FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (Army News Service, June 10, 2009) -- More than 100 senior Army commanders and command sergeants major met, June 9-10, at the U.S. Army Forces Command Commanders' Conference to focus on the training and readiness of the U.S. Army's Operating Force and address the future challenges identified by the Army leadership to sustain Soldiers and their families.

Gen. Charles C. "Hondo" Campbell, commanding general of FORSCOM, recognized the Army commanders recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan who attended the FORSCOM-sponsored conference.

"In the 15 months of your deployment, we greatly appreciate what you and your Soldiers have accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a great deal has changed in our Army over that time ... changes that occurred and are going to occur," he told leaders from the XVIII Airborne Corps, 4th Infantry Division, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 10th Mountain Division and many others gathered here. He also recognized deployed, absent comrades from units such as I Corps, 1st Cavalry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division.

Campbell outlined the Army's major changes over the past six years, emphasizing the continuing need for institutional adaptation.

"In response to protracted conflict, the Army's Operating Force undertook transformational changes by implementing modularity in 2003, and the Army Force Generation process and model in 2006," he said. "We must facilitate the institutional processes required to support an Army that generates forces on a rotational readiness cycle.

"In pursuit of institutional adaptation, we will seek and facilitate changes to our culture, functional alignment, governance forums and processes associated with the chief of staff of the Army's three major components of institutional adaptation: improve ARFORGEN; adopt an enterprise approach; and reform requirements and resource processes."

FORSCOM's leadership priorities over the next two years align with those of the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.: prepare, sustain, reset and transform. While noting that the Army as an institution prepares forces well, Campbell also emphasized the companion need to sustain Army families through the Soldier and Family Action Plan and the Army Family Covenant to maintain the quality of the all volunteer force.

Campbell also previewed an upcoming FORSCOM-sponsored RESET rehearsal-of-concept military drill that will unite 300-400 Army leaders from FORSCOM, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Department of the Army and other vital partners to improve asset visibility, equipment accountability, and materiel readiness for deployed and deploying units, as well as their "left behind," excess, and non-standard equipment - all from an Army-enterprise perspective.

Institutional adaptation is the newest of Campbell's 11 key focus areas, which include: leadership, training, readiness, maintaining, mobilization, transformation, total-force utilization, joint interdependence, force protection and well being.

Campbell emphasized the need for professional partnerships, explaining that the Army must adapt its policies and procedures to match this "new norm" in a challenging time of fiscal constraints.

Today's environment brings six future challenges the chief of staff identified as the Army's top priorities, Campbell said. These future challenges are:

(1) sustain the all-volunteer force;
(2) institutionalize ARFORGEN;
(3) revise and develop an affordable modernization strategy;
(4) institutionalize full-spectrum operations doctrine;
(5) adapt the requirements process; and
(6) operationalize the reserve component.

FORSCOM's mission fits many of these future challenges. U.S. Army Forces Command trains, mobilizes, deploys, sustains, transforms, and reconstitutes conventional forces, providing ready land power to combatant commanders worldwide in defense of the nation, both at home and abroad.

The U.S. Army is taking an enterprise approach to many of its current mission challenges by aligning its efforts under four core enterprises: readiness, human capital, materiel, and services/infrastructure.

This two-day conference's readiness focus includes updates on FORSCOM's mobilization tiger team is designed to streamline the mobilization process and the innovative new automation database, the Army Force Generation Synchronization Tool; as well as briefings on Veterans Affairs care management, Soldier risk-reduction strategies, First Army's training transformations, military child education plans, and best practices learned at Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Lewis, Wash., Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Carson, Colo.

(Paul Boyce works for U.S. Army Forces Command.)