By Randi StensonApril 3, 2017
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- More than 120 members of the Army and Joint lessons learned community from 44 organizations met at Fort Leavenworth to provide input to the Army's 2018 lessons learned annual collection plan. The Center for Army Lessons Learned led the discussion at the annual Lessons Learned Synchronization Workshop, March 28-29 at the Frontier Conference Center. The FY18 draft collection plan produced at the workshop will now be staffed at Training and Doctrine Command and Headquarters, Department of the Army before distribution to the field this fall.
Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center commanding general, opened the workshop by noting the importance of the work being done. "As we think about what we're going to collect on and what we do as a lessons learned community, you really are supposed to drive change in our Army. When does an army, when does a Joint force change? It's when we learn something. And that's what you do, you help us learn and we've got to think about how we do that better because it's not just a lesson collected, it really is a lesson learned. It's an insightful thing the learning that we do to drive change," he said.
Army Regulation 11-33, "Army Lessons Learned Program," established the requirement for the Army Lessons Learned Annual Plan. The workshop's objective each year is to integrate, synchronize and prioritize topics, products and collection events for the upcoming year. This year's topic discussions ranged from multi-domain battle and shaping the environment to cyberspace/signal/electronic warfare operations and home station training. Topics were grouped for discussion by Army warfighting function.
Attendees included representatives from Army major commands, Army Service component commands, direct reporting units, centers of excellence and other proponents. During break-out sessions, they identified exercises and training opportunities for observation/collection on specific topics, specified the lead for collection, and confirmed supporting organizations and responsibilities. This process led to the development of a plan of action and milestones, essentially a blueprint for execution of the proposal.
CALL Director Col. Mike Pappal said the workshop provided his organization with essential information. "This is the one time each year we get to meet face-to-face with other members of the lessons learned community to plan and collaborate. Think of what we're doing here in the context of reconnaissance and surveillance planning -- this is the Army's opportunity to identify its information requirements and our job is to answer those questions by collecting observations at exercises and during operations. Those observations will ultimately inform the entire force and in sharing that information we can improve the Army," he said.
Following the workshop, CALL hosted Joint Lessons Learned Information System administrator and IBM Watson training for the participants. JLLIS is the Army's program of record for database management of lessons learned and training on its use is essential for the lessons learned community. Understanding how to upload observations, metatag that information so it is searchable, and develop communities of practice are key tasks for those who manage lessons learned programs in units and organizations. Once trained, these individuals can train their own units to promote the sharing of lessons and best practices.
"JLLIS is just one tool in the kit for lessons learned, but it is key," said Pappal. "If we are truly to 'learn' from the lessons of others as a profession, we need to be able to access and share that information from a single source. JLLIS fulfills that mission for the Army and I'm glad we are taking the opportunity this week to train on its use."