WASHINGTON — The study and use of history is a critical tool in the Army profession. It improves readiness by informing current decision making, inspires Soldiers to serve, and builds morale and esprit in units.

“History is important to Army leaders of all echelons because ultimately it contributes to Army readiness and cohesion” said General Gary M. Brito, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “It gives us an opportunity to learn from the past…to make us better off today.”

At this year’s Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting the U.S. Army Center of Military History will host a Kiosk at the Army Exhibit promoting the Army Historical Program October 10-12 at the Washington Convention Center.

Preparing Soldiers at all levels to be historically minded is a significant role for CMH, an organization within TRADOC.

Charles R. Bowery, Jr., Executive Director, CMH, pointed out, “All ranks in the Army, from the most junior trainee to the chief of staff, benefit from historical awareness in different ways. Every Soldier should understand they are serving something bigger than themselves.”

A true understanding of history goes well beyond simply knowing key dates and events. The lessons of history develop critical thinking skills in Soldiers as they understand the reasons why and how events unfolded in the past and their connection to today.

History aids in confronting today’s challenges by asking the right questions of past and present, carefully analyzing and comparing past events to current ones, understanding the similarities and differences between those events, and enabling the best informed application of the insights gained. It develops a more informed use of actionable history in current staff planning and decision making.

According to Dr. Peter G. Knight, Chief of Field and International History Programs, CMH, Soldiers can use existing programs within the Army to improve their historical perspective.

“There are professional military education courses and leader developmental programs like staff rides that can hone critical thinking skills,” he said.

Staff rides are a unique and persuasive method of teaching the lessons of the past to the present-day leaders. They can bring events to life and provide a greater understanding of tactics, leadership, strategy, communications and the psychology of Soldiers in battle.

The staff at CMH develop and lead staff rides for Army organizations and provide detailed staff ride pamphlets online for free downloads.

Beyond decision making, history is also a key part of many aspects of a Soldier’s career from understanding the heritage of their unit, to accessing VA benefits as they transition to civilian life. Knight said, “A unit history program not only helps build esprit de corps, but it helps ensure unit awards and unit campaign participation credit are up to date.”

History also builds morale and helps to inspire men and women to serve by providing examples of those who exemplify Army values.

“It connects Soldiers to their unit through activations, lineage and honors, unit decorations, and unit heritage” Knight said.

Leader support for the Army History Program will improve the understanding of history and its essential application in all units. Key elements of the program include assigning unit history officers and command historians as part of staff functions and the use of Military History Detachments.

“If you ever asked your staff if a certain situation has happened before or how did we handle a situation in the past, then you need a unit historical program,” Knight said.

Brito supports the use of the Army Historical Program throughout the Army.

“I would challenge all commanders and all leaders of all ranks to pick the right person to capture unit history…you are adding to a chapter in history that generations after us can benefit from, just as we have had an opportunity to learn from,” Brito said.

The value and benefits of using history in the Army are significant factors to maintaining the readiness of units and can better inform current decision making. CMH is a valuable resource with multiple tools that are available to all Army units.

“Failure to incorporate the study and application of a unit history program is like forgetting to employ your machineguns in an ambush” said Lt. Gen. Theodore D. Martin, commanding general, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. “Use every weapon at your disposal.”

“The Center of Military History is here for you,” Martin continued, “please take full advantage of this golden opportunity.”

There will be Army historians on hand at the CMH kiosk at AUSA to answer questions about the Army Historical Program and the use of history in units.

For additional information about Army history visit: https://history.army.mil

For more information about CMH or for media queries please contact the CMH Public Affairs Officer, Mr. F. Lee Reynolds, at francis.l.reynolds.civ@army.mil or 202-714-1562.

Photo Caption: Center of Military History

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL