MG McMaster
Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Fort Benning commanding general, talks with basic trainees before they tour the National Infantry Museum. The general recently shared his thoughts on combined arms with The Bayonet and Fort Benning TV.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 7, 2012) -- Now 21 weeks into his tenure as commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster shared how combined arms is the foundation of the effective Army training that takes place at Fort Benning.

"The power of combined arms is what we need to unleash across our Army," he said. "There is so much power here now with Infantry, Armor, and Cavalry together. We now have the opportunity across our programs of instruction to ensure that all our leaders get a combined arms experience -- that they remain grounded in the fundamentals of their branch competencies, but that they (also) understand the power of combined arms."

Combined arms training and education is already in place at the Maneuver Center, but Soldiers will experience even more, McMaster said.

In addition to expanding combined arms experience within courses, the Maneuver Center is also integrating training and education across courses.

"What our leaders are doing now already is integrating the portions of those courses that make sense to integrate," he said. "So why not have a new lieutenant issue an operations order to sergeants first class in the Senior Leader Course and get feedback directly from those sergeants? We're doing that. Why not have captains work on troop leading procedures, planning operations with lieutenants? We're doing that. Why not have officer candidates leading our basic training Soldiers on patrol? That's happening."

The growth of combined arms training and integration of courses doesn't mean what's integral to Armor or Infantry or the Maneuver Center's focus on fundamental skills will fall by the wayside, the general said.

"We're not going to dilute -- ever -- Infantry culture or Armor or Cavalry culture," he said, "or really in any way dilute the branch proficiencies in those critical tasks: for our Infantry to cover that last 100 yards, for our Armor formations to bear the brunt of the battle and our Cavalry formations to develop the situation, gain and maintain contact with the enemy. We have this tremendous opportunity to work together on problems in a sustained manner and come up with solutions that are combined arms solutions. We've got to take advantage of this gift."

McMaster defined combined arms as Infantry, Armor and reconnaissance elements working together with artillery, aviation and engineers as well as joint capabilities such as close air support.

To put it simply, he compared combined arms to "the kids' game of rock, scissors, paper."

"If you have a rock and the enemy has paper, you better have scissors ready. When you mess with the U.S. Army Infantry squad, you should be messing with the whole combined arms package."

Editor's Note: Read more about the commanding general's priorities in next week's edition of "The Bayonet."

Page last updated Wed November 7th, 2012 at 14:42