By Melissa BowerAugust 13, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Aug. 12, 2010) -- This fall, Soldiers will have lessons learned by past combat veterans at their fingertips far more quickly than ever before, said Col. Thomas Murphy, director of the Center for Army Lessons Learned.
CALL, as it is known on Fort Leavenworth, is celebrating its 25th anniversary as an organization this year. CALL's mission is to glean information from combat experiences and re-tool that information into usable lessons for the modern warrior.
CALL's output includes data on doctrine, information in the Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet and SIPRNet) and in personalized analysis given to requests for information from members of the military around the world.
Murphy first discovered CALL as a captain, when he began collecting CALL reference manuals and documents in his home library.
"I've been in tactical units most of my career, and the products of CALL have been very important to my organization," he said.
Murphy said as of Aug. 1, CALL is officially part of Fort Leavenworth's Mission Command Center of Excellence.
Murphy said CALL is also able to collect subject matter experts. Commanders in the field, for example, might have a question on how to train Soldiers to defeat an improvised explosive device in a ditch. A team of CALL analysts, upon receiving the question, will collect data from CALL and other experts on IEDs and provide an answer, summary and links to the field commander within 24 hours. For members of the military not in theater, Murphy said the standard response time is 72 hours.
CALL's newest Rapid Adaptation Initiative will provide information more quickly to Soldiers, Murphy said. Although CALL was one of the first Army organizations to have a public website in 1994, they're planning a new portal for information. Murphy said anyone with a Common Access Card should be able to utilize the new portal, set to open in October of this year.
"What we want the move to do is almost eliminate that response time," he said.
Dale Steinhauer, chief of the research division, said CALL began to materialize after the invasion of Granada in 1983. Then-Col. Wesley Clark first proposed a combat lessons-learned program that would coordinate operational and exercise lessons, and lessons learned from foreign military operations. Also, it would formalize a way to get this information out to leaders in the field. The organization officially became a directorate under the Combined Arms Training Activity in August 1985.
CALL teams went out into battlefields during Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and more, continuing into today's current conflicts. Although its headquarters is at Fort Leavenworth, CALL teams work around the globe to collect and share information. They interview units redeploying out of theater, work in Training and Doctrine Command centers of excellence and work in combat zones.
CALL publishes many manuals and articles, including the 2007 "Leaders Handbook No. 07-27: The First 100 Days," in which analysts interviewed returning Soldiers to find out how they survived the first 100 days in a war zone.
Steinhauer said although CALL contributes to doctrine writing, that is not the organization's primary function.
"Our realm is not doctrine," Steinhauer said. "Doctrine comes along behind us, they learn from us, so our realm is OIL - Observations, Issues, Insights and Lessons."
Retired Col. Lawrence Saul was one of several former CALL directors who visited post this month to celebrate the organization's anniversary. He said that out of all the jobs he had in the Army, directing CALL was the best.
During his time as director, Saul encouraged analysts to look for every kernel of knowledge, because it might help keep a Soldier alive.
"There are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, our coalition partners, who are alive today because of your continuing dedication, your continuing hard work and your continuing commitment to the job you do," Saul told CALL employees.
CALL currently has more than 200 employees almost half of which are active-duty military. Many of its civilian employees formerly served CALL as Soldiers.