CATS Commander's Essentials

By Ms. Sarah Schwennesen, CAC-T, TMDMay 18, 2018

Combined Arms Training Strategies
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To support Commanders in the planning, preparation, execution and assessment of training, the Training Management Directorate (TMD) provides several enablers to help Commanders successfully implement Unit Training Management (UTM), per Field Manual 7-0. This article outlines how the Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS) tool guides the unit training process as outlined in FM 7-0, "Train to Win in a Complex World."

What are CATS? CATS are proponent-approved training strategies that identify a unit's Mission Essential Task List (METL) and recommend collective tasks to train, based on the unit's Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE). During their mission analysis process, Commanders and trainers can select appropriate tasks to train from the unit's CATS, to focus on building proficiency in those collective tasks over a designated period of time.

Why use CATS? Speed, efficiency and experience. It is easier to use an existing proponent-approved strategy to train tasks the unit is designed to perform, than creating one from scratch. CATS guide the unit training process as outlined in FM 7-0 and provides Commanders the flexibility to select appropriate tasks and events based on the mission assigned, analysis conducted and higher training guidance received. CATS removes confusion about what tasks a unit should train or how to train them, because CATS analysts have accomplished the research in advance.

What is a UTL, Task Set, and Training Event? The CATS terms include those that are already familiar to army trainers such as: Training and Evaluation Outlines (T&EO), Mission Essential Tasks (MET), the Supporting Collective Tasks (SCT) and METLs. There are CATS-specific terms as well, such as:

The Unit Task List (UTL) is a comprehensive listing of all the collective tasks that a unit is designed to perform based on its TOE design. It includes the METs, the SCTs to those METs, and any other tasks that a unit is expected to perform. The UTL encompasses collective tasks that are current, proponent approved, and doctrinally aligned.

A Task Set is a group of collective tasks that are logically trained together and train a capability or function the unit was designed to perform. For example, when an infantry company trains the capability of "Conduct an Attack", the Task Set will identify not only the Mission Essential Task, "Conduct an Attack", but other tasks that can be trained to build full capability. These tasks include: "Integrate Direct Fires", "Conduct Support by Fire", "Conduct Troop Leading Procedures", etc.

CATS Training Events provide the means to train the collective tasks identified (or selected by the trainer) in the Task Set, using a crawl, walk, run methodology. This builds proficiency using standard training events conducted over a specified time period. CATS Training Events describe the purpose, training outcomes, event execution, etc. for the training audience, and include the training aids, devices, simulators, facilities, resources (e.g. class III and V) required. CATS also recommends event iterations, duration, and frequency. A CATS Training Event presents a road map to adequately build proficiency in the tasks being trained.

Unit CATS or Function CATS? CATS that are based on a unit's TOE are termed "Unit CATS." However, there may be a requirement to train for a particular type of mission not covered in the unit's TOE. These can be mission or function-based strategies such as: Foreign Internal Defense, Peace Keeping, as well as select warfighting functions such as Mission Command, Protection and Sustainment. A trainer can use these "Function CATS" to build a training plan if assigned one of these missions.

What about Readiness Reporting? The assessments of METs inform the Defense Readiness Reporting System-Army (DRRS-A). Other readiness reporting information, such as collective live fire events and training days are also provided in the CATS. All the identified collective tasks are linked to the T&EOs with the means to enter proficiency assessments along with remarks, which feed into reporting.

How do I use CATS? The best way to use CATS is via DTMS, and it is important that trainers and DTMS Operators have the correct DTMS permissions assigned and aligned to their TOE. The automated CATS tool resides in the Digital Training Management System (DTMS), and a non-tailorable CATS viewer can be found on the Army Training Network (ATN) website. If trainers need assistance, the DTMS Help Desk at (877) 241-0347 is available. The ATN Webpage at is the place to go to facilitate unit training management with the CATS and DTMS tools. Furthermore, because unit CATS are based on a unit's TOE, it is important that Commanders and trainers using CATS know what TOE (not MTOE) their unit is. FMSWeb can identify TOEs based on the UIC or unit name.

How can I learn more about CATS? The CATS Knowledge Base in ATN, contains tutorials on effective use of CATS as part of the UTM process. The CATS team is available for training and assistance and their contact information is at the bottom of the CATS Knowledge Base.

Interested in scheduling CATS training or having the CATS Team visit? TMD provides CATS training tailored to specific unit training objectives and customized for those trainers and DTMS Operators. CATS unit visits also serve to collect Soldier and Leader feedback on how to improve the unit-specific CATS. Typically, company size units utilize a Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) session or a teleconference. For battalion and larger units, the CATS Team visit includes the CATS Analyst that wrote the unit-specific training strategy and trainers from TMD.

These visits are program-funded and in most cases are offered at no cost to the unit. Visit the CATS Knowledge Base in ATN for more information, or give the CATS Team a call. If you have more questions about how to use CATS, or would like a no-cost CATS unit visit, please contact the CATS Team or the TMD help desk at toll-free (877) 241-0347 or (913) 684-2700 or DSN 552-2700. The TMD help Desk has an email that can be used for non-urgent requests for assistance at:

Related Links:

Concerned with Readiness Reporting - Training Management Directorate

Concerned with Training Management - Use the Right Tools!

Field Manual 7-0, Train to Win in a Complex World

Combined Arms Training Strategy