The Maneuver Center of Excellence, in coordination with Combat Training Center directorates, hosted a five-day Brigade Commanders Course pilot Oct. 16-20.
This new element within the U.S. Army’s series of pre-command courses was created at the request of the Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general, Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, after determining the Army lacked a foundational course for brigade combat team commanders.
The pilot course focused exclusively on the brigade combat team commander and the tactics, techniques, and procedures of what “right” looks like when a BCT fights. The goal of the program is for brigade leaders to feel more comfortable with and aware of the roles and planning responsibilities of their staff officers, how to fight and integrate warfighting functions, and achieve combined arms at the BCT level.
“It’s an opportunity for colonels to come together and learn about the challenges of commanding their brigades and leading their staffs,” said Col. Elis Pitts, director of the MCoE’s Directorate of Training and Doctrine. “There is no other course in the Army that specifically and exclusively addresses this and trains brigade commanders how to fight their brigade.”
The Army recently transitioned from pure brigades enabled by divisions to fixed BCTs due to twenty years of low intensity conflict during the Global War on Terrorism. (The shift occurred during the recent return to a Large-Scale Combat Operations approach to fighting.
During GWoT operations, Soldiers deployed as stand-alone, or pure, brigade formations tasked and organized with everything needed for a specific area of operations. In LSCO, Soldiers will fight as corps or divisions, requiring a shift in the force structure of brigades.
Since the last LSCO fight in 2003, BCT complexity has evolved. The BCTs of the 2000’s contained cavalry, engineers, artillery, signal, and intelligence capabilities at the brigade level. In LSCO, some of those capabilities will return to divisions.
With the changing character of war, today’s commanders must synchronize war fighting functions in support of the division, corps, or joint force.
“As we return to the traditional missions of attack, defend, movement-to-contact against a peer threat, it takes a changed mindset,” Pitts said. “It is becoming more essential that commanders at all echelons are able to understand their responsibilities and delineate their fight at their echelon.”
At the end of the course, commanders will be equipped with the tools, repetition, and experience to confidently lead their brigades. Participants’ assessments of the pilot course were overwhelmingly supportive. A second iteration is scheduled to be conducted April 2024.