An Army Training Requirements and Resources System course, “How the Army Runs,” affords students the chance to gain a deep understanding of how the service operates. This knowledge comes with many benefits to the Soldier, the unit, and the Army.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carl Livingston, First Army deputy command chaplain, said completing the course left him with a better understanding of the Army’s intricacies.
The intensive four-week class, given through Microsoft Teams, takes students on a deep dive of Army force management, priorities, budgeting, manning, resourcing, and networking.
Livingston said his supervisor, Chaplain (Col). Scott Brown, encouraged him to take it “as a means of professional development and strengthening my strategic leadership knowledge.”
Livingston described the training as “a high level course that looks at how the Army works with Congress, with the commander-in-chief, the secretary of defense, the secretary of the Army, and the undersecretaries. It shows how things are initiated, it looks at the timelines of how budgets are planned, the process of activating and deactivating units, and it shows how systems are integrated.”
Livingston has a master’s degree and he called How the Army Runs equivalent to “a post-graduate level course. It focuses on the strategic arm of the military and how the brain of the Army works and how the brain causes all the other systems to function.”
The nature of the course is that even seasoned officers and senior NCOs gain more knowledge about the Army’s interwoven operations.
“One thing I learned is how many structures are in place to protect the military and help it to maintain its continuity,” Livingston said. “Even though our commander-in-chief changes on a regular basis, and senators and representatives change all the time, there are good systems in place to ensure the continuity and stability of the military, so that we can keep fighting and winning.”
The course is about more than just gaining raw knowledge. It leaves students empowered to make themselves and their units better. Livingston reflected on how it will help with his current assignment.
“If we wanted to create a new position and wanted it as an AGR, one of the things they teach you is how to write a concept plan. So you could then inject this proposal into the system and make it go through the cycle. You justify why this position needs to be there and why it’s good for your unit and the Army.”
The course also delved into budgeting and manning.
“It goes into knowing how to look up Tables of Distributions and Allowances and Tables of Organization and Equipment, and knowing how budget cycles work for planning purposes,” Livingston explained. “That way, you know when is the best time to make certain decisions and you’re more aware of how the systems are integrated. Knowing how they work together helps me in terms of budget and planning, as well as how to go through the proper processes.”
Like a post-graduate course in the civilian world, this one comes with plenty of writing.
“We were required to keep a weekly journal and we took tests every week and most of the tests were essays with a few multiple choice questions,” Livingston said. “We also had small groups that we would break out into.