Military Doctrine

Military doctrine is a level of military planning between national strategy and unit-level tactics, techniques, and procedures. It provides a shared way of thinking about military problems, but does not direct how military problems will be solved. It does not provide specific steps to solve a problem, nor does it direct a commander to take any action. Commanders are always expected to exercise their own judgment in carrying out their missions.

Doctrine may be shared among the armed services of a nation as well as be specific to a branch. In addition, doctrine may be shared between several nations.

In general, doctrinal documents state:

A nation’s national military objectives
The general mission of the armed service or branch (“who we are”)
General concepts of how this service or branch shall perform its mission (“what we do”)
Concerns and cautions in carrying out this mission (“how we should do it”)
Historical examples (“how we did it in the past”)
Military doctrine changes, or should change, as the nature of warfare and the specific threat to a nation changes.


2 Responses to “Military Doctrine”

  1. patricksperry Says:

    The relationship between military doctrine and national security strategy is highly complex. In principle, military doctrine should complement national security. However, in practice changing or implementing a military doctrine is a highly complex and time consuming activity that can take years or decades, and hence the same military doctrine is often used to attempt to support radically different security strategies.

    In addition, the question of what a nation should do is often influenced by what it can do, so in this sense military doctrine often influences security strategy.


  2. patricksperry Says:

    United States military doctrine is specified in a set of documents which are intended to support the National Security Strategy of the United States. America’s military doctrine is spelled out in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

    Most Modern US doctrine is based around the Rapid Dominance doctrine, better known as Shock and Awe. Created by the National Defense University, Shock and Awe is based on “overwhelming decisive force” to dominate and paralyze an enemy force and weaken its will to fight. This doctrine was first unveiled in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    The Department of Defense publishes Joint Publications which state all-services doctrine. The current basic doctrinal publication is Joint Publication 3-0, “Doctrine for Joint Operations.

    Headquarters, United States Air Force, publishes current USAF doctrine. The lead agency for developing Air Force doctrine is Headquarters, Air Force Doctrine Center; the Air Staff International Standardization Office works on multinational standardization, such as NATO Standardization Agreements (STANAGs), and agreements between the American, British, Canadian, and Australian Armies and Navies (ABCA) that affect the Air Force. Currently the basic Air Force doctrinal documents are the 10-series of Air Force publications.

    The United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is responsible for developing Army doctrine. TRADOC was developed early in the 1970s as a response to the American Army’s difficulties in the Vietnam War, and is one of the reforms that improved Army professionalism. Currently the basic Army doctrinal document is Field Manual 1, “The Army”.

    The Naval Warfare Development Command (NWDC) Doctrine Department coordinates development, publication, and maintenance of United States Navy doctrine. Currently the basic unclassified naval doctrinal documents are Naval Doctrine Publications 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

    Headquarters, United States Coast Guard, published Coast Guard Publication 1, U.S. Coast Guard: America’s Maritime Guardian, which is the source of USCG doctrine.


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