FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2012) -- U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command leaders discussed the Army's new approach to investing in Soldiers and readiness during a Feb. 23 morning Institute of Land Warfare panel at the Association of the United States Army's Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, TRADOC's deputy commanding general for Futures, and director of the Army's Capability Integration Center, led the panel discussion on the Investment Strategy Approach to Modernizing across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development and education, personnel and facilities.

"As we transition to a smaller and leaner force, we've got to develop the investment strategy for the Army of 2020 that preserves and improves upon the best qualities that we forged during this extended combat operation," Walker said.

Walker said the strategy is about investing in Soldiers - not just about materiel solutions or money.

Walker said it's critical for the Army to be ready when the nation calls on it again for future operations.

Walker gave the audience examples of how the Army is investing across the domains of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development and education, personnel and facilities.

"For personnel if we're to be able to expand the Army when needed, we must have mid-grade leaders around which we can grow battalions, so we have to look at our current manning policies," said Walker. "One policy adjustment I think we'll see is the return of mid-grade leaders throughout the institutional force."

Walker said the rapid acquisition process has been a great success over the last 10 years. The Army went to rapid acquisition because the existing system wasn't responsive enough.

"The good news about rapid acquisition is we get capabilities in the hands of Soldiers rapidly. It saves lives and helps us accomplish the mission better," said Walker. " The bad news is we don't necessarily get the training done before we get it in the hands of soldiers, and we don't have lifecycle sustainment costs for those," said Walker.

Walker said the Army must retain the best of the rapid acquisition processes as budgets shrink.

Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., was also on the panel and discussed what investment strategy means for his organization, particularly in terms of doctrine, training and leader development.

"The Army is people and that is the strength of our Army, and is one of the things we focus primarily on in CAC with investment in people and our leader development," Perkins said.

Perkins recalled tactics instruction from his days as a lieutenant to describe how Army units prepare for an unknown enemy in an unknown environment by having a larger reserve force at the tactical level.

At the strategic level, he says well-trained leaders and well-disciplined forces are the reserve needed to be prepared for the unknown.

"From my experience, the reserves that we have in the Army to deal with unknowns are well-trained leaders, well-trained Soldiers and a well-disciplined force. That is our strategic reserve. Our well-developed leaders need to be able to deal with an enemy that we have been unable to predict," said Perkins.

Perkins said historically, as the Army has come out of periods of conflict, people use the term "peace dividend," which means the Army needs less people and money, and this creates opportunities for the money to be spent elsewhere.

Perkins says the Army actually has a "war dividend."

"War dividend means we have all of the experience of our battle-tested leaders and Soldiers out there, and we have to reinvest this war dividend into the Army that we gained after multiple years of conflict to make sure our Army is even better as we go forward into what we all agree is a very unknown future," said Perkins.