Inventing a Doctrine Process


T HE TRUTH OF THE matter is that the US Air Force does not have any sort of systematized process for developing its doctrine. Continu­ ous pronouncements from the highest command levels over the past 50 years have trumpeted the importance of sound doctrine. 1 Yet, no system or organized intel­ lectual process exists to capture and evaluate ideas and concepts and then formulate them into useful doctrine. Of course, we do have an established bureaucratic process that produces official doctrine publications. 2 The Air Force has even gone to the trouble of estab­ lishing a Doctrine Center at Langley AFB, Virginia, to act as the focal point for all of its doctrinal efforts. Bu­ reaucratic processes, however, are not intellectual processes—even though we all too often substitute the former for the latter. Bureaucratic processes cause things to happen (or prevent them from happening) in some orderly manner. Determining whether the re­ sults (if they are allowed to occur) are good, bad, right, or wrong is measured by conformance to the process itself rather than by intrinsic qualities and values. An intellectual process may indeed be imbedded within the bureaucratic process. One hopes that such would be the case. Further, one hopes that the bureau­ cratic process itself would systematically evaluate the subject or purpose of the process for its intrinsic value. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and is particu­ larly not the case in the development of Air Force doctrine. Within the established bureaucratic process for producing doctrine, we have no organized system or process for gathering, consolidating, and analyzing his­ torical and theoretical data. We have no ground rules for developing concepts and evaluating competing con­ cepts. In short, no systematic intellectual process ex­ ists for the development of Air Force doctrine. One can find the unfortunate results of this intel­ lectual void in the manuals of Air Force basic doctrine from the early 1950s to the present. Three examples illustrate the point. First, Air Force basic doctrine totally ignored pro­ tracted revolutionary warfare (insurgency) until 1964 and then referred to it almost as an afterthought. This omission was startling, given the fact that revolution­ ary insurgencies dominated much of the world scene from the late 1940s through the 1960s. 3 The Malayan emergency, the French struggle in Indochina, the Hukbalahap rebellion in the Philippines, and the French struggle in Algeria are the most obvious examples. …

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Drew1996InventingAD, title={Inventing a Doctrine Process}, author={C M Drew and R ETIRED}, year={1996} }