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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection draws from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within the Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Transformation: Stepping Outside the Reality Box

Transformation: Stepping Outside the Reality BoxDescribing the mission in terms of a system of systems identifies cause and effect relations between entities in the system and allows commanders on all levels to monitor contributions to desired outputs. The areas ripe for breakthrough or transformational solutions are best found once these complex missions are presented as systems of systems. Then detailed analysis can find the weak links—or the hidden potential in the system. A system resembles a chain in that it is only as strong as its weakest link. Consider the example of defense transportation. Regardless of the capacity of aircraft and ships to carry military forces, system throughput will be limited if ports cannot handle what is debarked. A chain is strengthened by reinforcing the weak link; alternatively one could disassemble the chain, replace the weak link, and thus make the chain stronger. The challenge of diagramming complex missions is not limited to identifying the system of systems. The web of relationships linking tasks and systems must be perceived in enough detail to enable understanding that a change in one dimension may resonate throughout the system.

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The 1st AD in Operation Iraqi Freedom

The 1st AD in Operation Iraqi FreedomOn April 8, 2004, a week before completing its relief in place with the 1st Cavalry Division and returning home after a year of combat in Baghdad, Iraq, the 1st Armored Division (1st AD) received orders to continue combat operations in Iraq for an additional 90 days. Dispersed and having nearly completed its materiel drawdown, the 1st AD had already begun to redeploy forces to Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and garrisons in Germany. Within 3 weeks, the 1st AD was in a new area of operations with new equipment and stocks and was fighting a new enemy–as if it had never planned on leaving. This remarkable feat, accomplished by Iron Soldiers, leaders, and staff, would not have been possible without adaptive logistics. When the division neared steady-state operations again in mid-May, the division commander, Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, said that the 1st AD could now use “heavy” and “agile” in the same sentence and that this was a great story for the Army. The division then went on to overcome challenges presented by a new enemy, terrain, equipment and mission.

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Effective Joint Training: Meeting the Challenges

Effective Joint Training: Meething the ChallengesToday’s successful military operations are joint operations. Senior leaders recognize the need for increased jointness at every level. Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker stated the requirement for “achieving joint interdependence” within the Army’s culture, structure, and operations—because we do not fight alone. One way to establish joint interdependence and increase our collective warfighting capability is through joint training. Effective training involves hard work and requires detailed preparation such as allocating sufficient time, money and personnel from each service involved. Each service must maintain its competencies through readiness, training, and modernization. Services often train alone; not all training needs to be joint. But, warfare has become more joint and requires increased competence on joint tasks at the tactical level. Success depends on wiser leaders at all levels determining what does or does not need to be jointly trained. We must look for new ways to cooperatively increase jointness and opportunities to exchange forces in exercises—especially low-density assets and units. And lastly, we must also recognize what has already been successfully accomplished.

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Transforming Defense Basic Research Strategy

Transforming Defense Basic Research StrategyThe U.S. armed forces currently enjoy an unprecedented level of technological superiority across the full spectrum of military threats. These advances were primarily funded through government and Department of Defense support of basic science and technology throughout the 50 years of relative peace experienced during the Cold War. Technological superiority will continue to be a cornerstone of our national military strategy. The new approaches of establishing collaborative venues and centers of excellence incorporating elements of the service laboratories, industry, and university researchers are the key to achieving a successful and rapid transition of scientific knowledge into fielded technology. Situating these centers in a university setting allows the scientific field to determine the quality of the research through the peer-review process, freeing the Department of Defense to focus on guiding the scope of the research in pursuit of developing defense-specific technologies. However, our defense laboratories are in a state of severe crisis. An approach worth considering is to eliminate or minimize the funding of basic research at universities in order to build world-class defense laboratory facilities.

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