Cone talks challenges facing the force with local AUSA chapter
May 31, 2013
The commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command took some time to talk with members of the Virginia Colonial Chapter Association of the United States Army during the chapter's annual professional development forum in Newport News, Va., May 22.
As the forum's keynote speaker, Cone discussed a variety of topics, including current TRADOC initiatives, challenges facing the force and the value the Army brings to the joint force, which he said is strengthened by lessons learned from the past.
"I'm always very interested in making sure we consider not just lessons, but the right lessons," Cone said. "I think in some cases, we're kind of cherry-picking lessons of the last 12 years to shape the future, and it's very important that we have a comprehensive understanding of that."
One of the examples Cone gave as a critical lesson learned was the importance of the human domain and the human dimension. He said that from the Iraq war, it became clear that technology was secondary to the human spirit and human will in combat.
"If you look at what we had when we crossed the berm (in Iraq), you had a target list and an order of battle," Cone said. "You did not have a lens or an optic to understand culture, language, networks, tribes and history. We certainly thought that this approach was going to work -- and it looked like it really had -- until we realized the adaptive nature of humans."
Cone said although the future environment will continue to change, one of the constants is the human domain, and to be successful, the Army must have the programs and practices in place to address it.
Another product of the lessons learned from 12 years of war, Cone said, is a generation of innovative and extremely creative warfighters who know little about life in garrison because of their extensive wartime experience.
"The challenge is that most of them have been on the "ARFORGEN express" -- one year in theater, one year at home -- totally focused on solving real-world problems in a place far away."
TRADOC's commanding general said regionally aligned forces can help capture the imagination of this generation of Soldiers, serving as both a training opportunity and a substitute for deployments.
"This gives (warfighters) an opportunity to use their substantial talents in learning about an area of the world, thinking about that area and then preparing Soldiers to deploy in terms of training teams."
Cone also discussed the need for the Army to fundamentally shift the way it thinks about generating forces to address several training challenges in the future. One of the shifts in training is understanding the value of virtual and constructive training, and according to Cone, Soldiers are sold on the benefits.
"We see this throughout TRADOC with the Army Learning Model," he said. "Anything that we can make into a game or an app, the level of retention is absolutely incredible."
In addition to virtual training, TRADOC is also bringing a strong focus back to the Army's leader development program with a number of major changes in talent management and professional military education.
"I think we're making real progress with leader development," Cone said, citing the return of broadening opportunities and a focus on strategic leadership for the future force.
These initiatives, along with a number of other leader development efforts, will be included in the Army Leader Development Strategy, which is scheduled to be released by the Army chief of staff in June.