The U.S. Army operates on doctrine and regulations. Manuals contain those standard operating procedures to ensure continuity between units and leaders.
Although all Army manuals have value, a few stand out from the crowd. These are the ones I have referenced often, along with some honorable mentions.
Here are five must-know U.S Army regulations.
The Five Must-Know U.S. Army Regulations
AR 600-20 Army Command Policy
AR 600-20 is the bedrock for all commanders. It explains the Equal Opportunity (EO) program and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP) in great detail, along with the general command policies.
Even if you never enter a command, every officer should know the policies and program a commander has to abide by when leading a formation. For instance, AR 600-20 outlines military discipline and conduct, Army family readiness to include family care plans, and even a chapter on resiliency.
AR 25-50 Preparing and Managing Correspondence
Every time I change out my computer, I download this manual. It refers to all types of military correspondence with the appropriate formats and fonts.
Most military correspondence you’ll use is writing Memorandums for Record. However, there will be times when you’ll need to write a letter, add enclosures, and add special markings to documents. AR 25-50 provides these standards for you and some great examples of how to write in a military manner.
Military writing is challenging for new officers. But AR 25-50 flattens the learning curve.
FM 1-02.2 Military Symbols
I used this manual extensively during the Captain’s Career Course (CCC). The United States Army needs a common language with symbols to plan and execute operations together. So, the Military Symbols manual is critical to communicating across Army branches. All Army officers get acquainted with this manual during their professionalization schools. However, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these now to become an asset to your groups and future units.
You can always refer to the manual, but I prefer to use this impressive PowerPoint presentation. Someone spent a lot of time creating most military symbols and graphics from the manual and putting them onto PowerPoint. I constantly refer to that presentation when making briefs or plans involving multiple units. However, it may be a little dated so refer to the manual for the most recent symbols. Regardless of currency, whoever made that PowerPoint deserves a medal.
DA PAM 600-3 Officer Professional Development and Career Management
All officers are responsible for their career paths. Get familiar with how the officer promotion process works, especially for your branch.
DA PAM 600-3 is a good overview of the development processes at each rank. In addition, it discusses the officer education system and other military schools needed for promotion.
Additionally, the DA PAM will talk about promotions, which consistently becomes an intriguing conversation amongst officers. Along with promotions, the manual will address your Officer Evaluation Reports (OERs) and how those shape your promotion opportunities.
FM 7-0 Training
Like AR 25-50, this manual should have a special spot on your computer desktop or desk drawer. It teaches you how to prioritize training, Mission Essential Tasks (METs), and plan training within the Army.
Training is the bread and butter of the United States Army. FM 7-0 is the gold standard for articulating how your training meets the readiness standards that your higher is trying to achieve. Tailoring your Situation Reports (SITREPs) and briefs to match the wording in FM 7-0 will give you credibility in your ability to lead and train Soldiers.
This manual will cover the proper way to conduct an After Action Review (AAR), explain the purpose behind the Commander’s Training Guidance, and even address how to run training meetings.
There are many essential manuals, but I wanted to focus on a few critical ones. That doesn’t mean that other ones are not as important. Instead, it means that you should reference the following several resources when the occasions arise.
Here is my list of honorable mentions:
FM 350-1 Army Training and Leader Development
FM 5-0 Planning and Orders Production
FM 6-0 Commander and Staff Organization and Operations
FM 7-22 Holistic Health and Fitness
FM 6-22 Leader Development
AR 670-1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
I understand that reading Army doctrine isn’t the most exciting part of the job. However, it is essential to know and understand the regulations and to reference them often.
Creating a shared understanding is so vital in the Army that its leaders go to great lengths to make information available to everyone. So take these manuals and apply them to your daily regimens.
What Army manuals do you think are essential? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!