Training fact sheet: Fight to train

By Training Management Directorate, Combined Arms Center TrainingJune 25, 2024

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Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 7-0, Training, chapter 2, discusses senior leader training responsibilities, explaining the influence commanders and leaders have in guiding and directing units to become proficient, lethal, and combat ready formations. The requirement for commanders and leaders to protect training by eliminating distractors is included in the leader roles in execution.

A training distractor is an unforeseen requirement that prevents or limits execution of approved training to standard. Approved training can range from an event on the long-range calendar ten months in the future, to next week’s approved training. In both examples, the commander planned training to achieve proficiency in prioritized tasks, weapons qualifications, or collective live-fire task within a set timeframe. Protecting approved training and conducting the training to standard is important to achieving the stated objectives.

Fight to train

Both ADP 7-0, Training, and Field Manual (FM) 7-0, Training, list the nine principles of training. Fight to train is often the most challenging to apply. Commanders and leaders fight to train throughout the training management cycle to protect approved training and ensure formations can train to standard to achieve task proficiency.

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Commanders have the duty and authority to fight through distractions and protect training. Leaders at all echelons should resist training distractions, either through their own authority or through the authority vested in the commander. In understanding the fight to train principle, leaders should consider several key elements.

  • Subordinate organizations
  • Approved training
  • Unforeseen requirements
  • Risk to lower priority missions

It is the responsibility of the higher echelon commander to defend their subordinate’s approved training. Higher echelon commanders should consider whether they are introducing a training distractor that is detrimental to subordinate elements, even if it may be beneficial to the higher echelon. Subordinate leaders often have training associated with the higher echelon, and it may be in their best interest to collaborate with the higher leader to resolve the training conflict. Through commander-to commander dialogue and prudent staff work, a resolution might be reached to integrate subordinate unit training plans into the higher echelon’s plans.

The fight to train principle applies to approved training. Leaders should be aware of when training becomes approved. There are several points in the training management cycle when planned training formally becomes approved training. Primarily, approval occurs at the annual training briefing (ATB), quarterly training briefing (QTB), and when the commander signs the training schedule. Each of these approvals have different impacts on the unit’s training plan. The ATB approval forms the basis for the unit’s path to task and weapons proficiency. However, since the ATB results in an approval of a long-range training plan many months prior to execution, commanders understand that unforeseen requirements may arise in the future.

Doctrine accounts for the uncertainty inherent in long-range training plans through quarterly adjustments to the annual training guidance. Quarterly Training Briefs provide commanders an opportunity to confirm and validate their plan, by either staying the course, or modifying the plan to address changes in the situation and conditions under which the plan was originally conceived. The final approval of training is the training schedule. Commanders approve training schedules closest to training execution.

Training distractors which occur after the schedule is approved have the most significant impact on training. The time available to the commander to modify training, adjust plans, and secure or reschedule required resources is much more limited. New requirements may necessitate changes to the schedule. Doctrine identifies this as a major concern and recommends approval of changes include the higher echelons of command. The recommended approval tiers shown in FM 7-0, reinforces the commander’s duty to fight through training distractions and protect training.

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The company commander signs and the battalion commander approves training schedules.

Unforeseen requirements are a training distractor. A requirement is something the unit must do. Commanders and staffs must analyze any new information to determine if it is a requirement, an opportunity to enhance approved training, or a request that may be detrimental to the training plan if accepted. Higher-level commanders must balance any new requirement against their own guidance to subordinates to execute the approved training. Commanders and leaders must also understand that poor planning or uncoordinated resources do not equate to unforeseen requirements. Approved training is a contract between commanders. It represents the senior commander’s commitment to resource training and protect it from distractors. As such, senior commanders need to look closely at late taskings to determine if the tasking is truly a new requirement or simply the result of poor planning and coordination.

Commanders should reject lower priority missions in favor of allowing subordinate units to conduct already approved training. The lower priority missions may be valuable training opportunities themselves or they may be taskings from a higher echelon.

Field Manual 6-22, Developing Leaders, states “...the Warrior Ethos forms the foundation for the American Soldier’s spirit and total commitment to victory, in peace and war, always exemplifying the ethical behavior and Army Values,”

Commanders must underwrite the risk to lower priority missions in favor of protecting their subordinate’s approved training. Inducing risk of mission failure runs contrary to the Warrior Ethos and effective training management. Leaders often default to a “can do” response to new missions. However, prioritizing and protecting approved training separates great trainers and units from those that take a more acquiescent approach.

Commanders and leaders must fight to train throughout the training management cycle to protect training and provide their formations every opportunity to achieve and sustain proficiency in their prioritized missions. Unforeseen requirements will emerge and challenges to training will occur. The commander’s response to those training distractors requires a commitment to defend their subordinate organizations’ approved training. Leaders who live the Army Values apply the fight to train principle to training management.

Visit the Interactive Training Doctrine page on the Army Training Network (ATN) ( to learn more about the principles of training and training management. Included are links to training doctrine, contact information to schedule unit training, tutorials, podcasts, and other information on training management.