By Shelley L. Szafraniec, TRADOCSeptember 13, 2011
FORT BENNING Ga., Sept. 13, 2011 -- Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force is something Soldiers will continue to hear about in the future said Maj. Gen Robert Brown, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, during the Maneuver Center update at the first Maneuver Conference in Columbus, Ga.
Originally dubbed the Squad as a Strategic Formation to stimulate conversation throughout the force, the initiative is creating as much synergy as the effort to revitalize home station unit training throughout the Army. At the conference, top Army leaders are looking at the baseline requirements for 21st Century Maneuver Training; trying to determine what the right balance is as they seek to incorporate live, virtual, constructive and gaming elements to create complex and realistic training environments at every Army echelon.
Nowhere is this challenging and realistic training needed more than at the squad level, Brown said, and with the Foundation of the Decisive Force initiative, the training developed for this critical team will be measured in its effectiveness of the formation.
Army leaders at the Maneuver Center of Excellence began focusing on the tactical small unit approximately 10 months ago, looking at its capabilities and identifying gaps. Brown said initially the team at Fort Benning spent a lot of time trying to determining at what level is the small tactical unit?
"We realized we are fortunate to have incredible junior leaders who have always carried the day," Brown said. "(The squad) is the only place on the battlefield where we do not have clear overmatch."
In a bottom-up approach, the team at the Maneuver Center of Excellence is leading an effort with more than 80 organizations across the Army, industry and research and development spectrum and the Marine Corps, the Special Forces community and the 75th Ranger Regiment, to review, recommend and implement change for the squad to achieve overmatch to succeed at any mission in a complex operating environment.
"When we began we thought most of the improvements would be mostly materiel systems," said Brown. "What we found, though, is that most of the change is needed in the human dimension -- training and leader development."
According to Command Sergeant Major Chris Hardy, the command sergeant major of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, who also spoke about the squad initiative, in looking at training and leader development, focusing on the human capacity and limits in the cognitive, physical, social-cultural and moral-ethical areas for each Soldier is part of the solution.
Looking at each of these domains and then providing the right training and leader development experiences to be successful at each level is vital.
"We have to be able to provide the tools and make it easy to export it -- the training packages, the digital applications and the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures so you can plan and execute this training and focus better at home station," Hardy said.
Dividing the Foundation of the Decisive Force effort into fire team leads of leadership, training, material and measures of effectiveness enables a logical way to identify the gaps and required capabilities and then contrast them against measures of effectiveness, Brown said. A next step involves including a squad leader from every division who has just returned from the fight to weigh in with their perspective and lessons learned.
Leaders for the squad initiative believe that when the data is collected and the requirements to achieve overmatch are prioritized for the first time, it may not just be materiel solutions, but leader development and training, which will have a significant impact on future funding, Brown said.