TRADOC commander talks Army future
February 29, 2012
SAVANNAH, Ga. - General Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke to about 250 Soldiers and civilians during the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's annual leadership conference in Savannah, Ga., Feb. 28, about the changes the Army is making to be better prepared for the future.
After nearly 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the method of training for Soldiers has changed dramatically, which leads to necessary changes in Army fundamental principles, known as doctrine, and Army tactics and procedures, known as field manuals.
According to Cone, the U.S. will likely never again fight a static enemy, or fight the way the Army prefers to -- bombing from far range. The Army must take the lessons learned in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and change the way Soldiers are taught so that they are better prepared for the types of conflicts that are likely in the future.
"What we want to do is capture the experience of the last 10 years and use those experienced people to think through the challenges of the future," Cone said.
With operations in Iraq complete and operations in Afghanistan ending in 2014, the shift has already begun for the coming years in the Army -- reducing the number of active-duty Soldiers from 570,000 to 490,000 and the number of brigades from 45 to 37; changing the types of brigade combat teams, and cutting down the inventory of tactical wheeled vehicles. All of these structural changes need to be addressed by TRADOC in the updated doctrine and field manuals.
"The Army is going through two fundamental transitions right now: structural, as we reduce the size of the Army, and the human transition -- that's our biggest concern, [that] this great generation of young warfighters find things to be excited about in the Army of the future," Cone said. "TRADOC has the responsibility … to develop leader development programs, to write doctrine and then to have the school systems that provide the great leaders, Soldiers, noncommissioned officers to then go out into the operational force."
USAREC became a subordinate command of TRADOC Jan. 19, 2012, and Cone said it was important for him to brief recruiters on the TRADOC and Army goals because recruiters "produce the product."
"If (recruiters) have a better idea of what we're trying to accomplish in the Army, I think they can speak more authoritatively and they can help make the selections necessary to bring the talent into the Army," he said. "It's important to the guy who's sort of the architect of most of these important changes to come down and talk to them so they understand what those changes will be because they have such an important role in the selection and identification of the people who will play a leading role in our future."
Those leaders who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a heavy hand in the new Army teachings, and the lessons learned there will be a large part of new Army doctrine.
In 2007, Gen. David Petraeus and Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis got together to write the Army's counterinsurgency manual, Field Manual 3-24, based on the lessons they learned in Iraq. But with heightened combat in Afghanistan since that time, the manual needs to change as well.
"How do we then take our sacred body of knowledge called our doctrine and adapt that to reflect our experiences in Afghanistan?" Cone asked. "Now that we have two data points, how do we say what is in common, what is different, and how do we write a true counterinsurgency manual that will be good for the future?
"We've opened it up to a very broad audience, against a lot of recent combat experience in Afghanistan. As we conclude this period of Iraq and Afghanistan, we set the conditions to take advantage of all of the lessons we've learned in the last 10 years and make sure they're the basis to moving ahead to the future."
For those in attendance, having a senior Army leader talk about the future was enlightening.
"General Cone coming to speak to us here was absolutely outstanding -- especially with [TRADOC's] new role taking the lead over USAREC," said Lt. Col. Dan O'Grady, Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion commander. "Hearing it from one of the great senior leaders in the Army on the way the Army is going to go was terrific. General Cone talks to the chief of staff of the Army on a regular basis, and the fact that General Cone came here to give us a reassuring stance on the way we're going helps out."
Cone said a major objective of his command is enticing talented Soldiers to stay in the Army through a process they are calling "broadening," which is training and educating Soldiers in a broader way. He said that includes a variety of assignments, such as more graduate school opportunities, more fellowship opportunities and more assignments like in recruiting, where they work out in American society every day -- instead of staying long-term in the same tactical unit.
"We think all of these things contribute over a period of time to making a better Soldier and leader for the future," he said.
Cone said main goals of TRADOC are to ensure leaders are properly trained; Soldiers are fully-qualified for promotion; Soldiers are given broadening opportunities; and that the knowledge of those who served in combat is taken and ingrained in the updated doctrines and field manuals.
The 15 updated Army Doctrine Publications, each of which will be about 10 to 15 pages, are due to be completed in August, and the 50 updated field manuals will be completed in December 2013.