By Sara Tate, Fort Benning TVSeptember 16, 2011
By Kristin Molinaro, The Bayonet
COLUMBUS, Ga. - Today's Army faces challenges on several fronts, from hybrid threats to budget cuts, and change at the doctrinal level is necessary to meet the demands of the future, the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command said Tuesday.
Adaptive Soldiers, leaders and units are needed to face the uncertainties of future security challenges, Gen. Robert Cone said.
"The world as we know it, as we have known it for 10 years, as the Soldiers on the wings of this auditorium have seen it, will change," he said. "If we do not capture the imagination and energy of this generation's leaders and get them invigorated … we are going to have some significant degradation to our force."
The general touched on Doctrine 2015, the Profession of Arms and squad initiatives during his hour-long presentation Tuesday as the keynote speaker at the 2011 Maneuver Conference in Columbus, Ga.
The conference -- formerly known as the Infantry Warfighting Conference -- draws leaders from across the military to Fort Benning each September to discuss new technologies and the way ahead.
TRADOC is undergoing a "revolution" in training, Cone said of Doctrine 2015, as it seeks to create better Soldiers and leaders.
"We have to make training relevant … to continue the flow of information," he said.
Through leveraging technology for 21st Century Maneuver Training, Soldiers gain relevant training with less time spent at the school house.
Commanders of brigade, battalion and company level units highlighted some of the successes they've experienced through integration of live, virtual, constructive and gaming concepts.
"Over the last 12 months, based on realignments in doctrine, our team has worked hard to transition home station training scenarios to span the entirety of today's conflicts," said Col. Michael Getchell, commander of 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The brigade's training missions revolve around virtual and constructive gaming to prepare Soldiers for combat. The most notable benefit has been to the Soldiers, who can execute missions as they've done on the battlefield, he said.
Fort Hood, Texas, has developed an eight-step Gated Training Strategy model at the battalion level in applying blended training in support of full spectrum operations, said Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, commander of Fort Hood-based III Corps.
The model encompasses principles of unit training, leader development and deliberate training management.
Commanders are still incorporating blended training into their units and as dwell time increases, training time is projected to increase, he said.
Along with 21st Century Maneuver Training, TRADOC is updating doctrine with input from today's battle-tested Soldiers and reinventing how Soldiers are trained. The schoolhouse is just one point along the continuum of life-long learning that Cone envisions for the force. He encouraged commanders to realize their responsibility as the "architect" of the training calendar.
Commanders have forgotten their role to manage training and build calendars that make sense, he said.
Another piece of the doctrinal puzzle is the nature of today's Soldiers.
"This generation is more likely to pick up an iPod than read doctrine so it takes creativity to keep them engaged and motivated," he said.
TRADOC has made inroads in modernizing doctrine and training by making it more accessible through the creation of wiki sites, interactive media, podcasts and mobile applications.
Dovetailing into Doctrine 2015 concepts, the Profession of Arms is also being redefined as
TRADOC broadens its campaign to bring together operational and intellectual traditions. The new initiative, dubbed the Army Profession, seeks to reemphasize the importance of education and treating the military career as a profession.
Since 2001, the Army has gotten away from what the Profession of Arms is all about, he said. In feedback from the field, Soldiers report not receiving meaningful counseling. Many leaders are deferring education because of back-to-back deployments.
Cone said it's time to "reach out" and bring today's Soldiers -- who made efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan successful over the last ten years -- back to the schoolhouse for training to further their careers.
While training was a huge focus of Cone's discussion, the role of the squad and the roll-out of Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force initiative sparked supportive comments from the general.
"The squad is important. If we lose the fight at the point of attack, we lose the fight. Let's go to that point in the chain and fix it -- put a lot of investment into it," he said.
Cone admitted there may be detractors to the idea of putting focus on the squad level.
"Do you think the Army's going to be getting bigger or smaller? Do you think the value of the squad will become more important or less important? More important. We need to address the problem at the right time -- now," he said.
The challenges of today's complex operating environments aren't going to get any easier, the general said.
"You're going to hear 'reduction' or 'we have to focus on the basics first.' That's a bogus argument," he said, in seeing the need to push forward with technology for the Soldier.
Everything the enemy has used against us before they are going to keep using, he said.
As senior leaders map out the future of the Army, Cone's closing words sum up the risk of not acting on doctrinal changes and professional development: "There is danger if we dilute in any way the essence of what we do as Soldiers."