Soldiers understand that if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Units do not have the resources or time to achieve or sustain trained proficiency on every task simultaneously. Commanders address this challenge by determining and establishing training priorities to prepare for the unit’s mission, whether an operational deployment, combat training center rotation, or execution of daily mission support. Commanders, in dialogue with their next higher echelon commander, determine the priorities for each proficiency (mission-essential tasks, weapons qualification, and collective live-fire tasks) to meet their mission requirements and then plan events to achieve proficiency. Prioritizing training forms the solid foundation of long-range planning and preparation and is the first step in the training management cycle.
Mission-Essential Task Prioritization
A mission-essential task (MET) is a collective task on which an organization trains to be proficient in its designed capabilities or assigned mission. Commanders prioritize unit METs to identify the tasks that are the most important to train in support of their mission. Identifying the most important METs for the mission also allows the commander to identify the resources needed to achieve a “T” (trained) proficiency. Commanders at all levels consider mission requirements when prioritizing METs as well as considering the mission and METs of their next higher echelon commander. Commanders ensure their prioritized METs support the training guidance of their higher headquarters, are approved by the higher commander, and are included in their Annual Training Guidance (ATG).
Below the company level, leaders also prioritize the collective tasks their unit trains. Platoon leaders, with assistance from their platoon sergeant, identify those collective tasks crucial to the successful accomplishment of their company prioritized METs. These are further identified as “battle tasks” once approved by the company commander. The commander is responsible for ensuring battle tasks nest with the unit’s METs. This process continues down to lower echelons (squad, team, or crew). From battle tasks, each echelon prioritizes the individual tasks Soldiers train.
Weapons Qualification Prioritization
When prioritizing weapons qualification, commanders consider priority based on the unit mission. They also consider qualification frequency specified in AR 350-1, and the current qualification status of the unit’s organic weapons systems. All Soldiers are expected to qualify with their assigned weapon, but some units have additional individual, crew-served, or platform systems that also require qualification.
Commanders consider the mission of the unit when establishing the priority for weapons training. As with MET prioritization, commander-to-commander dialogue confirms the unit’s weapons qualification priorities to support the unit’s mission. Many units have “systems” (e.g., radars, specialty vehicles, sensors), rather than kinetic weapons as their means of delivering primary unit capabilities. These systems also require qualification. Commanders include the weapons qualification priorities in their ATG.
Collective Live-Fire Task Prioritization
Collective live-fire training is the most effective way to generate confidence and trust among leaders, teammates, and Soldiers. The commander determines collective live-fire task priorities based on the unit’s mission, capabilities, and senior commander-directed requirements.
Collective live-fire task training takes place after all prerequisite training and weapons qualification is complete. Prerequisite training for each echelon of a live-fire ensures proficiency on all tasks that the unit will execute. Collective live-fire training is a demonstration of a unit’s ability to execute collective tasks while employing their weapons systems under live-fire conditions. The commander two echelons above the training unit specifies the tasks to train in their ATG. At the company level, the company commander includes the prioritized live-fire tasks from the brigade and battalion ATG in the company ATG. In addition, the company commander includes battalion directed platoon tasks and specifies the squad collective live-fire tasks in the ATG. FM 7-0 Appendix I provides a resource to commanders prioritizing collective live-fire tasks and planning collective live-fire training.
Prioritizing training is the first and most crucial step in the training management cycle. It establishes what a unit trains – the priorities for each proficiency – and helps the commander optimize the limited training time and resources available. Prioritized training links to the unit’s mission and addresses the fundamentals of shoot, move, communicate, and survive to allow the Army to fight and win.
The Training Management Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is the Army’s proponent for training management. TMD manages, develops, and sustains Training Management doctrine, processes, products, and systems to enable training and training management across the Army’s Institutional, Operational, and Self-development training domains. Fundamental products of TMD include the Army Training Network (ATN), the Digital Training Management System (DTMS), and the Combined Arms Training Strategies (CATS). For more information on TMD products and services, visit ATN at https://atn.army.mil and be sure to check out the new FM 7-0 Training at https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN32648-FM_7-0-000-WEB-1.pdf.