Arrowhead Ripper: Adaptive Leadership in Full Spectrum Operations

Author: COL Fred Johnson

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In an article published in Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reflects on “whether formations and units organized, trained, and equipped to destroy enemies can be adapted well enough and fast enough to dissuade or co-opt them—or, more significantly, to build the capacity of local security forces to do the dissuading and destroying.” This question is central to the on-going debate over whether the Army has the proper structure and training to perform full spectrum operations. This monograph reports that 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) effectively operated as a “full spectrum” force during Operation ARROWHEAD RIPPER in the city of Baqubah, Iraq, from June to September 2007. The Brigade Commander organized the SBCT to conduct simultaneous kinetic and nonkinetic operations, task-organizing his brigade to leverage the Iraqi military, local leaders, and Iraqi systems already in place to accomplish his mission of defeating al-Qaeda and stabilizing the city of Baqubah. Ultimately, adaptive leadership, at every level, enabled 3-2 SBCT to operate in a full spectrum campaign.