FORSCOM to define the 'reality of war' at AUSA

By FORSCOM Public AffairsOctober 4, 2023

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. — “Over the next 12-24 months, we must be ready for a more dynamic and uncertain environment,” said the commanding general of the U.S. Army’s largest command. “We must be able to deliver and sustain ready combat power to compete against the acute threats and pacing challenges.”

Gen. Andrew Poppas, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland visited Fort Bliss, Texas, in September 2023. During the visit, they met with unit leaders at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence to discuss the future of the Army.
Gen. Andrew Poppas, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland visited Fort Bliss, Texas, in September 2023. During the visit, they met with unit leaders at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence to discuss the future of the Army. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

“For Forces Command, warfighting is all we focus on,” said Gen. Andrew Poppas, U.S. Army Forces Command commanding general, who spoke recently during a presentation by the U.S. Army Forces Command commanding general and command sergeant major at the Fort Moore, Georgia, Maneuver Warfighter Conference. The focus was on warfighting, readiness, modernization and people.

Poppas’ comments echoed the senior Army leadership’s vision. “We must focus on warfighting: the purpose of our Army and the reason we serve,” then-Army Vice Chief of Staff (now Army Chief of Staff) Gen. Randy George said during Congressional testimony earlier this year. “Our Army is a lethal and dedicated team with a profoundly important purpose.”

Paratroopers assigned to 82nd Airborne Division Artillery took part in September 2023 in a Culminating Training Exercise designed to prepare, train, and execute mission measures of readiness and lethality through assaulting elements and sling loading
Paratroopers assigned to 82nd Airborne Division Artillery took part in September 2023 in a Culminating Training Exercise designed to prepare, train, and execute mission measures of readiness and lethality through assaulting elements and sling loading (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

The “Reality of War; Forging Teams for the Future Fight” also is the topic Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time during a major presentation by U.S. Army Forces Command senior leaders at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting 2023 in Washington, D.C. This Contemporary Military Forum AUSA Meeting presentation will be livestreamed on DVIDSHub.net.

In addition to Gen. Poppas, the Oct. 11 panel discussion will include: Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commanding general of the III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos, Texas; Maj Gen. James Martin, commanding general of the 3rd Division (“The Iron Division”) (United Kingdom); and Professor Carolyn Davison, associate dean, College of International Security Affairs, Fort Liberty, N.C., National Defense University.

Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commander, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, talks to senior leaders across the 4th Infantry Division, March 7, 2023 on Fort Carson, Colorado. During their discussion, Bernabe highlighted recruiting and retention as a main line of effort for III Armored Corps and its subordinate units.
Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commander, III Armored Corps and Fort Hood, talks to senior leaders across the 4th Infantry Division, March 7, 2023 on Fort Carson, Colorado. During their discussion, Bernabe highlighted recruiting and retention as a main line of effort for III Armored Corps and its subordinate units. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Marsilia) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Our responsibility is to fight and win that next fight … the first fight of the future,” Poppas said. “We focus on readiness, from the newest private up to the highest echelon of that theatre army and how we’re prepared for each one of those fights. To do so, we must have resilient Soldiers and families to sustain the advantage. We will win the first fight and the future fight as a Total Army.”

“Warfighting is our #1 priority and why we exist,” said Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland, FORSCOM command sergeant major. “So, you talk about being ready and fighting tonight, being on call as the nation’s watch, that’s what we’re asking everybody here to be throughout your career.”

Both FORSCOM leaders emphasized the four focus areas set by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer: warfighting, continuous transformation, delivering combat-ready formations and strengthening the Army profession.

“It’s absolutely imperative that our readiness and our preparedness are at the forefront of all we do,” Poppas said. “We recognize that and we have an approach to that at FORSCOM. We call it the ‘four wins.’" The FORSCOM “four wins” are:

  1. Win trust and empower leaders through engagement and stability;
  2. Win the first fight at echelon through tough, realistic training;
  3. Win the future fight by modernizing capabilities and methodologies; and
  4. Win as a balanced Total Army.
An advisor assigned to 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade employs an RQ-11B Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System during tactical training at National Training Center/Fort Irwin, Calif. U.S. Army advisors trained alongside role players and actual partners to prepare to advise, support, liaise and assist during large-scale combat operations.
An advisor assigned to 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade employs an RQ-11B Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System during tactical training at National Training Center/Fort Irwin, Calif. U.S. Army advisors trained alongside role players and actual partners to prepare to advise, support, liaise and assist during large-scale combat operations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Winning the first fight is imperative for all of us,” Poppas said.

The command's mission is: "FORSCOM trains and prepares a combat ready, globally responsive Total Force in order to build and sustain readiness to meet Combatant Command requirements."

The vision for the command is: "Combat ready and globally responsive Total Army Forces that are well led, disciplined, trained, and expeditionary … ready now to deploy and win in Large Scale Combat Operations against near-peer threats."

“It starts with the fundamentals, winning the first fight at the point of contact — building expertise in your craft,” Holland said. “Our center of gravity is the training environment: training individuals, crews and teams to be ready. We have to be there. We have to be with those Soldiers, and enforce those standards and discipline.”

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

“You have to be there with the pulse of your formation.,” Holland said. “In the end, leadership is the most decisive element of combat power. Your Soldiers cannot fight, win, survive and thrive without someone they trust and will follow.”

“We're making sure we're making the commitment to foundational training … the squad/platoon remains the foundation that we're going to continue to commit to,” Poppas said, discussing the recently published FORSCOM “Command Readiness Guidance – Fiscal Year 2024/2025.”

“Through multi-echelon training, we've got to increase our capability at that battalion/brigade and we've seen that through execution and through the training methodologies from the divisions on down to get those battalions up,” Poppas said. “And when the battalions elevate their capability, they put the demands on the brigade, which allows them to increase their competency. And we've seen an increase in that through the past year through the CTCs, through home-station training … and we're continuing to build our competency. We're also looking to transition demand from the brigade, so that we're capable now of putting the demands in a large-scale combat operations fight up to the division and even to the theater army,” he said.

“Through this progression, we're identifying areas we're going to have to transition staff functions from the brigade, which used to be our principal tactical formation,” Poppas said. “It's now transitioning to the division. So, what capabilities have to move from the brigade up to the division and what new capabilities have to be brought into the division as we fight in new domains that we didn't have previously? We continue to push through that and once we get to that level — I think it is a two to three-year progression. We're moving to battalions, we're going to get to brigade within this next year and over the next two to three years to the division.”

U.S. Army mortarmen assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment "Red Currahee", 1st Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), supporting 4th Infantry Division, fire an M252A1 81 mm mortar system during a fire support coordination exercise at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Aug. 26., 2023.
U.S. Army mortarmen assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment "Red Currahee", 1st Brigade Combat Team "Bastogne", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), supporting 4th Infantry Division, fire an M252A1 81 mm mortar system during a fire support coordination exercise at Camp Adazi, Latvia, Aug. 26., 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Oscar Gollaz) VIEW ORIGINAL

“New doctrine came out as we shifted from the Global War On Terror, we're elevating the principle tactical formation from the brigade to the division,” Poppas said. “That's imperative that you understand that because that's the way we're going to fight in large-scale combat operations. We haven't done that for 20-plus years and even the formations of the 90s that reflect back to those were great, but they're built for training, not for warfighting.”

“The division is going to be the new principal tactical formation, so we have to elevate our training to make sure that the divisions have that level of, of preparedness in order to execute their requirement to synchronize a fight across the multiple brigades,” Poppas recently told a reporter with a defense-related publication. “We're refining those staff functions and brigades take part in Divisional War Fighter Exercises, and you're seeing that echelon-level communication and synchronization. But, then you got to take it to the next step: taking that division, especially the functional brigades — the aviation, the division artillery, sustainment — and take them into the dirt.”

Army Doctrine 3-0, “Operations,” says “divisions and corps are the formations central to the conduct of large-scale combat operations.”

The FORSCOM Command Readiness Guidance also highlights division-level command post exercises. “Divisions should execute a CPX ‘in the dirt’ while providing mission command and enabler support of assets unavailable at the brigade combat team/battalion level,” the guidance advises. “To enhance the opportunities to conduct live training, divisions are encouraged to exercise enabling brigades and brigade combat teams in live or constructive environments during the CPX. This will allow the division to exercise the war-fighting functions and build proficiency in a live home-station Training environment.”

“The story here is that you have to be lethal, regardless of warfighting function, regardless of military occupational specialty, branch or skill,” Holland said. “In large-scale combat operations, you have to be called upon to do the most foundational thing you do. If that’s pick up a rifle, you pick up a rifle and you shoot expertly when you can. You have to be an athlete who isn’t just good in one thing, you still have to be a warfighter when it comes down to it.”

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the "Spartan Brigade," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, communicate and observe the battlefield during a live fire exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, March 8, 2023. The Spartan Brigade, the Army’s most modernized brigade, completed its rotation NTC 23-05, making it not only the best equipped but most lethal unit in America’s arsenal as the Army moves toward building the Army of 2030.
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the "Spartan Brigade," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, communicate and observe the battlefield during a live fire exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, March 8, 2023. The Spartan Brigade, the Army’s most modernized brigade, completed its rotation NTC 23-05, making it not only the best equipped but most lethal unit in America’s arsenal as the Army moves toward building the Army of 2030. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Duke Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL

“You, we all have to have a strong will to fight,” Holland told the Maneuver Warfighter Conference audience last month. “We’re Americans, that’s who we are. We’re the best Army, that’s who we are. Presence matters. You have to have a presence, a type of leadership where people trust you and you show empathy and also hold people accountable and to a standard. You have to be with your formation. Readiness doesn’t happen by accident, it requires hard work and effort by everybody to build the team to win today, tonight or the Army of 2030.”