The Doctrine Development Process

by Major Howard G. Leibovitch

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Doctrinal field manuals (FMs) are the building blocks of our operating principles; they are designed to serve the units in the field today, while looking toward the requirements of the near future. They are the means of collectively presenting the essential, general ideas by which we organize and operate as functional branches or operational units. By themselves, they represent the collective wisdom and latest ideas from our senior leadership. As with many other written products, it is rare that any single individual produces a FM. This article presents a look at the timeline being implemented to develop doctrinal literature at Fort Huachuca. Army Regulation 25-30, Army Integrated Publishing and Printing Program, and TRADOC Regulation 25-30, Preparation, Production and Processing of Army-wide Doctrinal and Training Literature (ADTL), are the two governing regulations for the production of Army manuals.

Beginning the Process

In line with the current U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH) reengineering, we have reorganized the process for developing and producing doctrinal literature to enable us to get products to the field faster. Figure 1 illustrates the current process. Army and TRADOC regulations require that proponent schools annually review their doctrinal literature requirements and maintain a five-year production cycle. Revisions of manuals normally occur in tandem with the revision of related capstone manuals (such as FM 100-5, Operations), they may occur due to changes in organizational structures, or because the introduction of new equipment may dictate changes in tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP).

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Figure 1. Doctrinal Development And Production Process.

The key to the development process is clearly defining the requirements for the manual and presenting the writing team with the focus it requires to produce a quality product. This will take the form of a Program Directive, which is the "thesis statement" approved at the general officer level. Following the approval to proceed with development of the manual, the Doctrine Division will produce a Purpose, Scope, and Target Audience Statement and the Topic Sentence Outline. These two products are the guides for the writers to follow to ensure the manual maintains its intended focus. Parallel to this process, a pre-revision request is fielded worldwide to request input or ideas for changes needed in current publications.

The Initial Draft

Once a dedicated writing team is identified, they will develop the initial draft (ID) of the manual assisted by subject matter experts within the Center and requested assistance from units in the field. Once the ID has been edited and formatted, it will be staffed for comment. We post ID documents on the Doctrinal Literature Home- page at Doctrine/dlb.htm. The staffing will be accomplished electronically over a two-month period.

Final Draft

The Final Draft (FD) is the version that incorporates the field's comments into the ID. Normally, we would not restaff the FD with the field, unless it incorporates ideas that change the focus of the original ID. If this were the case, we would restaff it as a Revised Initial Draft. We allow one month for production of the Final Draft. This includes editing and incorporating illustrations into the manual. A council of colonels revisits the FD, and it can recommend further changes before the FD version goes to the approving authority for final review.

Depending on who the approval authority is for the manual, the staffing period for approval can last between one and three months. However, once the FD is approved, we designate it the "Approved Final Draft" and prepare it for printing. Preparation of the final edited version as the camera-ready copy that goes to the Army Training Support Center (ATSC) takes two to three months. Additionally, as we discussed in the October-December 1997 issue of MIPB, we prepare soft copies of the manual for posting on the Worldwide Web. As soon as it is available, we post a copy on the Doctrinal Literature Internet Homepage listed above, and eventually on the Army Doctrine and Training Digital Library (ADTDL) pages.

This new development process, projected to take nine months from the start of writing to sending the product to printer (it formerly took 18 months), will provide more timely products to the field. As always, the key to making good doctrine better, and more suited to the overall needs of the MI Corps, is your active participation in the review process. We look forward to hearing from you.


Major Leibovitch is assigned to the Doctrinal Division, Futures Directorate, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca. Interested readers can reach him via E-mail at [email protected] and telephonically at (520) 538-0971 and DSN 879-0971.