Readying the current and future force to respond anywhere in the world at any time requires a renewed, focused emphasis on training. Training has been the foundation of success for our Army, and our best leaders and strongest organizations are those that make it a priority.
Sequestration and budget constraints forced the Army to reduce the number and scale of its training exercises over the past few years, leaving units unprepared for unforeseen crises. But we have learned from that; we must protect major training events, such as combat training center rotations, and prioritize training across the force to ensure Army readiness.
An old mantra from my days as a young officer that still rings true today is "training is commanders' business." Commanders provide vision and resources and assess and underwrite risk. We know what right looks like with training; this is not new. We commanders conduct training for three main groups--ourselves, our leaders, and our organizations--and assess that training against the mission-essential task list.
The mission-essential task list forms the basis for training plans, and good planning is the critical component to successful training. Leaders need the confidence and ability to see and assess themselves, identify strengths and weaknesses, identify risk, and apply resources accordingly. Leaders must hold themselves and those under them accountable to execute training to standard.
Well-planned training directly supports a unit's mission and is linked to combat training center rotations and warfighting tasks. We will always have more requirements than we have time, so it is critical to select and prioritize training tasks that lead to mission accomplishment. Leaders must identify the skills their units and organizations need, ensure their staffs are proficient in the military decisionmaking process, and execute training accordingly.
Our job is not done when training is complete. We must constantly evaluate ourselves, our leaders, and our units. We must ask whether we are training to standard, whether the training is meeting the necessary objectives in support of the mission, and whether we need additional or augmented training.
Following training, the after action review process is critical and remains relevant. After action reviews provide leaders with a known method for capturing lessons learned, successes, and failures. These assessments help to improve future training.
Training is in our Army's DNA. It is an essential element that ensures the readiness of our force. We must get back to the basics and plan training to execute the mission. Commanders must assess risk and apply and prioritize resources (time and money) to garner the greatest output.
Gen. Gustave "Gus" Perna is the commander of the Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
This article was published in the March-April 2017 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.