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Maneuver support: From concept to future Employment.

After nearly 15 years of conducting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is broadening its focus to Inear-peer competitors, engaging the United States in what is called conventional warfare. Consequently, Army leaders and planners are heavily engaged in developing concepts and capabilities to deter and defeat these comparable future adversaries. In the near- to far-term, solutions include upgrading existing equipment, procuring new systems, updating or creating new doctrine in the current force, and developing concepts and capabilities that anticipate projected technological advances and changes in geopolitical realities. This article briefly examines key Army concepts used to guide this fundamental shift and realignment of focus to major combat operations across all domains, details the purpose of the maneuver support functional concept, and highlights the maneuver support community role within that construct now and into the future.

Army Concept Framework

In order to ensure that required capabilities develop efficiently and effectively while exercising stewardship of finite funds, the Army employs the Army Concept Framework (ACF). The ACF provides the intellectual and foundational framework for the institutional adaptations and investments required to enhance the Army's ability to conduct operations. (1) The ACF also provides the conceptual basis for experimentation; wargaming; and doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development and education, personnel, and facilities capabilities that guides future force training and development. (2) In essence, the ACF is the genesis for developing future concepts and, as a result, provides direct input to the Army capstone concept.

The Army capstone concept describes the anticipated future operational environment, what the future Army must do based on that environment, and the broad capabilities the Army will require to successfully accomplish enduring missions. Given the future operational environment, the Army capstone concept also describes what the Army must do as part of the joint force to protect the national interests of the United States and successfully execute the primary missions of the U.S. armed forces. The contents of the Army capstone concept provide input to the Army operating concept, which addresses how the complementary and reinforcing capabilities within warfighting functions--when combined with leadership, protection and information--generate combat power to accomplish future joint combined arms operations. The Army operating concept, in turn, guides functional concept development across all six warfighting concepts of the Army, which include--

* Movement and maneuver.

* Mission command.

* Fires.

* Sustainment.

* Intelligence.

* Maneuver support.

Army Functional Concept-Maneuver Support

Focusing on the Army functional concept for maneuver support, (which builds on the ideas presented in the Army capstone concept, Army operating concept) describes how maneuver support forces, as part of Army forces, provide unique skills and specialized capabilities that enable mobility, countermobility, and protection to accomplish campaign objectives and protect the national interests of the United States. This concept guides future force development and modernization efforts by establishing the conceptual foundation for required capabilities to enable freedom of action across the range of military operations in an uncertain and complex environment. The concept provides a vision of how future maneuver support forces will continuously develop situational understanding, gain positions of relative advantage, and consolidate gains to achieve the commander's intent and accomplish the mission. Maneuver support forces provide unique skills and technical capabilities to understand and shape the environment; mitigate the effects of obstacles, threats, and hazards; and protect the force, population, resources, and activities regardless of the complexity of the operating environment or degradation of systems.

Maneuver support forces provide specialized capabilities that assess key terrain and mitigate obstacles and hazards through a unique technical perspective that augments and enhances the overall situational understanding within the operational environment. Activities such as forensics, police intelligence operations, counter weapons of mass destruction intelligence activities, and geospatial and terrain information and infrastructure assessments all improve planning and add to the common operating picture. Through the conduct of specialized activities and technical tools and skills, maneuver support forces shape perceptions and influence the behavior of the local populous, the enemy, and relevant actors within the operational environment. Maneuver support forces alter the physical terrain through countermobility, general engineering, and police operations. They also mitigate obstacle hazards designed or employed to impede freedom of movement. In addition, they provide enhanced technical protection capabilities against potential or active threats designed to cause harm to our force, military activities, or the civilian population. It takes a collective effort from all maneuver support forces to understand and shape the physical and cognitive domains, and each regiment makes unique contributions toward this end.

Engineer Regiment

The emerging concepts in the ever-changing operational environment do not change the requirement for engineers to provide mobility, countermobility, survivability, and geospatial capabilities in support of enabling freedom of movement and action across the range of military operations to include homeland response and domestic support to civil authorities. In the near-term, to respond to ongoing and new efforts across the globe, the Engineer Regiment will use existing capabilities and apply innovative approaches to the modification and adaptation of existing equipment and formations. It is imperative that we adapt faster than our enemies and potential adversaries. In the mid-term, engineers will evolve capabilities to retain overmatch and enhance expeditionary maneuvers. For the long-term, the Regiment will innovate with emerging technologies and systems to increase and discover efficiencies in its efforts to integrate a versatile mix of robotic autonomous systems with manned and unmanned teaming. A constant effort must be made to continue the modernization of engineer-enabling capabilities while simultaneously staying ahead of threat adaption.

Chemical Regiment

While chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats and hazards have been a condition of the battlefield since World War I, advances in the physical and life sciences as well as the proliferation of advanced technologies have increased the potential for threat development in the future. Countering these and other developments will require substantial cooperation and coordination with Army, joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational organizations, as it is widely understood that weapons of mass destruction present significant threats to the United States and its interests. In order to counter this threat, the Chemical Regiment and the Army continue to build capability and capacity with special operations forces in the near-and mid-term. Future forces will build upon this momentum to prevent and counter proliferation through partnerships and cooperative threat reduction. Finally, science and technology solutions in the near to far term will improve existing CBRN detection capability, integrated early warning, personal protection, and decontamination at the tactical and operational levels.

Military Police Regiment

Military police will continue to conduct policing; investigations; and detention, security, and mobility support operations. The tools and technologies available will grow to enhance effectiveness, efficiencies, and safety. The Military Police Regiment of the future will have a wider array of nonlethal effects as well as robotics and autonomous systems available to enhance job performance. Coupled with a new platform and mission command networks, military police will retain the levels of mobility, survivability, and lethality necessary to detect, engage, and counter criminal, irregular, or enemy threats. Continuing to improve and expand technical capabilities to enhance and operationalize forensics exploitation laboratories and detection tools will increase utility and effectiveness through all phases of the operation as well as support the daily law enforcement mission. Military police will continue to provide critical support to commanders at all echelons at home and abroad regardless of the evolving threat.

Now and in the future, maneuver support forces use their unique technical capabilities to enable movement, maneuver, and sustainment capabilities. The technical competence demanded of maneuver support forces makes them invaluable to commanders throughout the conflict continuum. No other formations can do what CBRN, engineer, and military police forces accomplish; this generates tremendous demand for their capabilities. Yet, the strength of the maneuver support force to provide key capabilities to the powerful force enables the commander to consolidate gains and drive stability operations. It is this support to greater national goals and the long-term needs of the military and populace that highlight the value of maneuver support forces, their mission, and their technical skill sets.

The Army functional concept for maneuver support is predicated on the assumption that engineer, CBRN, and military police units will remain the primary maneuver support forces to support Army formations conducting joint combined arms operations across the range of military operations.


(1) Technical Publication 525-3-5, the U.S. Army Functional Concept for Maneuver Support, February 2017.

(2) Ibid.

Captain Nobles served as a maneuver support concepts officer in the Concepts, Organization, and Doctrine Development Division, Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Auburn University, Alabama.

Caption: Bridge crew members assembling an improved ribbon bridge.

Caption: Chemical Soldiers conduct training operations in a complex (contaminated) environment.

Caption: Military Police Soldier performs security operations.
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Article Details
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Author:Nobles, Benjamin
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Date:May 1, 2018
Previous Article:Regimental Awards.

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