leaders, and organizations; and individual and unit resiliency (Johnson, 2011). The range of topics and their implied interdependency in this brief statement are closer to the committee’s working concept of the human dimension.
The committee recognized that high standards of morals and ethics are essential if Soldiers are to successfully prosecute all wartime missions, but it assumed that topics relating specifically to moral conduct and ethical performance of Soldiers were outside the scope of its task statement.
Another useful source for what should, in the committee’s view, be included in the province of the human dimension is a three-page article by a retired Army major general on “The Human Dimension in the Close Fight” (Scales, 2012). The author asks the reader to imagine being among the Soldiers of a dismounted squad on night patrol when they are suddenly ambushed just beyond range of supporting fires from their forward operating base. The human attributes that this author views as making “soldiers and leaders into superbly competent small units” include seeing and sensing the enemy so there are no surprises, emotional stability under the stress of combat, group resilience, the ability of leaders to make sound decisions quickly under extreme stress, and trust in support from other units and higher echelons. The author concludes with the following recommendation for winning the close-combat fight in the future:
…I believe now more than ever that the best investment we can make of our diminishing human and capital resources would be to use the human sciences to improve the fighting power of close-combat soldiers, to focus as much on what goes in the soldier as what goes on the soldier.
(Scales, 2012, p. 38)
In light of both the official TRADOC sources cited first and the unofficial, informal, but more comprehensive accounts of the human dimension suggested in the latter two cited references, the committee has used the following as its working definition, for purposes of this study:
As used in this study, the human dimension means all of the attributes of the individual Soldier and of the collected Soldiers of the TSU that impact performance of mission tasks. These include the skills, abilities, and knowledge brought with them into the Army upon recruitment, even from prior education or job experiences; personality traits; individual and collective military training; skills, abilities, and knowledge from prior military assignments; TSU command chain leadership; unit social environment including morale, cohesion, and emotional state; the ergonomic design or human factors engineering of the Soldier-machine interfaces; as well as locale acclamation (time zone, elevation, temperature, etc). Skills, abilities, and knowledge include the physical, mental, and emotional. Bearing with real impact but less directly on mission task performance are the domestic or family environments of each Soldier, which have not been included here. Nor has the committee included issues of morality that may bear on overall mission accomplishment in a strategic sense, but not on tactical tasks, except as morality issues may influence the effectiveness of the unit leadership chain or the health of the unit social environment.
When this working definition of the human dimension is applied to the dismounted Soldier and dismounted TSU as human-based systems that require a systems engineering approach, the result is similar in purpose to that of concepts such as “human-systems integration,” as presented, for example, by Booher (2003). However, as discussed further in Chapter 3, military implementations to date of human-centered systems design, such as the Army’s MANPRINT program or the Air Force’s Human Systems Integration Office, have fundamental constraints and flaws that limit their relevance as models for the approach advocated in this report.
Chapter 1 (Introduction) provides the background of the study, the committee’s approach to addressing its SOT, an initial discussion of key concepts, and the report organization. Chapter 2 (Capabilities) uses the committee’s view of the missions and tasks that are likely to be assigned to dismounted TSUs and Soldiers in future operations to identify critical capability needs and opportunities to achieve decisive overmatch. Chapter 3 (Setting the Conditions to Achieve Soldier and TSU Overmatch) discusses the essential conditions necessary for designing, developing, and implementing technologies that will ensure the dismounted TSU is decisive on future battlefields. Chapter 4 (Achieving
Overmatch) applies the approach recommended in Chapter 3 to discuss prospective near-, mid-, and long-term options for inclusion in the systematic analysis process. In particular, it focuses on five areas for improving TSU capability that the committee agreed have the greatest potential for contributing to decisive overmatch.
Booher, H.T. 2003. Handbook of Human Systems Integration, New York, N.Y.: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Coon, C. 2003. Soldier—and that’s with a Capital ‘S’. Stars and Stripes. Available online http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,122303_Soldier,00.html. Accessed March 20, 2013.
Johnson, T. 2011. The Human Dimension. Approved by COL Steven Chandler, Chief, Human Dimension Task Force.
Scales, R.H. 2012. The human dimension in the close fight. Available online www.ausa.org/publications/armymagazine/archive/2012/05/Documents/Scales_0512.pdf. Accessed September 27, 2012.
TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command). 2008a. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-7-01: The U.S. Army Study of the Human Dimension in the Future: 2015-2024. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, U.S. Army. Available online www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/p525-3-7-01.pdf. Accessed September 27, 2012.
TRADOC. 2008b. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-7: The US Army Concept for the Human Dimension in Full Spectrum Operations: 2015-2024. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, Department of the U.S. Army. Available online www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/p525-3-7.pdf. Accessed September 27, 2012.
U.S. Army. 2005. Field Manual 1 (FM 1). June 2005. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, Department of the Army. Available online www.army.mil/fm1/. Accessed September 26, 2012.
U.S. Army. 2011a. Operations. Army Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Change 1. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, Department of the Army.
U.S. Army. 2011b. Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-0. Unified Land Operations. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, Department of the Army. Available online http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/ADP_1.html. Accessed March 22, 2013.
U.S. Army. 2012. Army Doctrine Reference Publication 3-0 (ADRP 3-0). Unified Land Operations. Available online http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/ADRP_1.html. Accessed March 20, 2013.