Managing transitions, profession highlighted in CSA-select speech
February 25, 2011
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 24, 2011 -- Gen. Martin Dempsey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, discussed steps needed to manage transitions and how industry can contribute during his keynote speech at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium here, today.
Dempsey described the Army as the most adaptable organization in the nation, then pointed to weak signals with interviews from the documentary "Restrepo" where Soldiers described their lives after a difficult deployment. He then showed newspaper headlines about post-traumatic stress disorder, prescription drug use among returning Soldiers and shortfalls in the military health care system.
"We can't afford to get too busy that we fail to pay attention to what's going on around our Army," he said. "We are, as always, a force in transition. Our history tells us that we will expand and contract, train and deploy, but as we do, our first imperative must be to care for the Soldiers and families who have endured and sacrificed so much," he said.
According to Dempsey, conducting effective transitions enables the Army's ability to win, learn, focus and win again. In his remarks, Dempsey discussed what the Army is doing to learn, focus and adapt.
As Soldiers have faced unique challenges on the battlefield by a complex operating environment and adaptive enemy, the need to learn better and understand more than adversaries and competitors has become an increasing priority. TRADOC is currently evaluating technologies that allow Soldiers to learn to the point of need, which means that Soldiers can learn when and where they need it, instead of where the Army chooses to deliver it.
Similarly, Dempsey stated doctrine and operations centers in 2015 will be different and likely moving toward the virtual and networked instead of the traditional paper manuals and physical locations.
"We're working to blur and blend the learning experiences of deployments, education in the schoolhouse, training at home station and training at combat training centers," said Dempsey. "Absent actual violence, each should confront Soldiers and leader with the complexity, ambiguity and unpredictability of the operating environment."
These blended and blurred lines mean building a career-long, learning continuum, which means greater collaboration between the operating and generating forces and greater demands on the Soldier through self-development programs.
Dempsey also stated that the future security environment will not only require the Army to reinforce current skills, but also hone new attributes like inquisitiveness, creativity, effective communication and the instinct to collaborate.
The role of industry is integral to the future of Army learning and the learning continuum.
"Having identified the challenges of learning, we've got to overcome them," he said. "We need the best minds to help us think about things differently, to see the opportunities in new learning technologies, and to help us develop an affordable learning strategy for the Army."
"The future is so complex and uncertain that we could convince ourselves that we must continue to add task to task, skill to skill, and attribute to attribute to prepare our units and their leaders to every possible challenge or contingency," said Dempsey, "In my opinion, that would be the wrong answer."
In the recently-released FM 7-0: Training Units and Developing Leaders for Full-Spectrum Operations, it states that leaders must agree on what's important and develop a training plan to master tasks, instead of becoming 'jacks of all trade'.
"Since training is the foundation upon which confidence and trust are established, and from which adaptations are made, 'just good enough' is never just good enough in training," he said.
To continue building confidence and trust through training, Dempsey forecasts home station exercises that replicate the complexity, ambiguity and hybrid threats and that have the ability to provide combat training center-quality feedback to units.
TRADOC is already working with agencies like the Defense Advanced Researched Projects Agency to build simulated future training environments, and Dempsey encourages members of industry to get involved.
"I envision exercises populated with data from a centrally managed database," said Dempsey, "intelligent holograms and avatars for key leader engagements and interrogation, unmanned aerial systems to record and field exercises, a virtual collaborative environment in which to conduct [after-action reviews] and capture lessons learned, and the ability to adapt and modify the simulations."
"We will build the Army that will be employed in 2020, and here's what's even more interesting to me: we're building it with full knowledge that this Army will not be what we need in 2030," said Dempsey, "And that's why adaptation must be an institutional imperative."
According to Dempsey, adaptability, as an institutional imperative, must permeate all Army processes including personnel management, procurement and experimentation.
"Let me put a finer edge on what it means to be adaptable," he said.
"Faster, flatter, more collaborative and always resource sensitive. It means that we have to revise our concepts every two years. It means we should expect significant organizational redesign every five years. It means incremental modernization with five to seven year procurement objectives synchronized to [Army Force Generation]. It means revision of doctrine, training methodologies and leader development strategies every one to two years."
Dempsey closed with a discussion of the Profession of Arms. The Profession of Arms Campaign is a year-long, introspective dialogue about how the past decade has changed the understanding and commitment to the profession and ethic.
"We need to 'see ourselves' to ensure we preserve the extraordinary relationship we currently enjoy with the American people," said Dempsey. "We've accomplished so much in the past ten years, and yet it seems like we have so much more to accomplish."
"Henry Ford once said, 'Whether you think you can, or that you think you can't, you're probably right,'" he said.