U.S. Army Doctrine
From the American Revolution to the War on Terror
Sales Date: June 1, 2021
408 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: June 2021
- Published: September 2014
From the American Revolution to the global war on terror, U.S. Army doctrine has evolved to regulate the chaos of armed conflict by providing an intellectual basis for organizing, training, equipping, and operating the military. Walter E. Kretchik analyzes the service’s keystone doctrine over three centuries to reveal that the army’s leadership is more forward thinking and adaptive than has been generally believed.
The first comprehensive history of Army doctrine, Kretchik’s book fully explores the principles that have shaped the Army’s approach to warfare. From Regulations For the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States in 1779 to modern-day field manuals, it reflects the fashioning of doctrine to incorporate the lessons of past wars and minimize the uncertainty and dangers of battle.
Kretchik traces Army doctrine through four distinct eras: 1779-1904, when guidelines were compiled by single authors or a board of officers in tactical drill manuals; 1905-1944, when the Root Reforms fixed doctrinal responsibility with the General Staff; 1944-1962, the era of multiservice doctrine; and, beginning in 1962, coalition warfare with its emphasis on interagency cooperation. He reveals that doctrine has played a significant role in the Army’s performance throughout its history-although not always to its advantage, as it has often failed to anticipate accurately the nature of the “next war” and still continues to be locked in a debate between advocates of conventional warfare and those who emphasize counterinsurgency approaches.
Each chapter presents individuals who helped define and articulate Army doctrine during each period of its history-including George Washington and Baron von Steuben in the eighteenth century, Emory Upton and Arthur Wagner in the nineteenth, and Elihu Root and William DePuy in the twentieth. Each identifies the “first principles” set down in manuals covering such topics as tactics, operations, and strategy; size, organization, and distribution of forces; and the promise and challenges of technological innovation. Each also presents specific cases that analyze how effectively the Army actually applied a particular era’s doctrine.
Doctrine remains the basis of instruction in the Army school system, ensuring that all officers and enlisted soldiers share a common intellectual framework. This book elucidates that framework for the first time.
"Kretchik has written a valuable study for
those interested in the history of the development of
US Army doctrine. . . . Kretchik’s exhaustively researched study fills a major gap in the study of army doctrinal development."—American Historical Review
"Will likely serve as the bible for tracing the evolution of U.S. Army doctrine from von Steuben’s drill on the frozen fields of Valley Forge to tactics and techniques for kicking in doors in Kabul. . . . For those interested in understanding how America’s Army has thought about fighting future wars, [this book] will be a valuable resource."—Army
"Kretchik provides a good and balanced account of Army doctrine from the 1770s to the 2000s."—Army History
"What Walt Kretchik has produced is a pioneering tour d’horizon of how the U.S. Army thought about war and applied that thinking to fighting and training and, in turn, was influenced by experience as well as the preferences of key individuals. In accomplishing this, it is the first of what should be several more books that need to be written. . . . and Walt Kretchik is the right soldier-scholar to undertake these tasks. As he proved in this book, he can tell a complex story in a way that fascinates the reader."—Small Wars Journal
“A superb and highly readable guide to the common threads of American military theory from the Revolution to the present. . . . Convincingly demonstrates that the U.S. Army’s warfighting doctrine has been and remains a relevant guide to effectiveness in war.”—Jonathan M. House, author of Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century
“Kretchik’s comprehensive study traces the most important intellectual threads that have shaped the Army’s performance in both peace and war and deflates the myth that the United States Army thrives on chaos and cares little for doctrine.”—Conrad Crane, coauthor of Counterinsurgency (Army/Marine Field Manual 3-24)
Chronology of U.A. Army Keystone Doctrinal Manuals
Introduction: U.S. Army Doctrine in Historical Perspective
1. Mimics at War: Tactical Drill, 1778-1848
2. From French Drill to Teutonic Initiative: Infantry Tactics and Regulations, 1855-1905
3. Doctrine for Army Operations: From Field service Regulations to Field Manual 100-5, 1905-1945
4. Cold War Doctrine: From Army Operations to Multinational and Multiservice Operations, 1945-1991
5. Doctrine for a Post-Cold War World: Multinational and Multiservice Operations, 1991-2008
Conclusion: Regulating Chaos