Even in the face of drawdowns and budget challenges, the Army must continue to think of new and better ways to improve the force, and that's exactly what participants were asked to do during the Unified Quest Innovation Symposium Jan. 13-15.

In a partnership between U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and the College of William and Mary, professionals from business, academia, think tanks and the military gathered at the college in Williamsburg, Virginia, to explore the challenges and opportunities for innovation in the Army.

Speaking to a room filled with business and military alike, Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, provided opening remarks about the effects of innovation and why it's critical to the Army.

"In the business world, innovation is essential to success and profit," Allyn said. "In the military, failure to innovate could mean the loss of life and the freedom we cherish."

The vice chief said innovation drives the development of new tools or methods that allow Army leaders to anticipate future demands while staying ahead of adversaries, who are also innovating rapidly in an ever-changing environment.

"Our adversaries are closing the technology gap that we have enjoyed for most of the last 60 years," Allyn said. "Our best means to maintain overmatch is through innovation, and we must do this without the urgency driven by Soldiers dying on the battlefield."

In order to do this, symposium participants met for three days to discuss trends in industry and military innovation, look at obstacles and opportunities for Army innovation and finally, TRADOC will provide recommendations to Army senior leaders on the best courses of action for the future Army, often referred to as Force 2025 and Beyond.

"We are counting on your clear recommendations on how to improve Army innovation and how to inform Force 2025 and Beyond efforts as we modernize this force for the future," Allyn added.

Before the working groups met, Gen. David Perkins, commanding general of TRADOC, said their "homework" was not only to provide ideas and recommendations, but also to turn those ideas into reality -- similar to how TRADOC not only designs but also builds the Army.

"TRADOC is the architect of the Army, but I also remind folks that TRADOC is also a design/build firm," Perkins said, "so I need you to help me turn some of these good ideas into a reality."

The insight and recommendations gained from this symposium will be used as part of the Unified Quest 2015-2016 campaign to help build the future Army.

Unified Quest is the Army chief of staff's annual future study program and think tank to capture ideas and help drive change for the Army. Conducted through TRADOC's Army Capabilities Integration Center, Unified Quest includes a series of seminars, symposia and wargames. It culminates in the Army Future Game, an annual wargame used to develop insights for future operational environments that the Army may face.

For more information on Unified Quest, visit http://www.arcic.army.mil/Initiatives/unified-quest.aspx