Maneuver Self Study Program

Why do Global and Regional Security Issues Matter to Maneuver Leaders?

Maneuver leaders must understand global and regional security issues in depth, breadth, and context in order to know how their actions affect and influence their area of operations and must ensure that their subordinates understand this relationship as well. The tenets of mission command require the commander to understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess operations while trusting the competency of subordinates to show disciplined initiative. Maneuver leaders will not be able to execute operations with the requisite understanding, precision, and skills to accomplish the mission, unless they understand the specific regional contexts of their area of operations.

Global and Regional Security Issues

“And, perhaps most importantly, regional conflicts will again and again confront us with a cruel choice between costly engagement and costly indifference.”
- Lord Robertson

Over the last two decades, the United States military has responded to conflicts and humanitarian disasters on six of the world’s continents and fought in two protracted wars. Often, these deployments were in response to a rapidly developing situation that required adaptable leaders to understand and operate in a foreign culture and to operate in existing conflicts with deep historical roots. To effectively operate in such environments, leaders must understand the existing power structures, local political dynamics, and history of the area.

Understanding the various operational and mission variables of an environment is the critical first step in military operations. It ensures we are asking the right questions and develops the political and strategic context in which maneuver leaders must operate. In short, maneuver leaders must study a variety of global and regional security issues in depth, breadth, and context. Developing a detailed understanding of a particular region cannot be accomplished without prior preparation. While it is impossible to predict the next location to which U.S. forces will deploy, it is possible and necessary to practice the art of studying global and regional security issues broadly. The factors that contribute to conflict and differences in culture are consistent throughout history and across the globe. The ability to identify and affect these factors to achieve lasting, positive outcomes can be developed through the study of specific areas. The Army’s transition to regionally-aligned forces reinforces this approach. Units will focus on a particular region of the globe; study its history, current events, actors, and cultural norms. This does not just prepare the unit to respond to a specific crisis within the region, but it educates leaders and Soldiers in the art of how to respond.

How to Approach the Study of Global and Regional Security Issues:

Leaders should approach this topic the same way they would approach the first two steps of the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. The first step is to define the operational environment. For the purposes of self-study, one must select and focus on a particular area or region to gain a complete picture of the cause and effect relationship between different factors and variables. An appropriate scope for this purpose is to select the purview of one of the US Combatant Commands: NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, AFRICOM, or PACOM. It is important to identify during this step the ways that a particular region can be affected by outside influences for example; Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in AFRICOM receives some of their funding through drug trafficking with the Latin American cartels in both SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM.

The next step is to determine how the operations will likely be shaped by existing factors. One should evaluate the terrain, weather, and civil considerations of the region as they affect the operational variables (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information, Physical Environment, and Time). For example, the military in Thailand is primarily a light counterinsurgency based force due to restrictive terrain and the presence of Muslim separatist organizations in the south of the country. Determining how these variables relate to each other and how they can shape operations will provide a firm understanding of the issues facing a particular region. Practicing the art of determining these relationships will effectively prepare a maneuver leader for the challenges faced on the battlefield.


  1. What are the most likely threats to emerge from a particular area of study? This could include insurgencies, international conflicts, internal unrest, humanitarian or natural disaster relief, or any other potential reason for intervention in the area of study.
  2. What civilian conditions will likely be present if such operations occur? What will be the disposition of the civilian population upon arrival of US forces? What will be their primary areas of concern (food, shelter, security, economic stability)? What hurdles are likely to prevent the addressing of these primary concerns and how they can be overcome? (Ex. The main port in Port-a- Prince was initially damaged beyond use, preventing shipments of aid from being offloaded)
  3. WWhat is the composition of likely friendly forces in the region? What skill sets will they offer? What potential hurdles one might face in partnering with the Host Nation Forces (HNF)? What is the goal of the partnering (initial training of a unit/army, advanced mentoring of an existing force, fight side by side as an allied nation)?
  4. What historical conflicts or disagreements could be uncovered as a second or third order effect of the initial conflict spark? (Ex. Sunni v. Shiite divide in Iraq was largely dormant for decades, but the destabilization of the regime uncovered old wounds) What are some ways to potentially mitigate the risk of this happening or minimize its effects?
  5. Information Operations are an important part of any military operation. Given the likely nature and cause of intervention in the area of study, what would be some effective ways to distribute IO messages to the population? What are some potential hurdles that one could face in this dissemination? (Lack of literacy of the population, poor information infrastructure, diversity of languages and/or dialects spoken in the AO, etc)
  6. What types of external organizations may be encountered in the area of study? How might the presence of these organizations impact operations? This could include everything from NGOs to criminal syndicates.
  7. What is the history of governance in the area of study? Is the power structure rigid or decentralized? Will the local populace readily accept the input of external organizations on their daily lives? How could this affect operations in the area?
  8. Examine the effects of terrain and weather on operations in the area of study. What affects will this have on our forces? How have these factors shaped the local environment from the composition and skill set of the HNF. How have these factors shaped the effectiveness of local governance?
  9. How will operations in this area of study affect other areas? What affects may other areas have on the area you studied?

Global and Regional Security Issue Discussion Linkedin Page

Strategic Context: Thirty Years War

General Online Resources