By Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter ChiarelliMarch 29, 2011
Good afternoon, thank you for that kind introduction. It's great to be able to join all of you down here in sunny Florida
Warfare - as we know it - has changed forever. We no longer fight national armies on linear battlefields. There is no forward edge of the battle area of "FEBA." Simply stated, it is and will remain a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic effects. And, our Soldiers are asked to fight along the full continuum, transitioning back and forth often in a matter of hours or even minutes.
The fact remains, in the operational environments we find ourselves in today, it's usually the Army's noncommissioned officers and enlisted Soldiers who are on the ground dealing with situations when they do arise.
They are the source of most "game-changing" decisions on today's battlefield. And, U.S. Marine Corps General Chuck Krulak coined the term "Strategic Corporal" to reflect this new reality.
Now, I readily admit, especially for us 'old guys,' change isn't always easy. I remember as a young tanker being taught to avoid major cities and large urban areas - at all costs. Yet, when I was given the mission to take the 1st Cavalry Division to Iraq in 2004, I was told to go ahead and put the entire division inside a city of about 7.5 million people, 276 square miles, about the size of Chicago.
However, as my good friend and mentor, Gen. Shinseki used to say, "If you don't like change, you're going to hate being irrelevant." This sage advice has certainly rung true over the past decade of war. And, I'll give you a couple of great examples.
You've all undoubtedly heard me talk about the flow of information. In the past, information and decision-making resided almost totally at senior levels of command, envision a pyramid, information was pushed down to subordinate Leaders - on an 'as-needed' basis, in the form of operations orders and other command directives.
This is no longer the case. The pyramid is now inverted. The majority of information is collected by Soldiers at the unit level - the same guys and gals making the majority of the "game-changing" decisions. And, we've had to figure out how to accommodate this change.
That was the genesis, quite frankly, for the Network. We realized we needed to figure out a way to provide Leaders and Soldiers ready access to significantly more information than in past wars.
And, while I am truly excited to see the Network grow and expand, in fact, we're getting ready to release Increment 2 next week and this is going to enable us to put even more information into the hands of our Soldiers. The truth is - the surge we're seeing in new technologies does represent a double-edged sword. Consider the impact of the release of confidential documents on WikiLeaks.
While we benefit greatly from increased access to information, our enemies have enjoyed a significant advantage in part due to the robust cell phone and internet infrastructure. Over the past decade it's enabled them to employ relatively cheap technologies in new and innovative ways.
The reality is every Soldier we employ... and every savvy terrorist we encounter has a cell phone or some kind of Smartphone capable of taking pictures or videos that can then be transmitted halfway around the world in a matter of seconds.
The presence of media and social media has literally transformed the battlefield creating what General Dempsey has described as a "much more transparent, complex and decentralized operational environment."
Again, this only serves to confirm for me that the small unit - the squad or platoon - has become the decisive element of our formation. And, as General Krulak also pointed out, the young Soldiers who make up those small units - operating under the constant eye of the media - are asked to exercise a tremendous, unprecedented degree of maturity, restraint, and judgment. And, they are doing an absolutely remarkable job.
The reality is the Army's success in the future requires us to empower our Leaders and Soldiers at the small unit level.
I know Dr. Malcolm O'Neill talked to you this morning about the great efforts underway within the Acquisition, Logistics and Technology community to provide Soldiers "a decisive advantage" by "refocusing on [their] needs, and providing the tools and capabilities to do their job individually and as part of a Tactical Small Unit."
Instead of "attaching things to the Soldier," they are "designing systems around the Soldier." This represents significant progress. We must continue to work together to get needed capability into the hands of our warfighters.
That said, as I alluded to earlier, there are 2nd and 3rd order effects whenever you field a new capability, especially one that serves to increase the amount of data available on today's battlefield.
On the one hand, the quantity and quality of information available to today's decision-makers is remarkable. But, it does also mean we have the responsibility to train individuals accordingly.
And, not just on simple skills or mechanical tasks; but, even more importantly - how to handle and analyze the vast amounts of information and data, and, employ technologies effectively in the very dynamic environments we find ourselves in today.
As General Dempsey stated, the challenge is figuring out how best to "produce and reward leaders who are inquisitive, creative and adaptable." I know he will cover this topic in much greater detail tomorrow. But, I did want to briefly provide a few thoughts on the subject from my own experiences over the past 38-plus years.
One of our Army's greatest Leaders - and a fellow Tanker, General George S. Patton strongly believed that it was not the Army's business to dig in and defend territory - and, he meant that both literally and figuratively. To the contrary, the Army, he said, was "going to move and move fast."
General Patton's message was that we must always be adaptable. We must be prepared for the unexpected. Let's face it - the United States Army has been trying to predict the future for 235-plus years - and, we've not been successful yet.
In fact, I carry a chart around in my notebook - I call it the "Failed Assumptions" chart. It lists all the assumptions made by senior Leaders since the start of this war. Nearly every one of them has proven untrue.
Unless you're a psychic or a mind-reader, you cannot know what the future holds. And, to attempt to train for every possible scenario or contingency is futile, if not foolish.
The reality is Leaders who try to train at everything end up captured by the training matrix, ultimately training to time, not to standard. And, Soldiers in these units end up not excelling at anything. They're unable to achieve a lasting level of proficiency that they can reach back to in challenging situations.
As General Dempsey has said, the goal should be "to prepare our Leaders by replicating the complexity of the operational environment." And, I believe you do that by helping individuals to gain confidence in a small number of core competencies that they can then practice over and over using a wide variety of different real-world scenarios with changing conditions until every Soldier is an expert at them.
Simply stated: in the complex and dynamic environments we find ourselves in today, we want our Soldiers to be proficient at proficiency.
Some of you may have heard me tell this story before. When I was the Battalion S-3 for 4/8 CAV back in 1987, we competed in the "World Series of Tank Gunnery" in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
We had a Company do nothing but tank gunnery for 18 months. And, during that time, because their METL was simple - hit 32 targets using as few rounds as possible, but no more than 40 - they became experts at every supporting task. If they missed, we would literally pull them off the tank range and they'd go back and train on that specific task over and over again until they got it right.
As a result, Soldiers had absolute, total confidence in their NCOs, NCOs trusted their officers, all trusted that each knew what right looked like - regardless of the task, and they understood that no one on the team would accept anything less.
This Team won the Canadian Army Trophy - the first United States Army team to win this prestigious competition.
Being a member of that team and a part of the victory was amazing; yet, I learned the greatest lesson from what happened next. The outgoing Brigade Commander had previously agreed to excuse the winning company from participating in the upcoming Hoensfeld rotation. Then, less than a month out, the new Brigade Commander recanted and told them they needed to get back to maneuver training.
These guys had not trained on any other skills for 18 months. But, they trusted their NCOs, they had great confidence in their abilities and they immediately went and signed out their protective masks and individual weapons, and got to work. Thirty days later - they carried the Battalion and Brigade through the rotation.
The challenge looking ahead is how do we continue to effectively train and prepare Soldiers to manage and analyze the vast amounts of data and information available on today's battlefield; employ the various tools and technologies at their disposal; in order to make the critical decisions that will have the desired tactical and strategic effects. I believe we're on the right path and General Dempsey and TRADOC deserve much of the credit.
Their "Training Brain" is a great example of a tool that's enabling Soldiers to conduct challenging, realistic and relevant training both at home-station and while deployed. And, that's a key point. A Soldier's ability to conduct realistic training back at home is critical. The reality is the Network cannot and should not be just a tactical asset employed in combat environments. It must also encompass networks at CONUS installations and training centers, in brigade and battalion classrooms at home stations and schoolhouses.
The intent is to provide all Soldiers with the ability to get whatever information they need anytime, anywhere in the world. And, we're getting there with the CIO/G6's Global Network Enterprise Construct or "GNEC," the strategy for transitioning LandWarNet from many loosely-affiliated independent networks into a truly global capability that is designed, deployed, and managed as a single integrated enterprise.
Now, before I take your questions, I'd like to talk very briefly about one other area where I believe training is proving absolutely critical to our success.
As many of you know, I am very focused on the health and well-being of our Force; and, in particular, the well-being of those individuals suffering from what I consider to be the "Signature Wounds" of this war, namely post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
The fact remains, these wounds are not well understood. Yet, they affect a significant portion of the Army's Wounded Warrior population.... 64 percent as of 1 February 2011.
I'm certain many of you have heard me talk at length about the complexity of these injuries and how absolutely important it is that we do everything we possibly can to assist Soldiers and Families dealing with them - now and in the future.
The reality is as we continue to draw down operations in Iraq and eventually in Afghanistan, we are going to see more and more Soldiers return home, many of them dealing with PTS, TBI, depression, anxiety and other behavioral health conditions. Unfortunately, in recent years, we've also seen the stress and strain on our Force manifested in an increased number of high-risk deaths, suicide attempts, and suicides.
The great news is that we now have empirical data to support our belief that increased resiliency helps individuals to deal more effectively with stress.
Couple that with the fact that you can teach resiliency and, we've got ourselves some very exciting news, in my opinion.
I am extremely encouraged to see the efforts underway to help improve Soldiers' resiliency across our Force; most notable among them being the Chief's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, which includes the Global Assessment Tool and our Master Resiliency Trainers.
The reality is any individual - if you put more and more and more stressors on them - they will eventually reach the brink. Our goal, the objective of the Army's efforts to increase Soldiers' and individuals' resiliency is to help move them as far to the left as possible - away from the edge.
I truly believe our efforts to train Soldiers on resiliency is just as important - if not more so, than is training them on the basic tactical and Soldier skills required on the battlefield. We can't do one at the expense of the other. We must do it all.
Our overall vision, as our Chief - General George Casey stated is an Army that is a versatile mix of tailorable and networked organizations, operating on a rotational cycle, to provide a sustained flow of trained and ready forces for full spectrum operations and to hedge against unexpected contingencies - at a tempo that is predictable and sustainable for our all-volunteer force.
All this is achievable with the right mix of force structure and capability but, it is ultimately dependent upon the ability, versatility and adaptability of our people. As the theme of this conference states, that represents our competitive advantage.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to join you. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have for me. But, first - I want to show you a truly remarkable video I saw for the first time this past weekend. Some of you may have seen this before. Stephen Wiltshire is a savant, often referred to as "The Living Camera." He was taken up for a 45-minute helicopter flight over Rome, the first time he'd ever seen the city. Then over a period of three days, he drew the panoramic view - from memory - with incredible accuracy.
It's a great reminder that in spite of all the technologies that exist or will exist in the future, the most amazing and complex tool we have is the human brain. Looking ahead, we must continue to find ways to harness the tremendous power of the brain and help individuals to utilize the remarkable supercomputer encased inside our heads.