By Lt. Col. Mark ElfendahlFebruary 25, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (March 2, 2010) Aca,!" During the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, delivered remarks on the recently released Army Capstone Concept (ACC) and described some of the ways the ACC will drive the Army toward greater institutional adaptation.
Gen. Dempsey began his remarks using the analogy of the Red Queen from Lewis CarrolAca,!a,,cs novel, Through the Looking-Glass to describe the situation the Army faces. In the story, the Red Queen teaches Alice about the game of chess, and then forces her to run as fast as she can for an extended time. After they stop, Alice is surprised to find she is still in the exact same place. Alice then protests:
Aca,!EoeWell, in our country,Aca,!a,,c said Alice, still panting a little, Aca,!EoeyouAca,!a,,cd generally get to somewhere else if you run very fast for a long time as weAca,!a,,cve been doing.Aca,!a,,c
Aca,!EoeA slow sort of country!Aca,!a,,c said the Queen. Aca,!EoeNow here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.Aca,!a,,c
Dempsey praised the tremendous adaptations the Army has made over eight years of war and noted that it remains unquestionably the most capable and seasoned force in history. But, using the analogy, he also pointed out that, Aca,!A"If you want to keep up with a changing system, you have to evolve at least as fast as the system does. In fact, if you want to get ahead of the system, you have to evolve at least twice as fast.Aca,!A?
He made clear that todayAca,!a,,cs world is exceptionally complex, and the Army must recognize institutional adaptation as an imperative.
Published in December, the ACC provides a conceptual foundation and common language for more rapid institutional adaptation and revises previous capstone work under the title, The Army Capstone Concept: Operational Adaptability. It describes the broad capabilities the Army will require between now and 2028 to defend America and help secure our interests in the world. Dempsey noted that the newly published ACC builds on previous ACCs, applying over eight years of wartime experience and lessons learned. And as the authors worked to develop the document, they found that some of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs more significant assumptions about future conflict, dating back to the late 1990s required reconsideration. Aca,!A"It causes us to reconsider, rethink, and challenge the assumptions upon which previous capstone concepts were built,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Some of the assumptions weAca,!a,,cve made about technology and its ability to deliver Aca,!Eoethe quality of firstsAca,!a,,c (see first, understand first, act first) have just not been realized because our adversaries, and potential adversaries, understand what it takes to deliver Aca,!Eoethe quality of firstsAca,!a,,c and have taken action to prevent it.Aca,!A?
Dempsey continued, Aca,!A"Our adversaries have decentralizedAca,!A|theyAca,!a,,cve networked, and theyAca,!a,,cve proliferated technology. They live among the population, which means you canAca,!a,,ct gain the kind of knowledge you think you can from a distance and deal with it exclusively through precision.Aca,!A?
In response to this decentralization, the Army has also decentralized and pushed more decision-making power into the lower ranks.
Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve done it remarkably well, and for the most part, invisibly. There are implications to that decentralization. If youAca,!a,,cre on a path to build a network that optimizes echelons above [the brigade combat team], now you find yourself in a situation where what you really want is a network optimized at echelons below brigade.Aca,!A?
However, he cautioned, Aca,!A"Although you need to decentralize in response to the changes in the world, you also better recognize that at some point, you may need the ability to reaggregate those resources.Aca,!A?
He also cited the additional requirements that decentralized full spectrum operations place on leaders. Aca,!A"What has become increasingly clear over time,Aca,!A? he said, Aca,!A"is that leaders must have a much broader understanding of mission command versus command and control. Mission command in this increasingly complex world full of Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational partners requires leaders who understand, respect, and trust each other.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve conceded that a leader must be grounded in not only tactics, techniques and procedures of force-on-force, but also in integrating his capabilities with other capabilities in a battle space thatAca,!a,,cs increasingly crowded and increasingly transparent. So now we use the term Aca,!Eoemission commandAca,!a,,c because we think it sends the right message on what weAca,!a,,cre about.Aca,!A?
As decision-making authorities move down the ranks to the tactical edge, Dempsey reinforced that junior leaders need to be empowered with Aca,!A"mission typeAca,!A? orders that provide intent and the right balance of guidance with room for the junior leader to think critically and develop the situation.
Aca,!A"We used to sit and think that the best information came from the top down, but this document [the Army Capstone Concept] implies the best information comes from the bottom up. And if it does, you have to prepare young people to deliver it and you have to prepare them to prevail with it.Aca,!A?
He described the balance between adaptation and maintaining the fundamentals required as our NationAca,!a,,cs only organization (the military) that delivers lethality.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm worried about a drift in our fundamentals,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"We will not allow that to happen. So as we hurry helter-skelter focusing on change and adaptation, we will never forget the fact that there are things that are fundamental to our profession.Aca,!A?
Dempsey briefly discussed how the Army will educate and develop leaders in the future. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve talked about an environment where competitiveness is the norm. WeAca,!a,,cre in a competitive security environment. The dimension in which we have to prevail is the competitive learning environment because if we prevail here, we can make the changes and adaptations we need to stay ahead.Aca,!A?
To that end, Dempsey has TRADOC working on an Army Learning Concept that provides the basis for building an Army education system that embraces technology while ensuring it still produces the kind of Soldiers and leaders the Army requires to prevail in future conflicts.
Concluding his remarks, he provided a short vignette from CarrolAca,!a,,cs more widely known work, AliceAca,!a,,cs Adventures in Wonderland:
Aca,!A"After chasing the White Rabbit down the hole, Alice arrives in Wonderland where, after wandering for a while, she meets the Chesire Cat. Completely at a loss as to her whereabouts, Alice then asks the Cat:
Aca,!EoeWould you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here'Aca,!a,,c
Aca,!EoeThat depends a great deal on where you want to get to,Aca,!a,,c said the Cat.
Aca,!EoeI donAca,!a,,ct care where,Aca,!a,,c said Alice.
Aca,!Eoethen it doesnAca,!a,,ct matter which way you go,Aca,!a,,c said the Cat.Aca,!A?
The Army Capstone Concept will serve as the ArmyAca,!a,,cs roadmap to ensure we know where weAca,!a,,cre going.