By John Whipple, Army Capabilities Integration Center (Forward)February 15, 2012
POTOMAC, Md. (Feb. 15, 2012) -- Nearly 100 experts from across the Army, Department of State, allied nations, think tanks and academia concluded the latest in a series of events to support Unified Quest, the Army's "greenhouse for ideas" on meeting the needs of the 21st century operating environment.
The "How the Army Builds Partners and Capacity" seminar was held from Feb. 7 through Feb. 10, and highlighted the value of strengthening relationships with foreign countries and linking regional alignment with the Army mission.
"What this seminar was about today was taking the big idea of building partner capacity -- as a shaping operation -- and bringing in the experts from across the combatant commands, think tanks, Special Forces, and all of the people who hold equities in this to share their observations and thoughts on a way ahead," said Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
He noted that throughout the past 10 years, the Army has come to better understand the value of developing personal relationships and building capacity in other nations, particularly in the context of lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The Army is in a period of transition -- looking toward the post-Afghanistan period and with our operational construct of 'prevent, shape and win,' we really want to examine opportunities in the area of building partner capacity," Cone said. "I think the power of this construct is that we are gathering information - we are teaching our great young Soldiers on culture, language and the overall climate that exists within those countries."
During the seminar, participants were separated into four working groups and provided a unique vignette, or future scenario that served as context in examining the fundamental question of how the Army should be postured in 2020 to shape the operational environment: How should the Army adapt both institutional and operational activities to build relationships while also demonstrating capabilities and capacities that help prevent conflict or win decisively?
The notional scenarios ranged from humanitarian assistance to full combat operations, while secondary questions focused on five key ideas related to the Army of 2020: integration of Special Operations Forces and conventional forces, advisory structure capabilities, regional alignment, Reserve component integration, and building partnership capacity in shaping.
Cone said he left the seminar with a greater appreciation of Reserve component efforts in partnering with foreign nations.
"We have a great program ongoing," he said. "I worked with the Illinois National Guard, and I know the tremendous relationship they have with Poland." He said the challenge is to capture the success of these individual connections and better structure them in a larger shaping relationship.
The Unified Quest Future Study Plan helps drive change that will provide the nation an agile, versatile and campaign-quality Army. Results from this seminar and succeeding seminars will be put to the test during the Army Future Game in June 2012, and at the end of Unified Quest 2012, senior Army leaders will make informed decisions on how to drive change in the Army to provide depth and versatility in support of the joint force commander.