U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters with 12th Combat Aviation Brigade provide fire support for U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade during a combined arms live fire exercise on a maneuver range at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Sept. 22, 2022. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces to the United States European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility. Forward deployed across Italy and Germany, the brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build partnerships and strengthen the alliance. (U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)
During the first decade of the 21st century, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army’s operational doctrine was primarily concerned with counterinsurgency operations. Brigade and below operations were the focus and theater armies directed training requirements for deploying units. Since then, operational doctrine has shifted to a focus on large-scale combat operations with a renewed emphasis on the division and corps as the primary maneuver units. The publication of Field Manual (FM) 7-0, Training, in June 2021 supports operational doctrine by changing from the Operations Process, the Military Decision-Making Process, and Mission Command to the Training Management Cycle as the core framework for training management.
The Training Management Cycle
The Training Management Cycle consists of prioritizing training, planning and preparation, execution, and evaluation and assessment. During a recent discussion with Col. Paul Callahan, Director of the Army’s Training Management Directorate (TMD), and Bill Brosnan, the lead author for FM 7-0, they provided insight into why prioritizing training is a critical first step in the Training Management Cycle.
Among the reasons prioritizing training is so important, is the recognition units cannot train all tasks to a trained proficiency rating simultaneously. The realities of limited time, limited resources, and the commander’s operational mission requirements drive the need to prioritize what is trained, and the need to develop a unit long-range training plan.
In the past, there was a common interpretation that units must train and sustain the highest levels of proficiency ratings on all unit mission-essential tasks (MET). Although the requirement was not specified in doctrinal publications, it was implied. This misperception was also driven by commander’s interpretation of training readiness reporting demands.
The current FM 7-0 helps to change that perception. It specifies commanders must train to three proficiencies: MET proficiency, weapons qualifications, and collective live-fire proficiency.
“One of the core concepts of FM 7-0 is that there isn’t enough time or resources for most units to train on everything they could do,” Callahan said.
Establishing priorities allows the commander to focus unit training efforts. It sets measurable goals and enables the unit to concentrate training on what is most important. Instead of trying to do everything, the unit can concentrate on doing the important things to a high standard to achieve training proficiency, and to work towards the concept of task mastery. Failing to prioritize training, according to Brosnan, means “your whole training plan is based on some very loose sand.”
Acknowledging the realities of limited training time and resources, the question becomes: How does a commander know on what to base prioritized training?
“It’s the idea of nested priorities,” Callahan said.
Subordinate units receive training guidance, intent, and priorities from their higher headquarters. Subordinate commanders and leaders, through dialogue with their commander, identify the tasks that best support the higher commander’s mission requirements.
The process begins with the Army’s Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (REARMM) which informs the Army Synchronization and Resourcing Conference (ASRC). Following the ASRC, Army commands and Army Service Component Commands (ASCC) establish their training priorities, conduct long-range planning, and publish their annual training guidance (ATG). Corps follow the same process by integrating higher level training guidance, which includes identifying what they must train, and publishing their ATG.
The process continues from the division down to the company level, with each echelon determining their training priorities that best support their higher unit’s training priorities. The outcome of prioritizing training and publication of the ATG at each echelon is the ability to trace how training from the highest commander down to individual Soldier training supports the ability of the unit to prepare for operational missions.
An important outcome of prioritizing training is its impact on a commander’s ability to conduct long-range planning. Prioritizing training establishes those tasks and weapons training (individual, crew served, and platform) events the unit commander deems necessary to achieve and sustain required training proficiency. Achieving and sustaining training proficiency is never accomplished in a single training event. It often requires a crawl-walk-run approach to training events over time. FM 7-0 uses a fiscal year (FY) framework as a common parameter for planning horizons across echelons.
“A unit that operates one quarter at a time will find itself behind the power curve,” Brosnan said.
Prioritizing training allows the commander to provide focus to the planning process. In turn, long-range planning establishes the commander’s training priorities over time and enables the synchronization of resources with the planned events to achieve the desired proficiency outcomes.
The Training Management Cycle provides a common framework for commanders and leaders to effectively manage training. Prioritizing training is an essential first step in the process. It recognizes that units cannot accomplish everything and therefore focuses training on what is most important. Commanders and leaders identify what is most important by nesting their training with their higher commander’s priorities through the timely sequence of training guidance and through continual commander’s dialogues. This ensures training priorities established at the Army level flow down to individual Soldiers.
Prioritizing training is “making sure you understand your piece of the larger puzzle,” Callahan said.