TRADOC chief attends 2012 Recon Summit; Annual MCoE forum examines 2020 force concepts
March 13, 2012
By VINCE LITTLE
FORT BENNING, GA. -- Training and Doctrine Command's commanding general weighed in on several key issues during the outbrief at this year's Maneuver Center of Excellence Reconnaissance Summit.
Gen. Robert Cone attended the final session Thursday at Derby Auditorium in McGinnis-Wickam Hall, where participants discussed the Army's Strategic Narrative 2020, corps and division-level reconnaissance needs, brigade combat team recon operations and the MCoE Reconnaissance Training Strategy.
This year's theme was "Reconnaissance 2020: Defining Organizational Adaptability." About 300 people participated on site, while another 150 followed online, including personnel deployed to Afghanistan, said Brig. Gen. Thomas James, the Armor School commandant.
James briefed Cone on Recon Summit objectives, major focus areas, discussion points and how the MCoE is working to bridge capability gaps. He highlighted some best practices the Army is formulating as it defines a future strategy to deal with hybrid threats that operate along increasingly sophisticated networks on the battlefield.
"So many of us are sort of captured by our experiences in the last 10 years," Cone said. "It's not about what it's been the last 10 years; it's what it needs to be in the next 10 years."
James said the future operating environment is complex and uncertain. The threats the military might face include conventional and unconventional state actors, paramilitary organizations, terrorist activity and criminal networks.
"It's difficult for me to understand we could be this far along in the process of restructuring our forces without having built upon a sound (reconnaissance and surveillance) concept to begin with," Cone said. "It's a challenge. And I go back to maybe we are victims of current thinking and current threat versus the full hybrid environment that we face."
During the three-day summit, officials examined current modular brigade combat team and battlefield surveillance brigade reconnaissance capacity in that setting. Virtual Battle Space 2 allowed participants to visualize the Army operating concept within the framework of today's BCT and BFSB reconnaissance organizations.
Cone said he's a huge advocate of the BFSB reconnaissance model.
He raised the possibility of a new vehicle that might allow Cavalry scouts to better survive first contact in the future. Officials suggested the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle, M1240 or Stryker as possible replacement platforms for the M1151 Up-Armored Humvee.
Col. Walter Piatt, the Infantry School commandant, led a brief Infantry brigade combat team discussion. Leaders must be educated on all assets available to tackle the future hybrid threat, he said, and having a recon squadron out front to develop the situation could be crucial to battlefield adjustments.
"The training environment has to stress the high-end and unique capabilities of these reconnaissance formations," Cone said. "Otherwise, to a commander without experience, going somewhere we've never been before, they're likely to be utilized as additional Infantry. We've got to create the right training environment. Otherwise, we will not develop the right mindset."
Refining the concepts and requirements and integrating them into the Army's learning campaign will achieve recon and surveillance goals, James said.
"We have some definition work to do on our requirements because we have some gaps," Cone said. "From time to time, we accept an unacceptable level of risk because we tend to push the organization beyond its design limits. In terms of the campaign of learning … we have got to consolidate the group of people who are voicing this up front and first, and not have it be an afterthought."
The TRADOC commander said MCoE leaders did "tremendous work" during the Recon Summit and also praised the U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center, which has taken a lead role in BCT modernization.
"It really excites me to have the level of expertise we have in this room," he said. "The work ARCIC is doing right now is driving the train on the future of the force. … This is foundational all the work that we're doing, but we're not done yet. We're in for a pretty good fight ahead as we restructure these forces."
Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, the MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general, called the subject matter and strategies under development "graduate-level work."
"This is tough stuff, Ph.D.-level work," he said. "Over the last 10 years, we've all been out fighting the fight, and maybe we haven't put as much effort into what the future looks like and setting ourselves up. … We've had some folks here the past couple of days who are extremely passionate. It's fantastic to see that.
"Your ideas and input are what we need as we go through this. We need the best and the brightest here in TRADOC to help our future as an Army."