Revised Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills set framework for new and seasoned Soldiers alike
April 23, 2010
FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, April 23, 2010) -- The foundational skills every Soldier must know, regardless of rank or military job - received a facelift when U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command recently released the Army's new Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, and the Critical Individual Supporting Task List elaborating on those tasks and battle drills.
"The Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills drive training, not only in the training base but throughout the Army," said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, TRADOC's Deputy Commanding General for Initial Military Training. "The tasks and drills incorporate many of the things we've learned from eight years of combat and related battlefield lessons-learned. They add some things, delete a whole lot more and adjust other tasks that will make basic training a lot more relevant and geared toward the kind of fight that we're in now and that we'll be in for the next several years."
The Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills are not just relevant for Soldiers in basic training. The refined tasks and drills are the fundamental combat skills and key tasks required of all Soldiers - regardless of rank, component, branch or military occupational specialty - and serve as the foundation for all training, education and leader development.
Hertling listed the operating force's perception of the tasks and drills being relevant only to Soldiers in basic training as one of the faults of the old list of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. Some of the other problems he outlined included:
Aca,!Ac The former list was too long.
Aca,!Ac It ended up designing an infantry Soldier as opposed to a "basic" Soldier.
Aca,!Ac Some of the tasks were not relevant to the majority of Soldiers.
Aca,!Ac Soldiers couldn't name the tasks and drills, much less perform all of them, and so were not speaking the truth when they claimed "I am proficient in my Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills" when they recited the Soldier's Creed.
Aca,!Ac Trying to train all the former tasks and drills caused "task paralysis."
Aca,!Ac The former list didn't account for the new generation of Soldiers, the "Millennials."
The Army's last overhaul of the tasks and battle drills was November 2007, although the number of tasks and drills evolved in response to lessons-learned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The old tasks and drills list contained roughly 32 tasks - at one point containing 39 or 40 tasks - plus 207 subtasks and 12 battle drills. The new list is streamlined, with 15 tasks, 73 subtasks and four battle drills.
"The Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills had almost become too onerous," Hertling said. "Some of old tasks and drills introduced in basic training were not relevant - they were not things most Soldiers would use at any point in their careers. They'd see the task one time and then never see it again. The tasks and drills also weren't very well known by the force; they were almost exclusively placed, by most of the force, within the basic training environment, and that was never their original design. The tasks and drills were was supposed to be the skills and tasks that every Soldier should perform and should be repetitively trained and taught in all installations at all ranks.
"And if you pulled together any group of soldiers - I'd challenge you to do this today - and say 'name for me one of the current Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills,' they couldn't do it," he said. "How did I know this' I just came from being a division commander in the 1st Armored Division and I didn't know them, and I don't think many of my Soldiers did. Unless you put up a slide in front of them that listed all the tasks and drills, you couldn't get very many Soldiers to tell you what they were, what we had to be proficient in. Yet whenever a Soldier recites the Soldier's Creed, there's a line in there that says 'I'm proficient in my Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.' In fact, we were claiming something we weren't doing."
Hertling said that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said to the Army's senior leadership in the Army Training Leadership Development guidance to "do a few key tasks very well, rather than checking the block on a 'laundry list,' and then prepare to adapt to the situation."
"The former list of tasks and drills was just a lot of things a Soldier had to know," he said. "In fact, there were so many things we had to train on that we weren't training any of them very well."
The Millennials are a group of Soldiers Hertling has a great interest in. "Some new things we're seeing with regard to technology will improve the way we train, and we're incorporating some new learning methodologies," he said. "But just as importantly, a new generation of Soldiers, the so-called Millennials, are bringing in capabilities and are very different than we've ever seen before. The generation of young people coming into the Army now has tremendous talents in terms of being able to team well, communicate well and not take mindless orders without asking why. The major problem is that they are coming to us in less physical shape than their predecessors. This has nothing to do with who we are recruiting today. It's just a reflection of what's going on in American society right now."
Hertling is satisfied that the current iteration of the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills is much more relevant to all Soldiers. "This latest adaptation of the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills reinforces the shared responsibility between the operating and generating forces in training Soldiers and leaders and building capable units and formations," he said. "Since proficiency in the tasks and battle drills is proclaimed by all Soldiers in the Soldier's Creed and is considered the essence of good Soldiering, every Soldier must understand the tasks and drills. Leaders must train their Soldiers in these skills, and they should provide the base so that every Soldier can adapt to more complex missions and tasks as he or she grows in the profession."
"Now that the Army Chief of Staff has approved the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills and we've put the list on the Army Training Network, the force is expected to start using them as the baseline for what we're training individual Soldiers on," Hertling said.
The quest to achieve a unified vision between operating and generating forces' training of Soldiers started with a review by a committee consisting of Soldiers of all ranks from both the training base and in operational units. After this committee revised the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, they were extensively vetted with all major commands.
"Over a couple-month period, we pulled together some folks and really took a hard look at what should be the defining task of every Soldier - what should every Soldier be able to do'" Hertling said. "Besides folks from the training base and the operational base, we pulled in some key people from Forces Command - the folks who actually have contact with new Soldiers, the company commanders and first sergeants - and we brought in some sergeant majors from our training centers, both the National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center; we brought in some folks from the various Army commands like Network Enterprise Technology Command and Intelligence and Security Command. All came together and took a look."
"We now have a list which has been unanimously and universally approved by all Army commands," said Hertling. "All of them have said it's a damned good idea we're doing this."
Hertling listed two examples of tasks that were no longer relevant and were cut from the revised Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills: emplace a claymore mine and shoot a 50-caliber machine gun.
"A claymore mine is a Vietnam-era mine," he elaborated. "It's one of a family of mines we use today. It's sometimes used in Afghanistan, but you would never use it without some additional training. Yet we were teaching every single Soldier how to operate one. I'll tell you, personally - I've been in the Army 34 years, I'm thinking of making it a career - and I had never touched a claymore mine in my life. So the question was, why are we doing this'"
"Another task involves the 50-caliber machine gun. If you really look at the number of Soldiers who ever use a 50-caliber, after they fired it once in basic training, that was it. We were spending an awful lot of time and consuming an awful lot of resources just to give an introduction to something the great majority of Soldiers would never do again," Hertling explained. "Now, if you go to a unit and you become a 50-cal gunner, or that's part of your MOS skills, then, yeah, you ought to get a whole lot more training on that. But we were basically introducing a lot of tasks that were never seen again."
What Hertling said had not been cut was bayonet training. "We have not eliminated bayonet training," he said. "We've eliminated much of what we used to do in terms of bayonet training because one, we have a rifle you can't put a bayonet on. Two, the skills Soldiers need in combat are more attuned to fighting with the rifle and fighting with knives or bayonets. We aren't giving up the bayonet; it's just not going to be attached to the end of the rifle."
"In fact, that's one of the major changes we've made in combatives," he said. "[Maj. Gen.] Mike Ferriter, [Infantry Center of Excellence commander], has put together an unbelievably diverse group of fighters - from grapplers, the Gracie Brothers, martial artists and just fighters and marksmen. Instead of charging dummies with bayonets on the end of rifles, as we did under the former Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills - we're now running through obstacle courses, going to pits, fighting each other with pugilsticks and then continuing on the run."
"It's no longer the fighting of an inanimate object," Hertling emphasized. "We actually put some contention in by allowing Soldiers to run with helmets and fight with pugils at certain points in the course. We're also incorporating fighting with the rifle as part of the combatives drill, and we're teaching Soldiers to stand up and fight, as opposed to wrestle on the ground, which the past combatives used to do."
Another new aspect of the revised Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills is the additional of cultural training. "That seems a bit fluffy, but it's not," Hertling said. "As every Soldier goes through the world - and I'm not just talking Iraq or Afghanistan, but wherever - his or her adaptation to those cultures will save lives and help them accomplish their missions. Eight years ago, frankly, we weren't very good at this when we went into some of the Arab countries. The example they use in cultural training now is a country in Africa, of a culture not known by many. A cultural norm, in this particular class, would get Soldiers in trouble if they did the wrong thing. There are some vignettes, and we're using some new technologies to show them to our Soldiers."
"We show them how to adjust not only to the Army culture - from a civilian environment when they first join - but also help them understand their career in the service will be a continual requirement to adapt to other cultures as they travel around the world and do what they do," he said.
Hertling said that changes in basic training are already being implemented but that it would probably be July before IMT was "running on all cylinders" on its new program of instruction. "The reason it will take that long is we've got classes in session right now. Today, in the training base, we've got 47,193 Soldiers, and they're halfway through their training, or at the beginning of their training," he said. "We've got to continue training those folks and get the drill sergeants and cadre members read in on what they're going to train as part of the new POI. I think it'll probably take a couple of iterations until we can get that complete."
After Soldiers are introduced to the new Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills during IMT, they will be expected to continue to gain proficiency during advanced training in the schoolhouse and in their operational units. "Every Soldier will continue to proclaim, as they recite the Soldier's Creed, that they are 'proficient in their Warrior Tasks and Drills,' but they will now be expected to continue to refine and expand their capabilities - on the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, certainly, but also on other tasks their unit deems required for mission accomplishment," Hertling said. "This will be true at their first and follow-on unit of assignment, and at all Army schools."
"This list is a 'base'; commanders with specific missions and training resources now have the flexibility to build on their Soldiers' skills so they might best adapt to their job, mission and environment while ensuring their Soldiers are trained on the right basics," he said.
The revised tasks and battle drills can be found at https://atn.army.mil. The information is accessed using one's Army Knowledge On-line password or Common Access Card login.